Monthly Archives: February 2013

Winter Wonderland

The last time I was in Scotland at this time of year was 2004 and I truly had forgotten what a wonderful time it is to be here.  There has been lots of sunshine, crisp cold days and the flowers are beginning to come up at sea level.  In the last couple of week I have spent my time between the Ross of Mull, Ben Nevis and Creag Meagidh making the most of the good weather.  Having written the Isle of Mull off for years it has been a revelation to see what a brilliant part of Scotland this truly is.  We have been surrounded by amazing beaches, birds of prey and lots of climbing (new route potential everywhere).  Anna (my sister) and Adam came over for a weekend and we headed out on a wild and windy walk to the Carsaig Arches – some of the most impressively weird geology I have ever seen.  The next day Hannah and I did some bouldering and some soloing of easy (new?) routes on Ardalanish beach in front of the house and then headed off to join Hannah’s mum and partner Daj for weeks ice climbing.  Then it was back to mull for more climbing and house sitting.  
Hannah Bouldering on the beach at Ardalanish

Clare Francis topping out of “The Wand” (V,5) on Creag Meagidh while Hannah looks on.  (Has anyone else been on a weeks ice climbing trip with their girlfriends mum?!)

Frozen hair mixing with a wooly hat on the second day having just completed “South Pipe Direct” (IV,4)

Clare and Hannah at the end of the first day.

Hannah coming up the start of Comb Gully (IV,4) on another beautiful clear day.

Hannah leading out the top of Comb Gully

Me Leading the “rogue” pitch of the most famous ice gully in the world – Point Five (V,5) in near perfect conditions (the pitch below was a nightmare as I got stalled with no gear for about 10mins and the spindrift poured down.  Photo – copyright Hannah Francis

We headed over to Back of Keppoch, Arisaig (one of my favourite places in the world) for a rest day and just had to stay for the sunset – making us a little late to meet friends in the pub…..

Earlier that day

Having lunch in the Nuns Cave on the way to the Carsaig Arches.  Should really be called Dead Goat and Goat Poo Cave!

The Carsaig Arches – must get back hear early one morning in good weather.  Some better shots on Hannahs Blog –

Its been an amazing couple of weeks, life in my van made better by Clare and Daj letting us shower and sometimes cook at the bunkhouse they were in at Roy Bridge.  We also could not have been luckier with our route choice last week.  We only climbed classic ice routes and for some reason never had to queue – even on point five and Comb gully on some of the busiest days of the year for Ben Nevis.

The next couple of week I have to try and make some money and fit in what I can as well as an assessment or two.  Hope everyone else is enjoying the good weather!



Posted in alastair rose, Arisaig, Back of Keppoch, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis ice climbing, Climbing, Comb Gully, Creag Meagidh, Creag Meagidh Ice Climbing, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Point Five Gully, scotland, Scotland climbing, Staghorn Gully, Uncategorized

Courchevel to Mull

The last couple of weeks have as ever been a whirlwind of jumping all over the place.  Some of the less exciting things have been things like Duke of Edinburgh Scheme supervisor/assessor days and sitting my bus driving theory tests (for once i actually passed first time!) while the more exciting bits have been exactly that. First up a week in Courchevel with a massive group of friends who really looked after Hannah and I amazingly.  Iona was a star taking us too and from the airport and Adrian (and Tom Kenny) were very kind putting us up for the week.  Ailsa firmly organised our social calendar and it was great to catch up with all the extended island crew for the week at varios drinks, meals and music.
Looking towards Meribel and Val Thorens.
Birds playing in the snow at one of our lunch stops
Stu, Justin, Hannah and Sara tearing it up
A picture from Iona of me looking like a zombie after Hannah and I made our best effort at finishing off a raclette.
After a swift transition it was off to Oban to meet Hannah and Tony to head over to Mull and Ardachy Hotel.  

Hannah on the bonnet of Bluebell the red landrover at the front of Ardachy house.  Hannah is house sitting Ardachy for the next couple of months in preparation of her dad Tony moving up there in April.  Ardachy (helpfully pronounced with the emphasis on the Ard and the chy) is in a spectactular place on the ross of mull overlooking Ardalanish bay.

Ardalanish bay from the East

Some locals not too impressed with the strong winds last week.

Another shot of the beach

The Ross of Mull is famous for many things – one of them is high quality single pitch climbing.  Hannah and David on the search for another crag on the nearby isle of Erraid

Hannah with David belaying on “floyd” (HS 4b (5.8)) at pink walls.  You wouldn’t believe its the start of February.  Shortly after this I was completely shut down on a VS 4c (5.8/5.9) to the right of this.  Might have to get better at crack climbing!

Classic Mull road sign.  (pronounced “Fin-a-fort)

Hannah on top of the asteroid in “asteroid chasm” another climbing area

Ardachy house (Left) and its view down to the bay.

Next up its time for some work before heading back to Mull for a couple of days before some winter climbing.

Posted in Climbing, scotland, Scotland climbing, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , |