Category Archives: mountainstothesea

The Ernest Shackleton and Signy Arrival

We were on board the Ernest Shackleton for two days before setting off South with Signy Research Station as the first stop. Ive spent a fair amount of time at sea before including yachts on the Wild Coast of South Africa and various tall ships in the South China sea and the North Atlantic and I’ve rarely been seasick. This was all about to change.

Onboard the ship passengers are still referred to as FIDs though there is no longer a “King Fid” declared as there was in the old days of BAS staff going south (Spikes book “In the shadow of Ben Nevis” has a great description of how it was for BAS Staff going south in the 1960’s). Initially I had been a bit put out by us being the first stop as it would have been a good excuse to see the other BAS island bases “Bird Island” and “King Edward Point” on South Georgia. Within a few hours at sea I had changed my mind.  By the first meal I was feeling pretty rough and heard one of the crew comment “It can’t be rough yet – the FIDs are still showing up for food” – sure enough the only thing I managed to show up to after this point was a few very quick meals and the various safety briefings.  The hardest thing about this journey is really that there isn’t much to do even if you are feeling well.  There is some basic exercise  equipment in the hold, a tv lounge, a smoking room and a general lounge or as I did you can just lie in your cabin and stare out of the porthole.

Arriving in the South Orkneys I was relieved to see only open water and no sea ice. With sea ice present it would have been up to me and the Station Leader to organise the relief of the ship over the ice – testing thicknesses etc. In a fragile sea sick state this could have been quite the test. In fact all we had to do was wait for the crew of the Ernest Shackleton to get there tenders ready, struggle into our dry suits and head to the base.

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Jim and I’s cabin on the ship.  These are sometimes shared by four people.  Luckily for me I had the top bunk so could easily see out of the porthole

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One of the less rough moments when I managed to go to the bridge.  The Shack is known for her corkscrewing motion and the fact that she rolls 30degrees.  (That horizon is meant to be straight!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A really exciting briefing. (Biosecurity I think)931A9125

My favourite view.  I was able to lie in my bunk and watch a film on my laptop as long as I alternated between the porthole and the screen every couple of minutes.

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Lifeboat drills on the first morning at Sea.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the last season that BAS plan on using the Ernest Shackleton.  With the new ship currently being built the Shack will end her service next spring and the James Clark Ross the following year.  This calendar on one of the decks shows the progression from two to three ships and down to just the “Sir David Attenborough” and finally it sinking in 2021 (bottom right).  931A9129

Looking a bit pasty but very ready to get off the ship.  After three days at sea I was ready to leave my cabin!

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First view of the South Orkneys931A9145

Jim and a big pile of cargo ready to go ashore.

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The Ernest Shackleton out in the bay as another blizzard rolls in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving not been lived in for eight months the first job was removing the shutters off the window and getting the base habitable (to be sure that we wouldn’t have to back to the ship that night!)

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Various ships crew and staff from other bases came ashore to help dig out the base and unload cargo.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The most important cargo was the last off.  I’m holding a case of Glenmorangie and was happy to see Dalwhinnie 15yr old and some Talisker 57deg North come off as well.  Hopefully it lasts us!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The fresh food that came ashore will be all we get until the next time the ship comes in mid January.  Every piece of fresh food has to be inspected for any wee beasties that might have hitched a ride.  Above – Tim and Mike (Scientists) inspect the cauliflower and remove a few tiny caterpillars.

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Taking the Skidoo around to the other side of the island.  The Shack was only with us for a few days so it was important to make the most use of their tenders while we could.  It felt pretty strange to be putting a skidoo onto a boat and taking it to somewhere I’d never been.

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One penguin, two penguins, three penguins….. Tim doing his first of many penguin counts.  Tim, Mike and I made a quick visit to the main penguin colonies on the Gourlay peninsular on the second day.  This will be Tims main focus for the 5 months and part of my job is to help him.  (Dont worry – lots of penguin shots to come!)

