Monthly Archives: January 2014

Winter Ridges



January has been busy already and its only half way through!  The celebrations didn’t stop after new year – we came back to Fort William for Pete and Kag’s house warming party, to meet our new lodgers and throw a house warming party or our own (the next night!).  The weather was looking great but the avalanche conditions not so great on the day of the house warming so Gile, Adam and I decided on a quick romp along the wonderful Aonach Eagach ridge.  The conditions have stayed largely the same with only the very brave or the very stupid climbing anything other than ridges on the west coast just now.  Things have now calmed down a bit on the avalanche front and the winter climbing season is definitely here.

The house warming party was great with lots of food and drink and music and it has been non-stop since then…..

1Adam and Giles on the Aonach Eagach with Stob coire an Lochain behind
2Coming along the ridge
3Adams first day in crampons – Quality equipment!
4House warming – Ninian and Lettie providing some tunes
5Adam struggling on the second big night and a day in the mountains
6The end of the night.
7 A few days later Hannah and I headed out with our new lodgers Georgia and Luis to climb “Golden Oldy” and easy (grd II) ridge on the west face of Aonach Mor – Hannah enjoying herself on the upper part of the ridge.

Luis and Georgia on Golden Oldy – A great route for a short day as you can get the Aonach Mor Gondola to and from the snow line making the walk in pretty short!9

Georgia, Luis and Hannah on the summit
10The next day it was off to Ben Nevis with Alfie – The avalanche forecast was “considerable” so we were going to be pretty limited on what we could climb.  The view as you walk into the North face of the Ben never fails to inspire.

We decided on “SW ridge” (IV,5) of the Douglas boulder.  This is a great route when everything else is to risky to get to. – Alfie on the upper section 12 Alfie getting to the last belay.

Then the weather looked good enough again to tempt me out on the Aonach Eagach with Luis and Georgia for another round.  We left the house at 5am to get the best weather.

13Luis coming onto the first summit just before dawn
14View to Stob coire an Lochain in the first light.15

Sunrise over Bidean Nan Bian16

Scottish winter always looks like this – really.17

Georgia climbing one of the technical sections on the Aonach Eagach

And finally – I headed out with Charlie and Sue to take some photo for Charlies new business venture – Clay pigeon shooting on the side of Loch Leven.

IMG_1215 IMG_1228duo

Next week its off to Glenmore lodge so will probably have too much stuff in my bag to justify carrying a camera and then hopefully more winter climbing and maybe even some skiing.

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Happy Hogmanay

The start of 2014 and the probably the biggest change of my adult life – I have now bought a house in the Adventure Capital of the UK , Fort William.  The last few weeks have been a bit hectic with lots of moving of furniture etc but we are now all set up in a town recently voted “7th worst place to live in Scotland”.  The voters were obviously not outdoor people!  Straight after moving in it was a constant round of Christmases and even people coming to stay with us for a change…..

My sister and a couple of her taller family members came over on boxing day for a walk and some fish and chips.  Above – the newest member of the family Dieter on the bridge at steall falls.

My wee/big sister at steall falls

Next up Clare and Daj came over and on the second day we headed up towards Stob Coire nam Beith in Glen Coe.  IMG_0627

Clare wrapped up in the group shelter.  At this point Hannah and Clare wisely decided to head back towards the Clachaig Inn while Daj and I continued in fairly minging conditions


Daj coming up Summit gully on Stob Coire Nam Beith.  It was wild on top which can be our first excuse as to why we ended up in the wrong valley on the way down.

Next up Giles came to stay and we headed out for the first real winter route of the season

DSCF2099It was slightly warm! – gearing up below Castle Ridge on Ben Nevis

Me about to set of up the first technical pitch.

Giles battering his way up the crux


We then headed over to Mull and the kind hospitality of Tony Francis and Ardachy Hotel.  Giles Bouldering on the beach with Iona in the background.

IMG_0662Stormy day on “Tony’s Beach” – Ardalanish Bay

A busy hogmanays night was had with dressing up, good food, dancing and a trip up to the local farmers bothy for more drink and music.  Great fun and all rounded off by a mass local game of shinty on the beach the next morning.

Shinty in progress as the tide comes in.  (Shinty is basically ice hockey without ice or pads or any rules beyond dont hit anyone in the head)

IMG_0793Great fun if a little confusing as there were numerous balls in play about 60 people on the pitch as well as a couple of dogs getting in the way but a great way to sort out the hangover.

Note – I am not sure where the “7th worst” fact came from but it sounds good.  Kilmarnock was voted worst this year while the islands voted the best.  Incidentally if you google worst towns in the UK nothing north of the border with England even gets a look in – kind of confirms what I’ve thought for years!

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