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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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Broken ankle to skiing in 4 months!

This was Lorna, Just over four months ago in hospital in Switzerland after the accident on the NNE Ridge of the Eginner above Saas Fee. Back then we weren't sure just how much of a recovery Lorna would make, especially when you see the dramatic pictures of the external fixator and then the scars and stitches from the operations. We also have to mention the excellent work of the doctors and nurses in Visp hospital where the treatment was first class!

One of many gruesome photos that have been taken since the accident! It's hard to believe that someone would be able to stand on an ankle in this state. However, in June 2012, Lorna hopes to take part in the Cateran Yomp to walk either 22, 36 or 54 miles in 24 hours to raise money for soldiers charities. You can sponsor her here : Cateran Yomp.    

And now this! Although don't be misled. It is an amazing recovery so far, but ironically, skiing is easier than walking at the moment! Training for the Cateran Yomp may be much harder, plus we have the North East Buttress of the Ben still to do this year??? 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Glenshee, 18th December 2011

A last minute decision  meant myself and Ian headed for Glenshee today for a half days skiing. Ruth and Lorna, speant most of day between the two cafes drinking hot chocolate! Looking up the new (not yet working) Badoch Chair. However, a fantastic (half) days skiing! 

Looking across to the sunnyside.

Glorious sunshine on the way up the double poma.

Ian (in red) behind me and the Cairnwell side bathed in late sunshine too.

Ian recovering from a wipeout at the bottom of Coire Fionn. He got me back later when I did a face plant at the bottom of Butcharts!

Glas Maol poma not open yet, sadly.

The view from the Cairnwell cafe window.

New "liftie"!

Kodak moments on top of the Cairnwell T-bar.

From the top of the Cairnwell T-bar looking across to the Sunnyside.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Snow! So now the waiting game starts!

Various reports from "up north", ie guides and interested parties all commenting on the sudden build up of snow over the past couple of days. The Ben Nevis webcam currently shows whiteout conditions too.
Some wet snow falling down here in the capital to add to the excitement, but it's comparatively mild so probably won't last long.
The dilemma living over two hours away from the hills, is the planning and timing of trips and making them safe and worthwhile. Quite often in the past, we have had reports of great conditions, only to be left stuck in the lowlands due to bad road conditions! No doubt this will continue throughout this season with the next few weeks being the usual hit and miss affair. Work and weather often conspire against us, so fingers crossed for some good days in the new year!   

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ben Alder via Culra Bothy, 19th/20th November 2011

Myself, Gordon, Mark and Willy were up at Dalwhinnie today to cycle the 10 miles into Ben Alder Forest with the plan to stay the night at Culra Bothy and climb Ben Alder on sunday. Note the Logs taped to the cross bars of the bikes.

Willy and his impression of a D-Day Landing paratrooper! Maybe a bike rack of some sort might be a better option next time. 

Mark struggling to get his two rucsacs on before setting off!

Myself with two rucsacs, the front one with boots and bike kit, just at the railway overpass behinf the garage at Dalwhinnie.

The guys setting off into the sun along Loch Ericht. Only ten miles to carry all this kit, to go!

Our first view of Ben Alder Lodge. At this point Gordon realised he'd left his boots back in the van at Dalwhinnie! So he dumped his bags with us whilst we waited for him the cycle back to collect them.!

Gordon and Mark, back on the move again after a bit of a wait. No harm done, but it put us back a wee bit time wise and we weren't confident of making the bothy before dark now. 

A closer look at Ben Alder Lodge, before the last climb up the landrover track past the lodge's gates and onto the open moor.

At the top of the hill above the lodge, you cross a bridge with a gate and by now the light has faded fast! From here, we crossed the open moor, through a herd of deer and wild ponies before taking the "shortcut" across the bog to the bothy. The shortcut turned into a nightmare as the track was very wet and err, boggy! This might not have been too bad in daylight, but as it got darker there was more walking than cycling, with much falling off and swearing to go with it!  

Luckily there was someone already at the bothy so I could just make out their lights. We also managed not to miss the new bridge that crosses the river just before the bothy, and we finally arrived at about 6pm in total darkness. Fortunately the big room with the fire was empty so we moved in for the night.

After lighting the fire we all set about cooking some well earned food. Soon the place was warm and cozy and we managed to dry some wet kit on the pulley over the fire. We did candles of our own, but there were a few already there, so once they were all lit too,  it was quite atmospheric.

Gordon, Mark and Willy enjoying a drink by the fire.

Using the flash on the camera loses some of the atmosphere of the moment!

The next day, sunday, and our view of Ben Alder and our route up the Long Leachas Ridge and descent route, the Short Leachas Ridge to the left. Sadly the could never lifted from the summit all day so not many photos were taken en route. 

Culra Bothy and our bikes in the morning.

Looking up into the coire after we had descended and still the cloud would not move.

On the way back to the bothy with Loch Pattack in the distance. We would return to Dalwhinne by the landrover track the skirts the loch. 

