Category Archives: Ben Nevis

Winter

Finally now that winter is drawing to a close I have time to look at some of the photos from the last couple of months.  From my return to Scotland in early February the skiing and winter climbing seasons have been truly spectacular.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The themes for my winter have definitely been climbing routes that I never thought I would (for various reasons) and climbing routes that were only just in condition (while everyone else seemed to always be on routes in perfect condtions!).  Above a photo taken by Joe Rochford of me leading the big ice pitch of Raeburns Buttress direct a rarely climbed ice route to the right of Boomers Requiem.

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Climbing as a 4.  Very shortly after getting back Malcy, Chucky, Scott and I headed to the Bridge of Orchy Hills to climb “Farenheit 451”.  I mainly didnt think I would ever climb it because of how busy it gets.  Turns out if you climb it just after it forms on a bad weather day theres no queues.  This was also the start of another of my winter themes – Hot chocolate and chips in the Bridge of Orchy hotel.

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One of my funner weeks this winter was with Mel and Sharna who mainly sung songs from Frozen on the belays or their own special rendition of “If you like it then you should have put a sling on it”.  We had an amazing week getting to lots of different venues around Lochaber and reviewing the hot chocolates of a variety of hotels.

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Abseiling of the arch of Church Door buttress.  Church Door on Bidean Nam Bian is one of my favourite crags it was amazing to climb Crypt route with my clients on one of the stormiest days of the season.

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Brian on the second pitch of “Gully of the Gods” on Beinn Bhan.  We woke up on Skye this morning to heavy rain – funny when one of your dream routes becomes a consolation prize.

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Mark Chambers and Chucky soloing the first section of the infamous “Crab Crawl” on Creag Meagidh.  We had high hopes for this but again changed from one brilliant objective to another.  We only did the first 5th of Crab Crawl (400m!) before we decided to do “Smiths Route” instead.

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It wouldn’t be winter without the hot aches.  Rachel had just finished two weeks of nights as a doctor but still insisted we go and climb ice in the pouring rain.  She paid for it (as did I) with some pretty bad Hot Aches and a lot of wet kit.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Ben Nevis ice climbing, Buachille Etive Mor, Climbing, Creag Meagidh, Creag Meagidh Ice Climbing, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Scotland climbing, Torridon, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , |

Roadside Scotland

As the seasons change from winter to spring its traditionally my time of year to do a lot of driving.  While winter hangs on in the mountains but the sun starts to shine a bit more work spreads itself all over Scotland and there are a lot more options for outdoor activities to be had.  The best thing about going away from your home country is the appreciation of it when you get home so with the beautiful weather I have been making an extra effort to stop and check out some of the roadside views.931A2351The drive from Fort William to Glasgow is always amazing whether its blue skies of torrential rain.  I’ve stopped here (Loch Ba on Rannoch Moor) many times in the past to take photos but never in so much as a rush this morning.  Luckily there was lots of light and not too many photographers so I could get a couple of handheld shots.
931A2262The change to spring is also the change to rock climbing – Chucky high “volcane” on Meall an Fhir Eoin Beag at Ardnamuchan.  931A2284Caspar and Chucky shelter from a brief rain squall.  Ardnamuchan has lots of amazing Gabro that dries really quickly.931A2286Matt after his introduction to Ardnamurchan cracks!931A2290Before the clocks change!  Packing up after a great days cragging.931A2317Some locals coming to visit our campsite.
931A2323What Scotland should look like!  The view down to Ballachullish from School house ridge.931A2347As ever a photo doesnt tell the full story this was actually a very windy day!  Vertical spindrift on the ridge of Sgurr Dearg.931A2396The three bridges of the Forth from North Queensferry train station.  You can just see the new bridge on the right hand side.931A2399Looking back towards Dalwhinnie distillery.  I cant drive past this without hearing my dad say “highest distillery in the world”931A2406Loch Laggan at Sunset.  931A2421As well as all the driving I have still been doing some things closer to home.  Connor up high in Glen Nevis climbing Bewsey crack (in a t-shirt!)931A2430One final winter hit.  I took Jago and Sarah on the classic “ledge route” on Ben Nevis.  Sarah even convinced me to go to the summit so we headed down Coire Leis for a full tour of the mountain.  You could have ice climbed, rock climbed, skied and mountain biked all in one day on Ben Nevis this day.
931A2443The view down Loch Lomond.  I am always amazed how the scottish roads cut through some of the most impressive scenery.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Ardnamurchan, Ardnamurchan climbing, Ben Nevis ice climbing, Climbing, Creag Meagidh, gabbro, Meall an Fhir Eion, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, scotland, Scotland climbing Tagged , , , , , , , |

Big Changes

The last month has seen our numbers rise from twenty one to around seventy at Rothera.  The first aircraft were foreign planes heading to other Antarctic bases but these were soon followed by BAS’s “Dash 7” and “Twin Otters” loaded with staff for Rothera and Halley.  For the wintering team this means a lot of changes with base becoming a lot more vibrant with constantly coming planes and people as well as longer lunch queues.    I haven’t taken too many photos this month but have slowly got around to looking at some that had slipped through the net as well as processing a bit more of the timelapse I have shot over the winter.  Perhaps the random selection of photos for this month best reflects how work has felt over the last couple of weeks.  With it now not getting dark till 11pm it already seems like a long time since we had only a couple of hours of daylight.

