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.
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.A 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. Descending 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.
Happy to be off the ridge!A 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.Adam starting up Excalibur. A 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.Limestone everywhere.The 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.
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+We 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!