Monday, 17 December 2012

The Seamstress...

15 December 2012

An early walk into Coire an-t Sneachda, Northern Cairngorms (on fresh snow) with the aim of climbing
The Seam 1V’5. We had scoped this out in our last visit and it looks a cracking line. The guidebook says it's sustained but with good gear.

Craig climbed the first pitch as for Invernookie,  but the new snow had insulated the turf, the gear placements were all buried and the neve was non existent. I arrived at the belay and the decision to bin The Seam and carry up Invernookie was taken as the sensible option.

With more snow this route had changed in character from when we last climbed it. Gear was still hard to find and the team behind us were thankful for all our digging.
We topped out into a fierce wind and made a fast and interesting descent by the notch on Fiaciall Buttress.

Great day and some more good ‘early season’ climbing...

More on the Simply Epic blog here.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Its still early doors ...

Craig and I continued our early winter campaign with an alpine plod to Stob Coire nan Lochan (SCNL) to have a “look see” at what was “in”.

There were teams already on Crest Route and a team heading for Twisting Groves. We headed for the uber classic and a favourite route of ours, Raeburn’s Ordinary Route on Central Buttress IV 4 ** This decision was to due to the lack of neve or frozen turf and the guide book reads, can be climbed in any condition ...

The first pitch was thin with unfrozen turf so I hooked my way up the chimney to the first belay. The rest of the route took some clearing to expose gear placements and with no neve or frozen turf felt quite tricky on all the usual crux moves.

We had a great climb regardless and the lack of bomber axe and crampon placements kept both of us on our toes... The book is right it can be climbed in any condition it just makes it harder !

The full story here on the Simply Epic website.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


18 November 2012
Craig and I met early and headed to Fort Bill with a plan to climb North East Buttress. 24hrs of snow made the Ben look wintery but it didn’t feel all that cold. As we passed a deserted CIC hut we decided that conditions were not really “in” so opted for Tower Ridge instead.

Getting to the bottom of the route involved some ”interesting” soloing up deeply snow covered un-bonded rock held in place with non-frozen turf.

Once on the ridge it was obvious that the snow had no base and conditions were tricky , but we pressed on till we were wading waist deep beneath the little tower. The wind got up, it started snowing, and both of us had that feeling you get before things go wrong. We bailed with a couple of abseils and picked our way back down to the hut.

We met Spike again (I think he is following me) who had climbed and boarded down no 4 gully-good effort.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Penguin, thanks ...

3 November 2012

Craig and I headed to the Cairngorms to have a look/see at the “just arrived” winter conditions. Surprised on route by the blizzard conditions on the A9 we kitted up and headed into Coire an t'Sneachda.

The wind, CLAG, freezing temperatures, SNOW and spin drift made it feel like proper winter. We geared up and headed for the direct start of Invernookie (Scottish III,4). SMC guide reads, an interesting and popular climb which takes a line of ramps on the wall above and right of Fiacaill Couloir. Loss of turf means there are some tricky moves (IV,5 under powder).

Thin conditions made this feel stiff for the grade with most of the hard moves requiring hooks and torques
and a bit of cunning. The climbing was harder than III,4 and both of us felt that if this was your first grade III you would have been in for a bit of a spanking.

The weather improved and we had a great start to our winter climbing campaign...

More here on the Simple Epic Blog 

Climber on the crux pitch of The Seam IV,5
Craig on the exit pitch
Winter MOJO returned ...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Balls out ...

21 October 2012

The team split for Sunday with Bill and Craig heading to the Witches Trails in Fort William for biking with John (Fish), and me heading into the North face of Ben Nevis.

I was at the CIC hut in 1hr 20min and caught up with Spike and clients with the same objective, Tower Ridge. There was reported snow on the summit, but it was misty, so neither of us knew if this was superficial or not. After exchanging some pleasantries and swapping what beta we had I was quickly on my way and climbing rock. Looking down into Observatory gully I could see what was left of last winter's snow and what new snow was around, it all looked quite white.

