Monthly Archives: August 2015

Standard travel blog – India

Ive always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with “travelling”.  I love seeing new places and trying to understand different cultures and ways of living.  I love meeting new people and trying new food.  I dont like the hanging around that comes with catching buses and trains in countries where you dont speak the language and I dont like the sense of privilege I feel travelling as a rich westerner in a poor third world country.  All of these things were magnified in the last couple of weeks travelling with a group of 9 teenagers and their teacher from a school in South Africa.  Seeing things through the eyes of the group was refreshing and reminded me of my own thoughts on my first trips in Thailand and China at 18 – awe, disgust, intrigue, excitement, fatigue, boredom, compassion and fear all being a daily emotional rollercoaster.  IMG_5071Getting off the train at 530am in on our way to the hill stations above Nainital.  Getting on a sleeper train from the busiest train station in the world was a pretty big first experience.  One of the group managed to leave 10,000 rupees sitting on her bed (about £100 or 6 months wages to the guy who cleans the train), a small hit to our budget an amazing morning at work to the chap that found it!
IMG_5087 Our cook “Super Mario” knocking up a tofu curry in the first camp of our trek from Pangot through the Himalayan foothills.  IMG_5092  A sudden clearing in the clouds – looking out from our first camp at Nanda Devi.IMG_5109 Staring at the sunset on the first night.  We were camped at 2595mIMG_5113Sunrise from the temple.  I got up early and wandered up a small temple on the hill.  This was probably my high point of the whole trip – stunning views and complete peace and quiet.
IMG_5120 Looking into the temple just after dawnIMG_5124 Morning views over the mountainsIMG_5151 Leeches.  Needless to say I’m sure the trek wont be forgotten in a hurry!IMG_5159 Children dressed for school.  We passed through lots of small villages on the last day of the trek and as ever I was struck by how different life must be for these people.  So hard to picture growing up in one of these houses.  (check out the lightbulb – They do have some electricity)

After going to work in a rural school for a few days cleaning and plastering and painting (I never want to whitewash anything ever again!) we headed on to Rishikesh and Agra for some tourism
IMG_5231Gathering storm clouds as we wait in Rishikesh bus station.
IMG_5238 So much rain – some of the students getting a quick shower after 6 hours on a very rickety busIMG_5256 The Ganges at Rishikesh.  I went for a wander with the leader from another expedition group.  We did wash our feet but stopped short of going for a full wash.  IMG_5308Agra fort (you can just see three of the girls being very “zen” in the middle of the photos.  This place was amazing and puts any Scottish castle to shame with its size and complexity.
IMG_5320 Classic travelling photo.  IMG_5336The amazing Taj Mahal.  I’m usually a little underwhelmed by famous building but the Taj really is phenomenal.  We got there for the gates opening and the colours from the sun catching the marble were amazing (as were the grounds around it).  Not sure the students were that impressed!

Next for me is a lot of tooing and froing around the UK, buying more camera gear and slowly get myself ready for 16 months in Antartica!

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Nice weather for Ducks

For the time that I lived overseas I pictured living back in Scotland getting out to some of the stunning places around the west coast, blue skies, the odd cloud, the odd bit of wind, the odd midge.  It seems that I failed to picture summers like the one we’re having.  Overcast, damp, midgy.  I have long believed that you can always find the right condiditons for your adventure sport in Scotland if you just look hard enough and drive far enough.  This summer I have spent time in a huge variety of places – Thurso and the North Coast, Ullapool, Skye, Fort William, Inverness, Ardgour, Torridon, Cairngorms and everywhere seems the same.  July has been as bad as the rest of the months for weather but its still hard to complain as the hard won “good days” feel all the better.  It could also be that Hannah and I just got back from 8 days in Vratsa, Bulgaria where the temperature sat in the upper 20s to lower 30s and only rained once.
IMG_2165 Desperation set in and Adam and I headed for “Bullroar” on Ben Nevis.  The famously wet crux pitches were indeed wet and I got colder than I did all winter.  Above and Below – Adam leading the long traverse pitch.IMG_2169IMG_4954A lot of July saw me working in Inverness for Adventure Training Scotland.  Even with the ability to go anywhere it was still pretty hard to find “good” weather.  Above – my two co-instructors Johannes and Lawrie staring at the only bright bit of cloud from our camp in Coire Lagan.  IMG_0889Descending from Sgurr Mhic Choinnich in the mist.  We had been deliberating whether to go up but were rewarded with stunning views back down to the coire and out to sea.

IMG_4966_1Happy to be off the ridge!IMG_4970A forecast with a low chance of precipitation but a high chance of midgies (low wind) saw Adam and I (followed poorly by Scott, Josh and Kirsty) head up to one of my favourite spots – the South Wall of Garbh Bheinn.  Above – the always stunning view from the corran ferry.IMG_4986_1Adam starting up Excalibur.  IMG_5007A view back across at Liam Ingram on “The Pincer” from the belay of “The Peeler”

Next up it was off to Vratsa in Bulgaria with Hannah.  Hannah at the top of “Bezengi” Tower with the central wall behind.
Hannah making the traverse out to the West ridge of the dogs tooth.IMG_2194Limestone everywhere.IMG_5018The view from our balcony.  So much climbing so close to where we were staying meant lots of time to chill out and samply some Bulgarian food as well.
IMG_5024 In the “big cave”.  We headed up here for a look as there are some incredibly hard routes that climb inside this.  The scope for new lines in this cave is absolutely unbelievable though probably with an entry grade of about 7c+IMG_5036We also went and checked out the show cave at Ledenika.  Well worth a visit if only for the weird 1980s style light show on the tour.

Next up – a quick turnaround for me, out to South Africa to meet a group of students and then head to Northern India with them.  Best get packing!

Posted in ali rose, Ben Nevis, Climbing, Climbing Bulgaria, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Scotland climbing, Skye, Torridon, Uncategorized, Vratsa Climbing