Friday, 29 April 2011

Tower ridge.

Yesterday I was working for West Coast Mountain guides and spent the day with Julia and Chris. Both of them have done a lot of easy scrambling in the Lakes and North Wales but nothing in Scotland. Neither of them had been up the Ben either and wanted and adventurous way up to avoid the crowds. So we headed for Tower ridge. We made quick progress up to the little tower were I stepped of the rope and gave them an opportunity to do a couple of quick easy pitches of climbing and the chance to look and some simple scrambling techniques they might use to look after themselves.

Julia leading a pitch on the Little tower.

Once over the little tower we headed on up to the Great tower and the Eastern traverse. This is now free of snow on the traverse, although there is still snow in the cave it can still be climbed without winter kit or if you want avoid it on the left. A couple of pitches later and we're stood on top of the Great tower just as the cloud starts to lift. We made it across the gap and then very quickly made to the exit gully just below the plateau. This still has some snow and ice in it but all of this can be avoided by climbing the rib on the right.
We joined the masses to walk over to the summit for a bite to eat and then descended via the tourist path.

The cave pitch at the end of the Eastern traverse.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sun on the slabs.

Ken and I headed up to The Etive slabs today to have a look at The Long Reach (E15b). Both have us have done all of the route here at or below this grade and this was the last one to do. It is a long and sustained route with seven pitches and five of them are given 5b. We started up the first pitch which gave a nice 30m pitch and low in the grade. Thankfully all the talk of the rock fall last year having possibly altered the grade was wrong. Pitch 2 was a sustained pitch and took us up to the overlap. The 5a moves over this are entertaining and nothing like the rest of the climbing on the lower part of the route. Pitch 4 unfortunately turned out to be a bit more run out than we would of liked. The guide book talks a bout a niche that you need to head to and if missed ups the grade to E2. We found the niche but there was still no gear to be had. So after a lot of looking and a lot of talking we decided that the only options were to make the move with a possible 30m fall, try and down climb 15m of 5a padding on the slabs or run away. So we ran away and traversed onto the Pause on our right and finished up this.

Ken padding through the crux of pitch 1.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Solitude in Glen Nevis.

So the sun is still shining in Fort William and after spending a couple of days on Skye getting the kit ready for the first traverse in a couple of weeks I was back in Glen Nevis yesterday. Jordan is on an Outdoor course at Lochaber College and has spent a lot of time climbing in doors in the past but has never really been out on the rock. So with the sun shining and crowds on the lower crags we headed up to High crag to do Autobahnausfart. This is a nice route with some fantastic slab climbing high up on the hill side. It is a little dirty in places where the trees are but improves with height.

So we had a look at building belays as a refresher and talked about protecting the belay as you leave the stances. Five pitches later and we topped out high in the Glen. We walked back to the bags and then headed down to the Gutter so Jordan could get his first lead in. Plenty of people out today with classics like Secretaries and Pinnacle Ridge getting done. 

Jordan on pitch 2 of Autobahnausfart.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A week of rock.

Well the forecasted showers didn't materialise so the weather in Lochaber this week has been stunning. Apart from a couple of showers on Sunday evening it has been sunny and dry. I've spent most of the time bouldering in Glen Nevis and trying to find some new venues with some success. I've also been spending some time with the lads top roping some of their projects higher up the hill side.

Kev top roping the E5 up on Nameless crag.

Yesterday after waiting in for a delivery I headed up the road again to meet up with Craig, Johann and G. Craig and I did three route on Dundee buttress and Jo and G did Storm and another route on Cavalry Crack buttress.

Craig pulling through the crux on one of the HVS on Dundee.

Craig again but on the sharp end this time.

Off to Skye tonight to help Alan and Spike get the kit sorted for the Cuillin Traverses.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Dry rock. But for how long?

