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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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Jacobs Ladder (again), 31st December, 2008

New year's eve and another fantastic day in the Cairngorms today, this time taking the Gunner up Jacobs Ladder in Coire an t'Sneachda, see map, which is still in great condition. About halfway up we switched to the right hand side of the gully to give a slightly different feel and exit at the top. Also with another temperature inversion, I had to scrape ice off the inside of Stevie's car, to see anything as we drove into Aviemore with temperatures of -10c at least! Even with the heaters on full! However, higher up we had clear skies and great visibilty, and it was a little warmer, especially in the gully. The drive home was still chilly though, with the windscreen washers still freezzing up. Luckily there was some some Red Bull left to wash the screen with!

Looking down over Coire an t'Sneachda, with Aviemore covered by cloud.

Stevie and Mark on their way up Jacobs Ladder. Stevie doing his last pitch with another team moving together on his right.

A couple of well prepared mountaineers passing by, blissfully unaware of the drops to their left. Wellies and shopping bags are of course essential when taking any trip into the mountains. Watching the skaters on Loch Morlich with Coire an t'Sneachda, the Fiacaill Ridge and Coire an Lochan in the distance. What a great way to spend Hogmany!

We used the Cairngorm map from the Harvey, Superwalker series and the Cicerone guide to winter climbs in the Cairngorms - both available from Amazon.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Jacobs Ladder, Coire an t-Sneachda, 28th December 2008

Mark and myself went to Coire an t-Sneachda see map in the Cairngorms today and joined the crowds looking for something in condition to climb. The temperature in Aviemore was -9c, but as we headed up to the Ski Centre car park it rose to a tropical -3c/4c, which with generally clear skies gave us great weather. Luckily most of the easier gully lines were complete so we opted for Jacobs Ladder, a 110m grade I that seperates The Mess of Pottage from Aladdins Buttress. Jacobs Ladder is the gully sloping to the right (although it is actually vertical seen straight on) in the centre of the picture.

When we arrived at the foot of Jacobs Ladder, there were already three teams in it and one crossing over to a route just to the right of the rocks. Fortuneatly we were out of the wind by then so it turned out to be quite a cozy route!

Looking back down the gully towards Mark, with Coire an t-Sneachda below.

Setting up the final belay before the cornice. Me, just about to climb over the cornice. Mark just about to "top out" of Jacobs Ladder. One last look down Jacobs Ladder at more climbers on their way up, before we headed for Coire Cas, and then down to the Ski Centre. On the way down we spotted a pair Ptarmigan in their winter colours.

For this trip we used the Cairngorm map from the Harvey Superwalker series, and the Cicerone guide to winter climbs in the Cairngorms - both available from Amazon.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Alpine Scotland from Ben Lawers, 29th November 2008

Almost alpine conditions across Scotland today, as myself and the Gunner (Stevie), took a trip up Ben Lawers, see map, our first "proper" winter day out this year. After a testing drive up towards the Lawers Visitor Centre, and some time spent helping a couple of drivers stuck in the snow, we finally set off for Beinn Ghlas. Until we stopped at it's summit, we broke the trail for the (only) eight or so people that followed. From then on, we let another older but sadly fitter chap lead the way! We had hoped to maybe find some grade I/II gullies in Beinn Ghlas's eastern corries to run through some simple ropework. However as there was so much fresh snow around, easily up to three or four feet in some drifts, we decided against it and went for Lawers summit instead.

As the clouds cleared, we got to see the summit of Ben Lawers from the ridge betweeen it and Beinn Ghlas.

The southern buttress's of Ben Lawers covered in fresh snow.

On the final slopes up to the summit with Beinn Ghlas in the backgound and the Tarmachans to the right.

The summit with it's first visitor of the day enjoying his lunch!

Ben Nevis and the CMD covered in snow, and sunshine!

360 view from Ben Lawers summit; snow as far as the eye can see!

Stevie enjoying the afternoon sun on the descent .

Watching the sun set over Stob Binnein and Ben More as we headed back to the visitor centre car park.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sgor na h-ulaidh, 16th November, 2008

Another fine summer's (?) day in the Highlands, so myself the Colonel, and the Gunner visited Glencoe to bag Sgor na h-ulaidh 994m, the Colonel's 216th munro. There is a small parking area at 121564 (approx) on the A82, about 200m from the landrover track heading south following the Alt na Muidhe and onto Sgor na h-ulaidh. See map.

Ahead of the Highland Cattle lies the route myself and the gunner took; Aonach Dubh a' Ghlinne which after quite a steep climb leads onto a broad rocky ridge. Cameron McNiesh's book says to climb the shoulder, but we took a route up south easterly from the cottages at Gleann-leac-na-muidhe, and then traversed east onto the shoulder, which was still pretty steep and would've been a nightmare in loose wer snow. The Colonel took the more normal route, following the path by the Allt na Muidhe to ascend SE onto the N ridge of Stob an Fhuarain where we met him again!

As we climber higher, we got a great view across the glecn of the Aonach Eagach ridge with a dusting of snow on the pinnacles.