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Its definitely spring here.  The South Orkneys are at 60deg South so gets roughly the same daylight hours as Orkney in the North of Scotland (59deg North).  It is a little colder here month by month however due to not having the gulf stream.

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Signy Island.  Home for seven of us for the next four months.  The base is on the peninsular in the middle of the East coast (tiny black dots)  You can view a pdf version of this map here.

Next blog – life on base and why we’re here.

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Morocco and the Dolomites

Its raining outside and I’ve been to the indoor wall twice in the last four days.  Something tells me the Scottish summer might finally be over.  Not that I’ve been here much recently, a work trip to Morocco followed by a Dolomites climbing trip has meant that I’ve missed the start of the rain.  Two weeks in Morocco with a school group was amazing.  I really value these trips for the time you get to chat to locals and see what they have to say as well as experience the amazing food and differences in culture.  Not too many photos I’m afraid.931A8820-HDR

Sunset over Marrakech on our first night.931A8914

While building some new toilets at a remote school this man invited all of us into his house.  Fresh bread, nuts and mint tea are some of my favourite things and it was amazing to see how simply the Berber people live.  (You can just spot his grandson hiding in the background)

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Summit of Jebel Toubkal (4167m).  We tried to get to the summit for sunrise but werent quite quick enough.  Interesting to see North Africas highest peak has a lot of the same issues as Ben Nevis with quite a lot of litter etc on the path.931A8987

The beautiful town of Aremd lit up as the sun goes down.

I had one day at home and then straight to the Dolomites.

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Light shining through the Sassolongo group in the Sella pass.

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Cooking dinner on the second night.  Climbing trips are a little weird in the fact that you go to a foreign country but end up barely engaging with the culture.  We did manage to eat a few pizzas but mostly it was pasta and sauce cooked on a camp stove.

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Pitch something on the S face of Marmolada.  Having been rained off the day before we had a big day moving as fast as possible (with our bivy gear) on the 30pitch Vinatzer.

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Looking down one of the hard pitches of the 22 pitch Constantini- Apollonio in the Falzagero pass.

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Tre Cime.  For me the prime objective on the trip was to do a route on the N face of Cima Grande.  We chose the classic “Comici” which certainly didn’t disappoint.

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View from the belay on pitch 4.  Sometimes the early starts are worth it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe worst bit of climbing trips isnt the getting up early, its the terrible decisions you make after a couple of beers.  Adam trying to get some sleep in the cave below the S face of the Marmolada.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Climbing, Jebel Toubkal, mountains to the sea, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , |

Spring

While spring is meant to be here winter does seem to be hanging on in the Highlands.  Despite turning to rock-climbing and sea kayaking and working on “Summer Mountaineering” courses I keep getting snowed on!  Its been a pretty wild April and this seems set to continue – a few photos from some good days out on the rock and the sea over the last few weeks.931A6872

On a marginal forecast a few of us ended up at Reiff – I struggle to get excited about small crags though the routes at Reiff can pack a punch.  Above- Adam on one of the classics – “The Executioner”931A6887Above and Below – Seb trying hard at Seal Song area931A6904

 

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Cecile on the awkward first move of “Jim Nastic” – Matt (belaying) is probably laughing we werent sure Cecile (who’s French) had understood the joke in the route name.931A6946

Canoeing on Loch Lomond.  I have been out on a few DofE expeditions and trainings in the last few weeks.  This was a particularly brutal one with high winds and driving rain.  This was the only picture I took.

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Cecile on the first pitch of “Secretaries Super Direct” in Glen Nevis.  The Glen is brilliant at this time of year and is right on my doorstep.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sea Kayaking through the Raasay – Rona gap.  After a few years of saying I would do more Sea Kayaking work this year I am.  A three day expedition around Raasay with some wonderful clients saw sunshine, hail, high winds, golden eagles and a high speed rescue (thanks Alison!) when we deemed the winds too strong to get back up the west coast.

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5 minutes before this photo we were in driving hail.  Three of my group looking NW to Skye

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Matt and Adam paddling over to Ailsa’s birthday party.  “A quiet catch up with some old friends” – yeah right!931A7125-HDR

Theres a reason why the road to Neist is so busy!  I’ve sat and watched (and photographed) this view a few times – it never fails to impress.931A7139Reflections in Loch Lomond on my drive to a stint of work in Inverness.  In a lot of ways this photo looks a lot more like Autumn than Spring and that is how the last few weeks have felt too.  Despite the occasional sunny day its still felt cold and windy.  Maybe the rest of May will bring more settled weather.

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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, Ben Nevis ice climbing, Buachille Etive Mor, Climbing, Creag Meagidh, Creag Meagidh Ice Climbing, mountains to the sea, Scotland climbing, Torridon, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , |

Finlandia Foothills and a Skua Survey

The news was broken to me at Halley that I was the only person flying back to Rothera with Olly the pilot.  My dreams of alternating between napping and reading my book in the back while someone else did co-pilot duties were shattered!  As the plane was so light we flew direct from Halley to Rothera in just under seven hours with me still managing to get a bit of a nap and some reading done.  In reality it was a fun trip feeling much more like a road trip than normal with just Olly and I chatting away and me occasionally doing a little bit of flying to give Olly a break.  On the way out of Halley we flew over the RRS Ernest Shackleton doing relief on the Brunt Ice Shelf 40km from the Halley base.

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The “Shack” doing relief with lots of cargo sledges and vehicle lined up to take the cargo back to base.
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By the time we got to Rothera it was grey and overcast.  Flying from Halley to Rothera directly does mean that the last bit of the journey has some interesting views as the route cuts across the peninsular.

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Back at Rothera Julie and I had a bit of planning and packing to do before the input to the Finlandia Foothills for our final short project of the season.  It wasn’t until after Julie had flown in to establish our camp that I was shown this excerpt from the previous field party in the area in the early 80’s.  Needless to say Julie and Pete were on the ground for five days waiting for the weather to improve for the rest of us to fly in.931A6473

Julie walking away from camp with the Wilson range behind.  The team of six of us were in the Finlandia Foothills on Alexander island in the hope of establishing an Antarctic Special Protected Area (ASPA).  An area of the foothills had shown promise via satellites and four scientists were expecting a higher than normal density of biological matter and some birds. (Basically bird poo, birds, moss and lichens).  (Fossil Bluff is also on Alexander Island which at BAS is often referred to as being the same size as Wales.  I recently learnt that it is also the second largest uninhabited island in the world)

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On our first afternoon we headed up on the screes above camp looking for moss and lichen931A6490

Pete hard at work collecting Lichens931A6499Gearing up to leave camp.  On this day we decided to head down to our main objective just over 6km away.  Note the bird net Richard is carrying.931A6503

Julie and the two Pete’s skiing away from camp.

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What a lot of Lichen!  After three hours of glacier travel on skis and foot we reached the site to realise that there was…. just a few bits of Lichen and no sign of birds, bird poo or moss.  We had expected the sample collections at this site to take three to four days!
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Scientists in the mist.  While at the site Kevin wanted to collect a series of DNA samples making him and Richard look particularly strange wandering around in the mist.  Needless to say it was quickly decided that the site was not worthy of ASPA status!
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The neighbours – It was great to be in a field camp as a large group again as once we had discovered the site was not what we wanted we had to wait a few days to be picked up.931A6538

Julie and the Petes being told the planes wont arrive tomorrow.

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After eleven days for Julie and just six for me we flew back late afternoon over some amazing chunks of sea ice and the RSS James Clark Ross doing relief at Rothera.

931A6555JCR on the Rothera Wharf.