Just before the Eastern traverse I hit the snow line; the snow was easily cleared but extra care was needed. The ridge leading to tower gap looked very wintery indeed. I was glad to find the (usual) in-situ sling to clip as I swung round and down before stepping across the gap to climb out of the other side. The snow on the final section was deep and quite tricky, but firm enough for me to kick steps up the exit gully.

I dropped down to Glen Nevis to be picked up by the boys who had a great day on the trails. More info on what they did here at

The Douglas Boulder and The Great Tower in the mist
The Very narrow ridge leading to Tower Gap

Looking back towards the Gap from the other side
Heading to the Pony Track the sky clears
Looking towards the Carn Derg

Monday, 15 October 2012

Beat the clock...

Craig and Bill biked the devils to Kinlochleven then round to the upper Glen Coe cark park while I did the round of the zig zags on Gearr Aonach-SCNL-Bidean nam Bian before dropping into the lost valley and back to the car park in 4 hrs.

All in a good day, cold and windy in the morning above 600m but sunny and clear in the afternoon.

More here on the Simple Epic Blog.

Looking into the Lost valley

Craig and Bill heading to the upper car park


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Name and shame...

A quick blast on my local hills on Saturday to stretch the legs. The Hills were busy; not surprising with this being the only dry and sunny weekend for a while. We chose different lines up the Cobbler, Narnain and Ime than anyone else, but still found some friendly banter, stories, and even managed to bum some cake on the way.

Not best pleased with the state of the hill after the recent upgrade works to the feeder dam coming off the back of the cobbler...


Monday, 1 October 2012

Dancing on the ridge ...

With more standing water on the A82 than I can ever remember it was obvious that our planned climb was out. Instead our CPD logbook kicked in with a quick traverse of the Aonach Eagach. This involved security on steep ground and some micro navigation.

The rain and wind abated but the rock was very slippery. We crabbed, down climbed and carefully picked our way across the ridge till the last munro Sgorr nam Fiannaidh where we headed straight off the hill to the Clachaig Inn junction . This is the best spot to thumb a lift back to the upper car park. It is only locals, other climbers or hill walkers that ever stop, as all the tourists must think you want to go all the way to Engerland with them. Thanks again to Moira for the lift.

Monday, 17 September 2012


Craig and I supervised a bronze Duke of Edinburgh award for pupils of a private school in Edinburgh. Two 6hr days navigating their way through the Pentland Hills with an overnight camp. 
The weather on Saturday was glorious but deteriorated overnight with high winds and rain on Sunday. This is the perfect mix as it really test resilience and team work. Both teams did very well and passed. 
Many thanks to David Adamson (assessor), Louise for her dedication to the students the DofE award and for the lemon drizzle cake and Will for giving up his weekend to help.
Silver next ?

Team 1 handrail navigating on day 2

 The way ahead

A glacia erratic on Capelaw hill

A (non) glacia Belfast sink on the same hill...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sea level...

Simply Epic crew members and Peter had a great day's sea kayak training with Keith from Paddle Power Adventure. We paddled 26 kilometers round the island of Kerrera just off Oban. One word, fantastic. More on the epic blog here

Peter paddling uphill...

Monday, 3 September 2012

a Vole

1 September 2012

A quick, mild and misty round of Mid Hill, Coire na h-Eanachan and Beinn Dubh and back to NS 331 942.

Plus 20 years of hill and mountaineering boots minus one pair that I had given away. Bill remarked that my feet seem to have got bigger (they are in order left to right, he’s not wrong).

Decided not to dispose of them just yet as they all have stories to tell...

That "bastard" bracken

Mid Hill and Coire na h-Eanachan

Miles and miles and miles or should that be kilometers ...


Thursday, 30 August 2012


25 August 2012
Great morning climbing the first 3 pitches of January Jigsaw (s) and the last pitch of Satins Slit (VS). The alpine start meant we had the face to ourselves and managed to outflank the incoming rain and wind.

Craig was climbing well on his first climb back after his wee accident in the Alps.

Some images from the last couple of weeks showing and impressive land slide and some alpine’s that are out at the moment.

More here on the Simply Epic Website

Me on lead, pitch 2

Craig, "walking the walk" on pitch 3

Craig following up the last pitch of Satin's Slit
Devil's-bit scabious
Exposed bedrock
Self heal