Posts tagged Glen Nevis
Strength and conditioning in the mountains

Alan wrapped up warm on a very cold day

Unfortunately no scientific research has gone on here, just the classic 'the best way to train for the mountains is to go to the mountains'.  That's the approach I take and also the approach Alan takes and at seems to be working ok. 

So we have had a good couple of days.  The aim is to get a bit of practice and fitness in for an upcoming Cuillin Ridge traverse attempt.  Possibly a 'one dayer' but with recent illness Alan has lost a wee bit of stamina.  Still a few weeks to go so we shall see.

Best way to tackle this in the winds we were experiencing

Balancy climbing on Crowberry Ridge

A welcome ledge in prep for some airy climbing

So we headed up North Buttress on Stob Ban (Grade III) for a bit of shelter from the very cold wind.  With fresh snow on the tops it was a bit of a 'hoods up and go'.  Wind was howling over the tops and as it was Alan first day out for a while, and not wanting to over do it, we headed down the North ridge.


After the weekend we teamed up again and the sun was shining and the breeze was light.  We basked in the sun on Crowberry Ridge, surmounted the Tower and during our lunch break we opted for a descent of Curved Ridge to get used to scrambling down again.  Alan certainly is capable of a moving well over the Cuillin Ridge so looking forward to making an attempt with him.

Great exposure on a brilliant route

Back to Scotland
It was cooold!!  
Brilliant situations
After what feels like a decade away, I have nipped back to Scotland for a few days.  Around catching up with friends, I squeezed in a couple of days work on the 'home turf'.   First off, yesterday, I was out with Alan, originally we chatted about some esoterica on Ben Nevis, but most of the routes we have left to do are pretty short, will take a lot of walking to get too and will be pretty slimey.  Given that there had been substantial rain recently, we opted for a wander up Tower Ridge, which never disappoints.  Alan is celebrating his 70th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary so we quit while we were ahead and took the easy option down, he didnt want to be limping around the dancefloor.
Glad to be back in Lochaber
The cloud cleared on the top

Today, a somewhat unsavoury day of weather with Helen, Scrambling on Ben Nevis was aborted by strong winds and rain so we settled for some big boot climbing in Glen Nevis.  Which provided us with some great sport.

Excellent summer or luck of the draw?
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!?
Back in Scotland
Perfect conditions in Glen Nevis
After a little time away from Scotland I was glad to get back and find some relatively settled weather.  Enough to get out climbing before the work season starts.  On my way back to Fort William I headed over East to climb at Weem Rock which is a fantastic sport climbing crag with a nice variety of styles.  Weather stopped play the following day so a day at Ratho was in order which is always brilliant fun.  Once arriving back in Fort William I managed to climb in Glen Nevis twice, Creag Dubh twice, had a day in the brilliant new Three Wise Monkeys climbing wall and also a day climbing on the Buachaille.  I'm ready for a busy summer of new clients, Cuillin Ridge and further afield.

Climbing on the Buachaille



The wind changed direction and soaked our route after we climbed it

Kenny running up Engineers Crack
Good weather round up
If you have been in Scotland in the last few weeks you will know it has been the place to be.  Blue skies, no wind and views as far as the eye can see.  With such amazing weather I have kept away from the computer so here is a very quick round up of the last couple of weeks since the 'weekend warriors'.  We have had a pretty good haul of route's, even went rock climbing to kick of the rock season.
First off was The Curtain (IV,5) with Alan, a gentleman's day out.  Then I was out with John on Observatory Buttress (V,4) on Ben Nevis, Twisting Gully (III) on Stob Coire Nan Lochain, followed by 3 days in the Cairngorms; Aladdins Mirror Direct (IV,4), Pygmy Ridge (IV,5) and a hill day over to Ben Macdui, followed by a 'follow my nose' day to finish off before heading back to the West.  Then I had another day out with Alan on Ben Nevis where we climbed Indicator Wall (V,4) and the following day I was out with John and we climbed Indicator RH (V,5).  Both were brilliant routes which I had never done before.  Well worth the walk!  We saw a team on Smiths Route (V,5) and that was enough to get John psyched for it.  The next day we took the walk and climbed this brilliant route.  Top end grade 5 I think and John lapped up the lactic acid!  After a good few days on ice we opted a day on Tower Ridge (IV,3), a super classic and it was in beautiful alpine conditions.  I ended up with a rest day so I put rock shoes on for the first time in months and climbed in Glen Nevis in the sunshine which was brilliant.  It was so good that I persuaded John to come climbing there the next day too rather than having a big mountain day.  We had a great time ticking off some more Glen Nevis classics I have never done.  Today, we went back to the Ben and climbed Hadrian's Wall (V,5) which was brilliant conditions but a very wet day indeed.  Here is a selection of photos from some of the days.
We had this view for many days

Indicator Wall

Great week to be in the mountains

A special summit

John leading to Ben Macdui

Cruising around the Northern Corries

Climbers on Smiths route

High on Indicator Wall

Alan hanging out

Summit belay

John high on Indicator RH

Number 4 Gully

John on the Eastern bombed by a foot!

