Tag Archives: Glen Coe

Good sandwich making skills and frozen water

Good sandwich skills are essential to a good winter day out.  I know there’s people out there who just throw a lump of Soreen or some cereal bars in their bag but for me that just doesn’t cut it.  Theres been rather a lot of sandwich making recently as I decided a while ago to take some time to focus on winter mountaineering and climbing.  For the most part this just involves getting out every day to climb with different people, heading out on my own to look at different venues / solo easy routes or the odd days work in the mountains.  Evenings are then spent desperately trying to get kit dry and staring at weather forecasts, blogs and the Avalanche information website.  Eventually something comes up which means you cant go out – such as winds gusting over 100mph or like today, a bed being delivered.  Its been a pretty awesome January with some amazing days of good ice and blue skies but being out every day you definitely see some of the worst of it as well.  So heres my photos from January – a few blues sky days and then the rest.IMG_1414crpGraham trying to find the tunnel on “West Chimney” of Church door buttress.  Helen and I stood on the  belay getting showered with snow and then gravel before Graham declared the tunnel blocked – turns out it has been for 2 years.  Turns out the routes a bit harder now.
IMG_1430Graham looking very happy on “Pinnacle Face” on the West face of Aonach Dubh – its been amazing to see so much snow down at the road in Glen Coe – we went to the West face twice that week with the approach taking twice as long as normal.IMG_1476Darkness and snow – Heading home after another day on the hillIMG_1481A blue sky day and a Saturday!  We opted for North East Buttress on the Ben as it was rather busy. IMG_1490IMG_1523A couple of photos of Graham on the curtain – a quick morning blast on one of the nicest days of Jan.IMG_1524I can see my house from here.  Walking back to the car, its not every day it looks like this!IMG_1533I spent a day being observed/mentored by Mike Pescod from Abacus Mountain Guides and dragged Georgia along as my “client” for the day.  Georgia topping out of the first pitch of  “Shelf Route” on Buachille Etive MorIMG_1535Mike setting off up the crux pitch of Shelf Route.  The route was rather buried in loose snow making for a fairly wallowy day for Georgia, Myself and Mikes client Tommy.  I wonder what it was like for out in front>IMG_1540 Mike and Tommy heading for Crowberry towerIMG_1546Georgia high above the clouds in Glen Etive.  IMG_1554Mike and Tommy heading for home towards Coire an TuillachIMG_0611
Finally headed up to “Crypt Route” with Scott.  Things were looking pretty marginal for winter climbing when we got there with water pouring down the crag but the gamble had paid off with it being very wintery inside the buttress.  Above – Scott getting  to the first belay.  Below – Scott leading off into the depths of the buttress.IMG_0610 IMG_1568Ed leading up the first pitch of “Vanishing Gully”.  Ed, Craig and I headed in with a fairly poor forecast and were met with fairly poor conditions – what a surprise!
IMG_1570 Ed belaying outside while I hide in the cave.  If you have any beliefs that winter climbing is fun this day would have dispelled them (check out the water pouring from the icicles)IMG_1578 Trying to stay warm in the cave before the next pitch.IMG_1581 Beautiful but rather brittle water ice on the second pitch of VanishingIMG_3827 Its not often Scotland looks like this.  IMG_3830 Or this.  I drove over to the Bridge of Orchy hills to meet Bob for some winter skills practice – the drive over was absolutely stunning.IMG_3832 Bob practicing his “Stomper” belay below the cragsIMG_0614And finally – yesterday Scott and I headed up to the west face of Aonach Mor.  Couldnt resist getting a photo of a stuck VW T5 as we crusied past heading up the road to Nevis RangeIMG_3837Scott looking stoic approaching “Western Rib”IMG_3838 Beautiful views of Carn Mor DeargIMG_3851 Getting to the first belayIMG_3857Scott leading up one of the more technical pitches on Western Rib.  I really like the routes on this face of Aonach Mor – They dont look like much but are awesome fun for a long easy day out – and they have cable car access

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Winter Ridges

 

 

January has been busy already and its only half way through!  The celebrations didn’t stop after new year – we came back to Fort William for Pete and Kag’s house warming party, to meet our new lodgers and throw a house warming party or our own (the next night!).  The weather was looking great but the avalanche conditions not so great on the day of the house warming so Gile, Adam and I decided on a quick romp along the wonderful Aonach Eagach ridge.  The conditions have stayed largely the same with only the very brave or the very stupid climbing anything other than ridges on the west coast just now.  Things have now calmed down a bit on the avalanche front and the winter climbing season is definitely here.

The house warming party was great with lots of food and drink and music and it has been non-stop since then…..

1Adam and Giles on the Aonach Eagach with Stob coire an Lochain behind
2Coming along the ridge
3Adams first day in crampons – Quality equipment!
4House warming – Ninian and Lettie providing some tunes
5Adam struggling on the second big night and a day in the mountains
6The end of the night.
7 A few days later Hannah and I headed out with our new lodgers Georgia and Luis to climb “Golden Oldy” and easy (grd II) ridge on the west face of Aonach Mor – Hannah enjoying herself on the upper part of the ridge.
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Luis and Georgia on Golden Oldy – A great route for a short day as you can get the Aonach Mor Gondola to and from the snow line making the walk in pretty short!9

Georgia, Luis and Hannah on the summit
10The next day it was off to Ben Nevis with Alfie – The avalanche forecast was “considerable” so we were going to be pretty limited on what we could climb.  The view as you walk into the North face of the Ben never fails to inspire.
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We decided on “SW ridge” (IV,5) of the Douglas boulder.  This is a great route when everything else is to risky to get to. – Alfie on the upper section 12 Alfie getting to the last belay.

Then the weather looked good enough again to tempt me out on the Aonach Eagach with Luis and Georgia for another round.  We left the house at 5am to get the best weather.

13Luis coming onto the first summit just before dawn
14View to Stob coire an Lochain in the first light.15

Sunrise over Bidean Nan Bian16

Scottish winter always looks like this – really.17

Georgia climbing one of the technical sections on the Aonach Eagach

And finally – I headed out with Charlie and Sue to take some photo for Charlies new business venture – Clay pigeon shooting on the side of Loch Leven.

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Next week its off to Glenmore lodge so will probably have too much stuff in my bag to justify carrying a camera and then hopefully more winter climbing and maybe even some skiing.

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Autumn Colours

 

Driving back from Perthshire today the Autumn colours on the hills were amazing.  For a couple of years October used to be my pilgrimage up the the Northern Cascades of Washington and the beautiful Methrow valley just in time to see the colours change in the mountains.  October is such a beautiful month to be in the mountains in Scotland, the midgies are gone, its cold and crisp and the colours are all changing.  I have been out and about in the hills and on the rock for the odd day here and there in the last couple of weeks, the best day of which was probably doing on Scotlands best days the Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe.  Hannah and I met up with Jago, Sarah and Marius for a glorious day with cold temperatures and bright sunshine.
blueskydayBlue sky day!  Not a cloud in the sky looking back east along the Aonach Eagach.
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On the pinnacles.  Hannah in pink and Sarah in green – Jago was helpfully all in black and is in there somewhere!

IMG_0215Making shapesIMG_0216
Looking down into Glen Coe and the Three Sisters.

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Sarah and Hannah looking west to Ardgour from the last summit of the ridge.
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A couple of great photos from Jago – Marius, Sarah, Hannah and I lined up at the start of the harder section.

DSC_0912And lined up again on the descent.blackrock

Hard to beat the drive back today – I stopped a couple of times to get some photos.  Above – Scotlands most photographed cottage?  Black Rock Cottage on the edge of Rannoch moor and the entrance to Glen Coe surrounded by changing colours.Glencoe_1

Autum colours in Glen Coe.

 

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