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Skua survey.  After a brief couple of days at Rothera it was straight back out with my tentmates from Finlandia, Kevin and Richard, to carry on a skua survey on the islands near Rothera.  The flags on Kevin and Richards bags are to give the skua’s something to go for rather than your head when you’re peering into their nests.931A6577

Skua chick.  While Kevin outlined survey areas and Richard counted nesting pairs I tried to count nest contents.  Despite the skuas clearly showing you where their nests are by swooping you more and more aggressively the nests are surprisingly hard to spot.931A6613

Our salubrious accommodation on Anchorage island.  Salubrious until I pulled the door off the hut within minutes of our arrival!   931A6617

More Skua chicks.931A6620

Inquisitive Weddel seal.  I’ve spent barely any time on the islands around Rothera so doing the Skua survey was a great excuse to wander around and get some photos on both Anchorage and Leonie Island.
931A6682Incoming! Despite being assured by Richard that the skuas were not that aggressive and would only go for the flag some of the birds were extremely persistent I did get a few good hits to my head by some of the more adventurous ones.

One more week in Antarctica before heading home to Scottish winter which appears to be shaping up nicely.

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Halley Christmas

A bit late on Decembers blog!  I’ve had a really varied season so far with the biggest difference getting to spend time at BAS’s other Antarctic Research Station – Halley VI.  Halley has been in the news a lot over the last couple of years as some previously dormant cracks started opening up in the Brunt Ice Shelf inland from the station.  Last year a huge team of Engineers, Drivers and support staff moved the main modules to the other side of the crack (known as the Chasm) only to discover there was another crack (Halloween Crack) even further “inland”.  Work continues at Halley this season with a lot of monitoring of the various cracks, readying the base to survive the Antarctic winter without staff and and attempt to fully automate all the long term science that happens.

From a Rothera perspective Halley is the place that all the fuss is made about while the science and field work happens from Rothera.  From a Halley perspective Rothera is not the real Antarctic.  The main difference for me is that you get bacon rolls for smoko at Halley

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At the start of December I spent a lot of time flying around the Ellsworth Mountains with Ian (Pilot) and Ben (Engineer) sorting out more science sites.  The views of the mountains were amazing as was getting to stay in the “hotel” at Union Glacier.

 

931A6048 Mt Vinson  – the highest peak on the continent (4892m)931A6052 Ben working at one of the sites south of the Ellsworths.  The first few sites were al uphill from the plane and involved lugging batteries to and from them.  A couple of these sites were at about 8000ft.  With the lower air pressure in Antarctica they feel more like 12000ft so its pretty knackering dragging car batteries behind you.931A6072 Tough place for a lunch stop.931A6090Enormous crevasses on the approach to the Union Glacier skiway.931A6098 Ben walking back to our tent on the guest side of the Union camp.  It was great to check out the setup here and catch up with some friends.931A6236 Flying again –  As field guides we spend a lot time in the aircraft.  Fellow field guide Julie knitting away on the long flight from Rothera to Halley.
931A6280 Halley VI.  The original Halley Base was started in 1956 with the most recent incarnation being commisioned in 2006.  The original four bases were snowed in and the staff lived in them underground.  Both Halley V and VI were designed to raised to deal with the snow accumulation.  931A6284 I’ve often wondered why you dont see many pictures of Halley from the air.  I think part of the reason is that its not a particularly exciting view but also that a lot of attention is focused on the space age modules.  The view from above shows the vast amount of infrastructure needed to keep the base running.  Above – Halley modules in the centre with the various vehicle lines, container lines, accommodation and garage modules.  The lines at the top of the photo are enormous windscoops leading to the “hinge zone” where the Brunt ice shelf meets the continent.931A6312-HDR Classic Halley view.931A6327 Christmas day – Doug climbing in Halloween crack.  Mark (FG), Doug (Air Mech) and Olly (Pilot) snuck off on Christmas for a quick climb in Halloween crack.  Having to ski-doo there, set up the ropes, abseil in etc meant there was only time for a couple of climbs each but a great way to spend Christmas!931A6332 Some things are the same on Christmas day the world over – lots of washing up!.  (Though I’m not sure Marks Hawain shirt and flip flops are standard)931A6343 Straight after Christmas it was back out into the field for me.  I joined Neil at Bluefields depot and then moved to a Depot in the Shackleton Range.931A6362Filling in the days with igloo building.  Rob (who switched with Neil) came to join me while I did constant Weather observations for the aircraft.  10 days of staring at clouds, drinking tea and reading.