Well the morning showers died out and come 2 o'clock this afternoon the road outside the house was dry and the temperature had risen a little so after taking care of some emails I headed into Glen Nevis for a quick work out.
I'd had my eye on an E15c on lower pinnacle since I was there last week. This route is a bit of an eliminate and more of a boulder problem really. It gives some fine delicate climbing up the steep wall between Severe crack and Pinnacle ridge. So after a bit of finding out were the holds were I went for it and thankfully made it to the pull back onto pinnacle ridge at the top.
Spring is back in the air and the Glen was full of Violets and flowering Wood Sorrel but thankfully no midges yet. 

Pulling up on the starting crimps.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A breif return to winter.

Looking up at Observatory gully.

After the warm weekend the temperature has dropped and we have had some showers falling as snow over the tops. As climbing was out I thought I would take a wonder up to the Ben this afternoon. There was fresh snow down to just above the CIC hut and the highest crags looked wintery again. Most of the ice has gone. 0.5, Hadrians and zero have vanished. There is no ice at all on the orion face. Observatory ridge is clear of snow most of the way (once this bit of fresh stuff has gone). Tower Ridge is rock up until the eastern trav. In Coire na ciste the easier gully's remain and there looked to be some ice in central gully right hand. I only saw four other people out today but I saw no one on any of the routes.

Coire na Ciste.

Monday, 11 April 2011

A warm weekend.

A long with the rest of the UK the weekend in Lochaber was stunning. Temperatures reached a barmy 23C and there was a light wind which helped with making it feel a little cooler. I along with many people where climbing in Glen Nevis this weekend enjoying the rock which even after last weeks torential rain had very few wet streaks. It was as busy as I have ever seen it on Saturday and a lot of the Polldubh classics were getting traffic and Johann finally completed his project on Upper Scimitar. "Bad life choices" E6/7 6b takes a line right up the middle of the slab. Well done mate.  Have a look at Kev's blog for more info.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Finally the rain stopped.

After almost a whole week of rain it started to disappear this morning. Today I was just heading up the Tourist path of the Ben. The path is free of snow now until you hit the plateau and even here it has thinned a lot. We did need crampons today as what snow and ice is left was rock hard. There were many teams turning back that didn't have crampons and the visibility was still pretty low.

I had a quick look over onto the last couple of pitches of Indicator wall and Good friday climb. They were still complete as far as I could see and I would think you would still get up Good friday climb.

Happy Birthday and well done to Chris today who has wanted to get up the Ben for a long time.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Gyhll Scrambling on the Zig Zags

After my last bit of winter work last weekend I took some time off to catch up with friends and rest after the winter. Come Friday I was raring to go again, unfortunately it hasn't really stopped raining since then. Over the last few days we have had some dry weather but just when you think the rock should be just about dry in comes another heavy shower and it starts all over again. I've had a couple of wasted trips into Glen Nevis thinking I was going to get on the rock only for it to start raining either when I got out of the car or just as I turned onto the road into the Glen.

Anyway back to today. I was out with John Sparks today who is a freelance outdoors journalist that is writing a piece on The Outdoor Capital for Outdoor Enthusiast magazine. He has been in Fort William for a couple of days now and had already been mountain biking at Nevis Range and spent some time with other local outdoor people taking photos. Unfortunately the weather today was not the greatest. It had been raining heavily for most of the night and was forecast to keep raining until the evening. So I decided a short blast would probably be a better idea. We got out the car in Glencoe and it wasn't long till we were stood at the foot of the Zig Zags watching the water pouring down the slab. At the end of the first terrace there is a well polished corner that takes you up to the next terrace but only today it was like a river. We swam our way up it with water pouring down our sleeves and running over our legs and then continued to the cairn on Gearr Aonach.

By now the rain had turned to heavy sleet and we were no longer sheltered from the wind so we got our heads down and walked to Coire nan Lochain against the driving sleet and rain. I think we were both glad when we made it back to the car. A good day representing, the delights of the Outdoor Capital but still a fun one. No photos today as I didn't want to trash my camera, I'm already a phone down from the rain today.

Reports of winter climbing are getting thin now but there was heavy snowfall today above 1000m but the temperature has gone up this afternoon and from the looks of the Ben a lot of it has been stripped back already. People have been on good friday climb, ledge route and smiths. The high ice might hold on for a bit longer but with all this heavy rain and higher temps, I'm not sure how long.