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One that slipped through the net. The Milky Way over Ryder Bay and Mt Liotard. I think this was taken from a high bivy shortly after midwinter.

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The Dash 7 Landing at Rothera

img_8642After work beers on the veranda (yes that’s a T-shirt!) the week before the first plane arrived.

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The end result of a couple of hours work

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The digging continues – John making a start on the South door of the accommodation building.

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Another one that slipped through the net. Doc Tom about to do my midwinter dental checkup.

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Another big change! When your beard goes in your soup at morning smoko its time it went!

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Last days with the beard. Al took this of me on our winter trip – I was struggling to see my harness to tie my ropes on!

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Twin Otter facing North on the Apron. I have spent quite a bit of time recently on “fire cover” so lots of hanging around the hangar and apron.

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The start of Summer also means lots of training of new staff. Denzel – checking out an emergency shelter with the training tents in the background

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The new comms manager learning about emergency snow shelters (in this case a “snow-grave”)

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The arrival of the planes does mean some fresh fruit. My bag hanging of my peg in the bootroom. I think the Avocados have been the most popular.

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Busy times in the Hangar

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A very quiet Field Guide office with just Al on the computer. There will soon be thirteen Field guides based out of Rothera instead of just the four of us.

Also finally got around to putting some timelapse together.  A collection of stuff from around Adelaide Island post midwinter.  (Worth watching till the end for a laugh)

 

 

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, alligator, Antarctica, Ardnamurchan, Ardnamurchan climbing, Ardverikie wall, Arisaig, Arisaig Sport Climbing, Back of Keppoch, BAS, Belnahua, Ben Nevis ice climbing, Bioluminescence, bothy, British Antarctic Survey, Buachille Etive Mor, Uncategorized

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.
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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!

Also posted in ali rose, Climbing, Climbing Bulgaria, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Scotland climbing, Skye, Torridon, Uncategorized, Vratsa Climbing

A little bit of everything

Sometimes the weather just doesnt play ball.  June has been one of those months.  After some good weather in May, June rolled in pretty stormy which always makes planning difficult.  I had some varied work in June along with a few days off and my friend Justin coming to visit so flexibility was the name of the game.  June has been a whirlwind of activity and as the whirlwind is continuing heres the photos in no particular order.IMG_4807 I spent 4 days in Knoydart with a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Group.  This is an area that I have spent a fair bit of time in but usually in winter and not for a number of years.  Above – Kinbreak bothy (the red dot) hidden in the hills on the edge of KnoydartIMG_4815 Shelter from the storm.  The group did really well considering the rain and midges!IMG_4818 Sourlies bothy with a carpet of ThriftIMG_4822 On our way to Inverie on the last day I was struck by the starkness of the ruined building and the stormy clouds.  Its amazing to think of people living in such isolated places.IMG_4842_1 Justin and I managed to fit in a couple of adventures in amongst the weather. Above – our bivy site in Coire Lagan.IMG_4848_1 Jet Boil Master.  IMG_4851_1 Stunning views from the Lagan Traverse in the evening lightIMG_4908 I headed up to Reiff with Hannah for a quick getaway last weekend.  Hannah soloing on the stunning sandstoneIMG_4932

Scott and Kirsty (and later Andy and Miles) joined us.  Scott leading the awesome “Hy Brasil”IMG_2069 Justin and I joined a party headed out to Canna – early morning logistics and a bit of damp weather was well worth the adventure. Above – the boats on the ferry crossing out to the islandIMG_2080 Justin and Nigel sitting off the amazing bird colonies.IMG_2085 Exploring the sea caves and sea stacksIMG_2099 IMG_4726 I also did a little canoeing on the Spey with a Gold DofE training group – Above – Too much food for the barrel!IMG_4735 It was stunning on the river and actually too hot at timesIMG_4753 IMG_4781 Straight after the Spey, Justin, Rob and I headed for the classic Tower Ridge.  Turns out there was still a bit of snow around!IMG_4794Rob contemplating the step down into the gap.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, bothy, canoe, Knoydart, Uncategorized

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 – http://manyhappyadventures.blogspot.co.uk/

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!

 

 

Also posted in alastair rose, Arisaig, Back of Keppoch, 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