Information and photos of my mountaineering trips in Scotland,England and Wales:
Including hillwalking,scrambling and easy rock climbing.Also via ferrata, skiing and alpine trips in Europe.

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Sunday, 30 December 2007

Tarmachan Ridge, 30th December 2007

Myself, Stevie and Willy went on our first winter day out to try our new crampons and ice axes!The Tarmachan Ridge is fairly straightforward, although in bad weather it could be a little more challenging, as is getting up the access road from the side of Loch Tay, just outside Killin!
Although the whole route is basically a walk, there is one small section (if you do the route clockwise) where a slip could spoil your day, but it can be avoided.
Myself and Stevie trying not to look too cold after a brief luch stop.
Willy looking out over , er nothing!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Carn Mor Dearg Arete and Ben Nevis, 18th October, 2007

Of course if you're looking for the ultimate place for peace and quiet, you should try Ben Nevis, especially by the "tourist route"! As Britain's highest mountain, it attracts all types of visitors, most of them probably without a Ben Nevis Map. So be prepared for a cultural and fashion shock as you slog up the uninspiring, almost paved track to the boulder strewn plateau, probably to met by this;

as we found, on our first ever trip up the Ben! There were easily a hundred or more "3 peakers" milling around in the gloom, and quite scarily as we discovered on later trips, most seemed unaware of the near vertical drop only of the North East face just metres from the trig point! Of course they had every right to be there, it just felt like the world and his dog were up there. But it did reinforce the need to carry a good Ben Nevis Map, such as the Harveys Superwalker series. All this aside, tackling the Ben is still a rewarding day out , albeit a bit of a slog, especially once on the "zig zags" to the summit. However, be aware of the fickle nature of the mountain and go prepared. This does not mean jeans, trainers, bin liner and a Ginsters pastie! I'm sure some of the "quality nylon sportswear" crowd look at us in Goretex and 3 season boots and think we're overdressed. But then we're not cold and have dry feet! Remember, even as late as June/July you could be faced with this as the summit.

It can be too easy to stray too far left (on ascent) into Gardyloo Gully, so be aware and take a map! A good choice is the Harveys Superwalker series, which has a detailed Ben Nevis summit map.

For a more interesting trip, and view of Ben Nevis, then competent walkers with a head for heights should consider climbing by means of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete (CMD). Although a longer day out with luck you will be rewarded with views like this. (more to come in my next post).

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Via Ferrata (Kletterstieg) in Austria, September 2007

My most recent trip of note was with "Apine Arena"to the village of Erwhald, just inside the Austrian border and under the shadow of the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. Sadly the VF routes (or kletterstieg as their called in Austria) to the summit were only passable with crampons etc.
However we did do some other good VF's that week.The name of the first escapes me, but the situation was amazing; high above a stunning waterfall that crashed down below us!

Another route we tackeld was "Crazy Eddie". At first it was just a normal VF with the usual problems to overcome.I had heard of what was to come, but when we finally climbed up to it, it was "bigger" than expected; a 2 wire bridge approximatley 80+ metres across with very dodgy ladders, up to, and down from it!

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Jakes Rake, Langdale 8th July, 2007

Ben and myself camped at the Great Langdale Campsite, once again in glorious weather. After a bar-b-que and pasta, we went off to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel for a pint (well I had the pint!).
Sunday morning; as you can see I've got Ben fully trained in his duties as tea boy! After breakfast, we set off for the path beside Stickle Ghyll from the back of the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, which leads up to Stickle Tarn. Having done Jakes Rake before, I thought it would be a good introduction to scrambling for Ben.

The path gets a little steeper and scramblier near the top, but all very easy and a good warm up for what's to come!

For those new to scrambling, the site of Pavey Ark across Stickle Tarn can look quite imposing, with no obvious route up for the non roped climber. However a right to left upwards slanting line can be seen across the face of the cliffs. This is Jakes Rake.

As you walk round to the right of the Tarn, the route becomes more obvious.

Now the route doesn't seem as bad, but again, to the normal hillwalker the thought of being so high could be a little duanting!

Once you get over the small scree slope, you soon realise that the "rake" is actually a shallow groove running up the face of Pavey Ark. Although it can sometimes be a bit wet and slimey, you are naturally protected from the drop by the rock wall to your left. Only on a couple of occaisons are you "exposed", and even then you would have to throw yourself off to fall! (That said, I don't doubt there have been accidents here). The adventurous can stick top the crest of the wall on good steps but with greater exposure.