From the top of Stob an Fhuarain at 968m looking across to Sgor na h-Ulaidh. What little snow there was proved to be trickier than it looks. From the bealach between the two. there is a slightly scrambly approach, made harder with verglassed rock and frozen snow! Despite leaving axe and crampons in the car, I used the steps in the central band of snow to reach the summit ridge where you pass what looks like a cracking grade I/II winter gully?
The Colonel on the sumit of Sgor na h-Ulaidh with the Ben in the far distance (?)
Looking back on our route to Stob an Fhuarain, with the Bidean range in the background. Myself in regulation silly hat enjoying a cup of tea on the summit of Sgor na h-Ulaidh.

The Colonel, myself and the Gunner on Stob an Fhuarain, before heading NW down to the Allt na Muidhe and back to the car (and The Clachaig Inn).

From Stob an Fhuarain, looking SE into Glen Etive and Loch Etive.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Creag Mhor, 2nd November, 2009

Well at last the, the summer's day we've been waiting for!
Myself and John (The Colonel), went to Glen Lochay near Killin to "bag" Creag Mhor, 1047m, making his total so far, 215!

After the first false summit comes the real summit and the first real hint of any recognisable path. Various Munro books describe Creag Mhor as having steep, grassy slopes, which it certainly does! Add some unconsolidated wet snow and it becomes hard work. Any "scrambly" options between various small rocky outcrops were no good as there was plenty of ice around. I would imagine early season climber would've been out in force further north if conditions here were anything to go by.

Great views of Ben More and Stob Binnein. As soon as they get more consolidated snow, they will make a great training slog!

John on the summit of Creag Mhor, with Ben Lui in the background.

Enjoying a cup of tea, with Ben Nevis to the right in the far distance (I think?).

360 degree view from the summit.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Mont Blanc! (well next year anyway)

It's now official. Barring total global financial meltdown and acts of god, myself, Gordon, Mark and Gunner Roach will be off to do Mont Blanc ( 4,810m) at the end of August next year!!!

Mont Blanc summit.

Hopefully we'll get to climb the 4061m Italian peak of Gran Paradiso, too. Guess the training starts now?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Mallorca, Villa Rafal, V Diff Sunbathing, 13th - 20th September, 2008

A strenuous week was had in Mallorca, during myself and Lorna's stay at Villa Rafal near Pollensa, or to be precise - Polencia. The weather played a major part in our route choices on each day. However as we had generally good weather, daytime temperatures averaging around 26 degrees C, clothing choice was straightforward!

Of course there are loads of opportunites for climbing and scrambling in Mallorca. Even the surrounding hills of Pollensa and Porto Pollensa looked ideal. I would imagine though the best place to start would be in the Cicerone guides such as, "Walking in Mallorca - Classic Mountain Walks in Mallorca", by Paddy Dillon and June Walker, and "Walking In Mallorca", by June Parker.

As it was we managed 6 days, mainly practising moving together between villa and pool area. A couple of times we made a stop at the terraced eating area before moving off for the final leg via the sun loungers to the pool.

View of one of our neighbouring villas and surrounding rocky outcrops.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Ledge Route and CMD Arete, Ben Nevis, 7th September, 2008

After a relatively early night, we left the bunkhouse in Fort William for the North Face car park and an 8-0-clockish start on the walk in to Coire na Ciste. See map.

You can just see (behind Stevie as he arrived at No 5 Gully) the rebuilding work still going on, even on a Sunday, on the CIC Hut.

Number 5 Gully, the way to the start of the Ledge Route, looked very different from when we saw it in June when there was still a couple of metres of snow covering the large boulders in the centre of the gully. Although fairly straighforward, the slab at the start of the route was very wet and slimy, though there are plenty of holds and cracks to help you across. After we used the rope, it was felt that we probably could've crossed it quicker without it! Still, it was good practice and gave us chance to think about how we would do the same in winter.

As you get higher up the route, you get great views of the Douglas Boulder and Tower Ridge. Stevie, Mark and Willy having a break on the grassy section before the scrambling starts again. You can make the route as easy or as hard as you like, especially on the short wall like section!
Gordon on the broader section above the "wall".
The final section is easy grade 1 ground up to the cairn marking the north-west summit of Carn Dearg. We then took a tour of the gully tops and buttresses, proving how easy even in broad daylight to confuse one gully or butress from another! As soon as we met the zig zags, we joined the masses en route for the summit. Stevie, Gordon, Mark and Willy enjoying the sun (but no view?) on the summit, before we set off for Carn Mor Dearg Arete. Unfortuneatly, the cloud came right down over the CMD so we didn't get the views of the Ben we had hoped for.
Of course, as usual, the cloud started to lift a little when we got back to the North Face car park!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Ice Factor again, 6th September, 2008

This was to be the start of "Stevie's big weekend", as he decided to call it! So myself Mark, Gordon, Stevie and Willy spent a couple of hours in the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven after driving up from Edinburgh.
Willy high up on one of the bigger walls trying to get to the dry tooling board; not bad for his first time!

Stevie, bridging his way up the difficult corner, which is more suited to his "sticky out" feet!

Gordon on the left hand wall trying get higher than Willy!

Stevie testing the rope whilst Mark belays, with Willy belaying Gordon in the background. All in all, a worthwhile couple of hours which everybody seemed to enjoy.