Final view of the bothy before the bumpy, but drier ride back to Loch Pattack, then over the moor to Loch Ericht and Dalwhinnie.

The "slightly longer", but stonier route back via Loch Pattack involves the entertaining suspension bridge which avoids the ford, which was frankly too wide and too deep to even contemplate.

Not the best photo (cheers Gordon) of me on the wibbly-wobbly bridge. From here it's a straightforward ride over the moor. A slight drag uphill , but a nice fast cruise down to Ben Alder Lodge, Loch Ericht and Dalwhinnie.

Monday, 14 November 2011

No 4 Gully marker post - yes or no?

Just read Alan Halewood's blog regarding someones premature removal of the marker post above Number 4 Gully on Ben Nevis. His piece makes for interesting reading as does the article in Caledonian Mercury. There seems to be an argument for and against the marker, especially in the "keeping wild places, wild" camp. I too  don't like "too many" artificial aids, but at the risk of contradicting myself, the Number 4 Gully marker seems like a useful one to keep.
Of course some degree of navigational skill should be required when out on the hills, but in difficult conditions this one single marker seems a small price to pay. Maybe it could be made less intrusive, I don't know? A single unmarked post? I know as a low grade climber I would seek some reassurance from it's existence and, rightly or wrongly feel some pressure from the "elite" not to be there if we're not up to MIC standard. The mountains are there for everybody , it's how we police, manage and educate those who use them that's the issue.     

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Beinn Dearg and Meall a' Mhuic, 6th November 2011

A glorious autumn morning at the war memorial at Innerwick in Glen Lyon as myself, Bruce, Ian, John and Mark headed up for the Corbett, Beinn Dearg at 830 metres. Surprisingly hard walking over rough heather leads you to the broad summit.

Looking back down into a frosty Glen Lyon as we made our way up to the summit of Beinn Dearg.

Beautiful views were had all day with a cloud lnversion for most of the morning, like this view over Loch Rannoch. On a day like this it's difficult to get a photo that shows just how much we could see.

A brief stop on the summit of Beinn Dearg for a cup of tea and a sandwich. Although it was sunny, it wasn't long before we felt the chill of the wind and moved on. The summit of the Munro, Carn Gorm can be seen to the left. From here we headed east to Meall a' Mhuic.

Another two walkers, the only people we saw all day, enjoying the views and the peace from the summit of Meall a' Mhuic as we had lunch at the summit marker. From here we went south back to Innerwick to complete a short but enjoyable day.  

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Austrian Alpine Club Insurance - What are you covered for?

Well it's been three months since our escapade on the NNE Ridge if the Eginner in Saas Fee so, I thought it was time I wrote about our experience with the Austrian Alpine Club and the insurance cover it provides, and our experience of it.
Going back to Lorna's accident on August 8th 2011, on the day, the Air Zermatt helicopter pilot took our AAC membership numbers and at the time I thought that must be the procedure, leaving us wit little to do and all will be well.

However when we returned home we heard nothing for several weeks until we got a bill from the mountain rescue people who had one of their guys in the chopper with the crew. I then downloaded a claim form from the AAC  website and completed that as required and posted in to Innsbruck, along with the mountain rescue invoice.

Several weeks passed and still we had no correspondence from the Alpine Club. Then we finally got a bill for 5900 CHF, from Air Zermatt for the cost of the rescue. Confusingly, half of it has been paid by what they said was our "health insurance". At first we couldn't work out what that was and phoned out travel insurance who have been excellent, but they hadn't been in contact with Air Zematt?
Only after searching the internet did I discover that in Switzerland, our EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) cards, cover half the costs, quote:
 "Air ambulance, fifty percent of the cost of emergency rescue and up to an annual maximum amount of CHF 5000 is covered. This is non-refundable in Switzerland but you may be able to seek reimbursement when you are back in the UK".

With this in mind we have now posted the invoice for the helicopter to the Austrian Alpine Club's insurance who have said, vial email, that it will be honoured.

So, although it can be a little confusing as to who and where you may owe money to, or who's in touch with who, it seems that in the end you will be covered for rescue costs, and any extra mountain rescue costs through the AAC.     

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Wet in Wasdale Head! 1st -2nd October 2011

No photos from this weekend - too wet, well Saturday was not too bad but that was just a walk from the NT campsite to the Wasdale Head Inn for a pint of Dickie Doodle. However the BBC/Met Office forecasts (on Friday afternoon) for, "white cloud and occasional light showers" on Sunday, turned out by Saturday's forecast to be almost constant wind and persistant rain.
Sam and myself had an optimistic notion of doing the Climbers Traverse around the bottom of the Napes ridges, then "thread the needle", and possibly Sphinx Ridge. On the walk up to Styhead from Wasdale, we did see two people high above the mist, probably on the upper part of Sphinx Ridge.
Any remote hope we had of doing that was stopped as the rain continued and got heavier. At this point Scafell Pike was still visible - almost. So we continued to the stretcher box at Styhead with the idea of maybe climbing England's highest peak - a first for Sam.
However as we reached Styhead, the cloud base lowered, the wind increased and we got wetter! Some people may see it as a challenge, but I don't see the point in trudging through wind and rain with no appreciable view to end up in the mist by a trig point that could be anywhere.
So we didn't!
To make a walk of it, we went up past Sprinkling Tarn and briefly thought about heading for Bowfell but it was so grim we about turned and headed back to the Wasdale Head Inn for food and more Dickie Doodle!         