Looking down over Stickle Tarn and enjoying a well deserved lunch!

After lunch, we headed for Harrison Stickle. From here you get a good view of Pavey Ark from the side.

Luckily we had the route to ourselves, but by the time we'd had lunch it was getting a bit crowded!

From Harrison Stickle we went over to Pike of Stickle, with views over to Bowfell and Crinkle Crags, and Scafell beyond.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Wales weekend, 1st July, 2007

After paddling up Tryfan yesterday, and binning Bristly Ridge on Glyder Fach in favour of dry underwear, today we headed up to Bwlch Tryfan - in the rain.

Mark enjoying a refreshing cigarette, with Willy, Alan, Myself and Gordon behind. The south ridge of Tryfan is visible through the low cloud and mist in the background.

Mark, Willy, Alan and Myself raring to go at the foot of Bristly Ridge on Glyder Fach. Again this is grade 1, with possible grade 2 sections if chosen. The route is obvious, following a stone wall up to start of Sinister Gully!

Sinister Gully without the water!

With perfect timing, the heavens opened up again as we basically climbed what became a waterfall, up over slime and wet rock. The ropes were duly used, and after having wet shreddies from yesterday, we now had wet simmets, as the water ran down your sleeves everytime you raised an arm to make a move!

When we got to the top of Glyder Fach, a brief walk to the Cantilver, was followed by a crappy descent to the east of Glyder Fach back to Bwlch Tryfan, and then back to the car/pub/pint!

By that time most of Wales seemed to be underwater!

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Wales weekend, 30th June, 2007

Our long awaited trip to Wales coincided with the start of global warming, with forecasts of heavy rain all weekend! At least the drive down was uneventful and dry!
On Saturday morning, we parked in a very damp and dull Lyn Ogwen Valley, just by the start to the grade 1 scramble on Tryfan.
Although they probably shouldn't/wouldn't be needed as the north ridge is grade 1, we took the ropes, slings etc with the idea of practising if neccessary.
"Think the sun is trying to get through!"
Sadly this didn't happen, which is why there are no photos of the route.
We did get this profile of the ridge though, as we made our way down and back to the car, just as the sun came out - briefly!
Mark, Alan, Willy, Me and Gordon, back at the roadside in Lyn Ogwen.

Please send your captions for the above photo. Mark looking a little "light in his loafers".

Sunday, 10 June 2007

CMD Arete (the best way up Ben Nevis!)

If you've tried the tourist path to the top of Ben Nevis, you probably never want to go there again, or wonder if there is a more exciting way to climb Britains highest mountain (apart from "actually" climbing it!). Well there is. You can either park at the Nevis Rage Ski Centre and head SW following forest tracks to grid 147752. Or park at grid 145765 and follow tracks to 147752. I findusing a Harveys Map much easier as their 1:25000 scale is easier to read! From here, head SE along the Alt a' Mhuilinn, crossing the deer fence on the way.

Soon you will see Carn Beag Dearg on your left leading to Carn Dearg Meadhonach, and then the Munro, Carn Mor Dearg at 1220m. At some point (slightly vague) strike off east to start the slog up Carn Beag Dearg. Persevere as once you reach the first top, a little more climbing leads you onto the Munro and the ridge itself. As you move along the airy, but fairly easy Grade 1 scramble (a head for heights is useful although there is plenty of protection amongst the rocks if you don't want to stay on the crest), you will get stunning views of the North East Face of Ben Nevis.

The Carn Mor Dearg Arete (CMD), is a stunning place to be in good weather, but be aware of strong winds that would make i an altogether different day out! These photos were taken in mid June and although the ridge was mostly free of snow, as you see, some of the gully's and the summit still had a couple of feet of snow.

As you can see above, it is wise, even in June to stay away from any steep snow or possible cornices. However this was the only snow on the ridge and caused no problem. As we moved along, the cloud would break giving us tantalising glimpses of the route ahead.

