Sunday, 3 August 2014

A wet week in Chamonix with Paul and Simon

After Ali had left and taken the sunshine with her, I met up with Paul and Simon.  The idea was to complete a few acclimitisation routes in order to prepare for and undertake upon an ascent of Mont Blanc.  The first day was a total write off, heavy persistent rain had forced us to participate in a free wifi pilgrimage of Chamonix.  Day two wasnt much better but we agreed if nothing else we should atleast start the acclimitisation process and took the lift up the Midi.  From the top station, we made our way down the ridge and across the Col du Midi to the Cosmiques hut at the base of the Cosmiques Arete where we had some coffee and a bit of whinging about the weather before the inevitable slog back up to the midi top station to get the lift back down to Cham.  The next day out was a little better and gave us a good 14hr weather window.  Given the uncertain nature of the weather, we decided on a good quick hit on a traverse of the Pointes Lachenal.  This is a great AD route which takes in 3 high points along a short(ish) ridge which the guys managed no problem.  Unfortunately the weather didnt play ball, with a lot of heavy snowfall in the previous days and no real break in the conditions I decided that it was unjustifiably risky to go anywhere near the 3 monts route.  I was saddened to hear on my return to the UK that 2 Italian climbers were killed in an avalanche on this route the day after we had decided not to press on.  What we did do, was to go up to the cosmiques hut and spent the night there, making for a good early start on the Cosmiques Arete the next morning.  Although we were all disappointed not to summit Mont Blanc, the guys did have a good few days out and it was a great introduction to alpine mountaineering.  I'd like to congratulate Paul and Simon on their successes on the Cosmiques and on Pointe Lachenal, the big bastard will still be there next time lads :)

the guys after topping out on Cosmiques Arete

Pea soup on the first day up high

gorgeous view

better weather for Pointe Lachenal!

Paul and Simon with the Aiguille du Midi in the background

making our way to the first Pointe up a snowslope

Paul and Simon on the fist Pointe

Paul, Simon and myself on the last Point of the traverse

Pointe Lachenal with weather closing in from the Italian side

Paul on the 2nd abseil on Cosmiques Arete

Simon and Paul just after the crux

Ali in the Alps!

I have been horrendously busy the past few weeks and the old Blog is always the first to suffer!  After my last day guiding Christine on the Ben, Ali and I left and headed for Chamonix to get some climbing done and have a bit of a busmans holiday.  We got to Cham after a horrendous bus journey thanks to National Express being to bus journeys what Brian Blessed is to libraries.  Anyway, we got there and we spent the first day trying to forget the journey, the second day we headed to the Gaillands climbing area which was (and always is) absolutely mobbed, after bagging a few routes we had decided it was infact too hot to climb.  The next day we got the but to Argentiere and climbed the Aiguilette d'Argentiere.  This is a great route and a very pleasant day out, offering great views of the valley and the odd charmoz or two.  After this it was time for Ali to bag her first ever alpine route and Cosmiques Arete was the natural choice.  A great AD route, with a short walk in and no walk out that can be done in as little as 3-5hrs depending on the traffic jams in all the usual places.  The weather was perfect, the rock was dry and the day was very enjoyable indeed (even meeting Ali's strict criteria for a good day out!).  After we topped out, a quick 40 euros later and we were enjoying tea (as negotiated by Ali before we had even left the UK) and some chips at the cafe in the Midi.  2 days later Ali left Chamonix and took all the good weather, much to the disappointment of Paul, Simon and myself who stayed on another week.

Ali chilling at Lac Bleu

The Midi from Lac Bleu

Ali on the sharp end in the Gaillands 

too hot to climb!

cheeky Charmoz in the Aiguilles Rouge 

Ali and the Aiguilette d'Argentiere

Me on P1 of the Aiguilette

Ali at the top looking toward Mont Blanc

job done!