Back to Rothera in the next couple of days and then back into the field for a couple of weeks before heading home.

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5% Chance of Rain

Most of the places I’ve been to this month have been promising 5% chance of rain or less but this seems to have been more a sign of the Met Offices’ optimism that actual reality.  With a few more days off than expected this month I have managed to catch up with lots of friends and family, finish the bolting work at a local sport crag and get to some pretty cool places on personal trips.

First up I joined Tristan and Lizzie with a host of other kayaking friends for a week of sea kayak day trips from Glen Elg.  I’m usually not a big fan of day trips in a sea kayak but in the knowledge that there would be some stormy conditions and some other paddlers that like that sort of thing it felt like a good opportunity to put my dislike of faff aside.

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Kag, Tristan and Lizzie paddling into Kyle of Lochalsh in stormy weather.  Our first day saw us launching at Sconser and surfing all the way to the Crowlins, through the Crowlin gap and on down to the bridge.IMG_9076

Lizzie and Kag taking a break under the Skye bridgeIMG_9087

Kayakers under Kilt Rock.  The longest day on the water was Staffin to Portree, a trip I had wanted to do for some time.  It was fairly tough paddling into a head wind at the end but worth it for some amazing coastline.  Being based in Glenelg this was a fairly long day to fit in before it got dark.  The fish and chips in Portree at the end of this were amazing.
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Sam making sure Pep knows where to go.IMG_9094

Sam approaching the waterfalls of Kilt Rock
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Kag passing one of the many pinnacles on this section of coast.

Next up it was straight to Wales for a couple of days work. As usual in October the weather didnt quite play ball despite again promises of 5% chance of rain.  I did manage a couple of routes at Gogarth with ChuckyIMG_9160

Chucky on the brilliant top pitch of “Concrete Chimney”.

From Wales I did a massive drive up to the Reiff Climbing Festival.  Saz, Al and I had decided to go to the festival no matter what the weather.  It turned out to be terrible weather for climbing but great fun with a good group of people.931A5574

Adam and Ailsa getting packed in the back of their van for a day of rather damp cragging.931A5592

Ailsa, Ali Hodnett and Adam sheltering under the shipshape block at Reiff.931A5593

We did manage to find the shortest routes in the UK.  Reiff is known for short routes but I think these could be the winner!  Adam struggling on one of the trilogy of Severes on this wall. 931A5596

It did dry up to try a couple of harder routes.  Adam making the off the deck dyno on “Lilidh”

I had a few days around Fort William before heading back up to Assynt with Bob and Adam.  Assynt is not somewhere I’ve spent a huge amount of time until this year but I just cant get enough.
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Stoer Lighthouse.  We woke up to this view after a late ascent of the Old Man of Stoer and then headed off on a two day canoe trip from Elpin to Boat Bay.  Connecting Loch Veyatie and Loch Scionascaig and a series of smaller lochs has become a bit of a classic and I was keen to see how hard the portages were.

