Tag 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.

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, mountainstothesea, Scotland climbing, Torridon, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , |

March madness

The start of this month saw the completion of one of my long standing goals.  I am not really a goal setter by nature –  my main aspirations being to eat good food, drink good drink, spend time in beautiful places and not work too much but I had always had the Mountaineering Instructors Certificate in the back of my mind.  Getting to this point has taken a while though for me came pretty suddenly.  I decided at the end of last summer that I was just going to give all my time and focus to passing this qualification.  Its hard to sum up to people not involved in the outdoor industry the time and energy that goes into all of the outdoor qualifications and in the last couple of weeks I have found myself trying to sum this up.  The actual assessment for the MIC is just 4 days long but is in fact an assessment of the culmination of for me over 10 years working in the industry.  I actually really enjoyed the assessment and as I had been told by many friends it did just feel like going to work every day (which is always stressful on high avalanche days).  Looking back to the start of the year its been fairly intense preparing for the assessment but also a lot of fun –

  • 50 routes up to grade 6 (work and play)
  • approx 60 days “on the hill” (I think I only took about 7/8 rest days from the start of Jan till my assessment)
  • 120 snickers eaten (based on 2 snickers a day minimum)
  • Walked up the track to Ben Nevis over 20 times
  • approximately 150 glucosamine tablets swallowed
  • Lost 6kg while eating around 3500-4000 calories a day

Huge amounts of thanks have to go to any of my friends and colleagues who offered advice, to Hannah for putting up with kit drying everywhere around the house and my constantly knackered state and to some friends who suffered through my practising various things (short roping Alfie Tipler for a day was hilarious for me but I think his worst day in the hills ever!  “it reminds me of being a child”)

Since the assessment the winter has continued to be amazing though I have started to look for dry rock!

IMG_1885Rather appropriately my first day of work as a full MIC was in fairly disgusting conditions where I climbed Hadrians Wall direct with one client.  We were both pretty tired at the end of the day having had to pull frozen ropes through our belay devices so many times.  We took a day off and the next day turned out to be a stunner.  Above the view on the way down to Coire Leis
IMG_1899 I was out with Stephan one of the Geologists who is looking at glacial periods in Scotland.  Seen here after climbing one of routes on his “bucket list”, Point 5 gully.  On the left of the photo is one of the areas (Coire Leis) that is believe to have had a glacier in it as recently as the 1700’sIMG_1902 I was next out with Rob who was getting ready to add to his already impressive mountaineering CV.  Seen here about to start the Eastern Traverse on Tower Ridge.  IMG_1908 Spring is here!  After climbing Tower Ridge I nipped home to change ice axes for rock shoes and Hannah and I headed up Glen Nevis for some spring rock climbing.  Above – Hannah in the sun at the base of “Storm”IMG_1910 Hannah tiptoeing onto the first belay of StormIMG_1930 Next I headed up Observatory gully with Joe to tick off a couple of routes that I had wanted to do for years.  Above – Joe on the second pitch of “Smiths Route”IMG_1935 Two teams on Smiths route as we headed down for one more.  Pretty cool to watch Alan Kimber leading up this – I hope I’m still leading grade 5 in my 60’sIMG_1945 Graham, Donald and I left the upper car park at 645am and headed up to climb Orion face direct,  We were beaten to the base by 3 teams(!) and settled on “Minus 2 gully” instead.  This is now one of my favourite routes and not a bad plan C!  Above – Donald leading up to the big ice pitch.IMG_1955 One of the awesome pegs on Minus 2.  I wonder if this once belonged to Jimmy Marshall?IMG_1963 Graham making short work of the last pitchIMG_1964 Donald on the last pitch no longer worried about making it to parents evening on time!IMG_1968 Lastly I headed up the Ben (again!) with Mark to see what we could do on a busy Saturday.  Turns out quite a lot!  Climbing with Mark is always tough as he always seems to have such nice new kit!  We climbed the start of Glovers Chimney into the Gutter followed by the Cascade into Experts Choice.  Loads of great ice and no-one else about!  Above – Mark and his shiny gear starting up the crux of “The Gutter”IMG_1971 Mark “I’m no good at ice climbing” Chambers charging up the crux pitch with good styleIMG_1979At the 11th belay of the day!
IMG_3881 I spent a couple of days working with Scott and Jamie at UHI.  After deciding not to go outside one day we were met with an amazing day the next.  Above – stunning views at the CIC hutIMG_3894 2 Students probing for a snow hole siteIMG_3899 Scott and Jamie hard at work in tough conditionsIMG_3900 Amazing snow hole site under the Brenva face of Ben Nevis.  Shame we didnt stay there!P1020561

And lastly – I was somewhat horrified to see the above photo appear in my inbox.  A photo of me on the (in) famous crux pitch of point 5 gully.  The gear was less than amazing and this must have been taken by my client inbetween me being pounded by spindrift avalanches!

I had thought that my winter might be over by now but there’s a storm raging outside and theres plenty of ice on the Ben still.  Who wants to go ice climbing????

