Posts tagged Ben Nevis
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!

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.

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

Back on Ben Nevis

Does it get much better for mixed?

A quick hit on Ben Nevis this morning with Andy.  The main aim was to get down for 1300 for a coffee.  So with these time restrictions we opted for a quick route on or near the Douglas Boulder.

On arrival, we decided to pick a line which wasn't in the guide book.  Turns out it was called 'Watery Foul's' (V,7) which had an intense first pitch then cruisy for the following two pitches.

Andy of the first pitch

Mint

The mountain was looking stunning but reports of very slow/exhausting walking rendered the rest of the mountain unclimbed.  Teams climbed Gutless/Rutless and Cutlas on the Boulder.

Winter is getting off to a good start...Now a wee thaw to keep us on our toes.

Spot all the lines

Andy on the third pitch

Back to Scotland
Alan preparing for the unexpected
After a short stop off in the Lake District to see the family, I was itching to get back onto the hill.  I had secretly missed Ben Nevis and the great climbs there.  My regular client Alan has been recovering from a broken ankle and hand so has had very little time on the hill but we teamed up for both of us to blow away the cobwebs.  Only a top shelf route would do.  Something we hadn't done but something which wouldn't be horrendous...Ben Nevis is a great winter venue.  To be off the well trodden routes can be quite 'memorable'!

Going well for 70 years old! 
So I decided we should climb the 'Crossing of Tower Ridge' which is in the scrambles guide.  Given grade 3...aye right.  So anyway...we started up The Garradh which was 7 pitches of hard, unprotected VD climbing.  A bit of a shock to both of us as we were expecting a grade 3 scramble but it was still fun.  We topped out on the Garradh and decided to call it lunch and gave us some time to do a spot of litter picking below some of the routes...we had quite a haul.
Every footstep had to be placed with great accuracy

Our haul!
I also had a day working on Liathach with a group of 5 clients.  I was working for Torridon Adventure's and had one of their instructors along to shadow and help out which was great fun.  He did a great job.

The team on the 'easy' traverse
Since then I have been away working on a friends boat which we are converting into a passenger boat...it's a fishing trawler so it's pretty big and had some days climbing at the local crags and walls.

Great light and views
The 'youth' leading the way
Im away for the next month for some Sport climbing in Greece and Italy and will be back in mid November for, hopefully some early season mixed climbing and good winter conditions.








Cioch Nose, Cuillin Ridge Traverse, Tower Ridge, Castle Ridge and more
Sean on the Cioch Nose on Day 1
 I'm sure you're all up to speed with how brilliant the weather has been in the highlands.  Sean, who is up for 8 days of climbing in Scotland, timed it perfectly.  Kicked off with a sunny ascent of the Cioch Nose (VD)**** in Applecross.  A superb way to start the week and get his head back into big boot climbing.
With the forecast we decided to get stuck into our Cuillin Ridge Traverse (VD)**** right away.  We teamed up with my good friend Andy and his client for a sociable traverse and a great bivi.  We opted for the boat in from Elgol and Sean and I climbed all the Munro's on the main ridgeline as well as all the technical climbs except Naismith's on Am Basteir.  Success all round and a great stint in the North-West.

Andy, Ali and Sean at the 1st Munro of the ridge
Andy on the Inaccessible Pinnacle
Late evening before the bivi, a great time to be scrambling
After a day off to rest and recover from the Cuillin Ridge, we continued our 8 day stint on the West Coast based in Lochaber.
Our first day we started off on Tower Ridge (D)**** which we shared with Max and his clients.  From the summit we descended Ledge Route (Grade 2)**** ticking off two of the classic Ben Nevis Ridges.  I wonder when we will complete them all?
For a change of scenery, Sean and I headed to Glencoe for some more scrambling.  As the weather was a little mixed we opted for scrambling rather than climbing, Agag's can wait.  Instead we climbed up Broad Buttress (Grade 3)*** and descended Great Gully Buttress (grade 1/2)* for a nice round of continuous scrambling and an opportunity for Sean to do a spot of leading.

Sean seeking for the best holds
Happy as Larry (whoever Larry is?)
 With all the good weather we have had, it had to come to an end.  Sean was sold on the idea of trying ice climbing so we headed to the Ice Factor for the day for refrigerated climbing and also some rock climbing coaching to help improve Seans technique for when we climb outside.  As always in there, a day fueled by coffee and cake and enough climbing to make your arms feel like soggy, rolled up newspapers.
Always smiles when it's dry
For our final day we opted for a slightly shorter day and another classic Ben Nevis ridge.  Castle Ridge (Grade 3)*** was a good choice as it's a shorter route and Sean wasn't keen to prolong the soaking we were due as the weather came in.  Fortunately, we were through all the technical climbing before the heavens opened and as they did we opted for a quick and easy descent down the tourist route.

Sean getting techy

Brace yourself....this hill is about to get very wet!
A very successful week for Sean with the highlight being the Cuillin Ridge in great style.  With a busy summer ahead, it is great to kick off with some great weather, good company and some great climbing.  Two more Ben Nevis Ridges to do.  Right, time to have a couple of days off.

