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, 15 November 2009

Skiing at Hillend (Mid Lothian Snowsports Centre), Edinburgh, Sunday 15th November 2009

Lorna insisted that she wasn't going walking this weekend, and no one had been in touch to tempt me out, so we decided to spend a few hours at Hillend Ski Centre in Edinburgh. Technically it's correct title is, Mid Lothian Snowsports Centre, but everyone knows it as "Hillend".
We took one of our Grandson's, Lennon, as he had a week's lesson's earlier in the year and was keen to get back up there. We took advantage of the 3 hours for the price of 2, as this gives you time to stop for tea and biscuits halfway through! At £35 for the three of us, it isn't too bad I suppose but if you were to go every week then a season ticket might be a better option.
There is a cafe there, but we packed a flask of hot water to make hot chocolate, and some crisps and sandwiches, and fortuneatley the weather was ok to sit at the side of  the slopes and watch the action.

Looking down the main slope from the top. Although not horrendously steep, it is steeper than the photo makes out. In the distance is Aurthurs Seat and the Firth of Forth beyond.

Above is a short, uintentional, "you've been framed" style video which was definitely unplanned!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Sprayway Warm Challenger Pant, 10th November 2009

Well after wearing my Sprayway Warm Challenger Pants for the first time on Sunday in Glencoe, I have mixed feelings. The trousers themselves are well cut, come in different lengths and are not too baggy, unlike the now cheaper Berghaus Statis Pants at around £35-£45 which can seem a bit "flappy" unless you're six feet tall.
The Challenger at around £60-£70 has more features than the Statis and is made of Soft Shell with TecWeave Extreme technology apparently, and are lightweight, durable and seem to be quite breathable.
They have mesh lined leg vents at the thigh and vents at the backside too which also act as extra pockets.
They also claim to have an articulated crotch whatever that means!
There are also ankle zips too.

If I had a complaint, it would the perenial one of waist adjustment. Like the Berghaus Statis,well mine anyway, the Challenger wouldn't stay up too well. Although they have velcro waist adjusters, they come undone too easily so I will need to find a suitable belt which may or may not be comfortable if you add a climbing harness and rucsac waiststrap to the equation?
So to be fair, the Sprayway Warm Challenger Pant is better looking, a better fit and almost better designed than the Berghaus Statis Pant, only let down by the lack of decent belt!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Bidean nam Bian via Gear Aonach and SCNL, 8th November 2009

Well the stars must have been in alignment this weekend as Sunday brought light winds and sunshine! We headed for Glencoe with a loose plan to try some scrambling depending on the conditions.
It was also a good chance for Lorna to test out her new Raichle Mountaineering boots, North Face Circadian Paclite Jacket and Mountain Equipment Gloves. I was also interested to see how my new Sprayway Warm Challenger Pant would perform too. (More to follow in my next post).
We parked at the large car park at NN170569, and took the South East path down to the River Coe and over the footbridge, then headed for the Lost Valley (Coire Gabhail).

Looking up at Gear Aonach from the car park. There are two scrambling routes here; the grade I "Zig-Zags" and the grade III "Easy Route". As we walked up the Lost Valley path, we took a right fork that leads up to the nose of the mountain. From here we attempted to follow the Cicerone Guide book to Scrambles in Lochaber to find the start of the route. For the grade III, you take the first of the zig zags and head a little further round after the first bend. As usual these things can be a little vague, but we found a section that looked ok and pitched that.

Lorna at the top of "our" first pitch which turned out to be very mossy and slippy. Just being wet would probably be okay, but the slime and moss didn't make it too enjoyable. So after getting covered in crap, we traversed left back onto the Zig-Zags and made for the summit of Gear Aonach the easy way! Although that was quite wet and greasy too in places. 

Lorna looking down into the Lost Valley as we went up the broad ridge of Gear Aonach.

After Gear Aonach's summit at 692m, there is a slight bealach before you head up to Stob Coire nan Lochan at 1115m, (SCNL).

On the way up to SCNL, we were down to base layers despite the cool temperatures and the occasional snow flurries.

From the summit we could see right down the Ballachulish Bridge, and after a quick bite to eat and some extra layers it was on to the final climb of the day up to Bidean nam Bian at 1150m. Lorna's new North Face Circadian Paclite Jacket seemed to be ideal, with it's lightweight shell and women's specific cut.

Looking across to Bidean from Stob Coire nan Lochan.

A short video taken from Stob Coire nan Lochan across to Bidean.

Sun setting beyond the ridge that leads from Bidean to Stob Coire nam Beith at 1107m.

Plenty of snow on the Carn Mor Dearg Arete and Ben Nevis, beyond the Aonach Eagach Ridge.

On the summit of Bidean nam Bian before heading South East down to the bealach between Bidean and Stob Coire Sgreamach, then down the steep, loose path to the bottom of the Lost Valley and back to the car park.