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 December 2012

Skiing at Aviemore and Drift 1080p HD Camera, 16th December 2012.

At last a break in the weather gave us a chance to get up to Aviemore and try and get some skiing in before we go to Soll on the 5th January next year. Cairngorm Mountain still insisted on charging £32.50 even though it wasn't a full area, but that wasn't the main issue. We probably queued for an hour to get tickets in an almost Alton Towers style affair, as we wound are way up an around the ticket office, finally getting on the train at the end. 
However, the skiing wasn't bad, hard in some places but softening up late afternoon when it seemed to go very quiet on the slopes for some reason? I also took chance to try out my new, DRIFT 1080P HD Headcam.  Obviously, not the most extreme off piste, stunt filled video you'll see on YouTube, but I was just messing with it to see how it works etc. Hopefully, in a few weeks time, I'll get some better shots for Austria!              

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Coire an t-Sneachda - Twin Ribs - Fiacaill Ridge, 2nd December 2012.

Crossing burns in Coire an t-Sneachda.

Mess of Pottage and Jacobs Ladder.

First glimpse of Fiacaill Buttress.

Wading up the Twin Ribs.

Fiacaill Ridge.

Away from the crowds.

Avoiding the bottlenecks on the ridge.

Looking over to Breariach.

Getting back on top of the ridge.

Looking back down.

Lots of "down", (that you can't see).

Shelterstone Crags and the Loch Avon basin area.

Looking into Fiacaill Couloir.

Cairngorm plateau.

Spot the climbers.

Osprey Mutant 38+ rucksack -  better than piece of Berghaus crap I have.

Fiacaill Ridge from the plateau.

Spot the climbers!

Climber belaying above the Red Gully-ish (?) area.

Top of Fingers Ridge.

Pygmy Ridge.

Aladdins Couloir complete.

Top of Pygmy Ridge.

Heading home.

Sunset over the Fiacaill Ridge.

360 video taken at the top of the Fiacaill Ridge.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Loch Avon, 18th November 2012.

After a later start than planned, we walked into Coire an t-Sneachda to show Jon his first view of the crags and gullies he may get a chance to climb this winter (?). Although there was a wintery feel to the day with a cold wind, there wasn't actually much snow. We opted not to do the Fiacaill Ridge, thinking the forecast high winds might make it difficult on its higher sections. Another option was to scramble up by the Twin Ribs area, but in the end Jon liked the idea of getting up close to the crags, so we headed straight in towards the lochans and the stretcher box.  

I don't think there was much snow on the ridge either especially with the westerly wind. The Ficaill Buttress and Couloir were also pretty bare.
Looking towards Trident Gullies and Alladins area which were bare too. We didn't see many people out, just a father and son team heading for the Mess of Pottage area and a team of two climbing way to the right of the Trident Gullies where the climber path rises up to the plateau. The path , whrn you can find it is steep and straightforward, but there was alot of ice (and little snow), so we put crampons on to be safe. This was a first for jon which he enjoyed. I hadn't really expected to be using them , or an axe so it was good to get some brief use of them.      
At the top of the climbers path we stopped for a brief bite to eat, and saw the one person who passed us on the way up, head for Ben Macdui. From there we headed south to drop down into the Loch Avon basin.
On the descent, we noticed two "boxes/huts" at the foot of Shelterstone Crags. One had a window but as we didn't cross the water at the bottom, we never got to find out just what they were for?  
Passing the area of the Sheltersone, I managed to get a good shot of the Forefinger Pinnacle, in Forefinger Gully. Maybe one day I will climb it as it is only (?) V-Diff I think.
Lunch was on the beach!
Was this the quietist beach in Scotland this Sunday? Mind you, some romantic soul had been there I guess a few days ago as they had written "I love you" in the sand!

Jon and Gordon near the top of the steep and icy path up Coire Domhain with Loch Avon below.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

An Casteal and lots of snow! 4th November 2012.

