Monday, 22 April 2013

22.4.13 - Team Welch 3 Peaks - Ben Nevis

Today I was working for Mountain and Glen and arriving at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre this morning I was quite pessimistic about our chances of summiting today, given the weather and the considerable snow cover up on the Ben.  We started off with an 'lets just see' approach and made good time to the Red Burn half way point, enjoying some stingy rain and strong gusts of wind along the way.  After a quick water refill, he headed off up the zig zags.  We got to the corner of zig zag 4 and 5 (exactly 1,000m high) before encountering any snow what so ever.  On our way up ZZ5 the snow cover on the path was very patchy and very soft underfoot.  By the time we had reached ZZ6 we were walking completely in very soft, well stepped out snow which continued through out and mixed with a capable group, made a summit attempt viable with some careful management and some coaching.  Once at the top of the zig zags, visibility had reduced to 3m-ish, Pea Soup to be technical, so we continued to the top by walking on a bearing and couldnt see the summit cairn until we were about 3m away from it.  Standing at the cairn, we couldnt see the shelter!  The group were extremely happy to have made it to the top, which none of them had done before!  We didnt hang around much and made a speedy descent, our overall time being a very respectable 5hrs 45minutes given these conditions.  Big thank you and well done to my group of Sarah, Jamie, Lucy, John, Tim, Gary, Helen and Chris.  Good effort guys!

Heading up Zig Zag 5 today

High spirits despite the weather!

The team on the summit of Ben Nevis 1,344m

Still smiling on the decent! 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

20.4.13 - Na Gruagaichean, The Mamores.

Today I was bored. I took myself for a short day up Na Gruagaichean 1,056m from the Kinlochleven side via Coire na Bá.  Na Gruagaichean is a mountain that I'd never been up before, probably because its right on my door step, I see it every day from my window and the fact that its 'right there' always took away any urgency to get up it, so when I found myself at a loose end today I thought I might as well.  The walk itself isnt particularly interesting until you actually top out on the ridge and are able to enjoy the views of the ring of Steall and the Ben.

Yesterday, Dave and I headed to Polldubh to kick start our summer season of rock climbing, nothing too hard on the first day out.  In good weather we enjoyed ascents of Resurrection VS4c, Damnation VS4c and Iche HVS 5a.

looking over to the ring of Steall

Kinlochleven, a staging area for the Jeremy Kyle show

Loch Leven and the Pap

Na Gruagaichean from my window

My window from Na Gruagaichean

looking back along the summit ridge 

The Ben and the CMD from Na Gruagaichean

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Winter 2012/2013 season summary

I simply cant find the words to express how I truly feel about how amazing a season its been.  The combination of good conditions and great partners had made this not only the most productive and enjoyable winter season I've ever had, but also the most memorable one.  I have climbed routes this season that I never thought I would.  My climbing ability and techniques have sky rocketed far beyond even my most optimistic pre season hopes and dreams.  I am in no doubt what so ever that my development and enjoyment over the season is in no small part the direct result of climbing with good partners, to which I owe a great deal.  It is with a heavy heart that I now reluctantly place the tools away after a season so great that I never wanted it to end.  Time to get on some rock, but hey, winters only 8 months away!

Thank you all so very, very much guys.  You know exactly who you are! 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

02.04.13 - Orion Face Direct V,5

After a very early rise and the habitual hill breakfast and cup of tea, I soon found myself at the North Face Car Park meeting Dave .  We had been planning a hit on the Orion Face for a good few days proper and a good few weeks before swithering if we should or not.  We decided we should.  The approach to the first belay was littered with substantial amounts of poorly bonded windslab so a careful approach and route choice was exercised.  Dave started up pitch one confidently enjoying the perfect climbing conditions and I sent pitch 2 in a similar fashion enjoying a full 60m ice pitch to a good rock belay.  We made our way through the pitches until we found ourselves at the crucial traverse pitch, we were very keen to see for ourselves what kinda nick this was in after being told by several sources that it was very thin and precarious.  When we saw what we had to tend with we collectively breathed a sigh of relief, it was nowhere near as bad as it had been made out to be and actually looked like good fun!  Dave confidently dispatched of the traverse and again we continued with the pitches until the bottom of the exit chimneys.  At the bottom of the exit chimney, we both felt a little strange, happy to be so close to completing this iconic route, yet at the same time a little sad that such a great route was nearly over.  I lead up the exit chimneys which in my opinion was some of the best, most under rated and enjoyable climbing anywhere on the face, a good 40m pitch lead to a good rock belay on the left, then Dave moved up past this to top out.  I have never climbed such an amazing route anywhere, instant favorite.  A good friend of ours said something like some routes are hyped up but dont live up to the hype, but on the Orion face the hype doesnt live up to the route. I agree with this statement whole heartedly.  What an amazing route.

Dave checks out the Topo Card!

Dave leads off on P1

Myself leading P2

Dave seconding P2

Starting out on P4

Dave on the traverse on P5

Leaving the belay on P8 up the exit chimneys

In the exit chimneys on P8

Great Photo by Al Halewood, showing the scale of the face, we can be seen just below the exit chimneys