Posts tagged Sea cliff climbing
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!

South West Climbing

So I was meant to be working this week in Scotland with Sean but we had a drastic change of plan.

Not Scotland...but felt cold

Unfortunately Lou has bust her ACL and has gone home to rest and repair in Devon.  So a long story short, Sean was happy to relocate to Devon for some climbing and everyone was happy.  Turns out his elderly mother only live 20 minutes away from Lou's mother so we all had somewhere to stay!  Love it when a plan comes together!

Amazing granite to climb on

So Sean and I headed out into a pretty unsavory forecast to Torbay.  For our first day and managed 2.5 routes before heading off to the local climbing wall to hide from the rain.

A big boot/rucksack to exit the crag

The next few days looked much nicer by Lands End so we opted for 3 days climbing down there.  We booked a B&B and Lou came along to get some fresh air whilst resting her leg for 3 days.

We had a brilliant day climbing some classic at Bosigran in a very strong wind.  The sun was out and the rock was superb.

What a place this is

Our third day we climbed at Chair Ladder which was pretty exciting getting onto our first route with the fast approaching tide.  Again it was sunny and super windy.  This kind of weather that you notice when you get home....zzzzzzz

Happy to be a pitch above the sea

Day four was a write off... I couldn't persuade Sean to go climbing in the rain so we drove back to our homes ready for a day on the Moors for our final day.

Sean found the wrap-around jug

Dewerstone.  I'd quite fancied going here.  There were some brilliant routes, right up Sean's street and they were totally dry.  We did 4 routes there and they were all ace.  

Happy to tick a classic of the crag

Again, I was pretty inspired by the climbing down there and super keen to go back down to Devon for some more climbing in the future.  I think I will arrange some trips soon so let me know if you are keen.

Mega VD scenes

This had a spicy top pitch...good ol' Patey route. 

Mega VS...very good route

Back home in Scotland now.  Found a bird in the chimney so needed to get up there to cover it up with wire...all good fun!

Skye peaks and rock
Andy standing back as Ryan gets to grips with the damp rock

It feel like my spring time on Skye has come to an end very quickly.  I think it has just passed in a blink of an eye in the amazing weather we had in the last couple of weeks.  This weekend has marked the last Skye work for me this season and it was great to finish it working with Andy and his colleague Ryan.

Andy trying to push over boulders
Andy sharing his extensive knowledge of the local area....mist, mist and more mist
Ryan has recently jumped on the Munro bandwagon and as he has no climbing experience, he was keen for some able hands to take him up.  Andy, who has completed the munro's twice, was keen to come along for a day out and follow it up with a day climbing at Elgol.

Chilling on a ledge on the Inn Pinn waiting for the team ahead
Summit, ready for abseiling
The weather was poor on Saturday but we made our way into the Cuillin and ascended Sgurr Mhiccoinnich, which was Ryan's first Cuillin peak.  We followed this up with an ascent of the In Pinn, nipping in between two groups.  With very limited vis and starting to get a little wet, we decided enough was enough and saved the other peaks for another day.

Andy cruising Jamie Jampot
Ryan couldn't join Andy and I on our second day.  Andy and I chose to have a day at Elgol and get some routes in before the rain came.  Andy was super keen for leading so it was a day where he did more leading than me...which never happens....maybe I should be paying him!?  He did a great job guiding me up Jamie Jampot (VS 4c), I then led us up PickPocket (E15b) and then Andy did a brilliant lead on Hairy Mary (HVS 4b), a route which has been on his radar for quite a while.  A top effort by Andy and great for him to get it ticked off.  Unfortunately the rain set in and we called it a day but all in all, a good couple of days.  Cheers fellas!
Andy cruising Hairy Mary

A brilliant route, a must do at Elgol

Happy with his lead...first climbing day of the summer for Andy.
Summer in Wales and BMG Summer Test
It has been a great summer for me and all the hard work has paid off.  I spent the 4 weeks after India, in the mountains of Snowdonia.  I was climbing, mountaineering and getting to know the place as best I could.  My final week there I was assessed as part of the IFMGA Guide Scheme and happy to report that I passed this first step.  A massive thanks goes out to my clients I had this season, all the other candidates on the scheme and all my climbing partners and those willing to come out on the wettest of days.  Couldn't have done it without you!  Now I can look forward to the winter aspect of the British Guides Scheme, another training course followed by a 6 day assessment!  Is it winter yet?