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Bob portaging Eas Dubh Uidh a Glaigeal on the outflow from Cam loch.  931A5656

And going back upstream to pretend that he’d ran it.  This portage is probably not necessary but the falls are spectacular.931A5693

Adam supplying some moral fortitude for the second portage.931A5703

Adam paddling under Suilven.  We had originally planned to do a climb on Suilven as part of this trip but the weather didnt quite play ball and we didnt have quite enough hours of daylight.931A5727

Can you see two canoes?  Bob (back) and Adam (front) in the middle of 2 km portage between Loch Veyatie and Loch Scionascaig.  This, the “eastern portage” is essentially a 2km portage and rumored to be harder than the western one.  As 2km portages go it was pretty straightforward and easy.931A5733

Bob and I have done quite a few portages over the years.  I wonder when he’ll notice that I just take photos and he does all the pulling!
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Bob completely in his element on cooking duty with Cul Mor in the background.
931A5745Autum colours at Cread Dubh above the Spey.  Its quickly been turning to winter in the highlands and the colours have been fantastic.  Every time the weather starts to get me down I realise how many amazing adventures there are to be had in Scotland at all times of year.

I’ve also been tidying up some qualifications this year and this month finally feel able to take stock having completed the last one on the list (for now!).  I moved back to Scotland “full time” 5 years ago and wanted to bring my qualifications up to speed in the UK.  On one of my many long drives recently I started to count up the cost in both time and money of doing this.  The good news is that its been a lot of fun and I’m now at a stage where I don’t feel the need to work too hard on any other qualifications, the bad news is that I worked out I have spent over 60 days on training courses in the last 5 years (bearing in mind that I have only been in the UK for 36months of that period!) and its cost me at least £8000 just for the courses (not the kit or the consolidation days).  The process has been massively rewarding and through it I have re-engaged with so many friends and made so many new ones.  When I started in the outdoors at 18 I’m not sure what I expected but certainly not the huge variety of work and adventures that can be crammed into a few short years.

Also posted in Assynt, Assynt canoeing, canoe, Canoe across Scotland, Climbing, Kayaking, mountains to the sea, North Wales Climbing, Scottish Kayaking, Scottish Sea Kayaking, Skye, Stoer Lighthouse, Suilven Canoe, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Boats and Climbing

This spring has had some great weather for adventures in Scotland.  Over the last couple of months I have been trying to get to places that have formerly escaped me, its so easy to go back to places I love.  As the winds dropped and sun came out at the start of the month Adam and I headed to Skye for a couple of days.  I have spent a lot of time on Skye though had never got the boat from Elgol to access the Cuillin.  We had a very leisurely start with the aim of a two day traverse of the Cuillin with the Dubhs Slabs start thrown in for good measure.931A3023

Getting the boat in was great – cups of tea and shortbread with the skipper and stunning view of the full Cuillin ridge.931A3024

The last time I was in Loch Coruisk was about ten years ago on a sea kayaking trip.  We almost got stuck at the head of the loch in a force 6.931A3028

Adam trying to work out which one is the Dubhs Slabs.  In recent years there has been some hard climbs put up in this glen – theres a life time of climbing in just this one area if you get the weather and the time!931A3059

Still snow in the bivy cave below Sgurr Alisdair.931A3068

Our aim on the first day was to get past the Inaccessible Pinnacle and find a bivy spot.  With both of us happy to solo most of the ridge it was pretty easy going with the odd stop to realise how lucky we are and admire the views.  Above – Adam on Collies/Harts ledge.
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Adam soloing the East Ridge of Inaccessible Pinnacle as two other traversers gear up at the bottom.  After watching both of us they both decided to solo it as well – interesting decision making!931A3089

Bivy spot on Banachdich931A3095-Pano

Sunset views from the bivy spot back south along the ridge.931A3102

What its all about!931A3223

After a couple of days of work I managed to rustle up some friends for a trip I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Getting 5 people, 5 vehicles, 3 canoes and lots of climbing gear to the correct layby on Loch Maree was probably the hardest bit!  Above – Cecile, Tim and Chucky bringing the last boat down to the Loch.931A3229

We had opted for an evening paddle across Loch Maree followed by a 10km hike into Carnmore Crag in the Fisherfield Wilderness.  Above – Ceciles first time in a canoe!931A3237

Dark and broody getting over the hill and down towards the Bothy.931A3238

I had been into the Fisherfield area from the other side a couple of times but had forgotten how spectacular it is.  Tim on the approach to the bottom of the routes.931A3253