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Scotland’s Mountain Safety Day.

Scotland’s Mountain Safety Day

Saturday 8 October, 10am-4pm

Albert Halls, Stirling

More than 30 mountaineering and related organisations combine in a single event to promote Mountain Safety.

Having the right skills for Scotland’s mountains means you can be self-reliant and enjoy our superb landscapes and a fantastic world of adventure without travelling to the ends of the earth. Confidence in the mountains starts with knowing where to get the right equipment and the best advice.

So if you need advice about buying boots, want to know more about navigation or how the mountain rescue services operate, then come along to Scotland’s Mountain Safety Day in Stirling on 8 October to enjoy an informative and fun day and meet top suppliers and mountain-related organisations.
Organised jointly by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and hill walking charity Mountain Aid, the aim of the event is to inspire you to enjoy the Scottish Hills safely, and there will be displays, workshops and presentations that will help you to acquire or improve the skills and knowledge needed for a safe and pleasurable day out on the hills.

Entry to the event is absolutely free, although there will be a useful souvenir programme on sale for £2, which includes one entry to a prize draw with some fantastic prizes. The event will be officially opened by Mountain Aid’s Patron, Cameron McNeish, who will give an illustrated talk at 11am.

The organisations taking part include:
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland and Mountain Aid; The Scottish Mountaineering Trust; Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland; Killin Mountain Rescue Team; Lomond Mountain Rescue Team; Ochils Mountain Rescue Team; Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS); John Muir Trust; Mountain Bothies Association; The National Outdoor Training Centre - Glenmore Lodge; Mountain Leader Training Scotland; sportscotland Avalanche Information Service; ScotWays; the Search and Rescue Dog Association; Harvey Maps; C-N-Do Adventure Holidays; National Navigation Award Scheme; Ramblers Scotland; Ochils Mountaineering Club; Cotswold Outdoor; Nevisport; Tiso; Cicerone Press; Jonathan Binny; Scottish Community Foundation; Scottish Independent Hostels; SYHA Hostelling Scotland, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme; Scotland Outdoors; and the popular hill walking website walkhighlands.

There will be presentations on the causes of mountaineering incidents; navigation techniques; mountain weather forecasting and mountain first aid and, weather permitting, an outdoor climbing wall for children [and adults] to test their skills, supervised by professional staff.
The event is supported through generous donations from the Scottish Community Foundation and the Scottish Mountaineering Trust and starts at 10am at The Albert Halls, Dumbarton Road
Stirling FK8 2QL.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Wild camp at Haweswater Reservoir, 27th August 2011

Myself, Mark, Willy and Stevie made the decision that wild camping in Scotland this weekend could be a wet affair, so we headed south to the hamlet of Low Harstop between Patterdale and Brothers Water. Limited parking is available here.
A steadily rising track follows Hayeswater Gill to Hayeswater itself before heading north-east up to The Knott from where we headed south. 
The track from The Knott leads to High Street at 828m, but we branched off east over Kidsty Pike and down to the shores of Haweswater.
As we passed over Kidsty Pike we got our first view of our canping spot for the night down towards the bottom of The Rigg, the long ridge running right to left in the picture.
A closer view of a very quiet shoreline where we only saw two other tents over towards the tree line.
With the tents all up it was time to get some food and get the fire going.  
Don't worry, the firewood was brought by us! 99 pence for a self lighting long that lasts up to two hours! 
Early morning sun from the doorway of my tent.
Peace and quiet.

Cup of tea followed by porridge (mashed up flapjacks in milk) and bananas. 
Some of the remaining dry stone walls that were part of the village of Mardale before it was flooded to create Haweswater Reservoir.
After a leisurely breakfast we packed our gear and set off up The Rigg towards High Street. As we gained height we got better views down Hawwswater.
The Rigg itself rises up from the waters edge and gains roughly 600+ metres of height.
Halfway along The Rigg looking back down to Haweswater.
Small Water, just visible to the left of The Rigg, sitting below Harter Fell and Mardale III Bell. 
Blea Water is also passed en-route. Only one small tent was spotted on the shoreline.
From High Street we walked South West to Thornthwaite Crag at 784m before descending into Threshwaite Cove via Threshwaite Mouth before following Pasture Beck through Threshwaite Glen back to Low Harstop.
I had read there were possibly some grade 1 or 2 scrambles on Raven Crag in Threshwaite Cove, but was surprised to see what looked like people rock climbing on the crag as we passed.