Monday, 20 February 2012

The missing link...

19 February 2012

Looking to make the best of the ‘fresh’ snow and colder temperatures that arrived Friday and Saturday Craig and I headed into Stob Coire Nam Beith to Climb Central Gully IV**. I led off up the first pitch but the ice was soft and booming with my axe placements. With no chance of screw placements for protection I retreated and we moved together up the gully to the right hand side. The scenery here was fantastic with many variations possible. Craig led some thin ice that was probably Grade III to take us into another gully system. From here we moved together on what turned out to be steep ground to a cave with left facing corner and chock stone. After rigging a good belay and runner, I led the left hand icy wall bridging on the chock stone before pulling over the lip (felt like grade 1V,5/6). No protection and non-existent axe placements seems to be the theme this winter. Craig followed and then we moved together through iced up rocks to the summit. Great route that was more of a ‘journey’ linking many routes on this great face. Loads of people on SCNL and Bidean summits.

More from Craig here on Simply Epic Adventure blog

Aonach Eagach in the morning Alpinglow

Soft and booming ice...

Craig on thin ice
Easier ground on the upper couloir 

Me on the final technical moves


Happy faces

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


12 February 2012

I headed into Stob Coire Nam Beith on Sunday to see what the mild weather had done to the climbing conditions. 1hr and 5mins had me at the foot of Summit Gully. This 500m route curves it way to the summit. I made holes in the snow to my knees all the way. There is still ice low down but with today’s 8º+ forecast I am sure it won't last. Heading down there was evidence of earlier avalanche activity. Fingers crossed it gets cold soon.


Monday, 6 February 2012

No need to be a dead hero ...

Glen Coe 3/2/12. Strong SW-W winds, heavy snow, Deep w.slab, sheltered gullies and N-E-SE slopes 700 m+ avalanches will occur. Hazard High, hmmm need to be super careful.

We headed to North Buttress of Buachille Etive Mor. (I climbed this route before many years ago with Peter before I knew what grades were). After a week of cold temperatures the forecast Westerly won the battle (in the west anyway) and the temperature shot up overnight. Crampons on early to negotiate the steep verglased slabs and rocky ground held us up as did being the rope no 2 on the route. I led up the first chimney getting my foot stuck and having to down climb to free. Climbing on I suddenly felt light headed and had a white out moment, probably due to looking down for a long period then quickly looking up. That and V cold hands I guess. Anyway, I reached a big block and threw a sling round it and clipped in. Craig exercised our climbing motto on my behalf and I abseiled down for soup and sarnie. Decision made that we should bail ASAP. We abed down to easier ground and crabbed round to the base of curved ridge where we chipped out a horn (American term, google it) and abseiled to easier ground. We walked out over fast melting ice. Good day regardless and in the words of the legend that is Don Whillians, “the mountain will be there tomorrow-the trick is to make sure you are.

7 days that had me in stitches...

23 - 29th January

Winter ML training last week, Monday on Aonach Mor looking at step cutting, ice axe arrest and crampon work as well as lots of snowpack analysis. Tuesday confidence roping on the Ben (+ snowpack analysis). Wednesday more rope work, anchors and snowpack analysis on Beinn a Chaorainn. Thursday we journeyed into Craig Meggie and spent 4 hrs digging snow holes before some night navigation and a balmy night at –1ºC. Friday the journey continued with a 30min stop for us to dig personal snow shelters and loads more snowpack analysis.  Saturday, back on the Ben traversing onto the upper half of “Ledge Route” from no 5 gully; looking at managing clients on grade 1 ground.  Some “white out” navigation to the top of number 4 gully, bollards and stompers over the cornice lip and more confidence roping to finish the day. Sunday we beasted into SCNL to take security on steep ground to new heights with Craig and I climbing Twisting 111*** and Becki & Casper climbed NC and Dorsal. 

A Great but very physical week with loads of learning, new friends made, and 3 stitches to close a deep crampon wound to my hand on day 2.