Friday, 18 April 2014

19.4.14 the Pink Rib of Beinn a' Chrulaiste

This morning Ali and I headed off down the sun blessed Glencoe to the Jacksonville car park to tackle the Pink Rib of Beinn a' Chrulaiste, a 2 star, grade 1 scramble offering stunning views of Rannoch Moor and Buachaille Etive Mor. The approach, even as mentioned in the guide book (Noel Williams, Scrambles in Lochaber) was quite vague and open to variation, covering some boggy ground and crossing the West Highland Way footpath.  The route its self is very pleasant, with positive holds and interest in abundance.  Towards the top the route lessens in steepness (not that its ever really steep anywhere) and kinda peters out.  A short, but rightly popular mini classic that even met Ali's strict standards for an enjoyable quick hit!

the Pink Rib, Beinn a' Chrulaiste

Ali enjoying the scrambling

Me appreciating the views

Ali takes a seat

some great scrambling on the Pink Rib

Fantastic views all round today!

18.4.14 Blowy day on the Ben

Today I was working for Atlas Mountaineering guiding Nat, Nicola, Brenden and Conor on the Ben Nevis mountain path.  The weather was very challenging today with high winds and strong gusts, although the rain stayed away for the most part.  The current conditions on the path is that with the exception of a thawing redburn path junction, snow free up until halfway up zig zag 4.  Above here, the snow was very hard and icy and crampons were definitely required.  We made good time to the summit and enjoyed some lunch inside the summit shelter before enduring some horrendous wind gusts and very poor visibility on descent.  A challenging day, but over all enjoyable with everyone happy to reach the top, well done guys!

my group at the top of the zig zags

Nat, Nicola, Conor and Brendan happy at the summit!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Aonach Eagach 15.4.14

So with a day of sunshine (yeah I know, wtf is that?) forecast, I decided that the best way to spend the day would be on the Aonach Eagach ridge in Glencoe.  The AE is one of my all time favourite scrambles, at a steady grade 2 it provides some great scrambling situations and some awesome views.  The start of the route begins with a steep slog up Am Boadach which even in bright sunshine yesterday was still a tad on the chilly side but it wasnt long before my effort was rewarded with some stunning views.  The actual AE ridge lies between Meall Dearg,953m and Stob Coire Leith, 940m with the crux of the route being the notorious pinnacles, two finger like pinnacles of rock towering over some exposed ground.  From the summit of Stob Coire Leith to the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh its all relatively straightforward walking, offering great views of Loch Leven and Glencoe.  The NE aspect of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh still had a lot of snow left and there was evidence of very recent cornice collapse in the form of debris covered slopes.  Another great day out!

Stob Coire nan Lochan from the initial slog up Am Bodach

The Aonach Eagach as seen from Meall Dearg

NE slopes of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh 

The Ben and the Mammores 

The Bidean massif from Am Bodach 

Looking back, Schiehallion just visible in the distance

The Aonach Eagach and the pass of Glencoe

Monday, 14 April 2014

A Wild Weekend on the Ben! 12th & 13th April 2014

On Saturday I was working for Atlas Mountaineering, guiding Kelly and Lauren on a very wet and wintry Ben Nevis.  Conditions on the day were very varied with heavy rain and hail/snow showers and visibility varying from beautiful views over Loch Linnie and the surrounding area to complete whiteout and less than 4m visibility at times. With the exception of the Redburn path junction, the mountain is free of snow until half way up zig zag number 4.  We stopped here in some pretty high winds and dawned crampons and ski goggles and were soon on the off again.  At the top of the zig zags a strange phenomenon occurred, although there were 20+ people around, they only seemed to move when I moved, stopped when I stopped, staying a pace or two behind my group, all very strange indeed.  Despite this Michael Jackson Thriller style precession following us, we continued to the summit and enjoyed a our lunch within the shelter there.  A quick descent enabled us to thaw out and even treated us to some beautiful views of Glen Nevis.  A good, but very challenging day was had by all.  Yesterday I was working for Adventure Nevis, guiding Rachel and Jonathan on the Ben track. Rachel and Jonathan had climbed Snowdon 2 days prior and Scafell Pike the day before. With the weather being more consistently poor and windier than the previous day and they guys feeling a bit tired after previous adventures, we decided to call it a day at the Redburn path junction.  We returned back down the Ben track to the Ben Nevis Inn for hot chocolate and coffee whilst going over some basic map and navigational skills.  With both of them vowing to return and climb this beautiful mountain in better weather, I have no doubt they will achieve this summit in the near future!

There is a lack of photographs on this blog entry because the weather was well and truly minging.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Blog Catch Up ...Again!

Been a busy few weeks and again writing in the old blog has been neglected!  what have I been upto... here goes.

