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, 5 December 2010

Sunday morning in the Pentland Hills - 5th December 2010.

At last we had some decent weather, although time and family was against us getting further north, so myself and Stevie opted for a quick jaunt on the Pentlands. We were the only people in the Flotterstone car park at 0730 in the morning and it was still dark as we left the trees near the rangers hut and made our way up to Turnhouse Hill. As we neared the summit, the sun was rising over the Lammermuirs to the east bringing a little warmth as it was still very cold on the tops. Even walking in the Pentlands can be difficult in winter if you're not prepared!  

From Turnhouse Hill we made our way to Carnethy Hill where after 2 hours (yeah 2 hours!) we stopped for a cup of tea and some happy snaps of Scald Law and East and West Kips in the distance. It was still bitterly cold, so I put on my Montane belay jacket over a Rab shell, over a North Face windstopper fleece and a Smartwool baselayer to keep warm. However we did have great views over to the kips with not a soul in sight, bar for one lone figure on South Black Hill.

It wasn't until we turned and headed back down off Carnethy towards Turnhouse that we passed two guys skinng up on skis, with another heading up from the west. Maybe that's something I should look into for the future as I'm sure that must save time on the descents.

The lone ski tourer nearing the summit of Carnethy.

Stevie on his way back up Turnhouse hill from the stile between it and Carnethy.

Looking back at Carnethy from Turnhouse with the morning sun almost on the summit.

Raised footprints near the summit of Turnhouse showing how the wind has been moving the snow around over the past few days.

The hills starting to get busy now with ski tourers, snowboarders and walkers.

Clear blue skies against the trees on the foresummit of Turnhouse Hill.

The final descent down to the car park at the Flotterstone Inn.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Windslab forming in Edinburgh, 1st December 2010.

After 6 days of snow in the Scottish capital and no real freeze thaw cycle, it became apparent the dangerous windslab was forming (err, on the hedge). As this was becoming a hazard when wading through the deep, unconsolidated snow to dig out the car (again), I decided the best thing to do was to trigger several releases, mostly onto myself!
Sadly, I have been unable to get anywhere near a hill since all this started and yet conditions in the west of Scotland, especially Glencoe and Locahber seem to be fantastic! The Northern Cairngorm SAIS blog did report big avalanches though in the
Coire an t'Sneachda, so maybe best to avoid for a while.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Winter is here!

Well finally the Scottish winter has started and I've yet to get out in it! The dreich weather in the capital belies the fact that there is some decent snow around up in the scottish mountains.
Mike from abacusmountaineering has been out a few times already now, with routes in Stob Coire nan Lochan and The Ledge route on Ben Nevis.
Alan Halewood has also been out and about climbing on Daim Buttress, Douglas Boulder and Beinn Fhada in Kintail.
Some nice pictures (not jealous at all) from James of Glencoe Mountaineer of Dorsal Arete, Stob Coire nan Lochan, Bidean nam Bian, the Fiacaill Ridge, Ledge Route and Stob Coire nam Beith.
All this armchair mountaineering I'm doing just now is frustrating and hopefully, I should get out soon. That is assuming the weather, family and willing climbing partners are available! Going solo is okay once or twice but it can get a bit lonely and it's nice to share the petrol.
I think I managed to get out about thirteen times last season (not bad I suppose in the scheme of things) and if this winter is as good as the last one, next March, April and May should be fantastic!
My first winter day of last season was the 8th November 2009 on Bidean nam Bian so I'm already behind schedule...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Stubai Hornet Ice Axes.

 I had promised myself that I would invest in a pair of new ice axes in the vain hope that I would progress to sligthly more techinical ground and just have the added security that two axes would bring. I do own my trust DMM Cirque, which is a great all rounder, nice and light, and feels to my inexperienced hands "just right!"
However, I had been eyeing up the Stubai Hornet, basically a budget, entry level technical axe which were being sold in pairs for around £130. Several pairs of axes appeard on ebay, and I finally aqquired some for £100. Obvioulsy second hand, but in great condition and with a basic leash too.  Now I just need the right conditions to get out there and use them!   

Sunday, 17 October 2010

John becomes a Compleater at last! 17th October 2010.

Well it's been pretty quiet on the walking front over the past few weeks. Our last trip of note was ticking off John's 284th and last munro, Ben More on the Isle of  Mull on Sunday 17th September.  The crossing from Oban the day before was sublime with stunning views of the islands and clear blue skies all the way to Craignure. 