Autumn catch up
It has been a wee while since I have had a sit down to write a wee update, which is great as it has been such an action packed few weeks.  I guess the brilliant weather has helped.  Fortunately I haven't had to travel around too much as the rock has been dry and work has been local.  A couple of visits to Brin Rock and Tunnel Wall helped kick of Sport Climbing season, given that I haven't had a great summer of rock climbing, I felt I was doing ok.  Really enjoyed the routes I tried.  Really pleased to climb Uncertain Emotions in Glencoe after a couple of visits.  I also made the most of some nice days with cragging at Creag Dubh, bouldering at the Skeleton Boulder in Glen Nevis and mountain biking at Wolftrax  before work kicked in.  I have just finished my 3rd week working at the Joint Services Mountain Training Centre in Ballachulish (the military version of Plas y Brenin and Glenmore Lodge).  I have been working on a host of instructor training courses, two weeks of rock climbing instructor training and assessments and a week of Mountain Leader Training.  We visited a whole host of single pitch climbing venues, some with a lengthy drives but worth it for the dry rock and the climbing.  Its been great working Monday to Friday 8am-5pm, feels like a 'real job' with time to spare and weekends to catch up with folk.  With an upcoming trip away sport climbing on the Greek Island of Kalymnos I have been trying hard to build some fitness to get the most of the trip.  So a few trips to Ratho (best indoor wall in Scotland...if not the UK!) and mid week bouldering have been doing the trick.  This week I am working on Mountain Leader Assessment so will be out on the hills for the week which will be great, before flying out at the weekend.   I'm hoping that when I return at the start of December I will be straight into winter climbing so watch this space.
Brin (Zed Buttress) with Mhairi and Murdoch

Good views in Glen Nevis (above Skeleton Boulder)

Creag Dubh...beaut day!

Kingussie Rock training

Group abseil

Setting up climbing at Glen Nevis

Team at Kingussie

Where is the Loch?

Inversion on the Buachaille

Mountain Leader ropework

Walking out of the Buachaille

Good navigation training in Glencoe

Dream team loving learning new skills

Training at Dave Mac's wall
Jersey Brain Tumor team
I have just finished off 4 days working with Eric, Elsa, William and Gary.  The purpose of this trip was to raise money for the Jersey Brain Tumour Charity.  This is a charity which is especially close to Gary's heart as he had undergone surgery last year to have a tumor removed.  This trip has shown Gary that he is still fit and able, they have raised thousands of pounds and had a great challenge along the way.  The main plan was to summit Ben Nevis.  Day one we headed up the zig-zags on Gearr Aonach then continued onto Stob Coire nan Lochain.  This was a great round and good introduction to scrambling and mountains, especially for the younger two.
Day two we headed up Ledge route on Ben Nevis in less than ideal conditions and reached the summit, not quite a beautiful day but at least the team did what they came to do.  A brilliant effort from them all.
Day three we headed into Glen Nevis for half a day navigation and half a day rock climbing and today we had a mass ascent of Curved Ridge in a combination of sunshine and showers followed by round of drinks in the Clachaig Inn.

Glen Nevis midge and rain avoidance
To be honest, it felt like we were fighting a loosing battle today. However persistence and optimism paid off. Andy fancied a day out rock climbing as he has had little mileage since winter. Looking at the forecast, there was a reasonable chance it would work out on the West Coast. We started off on Secretaries (S) and the Super Direct (HVS) before heading back down to Storm. Storm turned out to be too midgie as the wind stopped so we headed up the gorge to find a breeze. Standing below Plague of Blazes it started to rain so we nipped round to All Our Yesterdays to find shelter from the rain...turned out to be sheltered from the wind...super midge! So loosing the battle we headed back down the Glen and to our delight things started to clear and become breezy. I suggested we travel light and we climbed Pinnacle Ridge (S), Andy led Resurrection (VS), I led Damnation (VS) then we finished our day on Storm (HVS) with Andy leading the middle pitch. A brilliant effort, the crux pitch was just a wee bit pumpy for Andy but made it up after a quick rest. A brilliant day, 6 routes, several midge bites, one tick and lots of laughs. A great day at work. Great to see some others out climbing. Andy H and Dave A on Scimitar Ridge and several Outward Bound teams dotted about.

Rock climbing season has started!
All this sun and we chose the shade (what were we thinking!?)

Really glad to have a day off as the weather was fantastic.  Blue skies, cold and crisp.  I had to be in Skye later this evening so we made a quick dash to Glen Nevis.  Blair and I wandered up to Wave Buttress for a few routes but found the crag to be pretty damp.  Instead we went up to Spreadeagle buttress and found dryish, just climbable, rock in the form of Slip Away (E3 6a) and The Singing Ringing Tree (E5 6a).  Unfortunately this crag was in the shade and was freezing so took a few ups and downs to get warmed up before being able to climb the desperate crux which nearly saw both Blair and I fall off!  Fortunately not though.  Slip away was a much nicer proposition, didn't feel quite as cruxy so was really pleasant for me to follow.  From here we thought we would do Crack Attack (E3 6a) on Wave Buttress but with other climbers on and time running out I nipped up First Wave (E1 5c) which I hadnt done and is a brilliant E1.  Well worth a visit.  Skye is calling and it looks like a wild weekend!
Blair doing his E5 magic

Great climbing
Glen Nevis
An opportunity to snatch a day rock climbing before I start the next 'mega' stint of work was too good to miss.  The forecast was dry and clear.  What I didn't expect was the was freezing...must keep moving!  I had 3 climbing partners today, all only available to do a few hours throughout the day.  Kenny and I started off on Vincent (E3 5c) which I led as Kenny has done it a few times before.  The Ewan joined us and I led Diode (E2 5c), Kenny then made a dash for home so Ewan and I climbed Slatehead Slab (E2 5c) which was good but a little dirty...not much traffic for a while I think.  We then went to Blacks Crag and I tried the bold Land Ahoy (E3 5b) but got scared with the lack of gear so traversed onto Shergar (HVS) and finished up that.  Ewans time to leave now so I met up with Graham for a quick burn on The Web (E2 5c) and then over to After Crag and Graham led Rubberface (E1 5b)...or some choss to the right of it...So all in all a great day, Last year I hardly climbed here and wish I had more time to climb all the routes.  Off to Skye now for a month, hopefully it will be sunny and I'll take some pictures!