Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sron na Lairig.

I met up with Chris Sleight this morning from the BBC who was looking to get out on the hill for a piece to be aired on the BBC radio program, Out of Doors. With the freezing level above the summits and the weather set to get worse later in the day we opted for a quick mountaineering trip up Sron na Lairig hoping that the northerly aspect would be holding onto the snow.
It wasn't in the best of winter conditions but it still gave a good day out, with the last 100-150m holding onto some ice and the turf was still frozen. It was a relatively dry day in Glencoe with just one or two short periods of drizzle, so the thaw hasn't been that aggressive, leaving a lot of snow above 800m, ready for the next freeze. More photos on my facebook page.

A happy man!

The final few metres to the top.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Things are shaping up nicely.

After a failed attempt to get out climbing for myself on Saturday, today was the first day of work for the winter. I was out with Simon and John, working for Apple Mountaineering and Ken was out with a pair too. We headed up to Stob Coire nan Lochan with a sense of optimism under brightening skies, the freezing levels had dropped over night and a good covering of new snow had fallen making for some harder going in places but ok.
A few teams were out with people on Inclination, Dorsal arete, Crest route and a brave pair made their way up NC gully. The snow has started to freeze but is quite variable and there was some exposed frozen turf on Dorsal arete but the top section is still very mixed. Other teams reported good conditions on the steeper routes.
I'll be updating my facebook page regularly with photos and conditions this season, so give us a like to see what I've found.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

WInter is coming!

Winter is on it's way and we've had a fantastic summer, we've had our first falls of snow in the Scottish highlands and it's time to think about your ambitions for the season. We have a wide range of courses available for this winter, whether it's your first winter season or you're an old hand we can meet your needs from intro courses to avalanche courses, learning to lead or private guiding. Get in contact to talk about your plans for this winter.

Keep up to date with conditions this winter and what we've been climbing by liking our Facebook page or following us on Twitter


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Ben Nevis North face Survey.

It's been a busy week on the Survey with some long days and hard work but it was all worth it.

The North Face Survey is a three year project led by the Nevis Landscape Partnership, sponsored by Mammut, in collaboration with Midland Valley Exploration and funded by the National Lottery Heritage, Scottish Natural Heritage and The Highland Council.

The key objectives of the survey are to:

  • Access and survey unrecorded and unexplored areas
  • Increase data and knowledge of rare arctic-alpine species 
  • Increase geological data and knowledge
  • Strengthen relations and knowledge transfer between geologists, ecologists and mountaineering communities.
  • Inspire the public and increase awareness and appreciation of mountain environments and some of the issues they face such as climate change.
By the end of the week we had found more areas containing rare Saxifrages,a new type of Saxifrage previously unrecorded on Ben Nevis and lots of other plants including Wavy meadow grass and Arctic Mouse ear, just to name a couple.

The Geologists have been working hard to collect information to help us have a greater understanding as to how Ben Nevis was formed and we have highlighted a number of areas that we need to get to in the future years to look for further Botany and Geology.

All in all, a very successful week! Here's hoping for more success in the following years.

Dave MacLeod interviewing Roddy the Geologist.

Finally a view.

Connor descending into North Castle gully.

Still a lot of snow in Observatory gully, still making access difficult.

Carn Dearg clearing from the cloud.

Some of the team working hard on top of the Comb with Tower ridge behind.

Just some of the delightful places we have been visiting. Myself belaying under Two step corner.

Arctic Mouse ear

Heading home down Ledge route after a tiring but great week.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Another productive day.

The main focus of today's training was to get the Botanists and Geologists onto some steep ground so they could get some experience with the use of the rope and for us to get a look at the Saxifrage at the top of No.4 gully, anything else was going to be a bonus. It turns out that it was a day of bonus'.
Two teams headed up Ledge route and to the coire just above the Shroud, Mike headed up the right side of Moonlight gully buttress and we headed up the left. Mikes team and I met in the upper bowl of No.5 gully where the Botanists, Ian and Gordon could have spent hours looking around but unfortunately we had somewhere to be.
We headed over to the top of No.4 gully and made our way down looking at the different Saxifrage that seems to do very well in that particular spot and carried on back to the CIC hut with another couple of very interesting finds including the first ever Alpine Saxifrage seen on Ben Nevis and a big patch of Wavy Meadow grass on the plateau that was previously unknown about. There were many more finds today too and the project has already ticked a number of the objectives and we haven't even really started yet. Here's to more successful days.

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, Heritage Lottery fund, The Highland Council and Mammut

A bit of planning.

Noel Williams sharing some of his local knowledge.

Gordon and Will, high in No.5 gully.

Wavy meadow grass with my gloved finger in for scale.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Ben Nevis North face survey

I've been lucky enough to be asked to work on a survey of the North face of Ben Nevis along with a few other locally based Guides and Instructors. We had our first training day yesterday in and around the Mountain rescue base focusing on getting to grips with the app we'll be surveying with and practising some more rope access based skills.

