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 May 2010

Cave Life, Sunday 30th - Monday 31st May 2010.

I had read and heard about a "secret-ish" Priesthole cave, hidden somewhere amongst the crags and fells of the Lake District where it was possible to spend the night in relative comfort (?). So Stevie and myself set off with rather heavy packs (due to lager and bbq stuff!) up and over Striding Edge from Patterdale, over Dollywagon Pike and down to Grisedale Tarn where we stopped for lunch and to collect some extra water. From the tarn we headed up to the summit of a very busy Fairfield, probably lots of folks doing the "Fairfield Horsehoe" from Ambleside, and then on to Hart Crag.
I'm not going to give much more details from here as it is more rewarding doing a little homework yourself to find the cave, and to avoid too many selfish people finding it and dumping their rubbish there!

The obligatory shot of Striding Edge looking back from the easy scramble up to the plateau.

Looking back at Striding Edge as we headed for Dollywagon Pike.

Stevie in our home for the night!

"Do you think anyone can see us?"
The wall provides a little protection but as the wind was north westerly it was blowing across the mouth of the cave and then in and out again.  A south westerly is the ideal situation!

Everything set up; just need to get the B-B-Q on! Note the ammo box which contains a slightly tatty visitors book, and axe and a dodgy looking bottle of whiskey!

A short video of our luxury accommodation.

The view of the evening sun on the fells, although it was actually a bit nippy!

After a fairly chilly night, the forecast drop in wind took longer to happen than we would've liked, we had a nice sunny morning and less wind and a chance to enjoy breakfast on the terrace!

Chris, the only other cave dweller that night, and myself, just before we left and headed back for Patterdale.
Unfortuneatly, Chris lost his wallet en route from Helvellyn - Dollywgon - Grisedale Tarn and Fairfield. So if by chance you found a blue wallet in that area and you are reading this, he would be grateful if you could pass it on via myself and this blog :)


One last view of the cave before it goes out of sight and we head back to the car.
PLEASE - if you do find and use the cave , take all your rubbish with you as there already is a pile of stuff in one corner that could easily have been taken away by whoever left it! 

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Pygmy Ridge and Afterthought Arete, 23rd May 2010

Pygmy Ridge 95m Moderate:

We arrived at a very quiet car park at the Cairngorm ski centre. No skiing now apart from ski touring and I'm not even sure the train ran? We set off on the usual well worn path in Sneachda and had to take a very wide route around the now melting lochan to a point just below Aladdins Couloir, at which point a skier popped out at the bottom!
Our route was to be the 95m high Moderate - Pygmy Ridge, so we kicked steps (without crampons but an axe is still needed) across and up below the start of the winter route - Aladdins Mirror and up to the start of the winter route - Central Left Hand. The slabs below our route were still seeping and greasy so we stayed on the snow a little further up the gully before moving left back onto the rock.
The start of Pygmy Ridge is fairly obvious (in summer?), so we roped up and off we went! A very enjoyable route and despite a lowly moderate grade feels "big" because of the setting. There a several belay points if needed in little shallow niches in the ridge and it's best to complete the route by adding the little tower that comes at the end which pops out of the Couloir and a perfect place for lunch!


Pygmy Ridge is just right of centre of the picture. We had considered going up the gully (the start of Aladdins Mirror) which may have been slightly quicker (?) but intstead head right as per the route description.

Lorna heading up to one of the many belay points. The ridge is nice and "blocky" and there is a choice of lines, some harder than others. There were sevaral peices of left over gear "stuck" in various cracks that we tried in vain to get out!

Lorna topping out on the final little tower which we opted to move together on. The Fiacaill Ridge can be seen in the background.
Afterthought Arete 150m Moderate:

After a quick bite to eat we set  off south over the plateau to drop down in Coire Dohmain on the left side of the stream that plunges steeply into Loch Avon. At about 870m (vague route description in book) we struck off  east under the very wet Stag Rocks over rought ground to head for the south facing ridge of Afterthought Arete. Much like Pygmy Ridge, there are numerous belay points and you can make it as hard or as easy as you like. The route starts at the base of a scree/snow filled gully at a triangular slab (greasy when we were there) and then up to a short steep wall which can be avoided on the left. Then its mainly on the block spine of the ridge for the remaining 100m or more - narrow in places but on good grippy rock. As the ground eased off we again opted to move together before packing the gear away and heading north back over to 1141m and down to the ski centre.

