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, 30 April 2011

Observatory Ridge, Ben Nevis, 30th April 2011

Myself, Lorna and Mke, from Abacus Mountaineering had a top day on the V-Diff, Observatory Ridge on Ben Nevis today. The route is over 420 metres long mixed with sections of scrambling and a few pitches where we were glad of a belay. We had intended to do the North East Buttress, but it was far too windy, so we chose this route as it was more sheltered. 

The route gives you a great view into Tower Gully and across to Tower Ridge. We saw two people set off up the gully, one with skis but never saw where they went after that. Tower Gully is still complete and would make a fine, long ascent to the summit. 

There are a couple of places where you have to think about how you're going to get up some sections, but they all proved not too bad in the end.

The top section of Tower Gully and the last section of Tower Ridge to it's right.

One of only two teams we saw on Tower Ridge today.

High up on the ridge and moving together.

Another little tricky move around and over the snow before regaining the ridge.

Looking straight across to Tower Ridge and the Eastern Traverse cutting from right to left and the fallen block section where the first snmall patch of snow lies on the travrerse.

Yet another little tricky move as we get closer to the final scrambly summit blocks.

One last five metre stretch on spring snow to top out above the ridge a few metres away from the crowds.

Looking back at the busy summit as we made our way to the Red Burn area.

Still plenty of folk on the tourist path as we skirted around the gully tops before striking off for the Red Burn. It's a shame that most visitors to the summit of the Ben don't see any of this yet they are only a hundred metres away!

One final view of the summit before heading off to the halfway lochan and onto the North Face car park. Another brilliant day and made better by our stay in the excellent Braeburn Guest House at Badabrie near Corpach - Fort William.
Also see more pics from Mike's Flickr page at:

Monday, 25 April 2011

Pygmy Ridge, 25th April 2011

Another dry, bright day in the Northern Corries today as myself, Lorna and Mark made the very quiet walk in to Coire an t-Sneachda. Our plan was to do Pygmy Ridge, 100m of Moderate rock climbing on the central pillar of rock you can see in the photo. There are a few ways to get up to it, but we chose to climb the snow apron below the Trident Gullies and take the lower section of Central gully.  

We were hoping not to have to use crampons, just to save the faff factor, and it turned out the snow was just soft enough to kick decent steps and get a good axe placement.

Branching off left up into Central Gully, which is now broken at the narrows where we were two weeks ago. From here it was just a case of choosing a point to step off left onto the band of slabby rocks that lead up to Pygmy Ridge. However we choose to keep going higher to end up level with the foot of the ridge to our left (probably 10 - 15 metres too high), leaving us a slightly awkward travers across loose, broken and greasy rock to the well worn base of the ridge.

The route consists of three sections: firstly, two 35 metre pitches of nice scrambly climbing on grippy rock, although some holds lower down on the first pitch seem to slope away from you! However, it is all quite straightforward, following a loose line up the arete to a recess for the first belay ,and shelter from the now very cold wind! The second pitch from the recess is actually easier and again leads to a similar niche just below where the ridge levels slightly and before the final blocky tower. By now photos were out of the question as it was freezing! At the crest we opted to move together to save time and keep warm, and Lorna lead over the tower and onto the plateau. The above photo really foreshortens the height above the corrie floor as if we're 10 metres off the ground!      

Mark scrambling over the final tower with me trying to keep warm in the sun below. 

Once established on the crest of the tower from the end of the ridge below, it becomes straightforward all the way to the top and gives great views over the top of the Trident Gullies area and across the Fingers Ridge area.  

One final view of Coire an t-Sneachda  and the Fiacaill Ridge before heading down over 1141 to the car. We only saw four other people in the corrie today; two lads heading for the Fiacaill Buttress area (we saw then start a climb bur don't know which) and two ski tourers going up the Goat Track.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Crazy Pinnacles and back, 18th April 2011.

With the snow on the decline (although not completely just yet?), myself and Mark headed to Glencoe to do the Aonach Eagach, or as much as we could get done as we had to be back in Edinburgh by 6pm! The plan was to get as far as the Crazy Pinnacles and then reverse the route. The picture shows Mark contemplating the way down on one of the first two downclimbs at the start of the route.

Not much snow on Ben Nevis, although some of the easier gullies out of view will probably stii be holding some snow.

Looking west down Glencoe.

The first of the crowds behind us staredt to catch up as we stopped for lunch just after the Crazy Pinnacles. 

Downclimbing the pinnacles, in reverse.

Andrew and Rosie, a couple we met on our return leg, climbing one of the chimneys on their way to the pinnacles. Apologies to them for the quality of the photo as it was into the sun!

Andrew and Rosie again in the distance with a fair chunk of the ridge still to do.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Central Gully and Jacobs Ladder, Sunday 10th April 2011.

Glorious spring/alpine weather today in Sneachda as we walked in from the ski car park. From what I could see, only Jacobs Ladder, Alladdins Couloir and Central Gully were complete. The Goat Track also had a few ski tourers going up and skiers/boarders coming down. We saw a team somewhere near the bottom of Fingers Ridge and Fi from but other than that, very few folk around surprisingly?

It was warm work going up to the start of Central Gully but the snow is still in pretty good condition with the hint of some colder weather to come next week! ?

There is a short section that is down to about a metre wide so we made our way up carefully so as not to break it up. It seemed well frozen underneath though, so hopefully it will remain unbroken for a little while yet. But a little snow would maybe help.

Just about to top out of Central Gully and back into the sun.

We then walked along to the top of Aladdins Couloir and descended to Aladdins Seat for lunch, at which point Fi from climbed past us. After a brief chat she carried on up to the summit, taking our photo as she did. We continued down making a detour just above the dog leg and traversed across broken ground to the foot of Jacobs Ladder.  

Lorna half way up Jacobs, taken from inside one of the many "bergschrunds" on it's left hand edge.

Still a lot of snow in Jacobs!

And once more into the sun before heading back over 1141 and back to the car to brave the lunatic overtaking antics of some folks on the A9 home!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Last day of the season ? :) April 1st 2011.

A chance break in the weather and some cheap flights gave me the chance to indulge myself in a spot of alpine skiing in Switzerland.