Picking up where I left off (climbing with Kate and Cameron), I returned to Polldubh with Jamie and Graham for some more cragging!  A good day was spent climbing Repton Right Wall (VDiff), Half Sheet (HVS 5a), 3 Pines (Severe), Flying Dutchman (Severe) and finished up Phantom Slab (VS4c).
I spent the next few days with Patrick, firstly a trip up Aonach Mor to practise crampon and axe skills, not to mention navigation on the summit!  The next day we tackled ledge route on Ben Nevis, an absolute classic and we were even blessed with the yella thing in the sky overhead most of the day.  After 2 days on the hill, we spent the next day at Polldubh going over basic mountaineering skills such as gear placement, belay construction and abseiling, a very pleasant day was had, right up until we reached the top of the Gutter (Diff) when the heavens opened and we ran away!
I was then out on the Ben for Atlas Mountaineering with Matt and Guy.  We headed up the mountain path as far as corner 4 on the zig zags, before detouring towards the top of No4 Gully in the hope of catching a glimpse of the North Face, our efforts were rewarded and we were given our glimpse of this majestic place.  From the top of No4 Gully, we talked about winter specific hazards such as cornices etc.  We then made our way to the summit, taking the time to teach Guy some basic navigation skills such as how to take and walk on bearings.  With his new found skills, Guy navigated our way to the summit (under close supervision) where we met Jamie and his group.
On the weekend of the 5/6th of April, Simon and I headed for the Buachaille.  We had chosen Curved Ridge as I thought it would be a good mixture of summer scrambling with a wintry exit up a gully.  We were not disappointed!  The ridge its self was almost entirely free of snow (if soaking wet thanks to the rain!), but made for some very enjoyable scrambling, we looked at belays, moving together and using natural features as belays.  Once we had completed curved ridge, crampons were dawned as we skirted Crowberry Tower into Crowberry Gap and onwards to the summit of Stob Dearg.  We then descended the extreme Western flank of Coire na Tulaich after spying some very ominous looking fracture lines in the cornice.  The next day, we made our way back into Coire na Tulaich, keeping to the western side of the coire to an area free of objective danger and looked at snow anchors.  We covered bucket seats, buried axe belays and snow bollards before calling it a day in some pretty foul weather!

Moving up past Crowberry Gully after Curved Ridge

Teaching young Guy some basic navigation techniques on Ben Nevis summit plateau

Himalayan style spindrift coming off Sgurr a Mhaim

Jamie pulls over the last move on 3 Pines, Polldubh

Patrick on Aonach Mor

Practising some crampon/axe use

Ben Nevis

Patrick high on Ledge Route, Ben Nevis

Patrick on the Summit of Carn Dearg after Ledge Route

Patrick learning to abseil at Polldubh

Quick hit on the Gutter before the heavens opened!

Matt and Guy near the top of No4 Gully, Ben Nevis

Myself and Jamie on the summit of Ben Nevis

Simon gaining Curved Ridge on Buachaille etive Mor

Simon on the Crux of Curved Ridge

smiles and snow!

Abseiling from a snow bollard

Thursday, 13 March 2014

the two sunny days - 11&12th

The past few days have blessed us with cloud free skies and that funny yellow thing was in plain sight most of the time!  Tuesday Jamie and I headed for the Buachaille for a pleasant bimble up curved ridge.  Bathed in sunshine with no wind, we enjoyed our day out almost as much as we enjoyed our bacon sandwiches on the summit!  Wednesday I headed to Polldubh Crags, Glen Nevis for some rock climbing with Kate and Cameron, again we enjoyed the sunshine and luxury of dry rock, making ascents of Tear HS4b, Damnation VS4c and Three Pines S4b.  Today I was snowboarding at Glencoe, the funny yellow ball had disappeared however snow conditions were excellent and the place was deserted so no lift cues today!

me sporting a pair of sunglasses SCOTLAND!

moving up a very alpine curved ridge

colossal avalanche debris in Coire na Tulaich

JB on the crest of Curved Ridge

JB heads for the summit!

Beautiful is an understatement 

Kate leading Tear HS4b at Polldubh

Kate and Cameron on Three Pines S4b
me leading off on Damnation VS4c 
A 'Heelan Coo' 

Friday, 28 February 2014

Blog catch up!

Well, what have I been up to in January/February it is!

Early January Sean, Dave, Tyler and myself headed up to the North Face of Ben Nevis to learn and practise some winter skills, focusing on footwork and crampon techniques, as well as self arrest and axe skills.  We looked at the winter environment and discussed concealed water hazards and avalanche terrain traps and the importance of being aware of these and other concerns when route planning in winter mountains.  Also in January, I decided to learn how to snowboard!  I spent a day at Glencoe Mountain with Adele, who was kind enough to show me the basics and help me try to understand my body positioning and controlling my now all important 'edges'.  Also in Jan/Feb, Simon, Paul and I looked at personal mountaineering skills and belay construction.  We spent the first day at Ice Factor in Kinlochleven, looking at belaying, abseiling and the basics of belay construction and principals of an anchor system.  The next day we had hoped to get out and try and implement these new found skills on a mountain route, but sadly the weather gods were not up for that, so instead we spent a wet day at Polldubh Crags in Glen Nevis, looking at gear placement and more belay construction as well as anchor selection and personal abseiling safety.  A productive few days!  Then it was time for some more snowboarding before a the long awaited arrival of my good friend John.  John and I spent a few days covering various mountaineering skills including abseiling, improving on rock climbing technique and the fundamentals of anchor and belay systems.  During this time we managed to bag the SW ridge of the Douglas Boulder (III) on Ben Nevis and had a skills based day on Buachaille Etive Beag in Glencoe.  A fantastic time as always!

Dave, Sean and Tyler at the CIC Hut

Simon gain confidence in his prussik while Paul acts as a safety

Paul practising gear placement and belay construction

Snowboarding with Adele in Glencoe
SW ridge of the Douglas Boulder, thanks to Al Halewood for the photo!

Belay Basics with John at Ice Factor

John on Buachaille Etive Beag during a rare good weather window!

compression tests