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.

Like this blog!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Glentress, Mountain Biking, Sunday 22nd April 2012.

My first proper visit to Glentress today, and I can't believe I've never bothered to come before! The place is excellent. There's showers, a bike wash, shop, cafe and loads of parking. Okay it's a whole three quid, but that's all you need to pay if you forgo the bike wash (£1) and the showers (£1) but it seems daft not to use them. Myself and Ian basically rode the Blue route a couple of times (in fact we may have missed some bits it's that long) but it's just the right level of downhill and technicality for me.   

I have read that some think the new "Peel" cafe is a "monstrosity", although to me it fits well into the surrounds and is a great facility, along with the showers. Prices are what you would expect, and again you don't have to spend a fortune.

The place did get busy, but there was always space on the trails and there's a sociable feel to it all.
I can't wait to go back, and of course it's always more fun if there's a crowd of you racing down through the trees!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Highest wild camp in Britain - Ben Nevis summit, 14th-15th April 2012.

After lots of talk and crazy ideas, I finally realised an ambition of mine to camp on the summit of Ben Nevis this weekend. Myself and Ian left the North Face car park at about 3pm (ish) on Saturday afternoon and headed up to the top car park, from where we struck off up to the Halfway Lochan to gain the tourist path. At this point, the forecast, "isolated snow flurries and light winds" started! We didn't see that many folk, just onr guide and his clients coming down after climbing "Good Friday", I think and  two guys who'd done "Gardyloo Gully". Everyone else was the usual mixed bag the prepared and not so...     
Ian approaching a gloomy, deserted summit.After the Red Burn, the snow became more consolidated, but once off the zig-zags the going became heavier with a slight crust over a softer layer making the going (with a large pack) really hard work. At one point it almost became map reading time as the cloud closed in, until we spotted the next cairn and avoided the faff of navigating in bad weather! You have to wonder, is it foolhardy or brave for the "samba/jeans/anorak" crowds to go out there in such changeable conditions? I know my view, but they must look as incredulously at us (in our finest), as we do at them in their sports-fashion outfits!     
An even gloomier, deserted summit. Not the clear skies and stunning views we had hoped for. We did see a couple more climbers just topping out on Tower Ridge at about 7 - 7.30pm, and then two more that seemed to come from the North East Buttress/Observatory Ridge area and passed our tent as they (had to now with the visibility) navigated their way off the plateau. Once we had the tent pitched and extra layers on, it was into the sleeping bags and time to cook. Phoning home had to be done over by the Trig Point, which was a bit nippy in the wind, and then run back to the tent! Around 8.30 ish a group of "Three peakers", arrived at the summit so we spoke to them for a while from the comfort of our tent, before we wished them farewell.   
After dinner (ready mix pasta, hot chocolate and a flapjack), we decided to take a look outside the see if visibility had improved, and to walk off dinner! Sadly, there was still lots of broken cloud, although some stars could be seen. No lights down at the CIC Hut, but Corpach was visible. The wind still came and went and it was hard to tell if it was actually snowing or just spindrift. The after dinner walk, consisted of peering over the edge into Tower Gully and running round the summit shelter a few times - mainly to keep warm!      
After a "cool", but not too uncomfortable night (2 baselayers, 2 pairs of thermal leggings, 2 pairs of socks, down gillet, belay jacket inside the bag with my feet in it, hat and gloves) on my self de-flating mattress, I eventually got up around 7.30 am. The sun had been up since 6, or earlier, but it was a little warmer in my sleeping bag than a few hours prior so I had a lie in. A quick breakfast of flapjacks, chocolate and banana in hot milk, was followed by another jog around the summit shelter to get the blood flowing! 
My early morning view from the tent door. At this point some more 3 peakers arrived, but with a difference. They were cycling between all 3 peaks, and then riding to London in time to do the Marathon on Sunday 22nd! 
So, after breakfast we were up and out to enjoy the morning sun and the stunning views from Britains's highest mountain. It was still a bit nippy, but another couple of laps around the shelter soon got the blood flowing again and it was time for some kodak moments. 
A much better view of Tower Ridge (and a bit of Tower Gully), with the Ledge Route and Carn Dearg to it's right. Pity about my shadow in the picture though. With crampons on we felt much safer wandering around near the edge.
Carn Dearg again, and Tower Ridge in front, all the way down to almost the CIC Hut.
The CMD (Carn Mor Dearg Arete) looking amazing in the spring sunshine and Aonach Mor and the ski area behind.
Ian and myself at the summit trig point getting some warmth from the sun. Despite appearances, there was still a chilly breeze.   
A couple of young "Three Peakers", Dan and Lewis from Peterborough, who appeared and had a chat with us. Well done lads, and I hope you stayed awake for the drive home...
Ian making his way down over the boulder field to the start of the arete. Although most of the rock was covered, there was still a slight crust on the surface of the snow, so even going downhill was energy sapping. It also got a little warmer as we got some shelter from the NE Buttress.  
Another layer off, and it was down to business on the arete. We met one guy on his way up, so no real trench had been formed to speak of, and with heavy packs we had to be carefull about how we place our feet between rock and fresh snow.  
Ian on the arete with Carn Mor Dearg, the highest point, in the distance.
Another slog up the summit of Carn Mor Dearg! We did see a team of two making their way up towards the base of the arete below the abseil posts area. I think there is a climb there, but not sure of the name?   
The arete and summit of the Ben looking  very alpine.
Ian on Carn Mor Dearg.
Myself and "Mac", on Carn Mor Dearg. Just one small subsiduary top to cross and it's all downhill, back to the CIC Hut path, the top carpark and down to the North Face car park.    
One last view straight across to Number 5 Gully in the centre, Ledge Route to it's right, the two Castle Gullies and the Castle itself. 

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Mountain bike - Pentland Hills, 8th April 2012.

Myself, Ian and Bruce went for a wee spin in the Pentlands today, starting at Flotterstone and cycling past Glencourse Reservoir and up to the farmhouse and on up the Green Cleugh to Bavelaw Castle. From there it's downhill to Thriepmuir and Harlaw reservoirs, before passing the Rangers Hut and then up to the "hole in the wall" and back down to Glencorse and Flotterstone.    
Ian and Bruce at the hole in the wall.
Myself and Bruce.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Schiehallion, 7th April 2010.

Looking back over Loch Tummel from the path up to Schiehallion. This was to be Lorna's first proper hillwalk apart from the Pentlands since her accident last year in Saas Fee. Ian and Ruth came along too, this being Ruth's second walk since her accident in Tower Gap last year.
Ian topping up Loch Tummel.
Considering (despite the well made path lower down) the rough ground through the boulder field higher up, and the odd patch of spring snow, the girls did really well today!
Ruth and Lorna enjoying a well earned cream egg at the top of Schiehallion.