Heading down the steep path into the Loch Avon Basin with Cairn Etchachan and Shelter Stone Crags on the right. Still some serious snow bridges over the stream on ther right to catch the unwary.

Would you walk over this?

Looking east down Loch Avon with Stag Rocks dripping with water on the left and Afterthought Arete just visible between Stag Rocks and the further ridge in profile (has a fallen block near its top).


Somewehere near the start of the route!

 Higher up the ridge with another couple of climbers just in front of us.


Don't know where I am in this picture?

Monday, 3 May 2010

North Ridge of Stob Ban, 3rd May 2010

The weather continued to be glorious in the Highlands, so after our scrambling/climbing day yesterday, we decided to head for Stob Ban at 999m (the one south of the Ben). We parked by the bridge in Glen Nevis and struggled over wet, boggy ground for a good kilometere and a half before the ridge began proper and the ground became better underfoot. The route up to the summit is in parts easy grade I ground, before heading back north for a few hundred metres and then west along the rim of Corries, "an Lochan" and "Dearg" towards Mullach nan Coirean at 939m. The return leg was then north east down the broad ridge that leads back down to Glen Nevis and onto the forest tracks. 

Stob Ban high high on the right with Coire Mhusgain down to the left.

Looking north to the south side of Ben Nevis as we headed up the broad north ridge of Stob Ban.

Heading west to Mullach nan Coirean, with the view of Stob Ban in profile with it's scrambly fore-summit behind us and Sgurr a Mhaim behind that.

Our route west along the rim of Coire Dearg all the way round to Mullach nan Coirean and the way down (on the right) back to Glen Nevis.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Tower Ridge (at last!), 2nd May 2010

Okay so winter isn't over just yet, and once again the mountain gods were on our side when we met up with Mike Pescod from Abacus Mountaineering with the aim of climbing Tower Ridge on "The Ben".
Also along to observe was James Edwards of High Mountaineering so we had quite a pleasant and sociable day and we managed to pick up some tips and onfo, along with a recap of the basic crevasse rescue system. This meant James hanging off the edge of Number 4 Gully whilst we attempted to pull him up!
We passed one team en route and saw a few folks out and about; one team heading up near Number 3 or 4 Gully, another in the Tower Gully area and Number 2 Gully Buttress-ish. Also on the way across "The Gap" we saw a team down below Glovers Chimney, and when we descended Number 4 there was a team in North Gully; so there's still things to go for for a few weeks yet so long as there's a nice frost!


Tower Ridge in profile with Tower Gap high up in the centre of the picture.

James and Mike climbing the first chimney section out of the Douglas gap, which had a little snow near it's top but otherwise was just wet and greasy.

At the top of the first climbing section, about Diff/V Diff ish depending how wet it is?

Looking across Coire na Ciste to Number 4 Gully just right of centre and to it's left the grade I North Gully - one for the future I think (along with Tower Gully).

Lorna, myself and James just after we passed the onl;y people we saw on the ridge.


Heading up towards the Great Tower, before we go to it's left for the winter route and the Eastern Traverse.

Making our way around the entertaining Eastern Traverse, with quite a big drop beneath out feet!


Above the (blocked by snow) fallen block or cave section as it is sometimes known.

A quick rest whilst we contemplate the crossing of Tower Gap!

We sent James across first to take care of photographic duties!

Trying to look graceful as you lower yourself down off the block and into the gap - not.
(double click the vids to get full size).

The method used to cross the gap and not easily seen on the video is to stand on the edge of the smaller block you drop down onto, then keeping your feet firmly in place, fall forwards and place your hands on the far side of the gap, find some holds (haha) and step (scrape in crampons) up and out of the gap - easy!

Looking back down to the narrow section with Tower Gap just behind James.

At the top with Mr "P".

Looking across to the crowds on the summit.
After a spot of lunch over looking the coire, we stopped above Number 4 Gully to practice some basic crevasse rescue systems and then descended the gully itself and then back down to the car park.


One final zoom shot of a team crossing Tower Gap (about 900metres-ish up).