My first month back in Scotland in 16months. I got back to Scotland and the usual round of people endlessly discussing conditions and weather, a fair amount of rain and some less than wintery hills. This has not been too much of a burden really as there have been loads of friends and family to catch up with amongst remembering how to deal with banks etc. It is awesome to be back. I have spent a large amount of my adult years in different places in the world and the one thing that really makes you do is appreciate home. As I mentioned in my last post, a lot has happened since I left and it has been great to catch up with friends old and new and of course revisit some places that I love.One of the first things I did on return home was go up to the place where my good friend Joe passed away a year ago. This might seem morbid to some but I wanted to go up the path and try and put myself in Joe and Simons minds as they headed off that day. I have walked that path many times with many people but I will always now think of those two headed of on another adventure as I wander into the high coire of Stob Coire nam Beith. Above – a very damp Stob Coire nam Beith. The hills had no snow on when I first got back.Spending time in the hills with friends is always the best way to catch up. Ruaridh came over for the weekend and we headed out in the hills in some very wintery (and windy weather). We headed west both days to try and avoid the worst of the wind but I still got picked off my feet at one point. Above – Ruaridh heading up the long ridge of Garbh Bheinn (Ardgour). Ruaridh giving his “its so windy” face.View from Garbh Bheinn back towards Fort William. Winter has returned!
On the Sunday we were joined by Jago, Sarah and Gemma and headed off towards Streap. Streap is only 15 mins drive from my house but I had never been up it. We didnt really expect to be able to go all the way to the summit but actually the wind was not too bad on the top or the final grade 1 ridge and we were treated to spectacular views out to the Cuillin and back towards Ben Nevis.Looking South West.Final summit ridge as the weather changes.
I have been doing a few days of work as well. Someone said to me recently that as a Freelancer you basically do the jobs the someone else doesn’t want. If thats the case I’m fine with it. I spent valentines day with a lovely couple climbing a grade two ridge in the sun as they planned their honeymoon on Skye. There has been a fair bit of bad weather days this month. Some days you just have to find a bothy, make hot chocolate and eat loads of brownies. Linda and Miles chilling!In between bouts of work and play I have also been sorting out a new van. Wee Katie Tayler looks on as I start to drill holes! I have managed to get a little bit of climbing done – Caspar leading up behind the flake of “Flake Route Right Hand” on Church door buttress. Caspar leading the pitch above the arch just before he did a bit of a slither back down the way he’d came! Stu and I headed up the Ben with various plans. We should have known the day wouldn’t go well when we had to dig numerous vehicles out of the snow, were late setting off and had to wade through thigh deep snow to get to the base of the routes. Above – a happy Stu trying to work out where we are. Turns out that we didnt know were we were (not bad for two MIC’s!) but climbed something about the right grade. Stu coming up the initial pitch somewhere on the middle tier of Trident Buttress. My friends Jago and Sarah are living with me just now seeing what the highlands have to offer for a winter season. I insisted they join me for some mountaineering a couple of days ago and we got one of those special days climbing in the sun with amazing views and finished it off in the Nevis range cafe!Jago and Sarah on one of the last sections of “Golden Oldy” on Aonach Mor.
I can see my house from here! Its tough living in Fort William but someones got to do it.