|The start of another successful Cuillin Ridge Traverse|
Two is the magic number. In this occasion, two is the amount of times I have put on my waterproofs whilst at work since April. And I have been working in Scotland and Wales. First time was half a day in Snowdonia and the second was for half an hour on the ascent to the start of the Aonach Eagach. Now this is not to say it hasn't been raining, it has, I have managed to avoid it. Being at the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, this next week should see my waterproof usage double if not treble!
|Father and son James and John put in a great performance...|
|...and provided some great whiskey|
To kick off I had a successful traverse with John and James, the hardest part was finding water for our bivi. I ended having to drop off 300m and carry 10 litres back up hill. The weather turned the following day from clear and humid to cloudy and humid but we still made it. James was keen for a third day so we went and made a quick ascent of the Cioch.
|Highlander moment coming soon|
|Is a cow a suitable navigation feature?|
Between other spells of work and days off, I have been working with SSE. Their request was some navigation training which included evening theory sessions and practical hill days. Over the course I worked with 20 folk with different roles within the company, all with the common likely hood that they may have to walk over the lowland hills in Scotland.
|A nice change from the big hills|
|Usual Scottish conditions on the Great Ridge|
As the weather has been quite good it was nice to go out with regular Grahame. He is keen for adventurous hills and happy to move away from his usual munro bagging routes. So with his two gift vouchers he needed to redeem, we took the short ride over the Corran ferry over to Ardgour to climb the Great Ridge on Gars Bheinn. It was a fantastic climb on beautiful Gneiss, a must for any who haven't ventured here. The rock climbing here is amazing. We then ventured down into Glenfinnan, more rain dodging and more fantastic scrambling in a very peaceful location, only the noise of the steam train broke the tranquility
|Big smiles down Glenfinnan|
I have also managed to squeeze in some personal rock climbing into this time with a couple of hits down in Glen Nevis, a day climbing with the legend John Lyall at Creag Dubh and a Tunnel Wall session with Blair. With many damp evenings I have also made use of the brilliant new climbing wall in Fort William, The 3 Wise Monkeys.
|Andy enjoying some great after work conditions|
|Brain and Martin trying to decide if this was a good idea!|
Ossian's Cave. If you have ever driven through Glencoe you will have seen it, high on the hillside, a tall, dark, damp slot carved out of the North Face of Aonach Dubh. Martin had this idea bubbling over the fire for years and we organised a day out to put it to bed. Martin brought Brian along and between them, did a great job where they both dug deep. Given that neither of them have a great deal of experiance in the hills it was always gonig to be a tough objective and initially we saw it as a training day rather than to get into the cave. But with plenty of coaching we all made it to the base of the cave and I made it right inside but climbing into the cave was a few moves too far for them. We already have plans in place for a rematch next year so I hope we have some more nice weather. It felt great to climb the first ever recorded route in Glencoe
|In the cave!!|
|Realisation that the hills in Glencoe are not a walk in the park!|
The following day I was straight out for another Glencoe classic. The Aonach Eagach. This was with some members from the Connersville Walking Club. With 8 signed up for the ridge I enrolled Andy Hogarth, to help guide them along. We were also assisted by Andy Hauge, a MIA-trainee looking for some experience, who helped out making our life a lot easier.
|Cloudy but dry|
|Andy organising a wee descent|
After the Aonach Eagach, only 3 were keen for the final day on Curved Ridge. Again we were lucky and made a really nice ascent to meet the rest of the club on the summit. It was nice to see a few other teams out and about. Shame about the ropes hanging off Rannoch Wall. Looks a bit of a mess!
|Andrew, Alan and Sean|
|Getting to grips with it all now|
So after a great few weeks in the hills I can look forward to more adventures. A week on Skye, a two week boat trip out to the Western Isles and St. Kilda, 23 days in India then off to Snowdonia to prepare for one of the many assessments I have to pass to become a British Mountain Guide. Eeek it will be winter soon!?