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

Sunday, 6 July 2014

06.07.14 - Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag

Today Christine, Alec and I started out on a week of Munro bagging for Up and Doon guided walks.  We took the Gondola and from the top station made our ascent of Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag after a short detour to the view point.  Todays weather was a mix of rain, cold winds, warm sunshine and everything in between.  When the clouds did clear, they revealed beautiful views of the Ben and of Loch Lochy and Loch Eil.  A great first day had by all!

Christine and Alec enjoying mixed Scottish weather!

The guys on the summit of Aonach Mor, 1221m

beautiful views of Ben Nevis and the Carn Mor Dearg arete

Lunch on the summit of Aonach Beag 1234m

05.07.14 - North Buttress with Simon and Paul

Today Paul, Simon and I headed to the Buachaille to go over some ropework and the principles of multipitch climbing.  We covered leader placed protection and its removal, anchor/stance selection, belays and direct belay options as well as how to use and safely release a guide plate under load.  It was also a great opportunity to get the guys climbing in their B2 boots ahead of their trip to Chamonix.  Another great day on the Buachaille!

Simon looking super cool (as usual) 

Paul and Simon exiting the first crack system

The guys exiting the crux crack

Big smiles after a great day out!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

30.6.14 - Glencoe rocks!

Yesterday Jamie and I decided to get out and take advantage of the dry conditions in Glencoe.  We headed up the Coire nan Lochan path and veered off to Nirvana Wall for our first hit of the day.  Nirvana Wall is a 2 pitch HS 4b, 3 star classic that takes the crack line up the centre of Far Eastern Buttress on the East face of Aonach Dubh.  The climbing can only be described as beautiful and great fun.  Afterwards we continued up to Central Buttress on Stob Coire nan Lochan to tackle Central Grooves VS4c.  After a dicey approach up the hard, compact snow to the base of the route (much use of pointy stone to cut steps), we geared up and enjoyed one of the best rock climbs I have ever had.  We decided to climb it in 4 pitches, this enabled us to have 2 VS 4c pitches each.  The route itself is magnificent.  Why it doesn't get 3 star rating is beyond me.  The climbing is very bridgey and thinky.  The gear is always there if you look for it, even if the footholds arent!  a fantastic route following the obvious groove/corner that I'll be sure to climb again.  What a great day out!

me heading off up P2 of Central Grooves.  Photo: Jamie Bankhead

Getting higher up P2.  Photo:Jamie Bankhead

JB's new wheels! 

Jamie heading off up P1 on Nirvana Wall

Me heading up P2 of Nirvana Wall.  Photo: Jamie Bankhead 

Jamie engaged on P1 of Central Grooves

Climbers on Unicorn