Today was our first day out on the hill and we made a good team effort to get about 1700m of rope and other kit up to the CIC hut. After a quick chat to come up with a plan for the day we headed off in two teams, we headed up to the base of No.5 gully and across under Carn Dearg Buttress and over to Waterfall gully and the other team headed up into Observatory gully and around under the Minus face. It was a successful day with both teams finding plants on the 'rare list' and we have identified loads of possible locations for next weeks survey.

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, Heritage Lottery fund, The Highland Council and Mammut.



Just some of the damp and places we are going to be exploring.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The end of my winter.

Well that's my winter season finished with, no more winter work booked in but with the amount of snow left on the hills, I have a feeling I'll still have to use some winter kit out for a while. I was out with Patrick on Saturday and Sunday, he wanted his first taste of Scottish winter so we headed up into Coire nan Lochan on Saturday to cover the basics, which he picked up very quickly. We headed up to the summit via the west ridge and descended down Broad gully, which has more snow in it now than I have ever seen and will be there for a long time yet.

Ledge route on Sunday.

Sunday was a brighter day and Patrick wanted to up the level a little so we for Ledge route along with a few other parties. The route is still nearly all snow covered but the snow was thawing and has been over the last two days. Yesterday I was out with Bart for The Highland Mountain company and we headed for the Aonach Eagach which was a great day out with sunshine and blue skies but there is very little snow left on the crest and we took crampons off after the first descent. Not really a winter day but still a nice day to finish the winter, given that it has been a winter with some hard conditions. Bring on the summer with dry rock and dry trails for riding.

The Bidean Massif still with a lot of snow cover above 700m.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Spring in the Outdoor Capital.

The last two days in the Outdoor Capital have been stunning. Spring really is the best time of year, today you could of been winter climbing on the Ben, skiing at Nevis Range, out on your mountain bike or like us, rock climbing in the sun, Enough said! 

Friday, 7 March 2014

A great couple of days despite the forecasts.

Rich Parker has joined me for the last two days to work with Scott, Kelly, Will and Jo. Yesterday with a high avalanche forecast and lighter winds we headed for Tower ridge which was at the top of the boys list for things they would like to do. We had no rain, in fact the cloud lifted above the summit to give us a great view of what was left after the thaw. Quite a bit of fresh snow fell during the afternoon and we had to make fresh tracks up the ridge which slowed us down a bit but a great day none the less.
Today we headed for North Buttress on the Bauchaille to avoid the gusty winds, the route looked quite black from beneath as we approached but there is still some good snow holding on but it might not last another thaw.

Ben Nevis on Thursday.

A lot of routes still have large cornices above them.

The first snow arete on Tower ridge.

Jo and Will enjoying the dry weather.

Will hanging around on North Buttress.

Scott and Kelly getting stuck in.

Rich and Will getting a taste of the heavy showers passing through today.

Will on the crux chimney.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

On the sharp end.

Dave and I have done a few routes together now in summer and winter and today was his turn to do some of the leading. We headed for a surprisingly quiet Dorsal arete and swung leads up the route with me finishing of on the crux. The route is very banked out with some good simple belays but not a lot of gear between them but the climbing easy for the grade at the moment. Plenty of other parties out in the coire today, too many to list here but a good spread of routes through the grades. A couple of days off for me now, so lets see what the weather brings. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Curved ridge and finally some sunshine.

I'm out with returning client Dave this weekend and today we planned to make the best of the weather. We walked in through some cloud and a bit of drizzle first thing this morning but it didn't take long for it to burn off and the sun to break through. The route was plastered with snow but enough for it to be helpful and we made good time using the steps from previous climbers, the route is easy for the grade at the moment with all of the tricky steps banked out but it was a good route as always. Lets see what tomorrow brings.

A snowy Curved ridge and Rannoch wall.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Mountaineering with the UHI

After a couple of days in the Ice Factor to escape the weather I was back out on the hill yesterday with Brodie and Cameron for some winter mountaineering. Yesterday we headed up to the Ben and spent some time looking at some snow belays and then headed up the west gully of the Douglas boulder and down a busy east gully. Today Andy and I headed out with our teams to climb the Dragon's tooth above Glenahullish, this was a great opportunity for the boys to put some skills into practise and for some further coaching. It wasn't as bright today as they had forecast and we had some quite heavy snow showers which have put down a fair amount of snow.
I forgot my camera today so my shots are just from yesterday, Andy will have some shots from today.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Back up to a damp Ben Nevis.

I'm working for West Coast Mountain Guides this weekend with Martin and Bart, with a pretty poor forecast for the whole weekend we decided to make the best of it this morning. We headed up to the Douglas boulder to climb the South west ridge along with a couple of other teams. The freezing level was above the height of Douglas boulder and we had plenty of showers of wet snow throughout the day with some strong gusts but nothing too bad.
Other teams were on the Curtain again and left chimney on the boulder, more signs of avalanche activity today and we witnessed one release at 700m on a northeasterly aspect from the slopes coming down from just above the halfway lochain path.

Spindrift being blown back up Vanishing gully.

Bart cruising up the crux pitch.