Most passengers took advantage of the autumn sun, and were up on deck enjoying the views!
  The final raiding party consisted of myself, Mark, Stevie, Shaun (Stevie's son), Stewart, John his wife Ann Leis, and their daughter, Joanne, and son Matt. Once onshore we made the short but slow journey to Tobermory where we would stay for two nights at the excellent value, Park Lodge Hotel. 

However, sunday brought a change in the weather as we headed to the start points. John, Stewart, Joanne and Matt, were setting off from Dhiseig to ascend by the "normal" route, whilst myself, Mark, Stevie and Shaun started from the bridge over the Abainn na h-Uamha at NM507367
. Our plan was to head up between Beinn Fhada and A'Chioch. Then bear south, up A'Choichand along the NE ridge with occasional easy scrambling up Ben More's east side. Reach the summit and and meet John's party and celebrate the achievement!  However as you can see from the one photo I took, it was pretty grim, wet and cold!

Sadly we missed the other group as we emerged onto the bleak and windy plateau. We reckoned they wouldn't have hung around too long and must already be on their way down as our route was slightly longer. So we found what shelter we could for a quick cuppa and headed NW to gain the normal route back down. Surprisingly, after about 10/15 minutes we saw figures through the mist below us and not surprisingly it was John and his team. We could only have missed each other by minutes, but the wind was quite strong on the summit so any sound of voices was being totally drowned out.
We all teamed up and walked off together with Matt showing particular resolve as the soles on one of his boots had completely fallen off! Luckily there was no one around but us to hear his choice of language and his new opinions on hillwalking!

So, as we couldn't celebrate John's achievement as a "Compleater" on the summit, we did it in the car park of the hotel!  A fitting end to a wet but strangely enjoyable day, which continued later with a few shandies and an excellent curry at the
Sagar Indian Restaurant in Tobermory! 

John enjoying his celebratory champagne (that I carried all the way to the summit and back!).

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Serra Del Cavall Bernat Ridge - Mallorca 23rd September 2010.

A lazy week in the sun in Mallorca gave us the opportunity to finally do the Serra Del Cavall Bernat Ridge which rises out of the Boquer valley to a maximum of only 353m but on it's seaward side, the ridge is near vertical into the sea, which is quite impressive as you reach the col to the right of an obvious "window" at 261m and look straight over and down to the sea!

Looking up at the first rock tower which can be climbed by almost any line making it as easy or difficult as you like, although there is a bigger drop the further right you go! Not sure what the grade is meant to be but there's lines to suit all and probably never over grade II max? (unless you stray out over the seaward side - not recommended!).

The view to the end of the Boquer valley with the Cap Formentor just visible in the distance.

Pleasant scrambling on very grippy,and sometimes very sharp, rock leads to the top of the first tower.

The first "window" on the ridge with views down to Cala de Sant Vicenc.

Looking back at the route over the "window" after we looked through it!

The wrong way down!

Looking back across the ridge again, just before we got to the second window.

Lorna on top of the second window, which can't be seen from below in the valley.

Lorna almost the high point, Talaia Vella at 353m!

This is a photo I took last year from the Cala de Sant Vicenc side. You can just see the first window that we crossed to the right of centre of the picture.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sron na Lairig and Stob Coire Sgreamhach - 12th September 2010.

Today was to be John's penultimate munro; Stob Coire Sgreamhach in Glencoe, so myself and Lorna were dropped off at the car park opposite the memorial in Glencoe, whilst Stevie and John went to the main car park opposite Gear Aonach. We headed South West along the Alt Eilde whilst Stevie and John walked up into the Lost Valley. At the path's highest point, marked by a cairn we turned north to reach the foot of the ridge identifiable by the large sloping slab at it's base.

As you gain height, the ridge becomes more defined with a mixture of grass and rock.

Looking across to Beinn Fhada and the down climb you have to make to continure along it's ridge.

Looking back down the ridge as it  reaches the narrower section, but never difficult even in the wet as it was today, although we had to avoid some slabby sections of rock as they were treacherous.

Another narrow section which would be great to do in winter, very alpine and almost a mini Tower Ridge with a short walk in.

Glen Etive and Loch Etive in the distance. Fortuneatly the rain never came to much!

Looking back dwon at the ridge as we made our way to the summit of  Stob Coire Sgreamhach to meet John and Stevie.

Looking along the Beinn Fhada ridge with the Lost Valley to it's left.

Stevie and Lorna making their way down the steep, eroded path into the Lost Valley. It's very easy to slip here, as I can vouch for !

John, Stevie and Lorna at the large boulders in the Lost Valley. From here it's downhill all the way through the trees and back to the car park on the A 82. The summit of  Stob Coire Sgreamhach can be seen high on the left.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Mullach nan Coirean - 5th September 2010.

After a change of
accommodation from the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel to the Achintee Bunkhouse (due to a booking error with SYHA's central booking system) we bravely managed a coupe of beers in the Ben Nevis Inn and a fairly decent night's sleep after a long day yesterday! 
In the moring it was then only a short drive into Glen Nevis to the car park just before the bridge, and the start point for John's 281st Munro: Mullach nan Coirean. As we set off on the described route into the forest, we were diverted by Forestry Commission signs (warning of work being carried out) to an alternative track up to the broad ridge of Mullach nan Coirean. The wind was even stronger than yesterday as we topped out on the ridge and headed for the summit. Again it was touch and go as to if we should turn back but we carried on and it wasn't long before we reached the large summit cairn at 939m. However photography wasn't top of the agenda today as staying upright was more important!
We returned down the ridge we came up but chose to ignore the diversion sign back to our route of ascent, and instead stayed on the ridge all the way back to the forest (the normal way) only to find the path completely obscured by felled trees and huge tracks and puddles left by the forestry vehicles. So we stubbornly struggled on over tree stumps, logs and branches, and skillfully avoided the eye of the Forestry staff hard at work by using our skills at covert movment to eventually pick up the original track we set off and back to the car!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Beinn Sgulaird - 4th September 2010.

As soon as work was over, myself John and Stevie drove north via Tyndrum towards Loch Creran, just above Oban. Our goal today was to start ticking off the last five of John's munro's before he completes the last one, Ben More on Mull in October. From Druimavuic, where we parked next to the Loch, it was uphill for most of the way and as we gained height we had to battle with the ever increasing wind. At one point we seriously considered turning back as it was getting quite serious. However we gave ourselves some more time to see how it went and miraculously the wind eased as we gained the broad ridge and it's three rocky summits.

John battling with the wind despite the marked drop in speed.

Looking back down to Loch Creran and the bridge carrying the A828 to Ballachulish

"It's that way back!"

Nice use of the self timer as there was no one else around to take a photo. After the obligatory cup of tea we set off back the way we came for the surprisingly long walk back to the car, and then the drive to Fort William where we would stay the night before ticking off one more of John's munros: Mullach nan Coirean.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Swiss Alps - Weissmies 4023m by the Normal Route, 13th August 2010.

To get to the start of the "normal route" for the Weissmies, we took the first (7.30am ish) lift from Saas Grund right up top the top station at Hohsaas at3200m. From here we followed the main track past the Hohsaas Hut and onto the edge of the Trift Glacier. The weather wasn't to inspiring at this point and the view up to the glacier was the same. As we geared up amongst the jumble of rocks, there was talk amonsgt some of the guides of maybe turning back if it didn't improve.

However we were soon off the tricky rocky section and onto the glacier itself following the trail across and over to the seracs on the right hand side, easily bypassing any crevasses on the way.

After the interesting section throught the seracs (more pictures from the way down later), we soon on the broad ridge leading up to the summit.

The track just went up and up with a few slightly flatter sections, but most of the time we could see the final summit section looming ahead. 

As it got higher and a little steeper most teams started to slow down and as the weather improved we took the opportunity to take more photo's, if only to have a rest!

Looking back down over the Trift Glacier to the Hohsaas station and hut, with the Jegihorn in the background and the Lagginhorn to it's right.

Serious mountaineer pose.

Cheesy summit pose at 4023m on the summit of the Weissmies.

Lorna trying to look elated after a hard slog up to the top!

The snow ridge along to the foresummit; the route we would've come along by, had we stayed at the Allmagellar Hut on the other side of the Weissmies.   

Fantastic view of the seracs and a huge snow cave from above.

And the snow cave on further inspection. Note the route of the track above it.

Heading back across the Trift Glacier and a better view of some of the big crevasses.

Back at the start point looking across the glacier towards the summit. It was then on to the cafe for a well earned strudel and custard before heading back down to Saas Grund and the end of an excellent week. One schoolboy error I made today was not enough sun cream thinking it would stay in "Scottish conditions" and consequently we ended up looking like lobsters for a few days, including the white panda eyes where the glasses were!
I don't know if Lorna has the bug for this alpine stuff, but I certainly have, so hopefully I/we will be back next year. The Swiss transport system is fantastic and with a weeks lift pass we could take any lift any time and jump on and off the post busses as we pleased. We stayed at the Hotel Roby in Saas Grund, where Christian, the hotel manager also cooks excellent food. Roll on 2011 !