Posts in Rock and Ridges
Eiger Prep week

On the 7th July I started an Eiger Prep week for the two Andrews whilst working for Frost Guiding. This was to be the third attempt for Andrew on the Mittellegi Ridge of the EIger so I wanted to make sure they were fighting fit, acclimated and moving well over mixed terrain. With 6 days to play with, I wanted to mix things up as much as possible, a week of fantastic climbing and cross-training.

So on our first day we dodged the thunderstorms and made a quick ascent of the Jegihorn via Alpendurst. En exercise in rock climbing in big boots which got the guys tuned in to precise climbing. Day 2 and 3 we made our way into the Vignettes Hut for an ascent of L’Eveque (The Bishop). A brilliant AD ridge with plenty of interesting glacier to negotiate. Another brilliant peak below 4000m.

Days 4 - 6 we based ourselves at the Wiessmies hutte, brilliant location, great staff and really good food. We climbed the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn, the Fletchorn and the Jegihorn Via Ferrata.

So a satisfying week with plenty of ground covered to prep for the EIger. I said my farewells and the weather looked promising for their ascent in a few days time. Unfortunately, the weather did turn and they had to go for plan B. Maybe next time. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out.

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!

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!

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.

Autumn in Scotland, remembering why I live here.
Rays of light on Rannoch Mor

Rays of light on Rannoch Mor

I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for an Indian Summer but despite the rainy days, we have still managed to get into the hills and stay dry. Since returning from the Alps there has been plenty of down time to readjust to being at home, catch up with various tasks and start planning for the upcoming winter.

Amongst all the ‘admin’ of life, I’ve managed a few days on the hills with clients as well on personal trips. Although I haven’t been out rock climbing personally, we have been walking some of the Munro’s (perfect for Lou’s ACL surgery rehab).

Very windy on Ben Vorlich above Loch Earn.  Happy to be in the hills despite a slight limp.

Very windy on Ben Vorlich above Loch Earn. Happy to be in the hills despite a slight limp.

I have been out with Alan and his son Austin on a few occasions since I have been home. Living locally, we are able to pic out the good days and make the most of them.

Given that Alan has done most 3*** mountaineering routes, we sought out the lesser travelled ones. We started off on the ‘Chasm to Crowberry Tower Traverse’ which traversed up through some amazing terrain and took us into some complex ground but most importantly, on that day, was tucked out of the high winds.

Back to the car…the Buachaille behind us and the weather was kind

Back to the car…the Buachaille behind us and the weather was kind

Up next was North East Buttress on Ben Nevis. Alan and I have climbed this before and Alan had also do it many years previous also, however Austin had never been up. This marked the completion of all the ‘Classic Ben Nevis Ridges’ for Austin. As we made good time in slightly sub-optimal conditions (ice in the 40ft corner), we descended ledge route which was below the cloud.

Low down on North East Buttress, Ben Nevis

Low down on North East Buttress, Ben Nevis

Happily at the top of the 40ft Corner, North East Buttress, Ben Nevis

Happily at the top of the 40ft Corner, North East Buttress, Ben Nevis

Most recently we were back onto Buachaille Etive Mor. This time our objective was climbed by myself and Alan only back in May but we enjoyed it so much that we thought it would be a good option for Austin and also we were relatively sheltered from the strong westerlies. So we made a start up Curved Ridge before breaking off to the base of Crowberry ridge. The strong gusts were only slightly off putting, they were strong but fortunately infrequent so we pressed on to find that the ridge remained relatively sheltered and made for an incredibly dry ascent.

Airy moves on Crowberry Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe

Airy moves on Crowberry Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe