Tuesday, 11 December 2012

11.12.12 - Tower Gully I, Ben Nevis

Today Dave, Kev and I had wandered up to see what kinda nick the Ben was in with a view to climbing The Curtain IV,5. However after a closer look, it became apparent that although close, and looking decent on the upper sections, the first pitch wasn't quite good enough for climbing just yet.  Kev bailed to check the condition of a rock route he was keen to get done and Dave and I decided we would head up Observatory Gully, and up through Tower Gully to get a good look at how things were shaping up.  Conditions in the gully were varied and there was a fair bit of slab in all the usual areas.  On topping out from Tower Gully, we were blessed with amazing views, and particularly good views of the Cuillin of Skye. There were teams on other routes today such as North East Buttress, No3 Gully and an Edinburgh team who didn't quite know where they were or where they were going ...or much else at all. What a cracking day!

Coire na Ciste today

Carn Dearg and Trident today

NE Buttress today

Observatory Gully today

CMD and left hand section of Indicator Wall today

The view heading down towards No4

the all new, all singing, all dancing No4 Gully marker Cairn

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

02.12.12 - Ledge Route, Ben Nevis

Parking at the North Face car park in Torlundy, the smugness of the 28th of November had subsided to an apathetic feeling of dread when we thought about the long walk up to the CIC hut.  We did however get on with it and a good mix of witty banter and mutual suffering made the journey tolerable!  We soon found ourselves gearing up under Carn Dearg to beautifully clear views.  The route itself was in very good condition underfoot, an advantage of its popularity I would guess.  A very enjoyable straightforward ascent amidst great views was savoured by all.  After a few photos, we headed for our descent route, No4 Gully.  When we reached the Gully top we were greeted by a foreign climber who had just ascended No4 Gully and very kindly offered us a sip from his hip flask, thinking it would be rude to refuse, we all indulged ...Talisker, Jackpot!   After a few more photos we descended No4 Gully, which was in good conditions if a little lean. Yet another magical day out, big thanks to Kev, Dave, Dessie, Craig and Anna!

Heading up the long long road to the CIC hut

Approaching the initial slab of Ledge Route (II)

Dessie, Craig and Anna high on the route

good conditions

Good Company 

Ben Nevis, CMD and the Aonachs 

Monday, 3 December 2012

01.12.12 - Sron na Lairig

On a frosty Saturday morning myself and quite a few friends made our way up the Lairig Eilde towards the classic grade II, Sron na Lairig.  A great deal of frost and frozen turf and surface water provided smiles and slides all round!  The ridge itself we found in decent condition and were spoilt with amazing views all day.  Once having topped out from Sron na Lairig, we topped Stob Coire Sgreamhach (1,072m) before U-turning and making our way back back down to the Lairig Eilde via an interesting route.  Another good day in the mountains with friends!

Craig and Anna on the narrow section

myself, Dessie, Kev, Anna, Dave and Craig

Sron na Lairig

canny beat it! 

the Lairig Eilde

a busy Sron na Lairig

the mob! 

28.11.12 - Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis

On an early, cold morning the starship USS Focus pulled up at the top car park at in the Allt a Mhuilinn. Feeling considerably smug having bypassed the god awful walk up from Torlundy we quickly made progress up the path to the CIC hut.  We had decided to climb up the Douglas Gap East Gully and from there, up the Douglas Gap to gain the ridge proper.  This initial climb was a good indication of things to come, iced and snowed up rock in which most situations a hand was as good as an axe! We had made slow progress throughout the day and eventually reached the eastern traverse.  A banked out, sugary traverse on disintegrating footholds far above tower gully made the sphincter twitch a few times before completing the ordeal and moving up through the tunnel to a solid thread belay on a chock stone.  After some good leading by Dave we gained the great tower just as light faded and now faced Tower Gap in the dark.  As you can imagine, given the overall condition of the route, this made for slow progress as all four of us one at a time crossed the gap.  Once the gap was out of the way, a collective sigh of relief was heard from the entire group, now making good progress up the easy exit slopes and the only neve snow we found on the entire 600m route was on the final 15m exit chimney!  a quick group photo and a snickers before we all headed down the zig zags and back to the car.  What a cracking day out with Dave, Kev and Craig, Cheers lads!

Morning Light behind the first platform on NE Buttress

Gearing up with Dave, Kev and Craig

Kev and Dave having just completed the Eastern Traverse 

Myself about mid way on the Eastern Traverse

Kev, enjoying a bomber spike belay!