As you can see the ridge swings round to the right (SW) for the final steep clamber up the boulder field to the summit. It is important not to stray too far NW as this leads to steeper ground above Coire Leis. There are several poles marking the route up which are useful, especially in poor weather. The summit itself can be a bit disappointing, but if you get the views then this route wins hands down. From the trig point you will get a cracking view of Tower Ridge with it's infamous gap. Again, knowledge of using a map and compass is essential whilst negotiating the summit. It is too easy to get captivated by either the view or the near vertical drop on the NE face. Here too the Harveys Map comes into it's own, with it's 1:25000 enlarged summit map. From here you can either retrace your steps, or follow the bearings shown on the map, (not the guy in jeans and trainers!) across the plateau and follow the zig zags to the track junction at 145724, above Lochan Meal an t-Suidhe, and then head north to the deer fence you crossed earlier (at some point you have to cross the Alt a' Mhuilinn). BE AWARE of cornices on Gardyloo Gully, Tower Gully and No 2 Gully to the north, and Five Finger Gully to the south, even in June as below.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Bidean Nam Bian, 29th April,2007

Myself, Bill, Stevie and Willy went to Glencoe today with the intention of doing the grade 1, "Rhyolite Romp", around the west face of Aonach Dubh.
Interestingly, (well not for Stevie and Bill !) we found ourselves on the wrong line of traverse, which appeared to be harder and dodgier than suggested in the "Scrambles in Lochaber", Cicerone Guide! So just myself Willy bravely carried on, only to find the point at where you turn back on yourself and go to the higher level, was not where we were! Obvious by the fact we didn't end up at Ossians Cave!
However after some improvisation, we got back to Bill and Stevie at the summit of Aonach Dubh.

Had we found the correct route, I'm sure Bill and Stevie would've enjoyed it? From Aonach Dubh's summit, we went over to Stob Coire Nan Lochan at 1115m. There are various grades of winter climbs here, which we'll maybe try one day, eh Stevie?

Looking over to Stob Coire Nam Beith.

The "Ben", with some spring snow still lying on the plateu.

Willy and Bill making their way along Bidean Nam Bian, 1150m.

We descended (through very cold and wet snow!) into the Lost Valley, and then back to the car park on the A82.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Langdale, Middlefell Buttress, 12th April 2007

Lorna and myself spent a couple of days in the National Trust, Great Langdale Campsite, in the Lake District. The weather was excellent and the scenery fantastic! The campsite is the perfect base to from which to explore the Langdales, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags.

We booked two days instruction on basic ropework with Bob Henson, a local guide and member of the Mountain Rescue Team. Although we wanted to learn the basics for roped scrambling, Bob said if we spent the day on Middlefell Buttress (Diff or V.Diff I think?), we would learn the techniques that apply to both scrambling and climbing.

We set off from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Pub car park and headed for the err, middle buttress!

The route is an excellent place to learn to lead and place protection etc, and if you look carefully, in the centre of the picture, at the top left of the buttress, you can just see the tree (with in situ gear) that we did our 50m abseil from. It is possible to go all the way to the top, but we spent the whole day on the lower section practising. After having such a good day in great weather, we were looking forward to the next day on Dow Crag doing "Easy Terrace"!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Buchaille Etive Mor, April 1st 2007

Myself and "Gunner Roach", went up to Glencoe to see what snow was left.
We had fantastic weather, and could even about spot Crowberry Tower on Curved Ridge as we approached the car park at Altnafeadh, on the A82 just beyond Glen Etive road. GRNN220564.
We set off for Coire na Tulaich, the large obvious coire and headed for the "thin" line of snow, just visible at the top of the coire. After following the burn, the ground gets steeper and when we got to the snow we found it was like concrete, even in stiff boots!

What you can't see from the photo is a small cornice that a couple of guys were trying to kick their way up! We opted for the rock to the left of the gully which turned out to be iced, making it at interesting ascent on what would be easy rock in summer!
Once at the top,we a fine view of the Ben and the CMD Arete.
It was then norteast from the bealach (GR NN216452) to reach the summit of Stob Dearg (red peak) in just under 500 ft from the bealach.
The summit of Stob Dearg (3335 ft) has a great view over Rannoch moor, and to the southwest you should just get a glimpse of the top of Crowberry Tower. After posing for photos, we headed back to the bealach and on to Stob na Doir and Stob Coire Altruim.
Looking along to Stob Coire Altruim and Stob na Broig from Stob na Doir.
The top of Stob na Broig gives you a great view of Glen Etive and Loch Etive.
As we made our way back to Stob Coire Altruim ( and down by way of a very faint track roughly at 208530 ), it was tempting to stray too far over the snow. But as you can see above, some of the cornices were still there even as April started.