Claire and Ian have found some ice
Dream team

Claire and Ian are back for another instalment of winter.  In previous trips with me they have done the CMD arete, Ledge Route and Curved Ridge.  This time we kicked of with the Aonach Eagach which was in superb condition.  The cloud was in low but as we neared the end, it cleared for spectacular views along the ridge.  Day two we climbed Number 3 Gully Buttress on Ben Nevis which was great with a nice ice pitch at the start.  Our final day, warm and wet, didn't produce any pictures.  Despite the poor weather, we climbed North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor which was essentially a very wet experience but equally very satisfying.  Hopefully I will see them both again soon, especially and Claire has unfinished business on the Cuillin Ridge! ;)

Ian leading the way down on the Aonach Eagach


The sun is coming through!

Glencoe at its best
Claire in N3GB
Deffo wintery
 More pictures Here
3 weeks in the North West Highlands
70's club
Poacher's Fall, Salmon Leap, The Godfather, Blood, Sweat and Frozen Tears, West Buttress, Silver Tear, Mad Hatters, Penguin, Emerald, Resurrection.  Not this year, not even close.  Having just spent 3 week based in Lochcarron working for Moran Mountain I have come away to finally put my feet up.  An interesting 3 weeks for sure!
Week one I was out with Richard (71) and visiting American climber Terry (70).  With a knee strength threshold we managed to pack the week with trips to Skye, Torridon, Applecross and Glen Shiel.

Week two I was out with Julian and Nathan on the Technical Winter climber course.  With one climbing grade 4 and the other climbing E3 it was going to be a tough week of work.  Because the conditions were non existent.  Day one we climbed the Cioch Nose in the wet in big boots which was brilliant by the way.  Day two we had a technical skills day and dry tooling...it was hosing it down.  Day 3 we drove to the Cairngorms and Nathan Led Jacob Ladder (the only climbable route), day 4 we drove to Ben Nevis for Tower Ridge and Day 5 we climbed East Buttress on Beinn Eighe.  It was a great week and here is a fresh testimonial from Julian.
Julian and Nathan on Cioch Nose
Julian on Tower Ridge
East Buttress

This final week has been very different.  I was out with Abrar from Kuwait.  It was a 'spur of the moment' booking she said and I'm not sure it was what she had expected.  Having never walked up a hill or even do any sport I managed to give her a taste of as much as possible of her visit to Scotland.  I was working as a mountain guide and a tour guide.  We rock climbed, abseiled, bouldered, walked, scrambled, gully climbed and saw the sights.  Her main desire was to see Nessie but I knew we wouldn't get a sighting this year so instead we went to the Applecross in and ate locally caught langoustines.

Day trip to Skye
Climbing on Meall Gorm


Rock climbing and abseiling

Visit to Strome Castle ruin
Between these weeks I have been back in the Cairngorms practicing for my upcoming British Mountain Guides winter test which is approaching very rapidly.

 To be honest, my camera hasn't been out much due to the weather.  Winter is back so things are looking up!

North West Magic
Sam and Nick learning what Scottish climbing is all about
Nick and Sam on the LLG route
I have been really looking forward to getting back up to Torridon this winter season to work for Moran Mountain.  With a slightly promising forecast of snow I knew we would get some winter days in.  There was a little more pressure this week as my group had flown in from Singapore to experience Scottish winter climbing.  Gulp. Those that have been up here in Scotland this season will know what means.
A view to Am Bastier

Ross and his two clients
The day before our first day the was nothing more than the odd snow patch.  No gullies to climb...just rock.  Loose, slimey rock.  So we were pleased that we had some fresh.  Day one we headed for the Ling, Lawson and Glover Route on Sail Mor.  Crampons were needed and as I have done it in summer I avoided all the really loose rock.

Robin searching for the way down

Ross and his team questing up
Day 2 was a stunning day on Skye...it doesnt get much better.  The West ridge of Gillean provided great sport in the windy and snowy conditions.
Dry tooling

Sam and Nick enjoying the views after some dry tooling
Our 3rd day was full of lectures, technical ropework and then some dry tooling so we were rested for our 4th day hit to Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis!  Well worth the drive.
Our final, the team led themselfs up the Forcan Ridge, looking at efficiency and teamwork to make a safe and slick day.
A great week and I think they are sold on Scotland!  Hopefully we will see them back again.
Nick crushing Tower Ridge

Nick doing some kind of pose!?
British Mountain Guides Winter Training
Mountain Guide Paul Warnock and fellow trainee Jack Geldard on Tower Ridge


Just finished a great week of being a client.  It was brilliant to be on the receiving end of some experienced guides and to be taught more.  Part of the process of becoming a British Mountain Guide is a winter training course where we are taught how to look after folk in winter.  Even though I work alot in the winter it was great to learn some new tricks, receive some confirmation that I was doing the right thing and also give me some prep for the assessment which I will be doing in the Alps.  We had pretty good weather for the week with two days ice climbing on Ben Nevis, a day of mountaineering on the Buachaille and 2 more days of snow craft and mountaineering back on Ben Nevis...where most of the snow was.  I enjoyed taking a break from my camera this week so only have a couple of shots.

Todays trainer Paul Warnock.  Smith's Route behind

Descending Number 3 Gully