Sunday, 31 January 2010

1st Aid

I've spent the weekend at Slochd Lodge doing a BASP 1st aid refresher. It's been good to go over all the things again as they do become rusty. Next week I'm climbing with a freind (Matt) for 3 days before work at the end of the week. Matt has not done that much in the winter, so the aim will be to get on some routes to push him and some he can lead and chill out.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Corie an Slushpuppy

Matt has been out in Sneachda for the last couple of days. Today he climbed the Haston Line which was running with water. It froze solid later in the day as the temperature came down. another team climbed the direct start to Hidden Chimney.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Northern Corries

I was working in sneachda today with Matt and Nic. We had 7 teachers from George Watson's College. I was climbing with James and Jamie. Are route was the varied Prodigal Principle which consisted of some thin steep ice, an icy overlap and a narrow mixed chimney. The climbing was excellent, but a little bold with the current conditions. All the cracks are either buried or iced up and a lot of digging is needed. We decended Aladdin's Couloir which had a bit of new snow in it and was getting more blown in through the day. We then climbed a steep but short Aladdin's Mirror Direct. A lot of snow was on the move today and care should be taken if you are heading in this week, Watch the weather.

Above - Jamie and James coming up Aladdin's Mirror Direct
Matt climbed Patey's Route with Richard and Chris, as did a few other teams. Nic worked with Richard T as he led Martin and Ali up their first winter climb, Central Gully. It was quite busy today with some teams hell bent on death roping above other teams. There is evidence under the apron of the mess of potage of an avalanche.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Ben Ledi Skills

I was working for the EICA:Ratho today on Ben Ledi. Myself Euan and Glenn were running a winter skills day with a large group for this single day course. There was some excellent snow to work with so we covered a whole range of skills. These were built into the journey so we all summited to see an amazing sunset before heading down.

East face direct

Yesterday I headed in to Stob Coire Nan Lochan, with Tim and Keith "my arms are tired!" Ball. We climbed East Face Direct route. Keith managed an outstanding lead on the crux even though he said his arms were tired!! What a route, what a laugh.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Lazy Day

Today all the guys were a bit beat after the weeks activity, so we opted to look at some climbing movment to increase their confidence moving in crampons. We started the day at Onich slabs which was perfect. This totally opened their eyes as to what you can stand on in a set of crampons and that you don't have to smash axes into everything. The afternoon took us to the Ice Facter. This gave the guys the chance to look at more new skills and what comes after mountaineering. It's fair to say that they are hooked and keen to keep learning. A great way to finish a good week.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Ben Skills

Today we went up to the Ben. The track is all good to drive on and the walk in easy. There is still lots of ice around the cascades and more in the ciste low down. We stayed by the hut and did some firther skills before taking a look at movement skills on steeper terrain to boost confidence. A good day and mostly out of the wind which was moving a lot of snow around.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bucket Seat Bliss

Today we walked up into Stob Corie nam Beith to get on to some steep snow and do some digging. There was a lot of good snow about to make in feel quite real to the guys today, which was just what we needed. They did an excellent job pitching their way up the steep left hand side of the corie, working very hard when digging (glad it wasn't me). Time got the better of us near the top some we reversed thrusters and looked at descending safely.

Chris climbed on the ice to the side of Deep Cut Chimney, commenting that it was excellent. Nigel climbed Deep Cut Chimney which he said was thin, but the ice that was there was good. There were many teams on West Chimney which is said to be in fine nick.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Buachaille

On the Buachaille Summit

We walked up in to Corie na Tulaich today to cover more skills as part of our journey to the top of the Buachaille. The snow was a lot firmer in places and gave us the chance to spend a bit of time looking at footwork. For us this meant kicking steps in all directions, shapes and sizes. We ventured into the world of the bucket seat, buried axe and even a bollard on our descent.
It will be great to get out and test these new skills later in the week.
Chris climbed Curved Ridge with his ckient today. He said that there was an excellent 30m ice pitch near the bottom, verglassed rock to start the ridge, then winter all the way. Zac climbed Dorsal Arete which he said still has loads of snow on it. He also said that the buttresses had rimed nicely.

Monday, 18 January 2010

White Corries

Today was the first day of a week long Winter Mountaineering course for Adventure Peaks. The folks I'm with have limited experience, so we are starting with the basics and working up through the week to an adventure at the end.

The weather was good today, with little wind and colder than expected temps. There is still some strange layers in the snowpack, but it does seem to be settling down.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Irish Winter

I had an e mail from Colm and Dave who are clients from Ireland who wanted to show me how they are getting on. They have been taking advantage of the cold conditions and really putting the skills they have learnt over the last 3 years to good use. They are back in Scotland this year, so I have my work cut out to take them even further.

Good skills lads!!

Friday, 15 January 2010


Yesterday I was at the logde for their winter induction as I have work there next month. I was feeling a bit run down, so the lazy day was a relief. Today I feel a little under the weather, so having the weekend off before another 7 day stretch is just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Lost Valley and Ben Udlaidh

Due to living in the back of a van for a few days I have not managed to update as regularly as normal.

On Monday Matt and I worked all the way up to Lost Valley Buttress to find that the route we wanted to climb was not really in. It looked as though someone had done it recently, but we could not justify it. The day was saved by another route to the left that had held it’s snow. Moonlighting is a steeper than it looks and varied V,6. The rock is a little shattered, so the gear is not as comforting as you would always like. We had stunning views from the top down Loch Etive and over Arrocher.

Tuesday took us up to Beinn Udlaidh. Despite being a bit tired we seemed to be on it once we started. We soloed up Central Gully to get to Junior’s Jaunt IV,5. This had to excellent pitch, the first a thin-ish corner which took you to the up stepped wall. One we would definitely recommend. We then abseiled into Organ Pipe Wall, this has an extremely steep pillar in the centre. I climbed this direct which felt a lot harder than the V,5 given (I had to have a little word with myself). The right hand line and using the groove as describe looked more in keeping with the grade. It was still early so we walked down and climbed Peter Pan Direct V,5. This is a bit chopped up but still offers good climbing. The start is steep but short lived, then a slab takes you to the belay. A nice grade IV pitch then leads to the top.

There was a lot of wind and snow moving yesterday. Quite large pockets of slab were forming around the tops of gullies and around the base of the crag. We waited to keep an eye as one fella did battle with a horrible soft cornice top out on Quartz Vein Scoop. There are a lot of strange layers in the snow pack at the moment and a lot of care needed.

Today I went and climbed the Oui Oui with Nic. It's holding in there, but won't last long if the temperatures stay as they are. the middle is hollow and kicked to bits. The top icicle have formed and looks stunning. Scott Muir climbed it a few days ago, so it's there to be done.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Beinn Udlaidh

Today I was working for adventure Peaks again. We went into a quite busy Beinn udlaidh. As usual most of the crowds were over on Quartzvein round to Green Eyes. We desided on Central Gully so we could continue on what we covered yesterday. Alister did a good job leading the first 2 pitches (Angela was not herself today), and I took the easy stretch to the top. There is a fantastic 10m ice slab to be climbed instead of following the gully direct which leads you back to the main route. It is easy to avoid the bulk of it, which looks like most people have been doing. On the way in we spotted a short steep looking fall on the right of the corrie, so we came back down to this. It offered some steep excellent climbing around grade 4ish (I can't grade) on blue ice. this was an great way to rap up the weekend.

Adventure Peaks offer a wide range of courses, most notably there greater ranges expeditions. check out the website for more info.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Nice Ice

I am working for Adventure Peaks this weekend with Alister and Angela. The aim of the course for these guys was to start leading as they are off to Norway. We walked up the Lochain path and found 2 ice routes on the weat side of Gearr Aonach after 30 mins. Both these offered excellent climbing at grade 2 with mainly ice screw belays.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Grey Mare's Tail

Martin climbed the Grey Mare's Tail today. He said that both sides were in good condition and there were 3 other teams on it. He also said the road to get there was a bit dodgy.

