Monthly Archives: January 2015

Good sandwich making skills and frozen water

Good sandwich skills are essential to a good winter day out.  I know there’s people out there who just throw a lump of Soreen or some cereal bars in their bag but for me that just doesn’t cut it.  Theres been rather a lot of sandwich making recently as I decided a while ago to take some time to focus on winter mountaineering and climbing.  For the most part this just involves getting out every day to climb with different people, heading out on my own to look at different venues / solo easy routes or the odd days work in the mountains.  Evenings are then spent desperately trying to get kit dry and staring at weather forecasts, blogs and the Avalanche information website.  Eventually something comes up which means you cant go out – such as winds gusting over 100mph or like today, a bed being delivered.  Its been a pretty awesome January with some amazing days of good ice and blue skies but being out every day you definitely see some of the worst of it as well.  So heres my photos from January – a few blues sky days and then the rest.IMG_1414crpGraham trying to find the tunnel on “West Chimney” of Church door buttress.  Helen and I stood on the  belay getting showered with snow and then gravel before Graham declared the tunnel blocked – turns out it has been for 2 years.  Turns out the routes a bit harder now.
IMG_1430Graham looking very happy on “Pinnacle Face” on the West face of Aonach Dubh – its been amazing to see so much snow down at the road in Glen Coe – we went to the West face twice that week with the approach taking twice as long as normal.IMG_1476Darkness and snow – Heading home after another day on the hillIMG_1481A blue sky day and a Saturday!  We opted for North East Buttress on the Ben as it was rather busy. IMG_1490IMG_1523A couple of photos of Graham on the curtain – a quick morning blast on one of the nicest days of Jan.IMG_1524I can see my house from here.  Walking back to the car, its not every day it looks like this!IMG_1533I spent a day being observed/mentored by Mike Pescod from Abacus Mountain Guides and dragged Georgia along as my “client” for the day.  Georgia topping out of the first pitch of  “Shelf Route” on Buachille Etive MorIMG_1535Mike setting off up the crux pitch of Shelf Route.  The route was rather buried in loose snow making for a fairly wallowy day for Georgia, Myself and Mikes client Tommy.  I wonder what it was like for out in front>IMG_1540 Mike and Tommy heading for Crowberry towerIMG_1546Georgia high above the clouds in Glen Etive.  IMG_1554Mike and Tommy heading for home towards Coire an TuillachIMG_0611
Finally headed up to “Crypt Route” with Scott.  Things were looking pretty marginal for winter climbing when we got there with water pouring down the crag but the gamble had paid off with it being very wintery inside the buttress.  Above – Scott getting  to the first belay.  Below – Scott leading off into the depths of the buttress.IMG_0610 IMG_1568Ed leading up the first pitch of “Vanishing Gully”.  Ed, Craig and I headed in with a fairly poor forecast and were met with fairly poor conditions – what a surprise!
IMG_1570 Ed belaying outside while I hide in the cave.  If you have any beliefs that winter climbing is fun this day would have dispelled them (check out the water pouring from the icicles)IMG_1578 Trying to stay warm in the cave before the next pitch.IMG_1581 Beautiful but rather brittle water ice on the second pitch of VanishingIMG_3827 Its not often Scotland looks like this.  IMG_3830 Or this.  I drove over to the Bridge of Orchy hills to meet Bob for some winter skills practice – the drive over was absolutely stunning.IMG_3832 Bob practicing his “Stomper” belay below the cragsIMG_0614And finally – yesterday Scott and I headed up to the west face of Aonach Mor.  Couldnt resist getting a photo of a stuck VW T5 as we crusied past heading up the road to Nevis RangeIMG_3837Scott looking stoic approaching “Western Rib”IMG_3838 Beautiful views of Carn Mor DeargIMG_3851 Getting to the first belayIMG_3857Scott leading up one of the more technical pitches on Western Rib.  I really like the routes on this face of Aonach Mor – They dont look like much but are awesome fun for a long easy day out – and they have cable car access

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Dreich December

Dreich – A combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least 4 of the above adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich. (Old Scots).  At times it is tempting to believe that the winter is particularly dreich in Fort William though in fact there is a myriad of places all around to get above the clouds or away from Ben Nevis’s rainshadow.  I had felt that I hadnt been out much in December nor taken many photos but looking through my cameras I realised that December had panned out like a lot of months, a selection on adventure partners, visits to old places and new and lots of great fun.  All this plus a week in a chalet in France – definitely a new experience for me!IMG_1331 First winter route of the year – Good old Dorsal Arete with Giles Cranston.  Above – Giles soloing the last technical step onto the dorsal fin.IMG_1339 Giles on the fin of Dorsal Arete.  IMG_1356 I did manage to fit in a days sea kayaking around Arisag though this brought new meaning to the word “Dreich”.  Bob, Robin and Pete in a sheltered bay.IMG_1370 Karl “Baron Von” Schmidt came to visit from the states and it seemed only right to take him out for truly unique Scottish experience.  Karl seconding his first ever winter route on a pair of straight shafted (leashless!) Vertiges.  Great laugh!IMG_1377 Next up it was off to Courchevel with Hannah’s famile.  Above – some good retro colours from the Francis family at one of our lunch stops!IMG_1382 Looking out from the top of Courchevel on one of the better weather days of our holiday.  The last day proofed that even the french alps can be driech!IMG_1388 Dreich weather’s not so bad when you have a hottub to come home too!IMG_1398 Walking into the CIC hut on Ben Nevis last weekend was particularly dreich but amazingly it cleared leaving us with a spectacular day.  Above – Joe Smith on the crux of “Green Gully”IMG_1407 Joe at the top of Green Gully looking NorthIMG_3727 There was of course Christmas last month with lots of family time.  Above – my dad and sister heading off on another family walk.IMG_3731 Beautiful light on Christmas Eve as the sun sets over Creag Dubh above NewtonmoreIMG_3806A truly dreich day last Wednesday with Joe and his cousin and partner.  Looking along the Carn Mor Dearg Arete in a good old scottish storm.

IMG_3821And finally – Driving home from Aviemore today I sneaked onto the Lagan Dam.  Above – The Spean on all pipes and a whole lot more must mean theres some happy kayakers around!

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