Ali happy on the Cosmiques

Ali enjoying the view

Beautiful girlfriend, beautiful view = Happy days

me on the 'crux' crack

Ali seconds the crack

knackered and hot!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

11.07.14 - Tower Ridge and my last days guiding on the Ben

Today was the last day of Up and Doon guided walks Munro bagging week.  This was also my last day guiding.  After having done a bit of scrambling earlier in the week on Stob Ban and Sgurr a' Mhaim, we decided to go out in style and chose Tower Ridge as our route of choice.  Tower Ridge is the obvious, impressive ridge splitting Coire na Ciste and Observatory Gully.  This impressive wedge is Scotlands longest route on her highest mountain.  Christine was a bit apprehensive at first but was reassured by the positive nature of the rock and the impressive scenery.    We made our way up the Douglas Boulder East Gully, up out of the Douglas Gap and onto the ridge proper.  We were blessed most of the day with great views of the coires and gullies of the Ben and neighbouring Carn Mor Dearg.  By the time we had reached the Great Tower and Tower Gap the mist had rolled in, much to Christines delight!  a short time later we were on the summit.  Mixed emotions for me.  What a way to spend my last days guiding on the Ben, a classic route, great weather and a great client.  As we left the summit I paused and looked at what I was due to miss.  The summit of Ben Nevis has become a very special place for me, a home from home.  I would be lying if I had said I didnt have a small lump in my throat.  Still onwards and upwards, a new world awaits and no matter where my work may take me, guiding in the mountains of Scotland will always have a very special place in my heart.  Thanks to everyone I've ever worked for or with and most of all, thanks to all the great people I've met over the years.  I am forever in your debt.

Christine on the walk in to the CIC hut 
Christine sizes up Tower Ridge

Tower Ridge in all its grandeur 

Christine enjoying the route and views

is there a better place to stop for lunch? 

Looking over to Carn Dearg 

Just below the Great Tower

Christine proud on the summit

not goodbye, just cheerio. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

10.07.14 - Beinn na Lap

Today Christine, Alec and I caught the train to Corrour, the most remote station on the British rail network.  This was Alecs final day with us and so we headed for Beinn na Lap, a 935m Munro offering great views of loch Ossian as well as numerous mountains in Lochaber and Glencoe.  Corrour sits at an altitude of 400m, making Beinn na Lap an easy Munro to bag.  After enjoying the spectacular views, we made a steady descent back to Corrour to wait for our train, another great day out in a very remote and beautiful part of Scotland.

Christine and Alec on the summit of Beinn na Lap 935m

stunning views of Loch Ossian and Schiehallion

Beinn na Lap from Corrour station ...waiting on our train!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

9.7.14 - Buachaille Etive Beag

Today I rejoined my Munro bagging group and headed for Buachaille Etive Beag.  We had previously decided that this was to be a rest day, but with a great forecast we decided we'd take it easy and bag another 2 Munros at a leisurely pace. We made steady progress up to the col and then headed up Stob Coire Raineach, spotting 2 Ptarmigans on the way to the summit.  From the summit we about turned and headed back to the col and then up to the 902 contour before walking along a sun blessed ridge, enjoying beautiful views to Stob Dubh.  Once topped out on Stob Dubh, we sat and had some lunch whilst enjoying great views of Loch Etive, the Bidean massif and all else in sight (far too much to name!).  A steady descent back to the car park then off to the Clachaig Inn for a late lunch.  Great day out in Glencoe yet again!

Christine and Alec on the summit of Stob Coire Raineach

Looking towards Stob Dubh from Stob Coire Raineach

Alec and Christine on the summit of Stob Dubh 
902m - Stob Dubh

Great views of Loch Etive

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

08.07.14 - Ben Nevis via the mountain footpath

Today I had a break from guiding on my Munro bagging week as I had already committed to work on the Ben track for Adventure Nevis.  Today I was Guiding Yuji and his sister, two young Japanese nationals who were on holiday in Scotland and keen to climb its highest peak.  These guys were amongst the nicest, most enthusiastic and appreciative people I have ever guided on the Ben and made for a very rewarding day out.  We took the path as far as corner 6 and then cut across to No4 Gully area where we enjoyed great views of the North face, great time was had by everyone, an absolute joy to meet these great people who even gave me some Japanese sweeties!

Half way and psyched to get going!

The guys on the summit ...and some burd in a bra.

Cup Noodles on the top!

Monday, 7 July 2014

07.07.14 - Stob Ban and Sgurr a Mhaim

Today on day 2 of a Munro Bagging week with Alec and Christine we headed to Glen Nevis.  The aim of today was to bag 2 more Munros and even try out a little scrambling so the natural choice for this endeavour was the North Ridge of Stob Ban.  A great introductory route that the guys loved, the North Ridge takes an interesting crest line up the long ridge that extends towards Glen Nevis from Stob Ban.  Before too long we had bagged the top and had our lunch at the bealach above Coire Mhusgain before heading off on part two of the day.  We headed up the Devils Ridge to the summit of Sgurr a' Mhaim (Munro no2) where we enjoyed some stunning, if slightly claggy views of Glen Nevis and the Ring of Steall. We descended via the pleasant scree slopes to the West and down the trail to Lower falls, when back at the car Christine was quoted as stating it was " The best days walking ever".

Alec and Christine on the summit of Stob Ban 999m

Big smiles from Christine after enjoying the Devils Ridge!

The guys on the summit of Sgurr a' Mhaim 1,099m

The North Ridge of Stob Ban, seen from Sgurr a' Mhaim