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Happy Hogmanay

The start of 2014 and the probably the biggest change of my adult life – I have now bought a house in the Adventure Capital of the UK , Fort William.  The last few weeks have been a bit hectic with lots of moving of furniture etc but we are now all set up in a town recently voted “7th worst place to live in Scotland”.  The voters were obviously not outdoor people!  Straight after moving in it was a constant round of Christmases and even people coming to stay with us for a change…..
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My sister and a couple of her taller family members came over on boxing day for a walk and some fish and chips.  Above – the newest member of the family Dieter on the bridge at steall falls.
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My wee/big sister at steall falls

Next up Clare and Daj came over and on the second day we headed up towards Stob Coire nam Beith in Glen Coe.  IMG_0627

Clare wrapped up in the group shelter.  At this point Hannah and Clare wisely decided to head back towards the Clachaig Inn while Daj and I continued in fairly minging conditions

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Daj coming up Summit gully on Stob Coire Nam Beith.  It was wild on top which can be our first excuse as to why we ended up in the wrong valley on the way down.

Next up Giles came to stay and we headed out for the first real winter route of the season

DSCF2099It was slightly warm! – gearing up below Castle Ridge on Ben Nevis
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Me about to set of up the first technical pitch.
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Giles battering his way up the crux

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We then headed over to Mull and the kind hospitality of Tony Francis and Ardachy Hotel.  Giles Bouldering on the beach with Iona in the background.

IMG_0662Stormy day on “Tony’s Beach” – Ardalanish Bay

A busy hogmanays night was had with dressing up, good food, dancing and a trip up to the local farmers bothy for more drink and music.  Great fun and all rounded off by a mass local game of shinty on the beach the next morning.
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Shinty in progress as the tide comes in.  (Shinty is basically ice hockey without ice or pads or any rules beyond dont hit anyone in the head)

IMG_0793Great fun if a little confusing as there were numerous balls in play about 60 people on the pitch as well as a couple of dogs getting in the way but a great way to sort out the hangover.

Note – I am not sure where the “7th worst” fact came from but it sounds good.  Kilmarnock was voted worst this year while the islands voted the best.  Incidentally if you google worst towns in the UK nothing north of the border with England even gets a look in – kind of confirms what I’ve thought for years!

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Time Flies

I have just been literally blown out of the Torridon hills after aborted attempts on both the “Fisherfield 6” and “An Teallach”.  Not to worry, there was lots of time to take photos and wander around a beautiful area.  I have been on the road a lot in the last couple of weeks and have managed the odd days climbing and walking.  The problem with blogs is that they promote the idea that all the blog keeper is up to is exciting wonderful things.  This is not actually the case (or not for me anyway), there are plenty of days doing not very much or just trying to make money.  I say this as a couple of friends have recently commented on both the blog and the wonderful places I get to – so if its any consolation –  The last couple of weeks have seen me planting trees in the sleet, spreading fertiliser in the wind and rain, going through some driver training, sitting my minibus driving test, painting shelves, dog proofing a fence, sitting my Level  2 coach exam (for Canoeing) and a whole lot of driving place to place.  I may in fact try and write a post one of these days with only pictures of the less glamorous places I get to (the inside of the truckstop in Livingstone where I ate lunch two days last week comes to mind).  But for now here are the photos of the glamorous places I have been in the last couple of weeks….

 

I was driving away from Mull a few weeks ago and suddenly realised that I had time to stop and explore.  This turned into a long day of running and climbing first of all into Garbh Bheinn to solo the Great Ridge (diff) then up glen gour to check out Indian Slab Crag (an underated destination).  I took this as I ran down the ridge from Garbh Bheinn looking over Argour
The next day I climbed North East Buttress of Ben Nevis with Ruaridh.  In this photo Ruaridh is moving up the easy ground at the base of the ridge.  It was very warm making for some exciting sections with the sound of ice falling being fairly constant during the day.  We managed to climb quickly taking the “tough brown variant” (also IV, 4) rather than the “mantrap” and were on the summit in around 5 hours.

Unfortunately the day was very damp and we were trying to move quickly so I didnt get the camera out much!

After a weeks work doing some forestry stuff it was off to the lakes for my coaching assessment and then a days climbing.  It was too cold to hang around so Hannah and I opted for the soloing easy routes option.  Above – Hannah after the traverse pitch of “Little Chamonix” (Vdiff)

Hannah soloing the final moves of Little Chamonix.  She kindly agreed to down climb and reclimb the last moves so that I could get a photo!  We then went on to climb “Jackdaw Ridge” (Diff) and “Donkeys Ears” (Sev)

 

An inquisitive robin at the base of the crag

Then it was back to Mull.  On the drive home from Craignure we decided to check out Loch buie and the standing stones.  Above – me standing on standing stones

A busy day at Ben More post office

We headed to Eilean a Ghearrainn for a short days cragging.  Above – Hannah leading “Lee Vining” (Sev).  Anyone familiar with Gaelic will notice that this is an island.  It is not meant to get fully cut off from the mainland at high tide (always being wadeable) but unfortunately this is not what we found.  This turned our short day into a long one with a long wait (till 830pm) till it went out enough that we could wade back to the land drover.

Early on in the long wait!  Hannah all bundled up waiting for the tide to go down.  At least the stars were amazing and there was lots of things to “I spy” (like – rock, sea, buckle…..)

Not the best effort as my fingers were frozen… Heather burning under the stars on the way home from the benightment.
Couldnt resist stopping for this one!

Lastly I headed up to Torridon for the last couple of days.  Above – Shenavall bothy by moonlight shortly after my arrival at about 11pm

Salubrious accommodation.  Emergency shelter at the base of Beinn Dearg Mor

Shenavall Bothy with Beinn Dearg Mor and the Fisher field 6 behind.  The weather looks fantastic but actually it was incredibly windy!

An Teallach from the South.

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