Cracking photo by Craig of us approaching Tower Gap

Topped out! , 

Monday, 26 November 2012

26.11.12 - Stob Ban, North Ridge

Today we took a trip up and along the North Ridge of Stob ban in the Mammores.  On the route good conditions were found, with snow being quite deep (2-3ft in places) and forming some well defined cornices.  The rock was rimed but not to any significant extent and the turf remains unfrozen, insulated by the snow on top. All in all another enjoyable day!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

25.11.2012 Aonach Eagach

Today I set off for a traverse of the Aonach Eagach with some friends to get an idea of any winter conditions that may be lurking in Glencoe.  What we found was that there was a considerable amount of snow, but by no means only powdered up rock, some good quality snow and a lot of rimed up rock witch was quite substantial  All in all a very enjoyable and memorable day out with good friends in good conditions.

SCNL Today

Aonach Eagach ridge today

the Pinnacles of the AE ridge

Protecting the pinnacles 

what a view, descending towards Glencoe 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

04.11.2012 - Polldubh Crags, Glen Nevis

I spent today teaching Colin and Diane gear placement, belay construction  rope work and abseiling at Polldubh Crags, Glen Nevis.  After a in depth look at several different types of active and passive rock protection, Colin and Diane got straight into practise trying to fit just about every piece of pro I own into the various nooks and crannies of Severe Crack and Clapham junction on Pinnacle Ridge! From there we headed to SW buttress where we went through abseil and top roping set up and management before ending the day with a climb up The Gutter (Diff) on Pine Wall Crag. Well done and thank you to Colin and Diane for a cracking day!

Hard at work placing wired Nuts! 

Friday, 26 October 2012

24.10.2012 - Sgurr Dearg and The Inaccessible Pinnacle

Our latter of our two days on Skye saw us up early and head up the south west ridge of Sgurr Dearg which in its self is a grade 1/2 scramble and very enjoyable route. We arrived at the top of Sgurr Dearg to the spectacular sight that is the Inaccessible Pinnacle standing dominantly over the summit. With no time to waste, we headed to the bottom of the In Pin to start the climb. The In Pin is traditionally climbed in 2 pitches but with Andy expressing that he did not want to lead any of them, I lead the two pitches, in one long single pitch using a 60m rope.  The climbing on the east ridge of the In Pin is graded a three star Moderate, this easy grade does nothing to reflect the exposure on this climb. I personally climb at HVS standard and I was very glad of placing gear on this super exposed narrow fin of rock towering above the steep walls of Coire Lagan. A great anchor on the west side of the In Pin produces a confident 20m abseil back to its base.  From Sgurr Dearg we headed off towards An Stac, skirting it on the Coire Lagan side on some scree before reaching the Bealach Coire Lagan and onwards to topping out on Sgurr Mihc Connich! Another cracking day on Skye!

the In Pin as seen from Sgurr Dearg Beag

Looking back down the In Pin, to get an idea of how narrow this is please consider that the rope you can see has a diameter of 8.6mm!

Bomber abseil anchor on the west side of the In Pin summit 
Me abseiling off the In Pin

Andy en route to Sgurr Mhic Connich 

there's always time for a pose! 

The Inaccessible Pinnacle and Sgurr Dearg as seen from the Great Stone Chute of Sgurr Alasdair 

Coire Lagan

23.10.12 - Pinnacle Ridge, Sgurr nan Gillean

On Tuesday Andy and I headed up to Skye to take in a few legendary routes on the Black Cuillins, the first of which was to be Pinnacle Ridge on Sgurr nan Gillean. Graded at Difficult, this was a truly spectacular route involving some classic Cuillin exposure on steep aspects with rewarding views all round. From the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean (which isnt much bigger in area than a pool table!) we descended along the ridge and soon found ourselves at the summit of Am Basteir and made our way on to the iconic Basteir tooth. After a short and moderately tricky, atmospheric abseil, we made good time up to our final Munro of the day, Bruach na Frithe and descended back to Sligachan from Sgurr a Bhasteir. A great all round mountaineering day out! 

Pinnacle Ridge, Sgurr nan Gillean

Andy on Abseil from the 3rd pinnacle, Pinnacle Ridge

Looking back to the 3rd Pinnacle from the Knights Peak

Andy about to abseil off the Basteir Tooth

Very atmospheric abseil off the Basteir Tooth

Am Basteir (left) and the Basteir Tooth (right)

Am Basteir