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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Monday, 31 August 2009

Chamonix Week, Monday 31st August 2009 - Gran Paradiso

We spent a couple of hours in the morning at the Guides Crag at Les Gaillands in Chamonix, going over prussicking techniques in case of a fall into a crevasse, followed by a couple of quick climbs.
Mike checking out routes at Les Gaillands. Me, Stevie and Mike on the crags doing some easy climbing in the sun. Just before lunch, we set off through the Mont Blanc Tunnel for Italy and Gran Paradiso. We set off in the heat for the Vittorio Emmanuel Hut at 2732 m, set in the middle of the italian National Park of the Gran Paradiso (Parco del Gran Paradiso) . The new building was built in 1961, offering lodging and food for about 190 people. En route to the hut.
At last the hut comes into view!
And a well earned beer before dinner and an early night. Not a bad view whilst we dried our socks on the fence and ate Mikes free peanuts! A dark-o-clock start, gave us clear skies with hardly any wind and the occaisional glimpse of a shooting star. We set off along the moraines and scrambly path in the dark by the light of head torches and climbed up through the clouds. As we climbed higher, the sun started to rise, Mont Blanc in the distance came into view. "One day son, all this could be yours!" Stopping for a quick breather as we slogged up to the final zig-zags. It was quite a busy route, with a couple of crevasses to negtiate and as the track got steeper there was a ladder to cross the bergschrund just below the rocky summit ridge. The summit ridge was quite busy with people jostling for position and squeezing past each other to get to the true summit at 4,061m and have their photo taken with Madonna; sorry the Madonna! The summit itself with the Madonna and a lot of down on the right! Looking back across to where we came from, with a few teams still en route. There was also a smaller Madonna further along the ridge, but nobody seemed to want to go there? (Mont Blanc in the distance). Eventually we had to descend after a short abseil/lower off the ridge to regain the track, and our crampons! On the way down we got a closer look at some of the crevasses that cross the glacier. It was a hot descent and a welcome relief to remove some layers and stop for a snack and take a final look up our route of ascent earlier that morning. It was then another hour or so down to the hut and then after a quick lunch, we were off again to descend all the way back to the valley and the return drive to France.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Chamonix Week, Sunday 30th August 2009 - Les Grandes Montets

Our first day inthe Alps with Mike Pescod from Abacus Mountaineering was in the Les Grandes Montets area in Argentiere, not far from Chamonix.
We headed up from Lognan to the glacier, then around to North facing slopes where we could practice crevasse rescues.
We then zig-zagged our way round more crevasses to aim for the icy but not very steep slope up to the scrambly North Ridge to the summit at 3275m.
Stevie on the North Ridge.
Group shot at the top staion of Les Grandes Montets, with Mont Blanc in the background, before luckily catching the last telepherique down of the season!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin, 16th August 2009

Just me and the Guner today trying to get some mileage for Mont Blanc in two weeks time. With the forecast being pants, we opted for the shorter drive to Ardvorlich House on the banks of Loch Earn and north of Ben Vorlich. With 17km and 1200m of height gain, we figured it would make a wothwhile short day instead of driving all the way to Glencoe or the Ben just to get wet! As it was. we were the first people on the hill and had the best of the strong winds and clag that obscured any views until we finally made it to the top! It was a battle of wits as to who would turn round first as we struggled up the long drag to Ben Vorlich's summit at 985m. We were just about on the verge of what it seemed possible to stand up in with the forecast 50/60/70 mph Westerlies on our right shoulders.
After a slight directional miscalculation on the summit, due to being too lazy to look at the map and take a bearing, the clouds cleared so we could finally see where we were!

Looking across to Stuc a Chroin from, err slightly north of the summit of Ben Vorlich.

Still breezy on the summit!

Looking North to the Tarmachans on the left and the Lawers range on the right.

From the sumit of Ben Vorlich, we descended SW to Bealach an Dubh Choirein, before heading up to Stuc a Chroin's summit at 975m. Although it looks like a true scramblers route, there are numerous ways up, all easy, scrambly paths with short rocky sections that are not even graded (a 1/2 if at all). Scrambling isn't the Gunner's first choice of route choice, but this was excellent ground to get a feel for it and he breezed the final two thirds before stopping for a brew on the summit. We then headed back N/NW for about 600m, before locating the small cairn that marks the descent path that skirts below the Eastern crags of Ben Vorlich, and rejoins the ascent path.

Looking back up to Ben Vorlich from Ardvorlich.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Happy Yorkshire Day (belated - Saturday 1st August 2009)

Just found this nice blog, "Yorkshire Blog", about err, Yorkshire! Also like the idea of a Happy Yorkshire Day, especially as it being happy and a Yorkshireman don't normally go well together! So if your'e not "Yorkshire", then take a look and enjoy the great photos.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

More Mont Blanc training, Thursday 6th August 2009

Not much to report, just another four hour bash from Hillend Ski Centre for me and the Gunner, over to Allermuir and beyond (Black Hill) and back. Very hot today and surprisingly hard considering we were on the "easy" side of the Pentlands!!!

Happy Birthday Sir Christian Bonington, 6th August, 2009

Sir Christian John Storey Bonington was 75 yesterday (born 6 August 1934 in Hampstead, London).

Chris is still at it, he's just had a trip cragging in Lofoten then rushed off to China on Berghaus business. Next year sees him on a celebratory trek to Annapurna to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his, Richard Grant's and Sherpa Ang Nyima's first ascent of Annapurna II (7937 metres) in 1960. (taken from UKC News)

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Mont Blanc training, Sunday, 1st August 2009

Well it's just under four weeks to go now before we head off for Mont Blanc with Mike (Pescod) from Abacus mountaineering. Apart from the usual gym stuff and the normal trips out and about (apart from the Wickerman!), me and the Gunner snatched a quick four hours up the Pentlands last Thursday afternoon, then myself and Mark managed another four hours this morning at 7am!!! Not bad considering we weren't heading further afield. Hopefully over the next four weeks I should get out at least to the Pentlands on a Thursday and the next three Sundays to Glencoe etc ???