You might get pics on the climbnow winter blog

i saw some great looking ice in Glen Ogle on my drive over to Onich this afternoon. Might be worth a look.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Sorry for the lack of up to date info. I have been away from regular internet access this week, hopefully I have caught up now.

Matt and I had spent the night in the van up at the Bridge of Orchy. We headed up on to Creag an Socach on Beinn Dorain. The approach was a relatively easy hour walk in. There has been some strong winds about as we noticed some hard wind slab with a number of layer that broke away easily. The main event was Messiah. At VII,7 this is said to be one of the finest climbs in the Southern highland. It did not disappoint, sustained steep climbing, with excellent turf gave an awesome experience. Matt made swift work of the first pitch which included the hilarious hand traverse. I linked the next 2 pitches to make quiet a long strenuous pitch. The vertical ice groove on pitch 3 was a mix pitch all the way.

We had time to do another easier route, so we climbed Second Coming. This is a very interesting III,4 that climbs some steep turf and pleasent ice. Matt also desided to throw his axe down the crag at the belay so had to make do with just 1 and a snug rope. We had almost given up hope of finding said axe when I stumbled across it saving the day from a nagative end.

An amazing day in awesome weather.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Day of Disappointment

I hooked up with Matt, with the view of strapping in on and having a bit of an adventure. We don't get to climb together that much any more so wanted to make the most of it. After scanning weather forecasts and phoning Di for for beta futher north we had a plan. We woke at 5am, had a quick breakfast and headed for Beinn Bhan in the NW. The snow that was forecast overnight did'nt seem to have appeared, so we were feeling good about the day and psyced to go somewhere new. As we drove the snow got worse and the blizzards came. Are enthusiasum pushed us on and we still had high hopes. On arriving at Loch Carron we encountered a small hill. This proved to be the 1st crux of the morning. We blew the on sight in style as we tried to ferry glide are way up the road. The 1st redpoint was probably are high point. This included a half mile run up and me running and pushing to get every inch we could. After about 6 shots, Matt had mastered the 1 point turn and we head back home with are tails down, but not between our legs. We had a new plan.

We would pick up some extra kit and head down to the Fort and climb Steall Falls. Quick short route, peice of winky. After 7 hours driving we where making our way up the Glen on a very snowy road. we made it to Simiter Buttress before we got spanked again. This time sliding down the road sideways with me pushing the van to help keep it out of the ditch (how much help I was is questionable). It took both of us to push the van back straight and make our retreat out of the glen. We thought about walking in from there, but were more worried we would not get the van back out of the Glen. After the scariest 30 mins I can remember we strapped our eyeballs of the windscreen as we made it out. Not yet fully defeated we had a back up.

Take 2: We met Di Gillbert and Kev Sheilds, who had a 4 x 4, RESULT. However, what we did not know was that if Carlsberg made 4 x 4's, they would not make this one. We managed to get to within 200m of the carpark before we got stuck. Steve Gordon who was meeting Di and Kev cruised up in his skoda taxi (winter tyres folks) and gave us a lift down. What followed was a valient rescue attempt be Alan Kimber and Clients with 2 4x4's which failed and another failed attempt by some folk from the mountain rescue team.

So after a day of almost 9 hours driving we climbed nothing. Hopefully tomorrow will bring better luck.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Low Level Water Ice

I have been working for Nick Carter the past 2 day. I have been climbing with Alex and Dave who wanted to look at leading and improve in general. Yesterday we went to Drummochter Pass and climbed up the burn I had been to recently. This worked brilliantly. They pitched their way up placing ice screws as they went. We then drove a little further south and climbed a few pitches of roadside ice with a demaning 30 sec approach.

Today we wanted to try a few steeper things and put into practice some of the skills we covered yesterday. We went to Creag Dubh to have a look at Oui Oui. Despite being early there were quite a few folk around. The only free line was up the steeper left hand side. This offered some excellent climbing that probably touched grade 5. With tired arms we had lunch then climbed a slabby line up on the left wing before climbing the main (easier) line of the main fall. An excellent day.