Cecile about to start the unprotected traverse on the main pitch of “Dragon”931A3284

Tim the red power ranger relieved to be across the traverse.931A3297

 

Cecile working out where the route goes.931A3314

On our second route of the day (Gob) we crossed paths with Al and Chucky.  Above – Al (with Chucky somewhere above) on “St George”931A3322

The landowner at Carnmore kindly leaves a barn open below the crag – Cecile and Tim chilling by the front door.931A3326

The bothy is not the nicest but it does have beds!931A3328

Sunset over the bothy931A3330

931A3362We had two brilliant days at Carnmore and then headed back to the boats in the evening.  I love how much you can pack into a couple of days in Scotland.  If you’re ever heading to carnmore I recommend the canoe approach over the 20km walk (you just need a friend with lots of boats!)

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, bothy, canoe, Climbing, Cuillin, Fisherfield Wilderness, Jetboil, mountains to the sea, Scotland climbing, Skye, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Adventures in Benidorm

It seems Benidorm is most commonly associated with retired British people living in a sort of little Britain on the beach but there is another side to the area.  Hidden from the Benidorm beach by the endless flats is the amazing adventure playground of the Costa Blanca.  For British climbers seeking a bit of sun the Costa Blanca has long been a popular choice for a quick sport climbing holiday but Linda, Miles, Scott and I headed out for some of the more adventurous routes the area has to offer.
931A2451 The beautiful town of Finestrat from our campsite with Puig Campana behind.  One of the routes we climbed was “Epsolon Central” which climbs the skyline ridge in 14 pitches.931A2474On our first day we decided to head off on and adventure route called “Magical Mystery Tour”.  Even the abseil approach felt pretty adventurous descending next to some terrifying looking ladders.931A2471Miles checking out the ladders.  I have since heard that people do lead up the ladders to get out of this area.  Having seen what they’re attached to at the top i’m not sure its wise!931A2477-2Finding the route – abseiling into sea cliffs is always pretty exciting but this felt even more so with this being the only route in our guidebook on this section of cliff.  You can just make out Scott and Linda in the bottom left of the shot.  I spent a little while on this route proving where it didnt go (up a loose pillar).  Brilliant adventure climbing.
931A2550Linda on the top of “Parle” a brilliant (and intimidating) route that climbs up through an archway in the cliff.
931A2563 Linda (belaying) and Miles (Posing or struggling I’m not sure which) on “Parle”931A2656 We did of course go Sport Climbing too.  Linda on the nearest crag to our campsite climbing “Edwards Edge”931A2686 Hard life back at the campsite/villa.  It was amazing to hang out in Finestrat with lovely little bars and restaurants but drop down to Benidorm in the morning to buy food.  The two places seem a world apart.931A2843 Scott on the Guidebook cover route “Tai Chi” with the city in the background (Calpe rather than Benidorm)IMG_8861 High on Epsolon Central on Puig Campana away from the bustle of the city.  This was probably one of my favourite routes of the week though I got no good photos of it.  Endless fun climbing up a big ridge in the sun.IMG_8888Scott cruising up another brilliant sea cliff route.  While most of these routes do have bolts and are therefore “sport” climbing they still feel pretty adventurous.
IMG_8900 Back to the real adventure!  I also spent a few days in N Wales this month with Adam.IMG_8930 Adam on the crux middle pitch of Atlantis/True Moments/Freebird.IMG_8960 Its not all fun in the sun.  The heinous (and dangerous!) approach to the pinnacle area on Cloggy.  I’ve since been told that most people abseil in from above!IMG_8970Adam setting off up the last route of the trip “Octo”

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Climbing, Climbing fall, mountains to the sea, Spanish Climbing

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, Ben Nevis ice climbing, Climbing, Creag Meagidh, gabbro, Meall an Fhir Eion, mountains to the sea, scotland, Scotland climbing Tagged , , , , , , , |