Monday, 12 October 2015

Going for Gold…

12 October 2015

Craigs final Gold DofE of the year got cancelled last minute so he joined me on the uber classic Curved Ridge with Jane.

I had Jane on a short rope and Craig soloed alongside offering her support where needed. This was working well until we heard a cry for help coming from D Gully Buttress. A solo climber had got separated from his party and started climbing, but soon got crag fast. Craig and I headed down the ridge till I could drop a loop of rope to him and escort him to Curved Ridge were his group were now assembled. The whole operation took less than 25 mins - so no major drama!

The sun was out by then so we added the traverse to Crowberry ridge and up to the best picnic spot in the Glen; Crowberry Tower for Coffee and cake.

More on the Simply Epic blog...

Friday, 2 October 2015

Lip balm…

Arderikie Wall**** HS 4b

Gerry and I took advantage of the good forecast and headed North to Binnein Shuas. We walked up the estate track with various overnight camping teams heading out in what can only be described as July weather.

We tossed the wee blue lip balm tin to see who was first up and I win. Gerry had climbed the route many years before with George so it seemed only right. We followed Gary’s description and ran the original 12m first and second pitch together.

The climbing and situation was fantastic if not a little run out on the top section, but the holds were good and with such good weather it was easy to just keep climbing. Gerry arrived at the belay looking relaxed and eager to tackle the impressive looking flake (I was slightly jealous of this to be honest). Pitch dispatched without drama and I led through on yet another great pitch on great rock with good gear. Being ‘now’ in the groove  the final two pitches went by in a flash and left us feeling we wanted another 10 pitches !!!

The route is amazing and impressive in equal measures and well worth getting up early for. It’s been on Craig’s list for a while also so perhaps I'll get to lead the flake pitch sometime soon.


Thursday, 3 September 2015


21-29 August 2015

I teamed up with Gerry for this years Alps fix.

We both wanted to climb Alpin-durst (14 pitches 4c) on the Jagihorn. We both wanted to climb Castor and Pollux, the Eiger, the Matterhorn, Lyskamm, the Frendo; the list is endless… so, within 10 hours of leaving Edinburgh we were swinging leads on the grippy gneiss high above Sass Grund sucking in thin air on a bright sunny day and making plans for the coming week.

The Swiss meteo was showing a 1.5 day blip with heavy weather up high so we relocated to the valley for some sport climbing and Ferrata at Belvedere then onto the Grand Hotel Kurhaus in the Arolla valley to pack for a couple nights at Klein Matterhorn. We arrived in Zermatt in good time and headed up to the Hut for stunning 360 views.

First up each day we had the plateau and journey to our mountains in complete solitude. Castor and Pollux were in great conditions with firm and squeaky snow and on both occasions we had the summits to ourselves.

High altitude sleeps over we headed to the valley to mainline on some oxygen and then some multi pitch climbing in the sun at Pierr du Moelle.

Thanks to Gerry for the great photographs (I dropped my camera down Alpindurst) and for his encyclopaedic memory for mountain shapes and names...a great trip.

Alpin-Durst               © Gerry McGarry

                                                                        © Gerry McGarry
Jagihorn summit 
Ferrata Belvedere                    © Mark McGinnes
Breithorn with Pollux and Castor behind              © Mark McGinnes
 Tying alpine butterflies at 5am                               © Gerry McGarry
Fixed ropes on Pollux                                            © Gerry McGarry
Gerry on the Pollux summit ridge                        © Mark McGinnes
Summit ridge Castor                   © Gerry McGarry
 Castor summit ridge                                             © Mark McGinnes
Summit selfie
 Looking across to Lyskamm                                  © Mark McGinnes
Limestone multi-pitch climbing                             © Mark McGinnes
                                                                                © Mark McGinnes

Gerry continues his Alps trip this week with Carol...

                                                                                  © Gerry McGarry
Mmmm, now where is this ?

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The greatest mountain in human history !

1 July 2015

Great day guiding on Ben Nevis with all the guys making it to the summit via the Carn Mor Dearg Arête.

This was particularly satisfying for both Craig and myself as they were all part of a 'Simply Epic Adventures 'organised trip - seven Canadians over here to celebrate their friendship of many years.

Base camp was manned by the charismatic Colin who made sure the beers were on the bar at the end.

The Tour de Ecosse continues this week with adventures on Knoydart and Applecross.

More info soon here on the Simply Epic Adventures website or email Craig for ideas and availability for your own Simply Epic Adventure.

Some pics from the day...

Friday, 20 March 2015

Bergschrund on the Buachaille...

15 March 2015

An early rise saw Gerry and I meet Murray for a day on the Ben...

Like waving at the tree, stopping to look at the Buachaille has become a part of what we all do, so pulling into Jacksonville it was clear that Crowberry Gully would be in good nick. Plan changed - we walked the walk we have all done 1000 times.

The neve was in great nick so we front pointed from just above the water slab to pitch 3 ? of Crowberry Gully. The 2 ice pitches were in good fat condition and easy for the grade with first time placements all the way. The route is very atmospheric and an amazing situation to be in.

We topped out in brilliant, sunny Alpine like conditions and made our way to a deserted summit to drink in the views.

The pics say it all... and a wee movie from Murray here


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Never hurry a Murray…

8 March 2015

I teamed up with Murray and headed to the Coe. The mild temperatures have wreaked havoc with black rock everywhere.

We headed up curved ridge on damp slippy rock till we hit the snow line. There is lots of snow in all the gully lines but a good freeze is needed ASAP.

The wind ripped our faces on the way off the summit. Murray had never been down the West ridge Coire na Tulloch so we headed down that instead
as the headwall looked very steep indeed with monster horizontal cracks
Impressive crevasses at the foot of the Coire.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Gone with the wind...

15 February

Craig and I headed to the Nevis range for the first lift. This worked well but the high winds meant we walked from the gondola station to the top ski hut.

Abseiling intro easy gully gave respite from the wind but the CLAG meant finding routes difficult. We walked until we found Left Twin, we soloed the first pitch and Craig led the ice fall; this was in great knick and felt 4 rather than 3 today.

We abed down again as the sky cleared revealing amazing ice everywhere, White Shark IV 4 *** looked fat so I set on up. The ice was great and took screws and to be honest felt more grade 5 than 4, the climbing was great on first time placements. Arriving at the belay and bringing Craig up, the wind increased so we decided to bail. This was the best decision of the day, on reflection…

We climbed out easy gully and made our way to the Gondola station only to be told 98mph gusts earlier in the day forced them to close. We headed down the cycle track and back to the car in 45mins or so.

A great day climbing on a great crag. More here on the Simply Epic website

Turbo thaw

8 February 2015

Turbo thaw,

Great day on Sunday with Craig in SCNL. The day started early and with a plan to climb Shelf route but conditions looked thin from Jacksonville.

Arriving in the Lochan to 100% zero vis meant we went for a route we knew would be climbable in the rising temperatures and more to the point, FIND!
More here on the Simply Epic site.

 -3º at 7.45am

 +6º at 11am