The weather forecast looked promising; light winds, little cloud, great views etc, but it didn't quite turn out that way. Although there was just enough visiblity, we had to check and double check our bearings to make sure we were still on the high ground heading up Sron Garbh and onto Twistin Hill. We were the first up the hill until two groups of two followed us to a point where I felt we should bear left onto higher ground. Annoyingly, my compass had developed an air bubble in it so I wasn't happy about it's accuracy. I asked the other groups to double check my bearings and was keen to see if they would show willing to map read in front of me. One of the guys did, and confirmed what I thought, so we headed left and back onto high ground. I don't know if they would've kept following our tracks without question? 

The route description mentions a "large cleft in the track", which you cross with a few rocky steps (in summer), but the "cleft" was now full of deep powder, and as the snow (much more than we had expected to see) was unconsolidated it would be tricky to down climb and then back up. Plus I had no idea how deep the snow was at the bottom. Consesus was to by pass it on the right and regain the ridge. The summit of An Casteal was disappointing, only because of the low cloud which only briefly gave way to a limited view of our surroundings. It was quite chilly in the wind, so we went a little further south over the summit to find shelter and a spot for lunch. The two groups in front seemed to head for Beinn a' Chroin.  

Rime forming on the summit rocks of An Casteal

A brief view of our route back via the ridge over Stob Glas.

We found a nice sheltered scoop round the back of the summit for lunch. Note the ice axe. Not strictly necessary but they came in handy now and then. (note also crampons not used).    

Another fleeting glimpse of the way back. It was quite hard going though, through lots of deep, soft snow which Lorna found hard on her ankle. It was fine on the wind scoured ground, but inbetween there were deep drifts which were pretty tiring.  

As time was getting on we opted to make a descent into the coire and follow the stream to the river Falloch and take the road back to the layby where we were parked (a few miles south west of Crianlarich on the A 82). We thought we had taken too long due to the snow conditions, yet we never saw the other parties making their return from Beinn a' Chroin. Maybe they returned the way the came? However back at the layby there were several cars still there and it was now very dark! Hopefully they had headtorches and were ok?!   

Friday, 26 October 2012

Kettler Giro S - Spin Bike

Recently we purchased a Giro S Spin Bike from As you can see it's a nice looking machine and after reading a few reviews decided it was the one to get in it's price range - £300.
I was concerned about the flywheel not being heavy enough, but at 18kg, it compares well to the expnsive Kaiser machines that we have in the gym at work.
The service I received from Fitness Superstore, was excellent and the bike arrived as arranged and on time. When you consider monthly gym memberships, parking, travel, petrol costs etc, £300 over a year is good value. It's also handy to have not just for Lorna in her rehabilitation of her ankle, but for either of us to use when the weather is just too bad to get out.
The Giro S is very sturdy, smooth to ride and has a decent saddle. The onboard computer is pretty good too, with speed, distance, calories, rpm and time shown on the large screen. It also has a heart rate monitor using the pads on the handlebars.
All in all, we're really pleased with the Giro S, and hopefully the German/Kettler quality should last for sevaral years to come.      

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Striding Edge, 21st October 2012.

After 8 weeks or so of not getting out for various reasons, we finally get a decent weather window and free time to do something. Lorna and Ruth game to try a grade 1 scramble to see how they would cope after all this time, so we went for the Lake District classic of Striding Edge. The car park at the Patterdale Hotel was surprisingly quiet, but we soon were amongst the crowds as we go to the Hole in the Wall with the first view of Helvellyn and Red Tarn Cove.
Lorna and Ruth (above) getting their first taste of exposure since last year. (Ruth had been to Skye a couple of weeks earlier with Ian, but found the scrambling a little easier). 
Ian and Ruth further along the ridge.
Myself and Lorna posing in our new jackets! ( I was determined to put it on, even for a short while!).
Lorna in her Montane Prism down jacket and me in  Patagonia Sheltersone jacket in a tastefull Mango colour! 
Looking down from the trig point on Helvellyn onto Red Tarn with Striding Edge to the right.
Ian and Ruth on the summit of Helvellyn. 
Lorna, Ruth and Ian starting their descent of Swirral Edge.
Possibly a ridge walk such as this was a little too exposed for Lorna and Ruth at this stage as they both said they didn't feel confident in their abilities having still not fully recovered. So they did take some of the escape paths on the ridge to avoid any awkward moves - stuff they would've almost ran over, a year ago. I think Lorna found it frustrating to get advice from (well meaning, but unaware) kids, day trippers and pensioners!