14 day Alpine Adventure

This years 14 day Alpine Adventure was based from Saas Fee. Allowing us access to a great deal of mountains, ridges and rock climbing. We had valley based accomodation and made use of lift and mountain huts to provide a combination of day hits as well as multi-day trips.

The weather was very good to us which meant we could use the rest days evenly so after 3 or 4 days of climbing, we were able to put our feet up and enjoy the hospitality of Saas Fee and go sightseeing.

This is what we managed to climb

Day 1 - Alpendurst 4c- 14 pitch Rock climb on the Jegihorn, day hit.

Day 2 - Brandegrabe 5b - 5 Pitch rock climb above Saas Almagell

Day 3 - Allalinhorn 4027m - in poor weather

Rest day

Day 4 - Walked to Almageller Hut and climbed traversed the Dri Hornli (AD)

Day 5 - Traversed the Weissmies 4017m SE Ridge (PD)

Day 6 - South Ridge Lagginhorn 4010m (AD)

Rest day

Day 7 - Drove to the beautiful Arolla Valley and walked to Caban Tsa (beautiful hut)

Day 8 - Climbed West Ridge of Dent Du Tsallion (AD)

Rest day

Day 9 - Walked to Weissmies Hut and did the Jegihorn Via Ferrata

Day 10 - Climbed the Grande Gendarme and traversed the Jegigrat (D)

Day 11 - Climbed Panorama 5a - 12 pitch rock route on the Jegihorn and then had beers and rosti in the hut.

Cuillin Traverse in a day

Alan was hungry for another attempt. Last year we did a one day traverse, at 71 years old, is mind boggling for many to even comprehend! This year at 72 Alan wanted to go again. Last year we missed out a couple of sections to save a little bit of time or fatigue got in the way. Last year we missed out the brilliant scramble on An Stac, we missed out Collies Ledge, Bidean Druim nan Ramh and Am Basteir. We also bivied at Sgurr nan Eag and summited Gars Bheinn the evening before. So this time we bivied on Gars Bheinn and started our day from there.

At 3.50am we left the bivi and set on our way, the TD gap was bone dry and went with ease, we went along Collies (hart’s) ledge as we missed this last time and made a quick ascent of An Stac and the In Pinn by 8am. We picked up our water stash and the rest was a blur. After climbing Am Bastier, Alan was happy (and shattered) so we didn’t go up Sgurr nan Gillean (we did last year) and made our way down arriving at the Slig at 5.30. It’s amazing what one can do in their 70’s, I hope I will be able to do the same!

Spring Rock trips

Well some pretty amazing weather this last wee while. Scotland, as well as most of the UK has been covered in sunshine and dry rock. Perfect! Usually I’m flat out on Skye working but this year, I fancied a change. I’ll have some time off, to enjoy the good weather (I know, very selfish of me!).

Finally sat down, with the rain falling outside and I finally get too have a rest day. Sometimes the good weather is just too much!

Day 1 : Lou and I went Sport Climbing at the Camel

Day 2: we went to DIabeag, ticked all the 2 0r 3 star E2’s on the peninsula crag. Amazing rock there, well worth the walk! But watch out for ticks!

Day 3: We went to Creag Dubh, it would be rude not too, it’s on our door step.

Day 4: I met up with Kenny and Mikey B, we went sport climbing at Tunnel Wall.

Day 5: Feeling tired now! Walked up to Garbh Beinn (2 hours) and climbed with Andy Nelson at one of the best mountain crags in Scotland

Day 6: Got the Ferry to Isle of Eigg and climbed a route called Psycho! Scary!!

Day 7: Climbed several routes of Eigg and then went fishing

Day 8: More climbing, takedown camp and ferry back to the mainland.

Day 9: Spend all day feel content and smug as its now raining outside.

Guy StevenComment
Mid ski rock climbing break

It’s not something I would usually do but this year I thought I’d start rock climbing nice and early in the hope that I will be a little ‘rock fit’ before the season begins. Lou and I combined this with plenty of visits to friends and family all over the south coast and Wales.

We climbed on the south west coast, a place close to Lou’s upbringing and a place I have seldom visited. We mostly climbed but also braved the seas for some surfing which was baltic! But the weather was great!

Final Skiing of the season

Regular guest Sean was out for his first taste of off piste skiing and ski touring, which actually marked the end of my ski season. Unfortunately we had some unpleasant weather but we still managed to make the most of it. The first couple of days were spent introducing Sean too off piste skiing and ski touring equipment. The idea of the week is to get Sean comfortable off piste so we can tackle a multi day ski tour next season. Maybe the Haute Route!

We had an overnight stay in the Argentiere hut which enveloped us in a storm so it was exciting getting too the hut and leaving it. Going up really high wasn’t an option. Fortunately on the last day we had some good powder and spent the day putting fresh tracks and working on Sean’s technique.

Haute Route Success

It felt like Scottish winter fizzled out like a match in the wind, desperately trying to hold on but really not fully delivering the goods. In what has been a tragic winter with the loss of several climbers over the season, the dawn of Spring has been a welcome sight.

I took the direct line to the Alps and after a couple of warm up ski days, I met my clients for the next 7 days. On the cards was the famous Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route and I was working for Alpine Guides.

Warm up day with Mont Blanc behind

Warm up day with Mont Blanc behind

The first comments from the clients were regarding my photo on the Alpine Guides website. They thought I was too young…perhaps I should change it to a more rugged look?

With a 7 day itinerary, to complete a five day trip meant we had a shake down day at the start. And given that we had members from the USA, Australia and the UK meant there could be all sorts of problems with kit etc. So a tour in the Aiguille Rouge meant we could have a nice ski, answer any questions and allow the clients to know that I’m not as young as I look!

On the summit of Pigne d’Arolla, for some, the high point of the trip with a breathtaking view of the Alps.

On the summit of Pigne d’Arolla, for some, the high point of the trip with a breathtaking view of the Alps.

We were very fortunate on our traverse, we had fantastic weather throughout. Unfortunately our ski day into Zermatt beckoned foul weather so we knew we had a specific time window. We were unable to delay and make use of our 7th day because that was even worse! We needed to leave early, be efficient and have quick transitions. I think it was an 8+ transition day (transition - changing between skiing down hill to skinning or climbing uphill). We did it by the skin on our teeth! We got too our final transition (downhill all the way) and the cloud enveloped around us, leaving us with a rather precarious ski down through the glacier which homed huge crevasses. A huge relief for the whole team as we made it through in poor visibility.

Beers, burgers and cheers in Zermatt. We did it!

Our final day we had some nice powder skiing around Chamonix and was a great finish to the trip. Looking forward to more next year.

Norway Ice climbing 2019

Back in Scotland, if you blinked you missed it! The ice came and went over about a week. I managed to grab a couple of days ice climbing but then it seems like this year is the never ending November!

Fortunately Norway delivered it’s ever reliable ice. It was however, leaner than usual which left myself and fellow guides scratching our heads for some alternative ideas. For the first time in 8 years of visiting here, we went on the hunt for dry tooling options, mountaineering objectives and even some rock climbing crags. Fortunately out of the 10 guided days, only 3 days we didn’t ice climb. Over two weeks our 3 teams climbed 7 new lines and many really cool ice routes. We retreated of some due to the heat wave and rotten ice but still managed to cover lots of pitches.

Fortunately, just before we left, it went cold again and we had a brilliant 3 days of ice climbing to wind down with.

Check out Moran Mountain if you’re interested for next year’s courses or alternatively HERE if you would like some private guiding.

A week of winter climbing on the West Coast of Scotland
Shake down day. Mountaineering

Shake down day. Mountaineering

After what has felt like a very ‘on-off’ Scottish winter, this week provided Sean and I with some good climbing. On Sean’s previous trip we did a day of winter skills on Buachaille Etive Beag, then climbed Ledge route and followed that with Curved Ridge. This week Sean was keen to introduce to mixed climbing and ice climbing so day one required a bit of a shake down. WIth plenty of snow around I opted for the East Ridge of Stob Ban. This is usually a grade II or III but I like the ‘sit-down’ start which warrants grade IV and requires some stiff pulls.

High up on North Buttress

High up on North Buttress

Day two we went and climbed North Buttress IV,4. Many teams only do a few pitches and abseil off but the upper section has some fantastic mountaineering terrain so we pushed onto the summit. Again we had great conditions and this 3 star route was in its prime.

Day three we went onto Ben Nevis and climbed the uber classic ‘The Curtain’ IV,5. As it was mid week we decided to call it a day after topping out on the route and as the weather was coming in, we didn’t see the point on pushing onto the summit on this occasion.

Sean on his first ever ice route!

Sean on his first ever ice route!

Day four we went to Beinn Udlaidh and climbed some chewy ice. A two route day with South Gully of the Black Wall IV,4 (brilliant by the way!) and Quartvein Scoop IV,4, also brilliant! This was Sean’s second day ice climbing and he was really getting the hang of it…and loving it!

Ice, ice baby!

Ice, ice baby!

Our final day was a no brainer. Into the Ice Factor for ice climbing in the freezer and dry tooling on the rock walls. A brilliant way to hone in some technique and get the forearms and core working really well…next time we will be stronger and we’re already planning some classic grade V routes.

Until next time Sean!

Skiing or climbing? Which one do you prefer?
Last year snow problems

Last year snow problems

Due to a client unable to drive in the deep drifting snow, we have postponed our days climbing today. It’s too late to find a partner so instead the kettle is on and I’ll be having a day at home! Maybe a good idea as it has been non-stop in the last wee while!

Fresh tracks on the Vallee Blanche last week

Fresh tracks on the Vallee Blanche last week

This time of year does beg the question, climbing or skiing. I have been fortunate to do both in the last month. Climbing in Scotland and skiing in the Alps.

It has been a slow start to the winter, it came, it went, it went cold, went warm. it thawed and froze…and so on. However, today, Tuesday 22nd January it feels like winter is here to stay for a while. Currently having substantial snowfall on the West Coast where the East is slightly nicer with less snow. The mixed climbing conditions are very good at the moment, the ice routes need a little more work.

Louisa keeping warm on Swan Song V,6, Cairngorms.

Louisa keeping warm on Swan Song V,6, Cairngorms.

Last week I was in Chamonix for 10 days skiing with friend and with clients. We had great conditions, I was fortunate as it snowed as I landed in Geneva and gave plenty of good powder skiing. As time went on, the snow was topped up almost every other day meaning we found great powder in the resorts and well away from the piste. We were fortunate to ski some amazing snow, some routes we had to skin up, such as the Glacier Mort and the uber classic Crochues-Berard Traverse but others we made use of the lifts. Saint Gervais, Combloux touring and tree skiing, 3 days on the Vallee Blanche, Off-piste at Le Tour, steep skiing off Brevent Hotel Face.

If you know where to go, you will be rewarded!

If you know where to go, you will be rewarded!

So back in Scotland for a while now so getting fully embraced into Scottish Winter which will mostly be climbing as well as a two week Ice climbing trip to Norway ice climbing. Yesterday I was out on Swan Song V,6 in the Cairngorms with Louisa and despite being a very windy day, we tucked in avoiding the worst of the gusts. I’m pretty excited as to what the rest of the season brings. Happy climbing everyone and stay safe!

Looking ahead, my Scottish winter is fully booked.

I have availability for Ski Touring and Off Piste skiing between 8th -17th April 2019

I also have availability for Rock Climbing and RIdges between 1st - 24th May 2019

Rock climbing and Ridges availability 4th - 6th June 2019 (Snowdonia based)

Alpine Climbing availability 14th - 17th June 2019 (Chamonix based)

Rock climbing and Ridges 8th - 13th September 2019

For more information and inspiration click on the boxes below or get in touch.

Are you ready for winter?

I hope so because I think it is here. Dark at 4.30pm, scraping ice off your car, endless Christmas songs on the radio.

Kyle and Grandad Alan on Ledge Route during the first snows. This was Kyle’s (12 years old) first time in the snowy mountains.

Kyle and Grandad Alan on Ledge Route during the first snows. This was Kyle’s (12 years old) first time in the snowy mountains.

2 months has passed since I last wrote, I guess the ‘quite time’ sometimes becomes quite busy. On of the best things about living where I do, chosen for its proximity to the mountains, is that there are many others who share the same idea. This is great for climbing partners but also for work when the weather is good. I am fortunate to have clients who live locally and are able to get out as soon as a sun shows up on the Met Office forecast.

This time there was no snow but plenty of sun. Kyle first time climbing the Buachaille via Curved Ridge with Grandad Alan.

This time there was no snow but plenty of sun. Kyle first time climbing the Buachaille via Curved Ridge with Grandad Alan.

Who missed out on this day?

Who missed out on this day?

So over the last two months, I have had days in Glencoe and on Ben Nevis, some in the Cairngorms…plus a sneaky trip to Spain. We lucked out with the weather, we had 10 days of sunshine, unseasonable hot but it ticked every single box; warm, relaxing, tiring etc etc

Rock climbing at Logie Head with Lou in November (it was after this day that we decided Spain would be a good idea….brrrrrr!)

Rock climbing at Logie Head with Lou in November (it was after this day that we decided Spain would be a good idea….brrrrrr!)

Now I am back from this trip, attention is now firmly set on this winter. I’m looking forward to all the upcoming trips with new and old clients and friends. Keep an eye out for what happens with some celebrities that I am out with in January, check out how cold I’m going to be in Noway in February and hopefully I will be climbing some nice ice routes in Scotland in March.

First day out winter climbing for Lou and I. We set off on the Message IV,6 in the Cairngorms. We had to clear a lot of snow that day!

First day out winter climbing for Lou and I. We set off on the Message IV,6 in the Cairngorms. We had to clear a lot of snow that day!

First day of work in the Cairngorms. Here is Oli on the crux of Deep Throat V,6.

First day of work in the Cairngorms. Here is Oli on the crux of Deep Throat V,6.

So in two months, I have mixed up summer climbing and winter climbing…but surely now it is only going to be winter posts. Time will tell. Currently hiding inside on a sunny day but the winds on the mountains are well over 70mph!

Back to Ben Nevis. This time with Austin to climb Number 3 Gully Buttress. A good start to the season.

Back to Ben Nevis. This time with Austin to climb Number 3 Gully Buttress. A good start to the season.

Ben Nevis was feeling very wintery in Number 2 Gully with Alan

Ben Nevis was feeling very wintery in Number 2 Gully with Alan

Ahhh warm rock and sunshine…this felt like a shock to the system! But coming back was even harder! Lou cruising above El Chorro.

Ahhh warm rock and sunshine…this felt like a shock to the system! But coming back was even harder! Lou cruising above El Chorro.