Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Drummochter Water Ice

I was in the Drummochter Pass today doing some staff training with folks from EICA:Ratho. We looked at some intro skills to climbing as we made our way up one the frozen streams. This had good steps that started at grade 1/2 and progressed to II/III. It was a great way to really concentrate on working everyones feet on a variety of feature. A couple of use took our skis and and battled the powder covered heather on the way down.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day Belly

I went to Woodhouse Scar today to do a bit of bouldering and work off some off some of the christmas food. Despite the damp, I did a good range of problems from V0 to V5. When I move after the winter down to Yorkshire, I'll definately get stronger with all the quality boulderimg on my doorstep.

Monday, 21 December 2009

More Snow

There has been another dump of snow in the Cairngorms last night and today. Those that waited for the gates to open and trudged through the new snow were rewarded with good climbing. Greg and Sarah climbed the Haston Line today, while James and Peter did Hidden Chimney via the Direct start. There is a lot of snow on ledges, so the easier the angle the more digging/swimming there is.

For pics check out Greg's Blog.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lots of Snow

There has been a lot of snow fall over night, and it has continued through the day. Greg and I headed for the Fiacaill Buttress today. We were going to have a look at Men in Black. I started up the crux pitch, but soon realised I was not going to be able to clear the ice out of the crack, could not use the ice or protect the route. Not feeling overly brave, I climbed the appropriately named Escapologist. Due to all the ice that is around the climbing was pretty straight forward, but there was very little protection. We came back down and then climbed a rarely in ice route called Straight to Jail. We had no ice screws again as they where still in edinburgh, but Greg climbed the pitch well without them.

Saturday, 19 December 2009


Greg and I went in to Sneachda to climb today. We picked a seldom climbed VII,7 called Paramedic to take advantage of the ice that was around the lower parts of Aladdin's Buttress. After a technical flip for the pitches, I got the thin ice pitches which I linked together to make a very bold, but awesome 55m VI,5 pitch. Greg did a stirling job on the hard pitch. He had a lot of digging to to find gear, but made pretty reasonable time. The pitch was a dream to second once it had been cleaned, but I could appreciate how hard it would have been to dig up. Another route that does not get climbed that often is the Prodigal Principal V,5. This looked in great nick. There was alot of snow moved around today on a strong NW. the goat track is solid at the moment and needs to be given respect, a slip would be very bad at the moment. There are some big pockets of slab around in some of the gullys, Aladdin's looked pretty loaded at the top so we opted for the goat track.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Fluted Buttress Direct

Greg, James and Peter climbed Broken Gully Left hand, which they said was banked out and climbing easy. They then climbed Fluted Buttress Direct. Greg said that this was straight forward with ice on the lower sections and the 2 mixed steps were good fun. He commented that the Goat track was very icy and needed care. He also said that snow had fallen most of the day and it was due to snow a lot over night. Use your judgement carefully if you are heading out tomorrow as the great slab will also need a bit of care. We experienced some isolated pockets of slab yesterday under No 1 Buttress with little sluffs coming down the Vent.

Take care

Day of Failure

Yesterday Greg and I went into Lochain to try to push ourselves a bit more. I got on Big Daddy. This is a VII 8 that was down graded from VIII 8, so I was expecting a bit of a hard time. It is fair to say that I was not the daddy as the route gave me a kicking. I would like to say that it was all down to hard conditions, but this is not really true. Conditions are quite heavy for hard mixed routes. Tough to move rime, the corner/groove needed a lot of cleaning to find gear all added to challange.
After my extended failure, Greg decided to give The Crack another go. This was thick with rime and useful ice, and had good cracks for gear once cleaned. He had a good go, but the heavy rime though the crux section took its toll as it took 45 mins to clear. We finished up Astroturfer which is in great condition (virtually and ice route), so at least we got a route done.

On reflextion it is good to fail. I could easily go out and climb route I know I will succeed on, but would not learn half as much. I am looking forward to many more battles and failures this season, hopefully I will win a few.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Wet and Miserable

Greg, Euan and James where in Sneachda today, climbing a very soggy Belhaven. This has kept its rime, but become very wet. They said that the buttresses are know mostly black, with the gully lines keeping their snow. With another poor forecast for tomorrow, things should pick up again toward the end of the week. Check out Greg's blog for Pics.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

MLTS Providers Seminar

I attended the providers seminar at Glenmore Lodge today. With amazing weather outside it would have been hard to take had I not just had 2 amazing days. A couple of folk told me they had climbed Smith's route on the Ben on Friday and I heard that Jet Steam Direct Finish had been done on Aonach Mor. If folks are heading out, the conditions are perfect under foot. All snow is rock hard and crampons need to be put on sooner rather than later if heading up hill. I saw a couple of folks having an epic around the goat track as they thought they would get some hight before kitting up (unlucky).

Friday, 11 December 2009

Mixed Action

I have finally shaken of the flu and other bugs that have plagued me so far this winter, to actually go climbing. Yesterday Greg and I headed up into Lochan and climbed War and Peace. It was an exciting choice as a first route of the season, but worked out well. Conditions(extremely icy cracks), both helped and made climbing very bold at times. The route took in some impressive and strenuous ground. There were other times on Sidewinder, Milky Way and a time making swift work of Ventricle (turns out Ian Parnell and Rich Cross).

Today we went into Sneachda and climbed Watchacha on Mess of potage Again conditions made the climbing extremely bold at times. This route had everything, bold slabby climbing to steep strenuous moves through the crack in the headwall. Over all a great 2 days.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cairngorm Update

Over the last couple of days Greg and James have been out in the corries. Yesterday they climbed the Message and Opening Break, saying that the conditions where good but hard going. Today they climbed Central Crack Route and attempted to finish up the Crack. However, conditions got the upper hand and they had to retreat. There are more Pics on Greg's blog.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Matt and John climbed Bulgy today in Corie an Lochain. He said that everything is buried and the climbing was hard going, with a lot of digging. More snow has fallen today, making easier angled routes very hard work with the amount of clearing that would be needed. My bad luck continues with a bad stomach bug. Yet another lost day, but a least I have stopped throwing up.

MLTS Providers Induction for CWLA

Yesterday I attended the induction for the new Climbing Wall Leader Award. This award should be online in January, and will be a good addition to anyone that currently holds the CWA or SPA awards. The day covered all aspects of the award from training stratagies and the assessment process, though to the paper work. A worthwhile training day.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Yesterday Matt and John climbed Fallout Corner. Matt commented that there was a lot of ice in the crack on the second pitch. This made for good climbing, but hard to get good protection.

Today he and John battled there way into Sneachda, only to turn around as the wind and heavy snow conditions put them off. I have heard rumours that there is a lot of snow on the Ben at the moment. Folks that have walked in are turning back or dropping the grade as the routes are quite buried high up.

Corrie's Update

Yesterday Greg and James climbed the start of Sidewinder into Western route to make a pleasent link up. Greg said that conditions were as good as the day before, with the turf now frozen lower down. I would expect that there might still be some turf insulated under deeper parts of snow on easy angled terrain.

Today Greg and James said that there has been more snow overnight and the corries look amazing, but the wind is 80 mph at the carpark and forecast to pick up even more today. Having had 2 days already they have decided on coffee in Aviemore. Thinks are due to change a little in the weather later in the week, fingers crossed it will help things continue to improve.