Great weather in Ogwen

Dave on Gambit Climb

Dave on Tryfan

Dave doing his thing

Client Sean scrambling in Ogwen

Evening cragging on the Slate quarries

Evening cragging on the Great Orme

More routes at Gogarth

Essential post climbing analysis

BMG assessor Graham Ettle at Gogarth

Sunshine and sea at Gogarth

Jack leading on the Guides assesment

Evening cragging

My teaching day on my guides test (Photo credit:Steve Long)

Island hopping - Pabbay, St Kilda and Lewis
Corpach basin to the Isle of Eriskey via the Sound of Mull.  Eriskey to Castlebay, Castlebay to Pabbay, 3 days on Pabbay, Pabbay to Eriskey, Eriskey to St Kilda, 2 days spent here exploring on Hirta and some went sea kayaking.  We sailed around Boreray, Stac Lee and Stac an Armin (we didnt climb the stacks, far too many birds) before heading up to the Flannen Isles, on to North Rona and finally back to Stornoway where we moored up and stayed put for 4 days, enjoying the brilliant music festival.  As a bit of a multi activity trip, we manage climbing, sea kayaking, swimming, walking, island culture, bird watching, fishing (we caught some whoppers), dolphin and whale spotting, calm seas, rough seas, all kinds of weather, fantastic hospitality on the islands.  The highlights for me were getting back onto Pabbay for a few routes, arriving at St Kilda and spending 4 days on Lewis and Harris climbing walking and sampling the local gin.  A great trip and there will be many more to come.  If you want to do something similar then let me know!

A sunny summer update
Heading up onto Sgurr Alasdair
The past month seems to have flown by, I suspect it has something to do with the fact the weather has been so good and I have been so busy.  I we flick back to my last post where I was on Skye in the sunshine, this post picks up from there.  I stayed on Skye and worked with Nick Carter and we took 8 keen walkers onto the South End of the Cuillin.  We could tell the weather was on the turn from last week but we had a dry day with some great views and good craic.  I was working for Moran Mountain.
Heading down
Girl Power on the Cuillin
Good view on the Pinn
The next week started with a 4 day Munro course for West Coast Mountain Guides and this time I was working with Ken Applegate.  The weekend saw the change of the weather and this week we didn't get a view from any summit.  Despite poor conditions, we all dug deep and completed all the Munro's on the Cuillin, spurred on by some enthusiastic members of the group.  Our final decent marked the end of my two weeks on the misty Isle.  I packed up, fixed up and made my way south to Wales.
Digging deep!
More learning for me!
So as I arrived in Wales on Sunday, I went straight to the sea cliffs of Gogarth and climbed 4 routes to shake off my mountaineering legs and get the forearms working.  The following 4 days were spent on my second training course in my advance to become a BMG based at Plas Y Brenin.  We worked with Martin Chester and a host of local Guides to develop our personal skills, our coaching processes and looked into the psychology of guiding which was very interesting.  We had guest speakers and a great deal of input from everyone involved.

Getting 'Chestered'

Assessment prep
High on Idwal Slabs
After the 'Rock 2' course I was straight into work with regular client and all round good guy Sean.  Luck was on our side.  The weather was to hold.  The mountains were dry, a nice cool breeze and we both had heaps of enthusiasm.  Day one we had a great day linking up five classic scrambles in Ogwen.  Day two we we did a couple of laps on the East face of Tryfan, one up and down in the dry and another up and down in the rain.  But 4 great routes.  Our final day was bone dry again so we romped into Ampitheatre Buttress on Creig yr Ysfa and took pole positions.  This was a fantastic finale to a brilliant 3 days.  I'm not sure how much mileage we made but everyday was oozing with fantastic climbing and locations.

Cneifion Arete
A busy Tryfan
Getting rays on Ampetheretre Buttress
Great Alpine prep
After 3 days of work I have just come back from 5 days of personal climbing around North Wales with a whole host of friends.  I was super keen for some mileage, so I climbed at 7 different crags in Llanberis Pass, had a day at Clogwyn Bu'r Arddu (Cloggy) and a day at Rhoscolyn.  Its been such a good week and currently on my way back to Scotland via the Lakes for a couple of days.
Amazing weather at Cloggy

Kev engrosed

The final top out

I think this summer is going to be great!
Setting up for the summer
They might be small but The Lake District has excellent crags and mountains
With my planned winter work well out of the way I'm now looking forward to the transition into the summer season.  With winter still stubborn in the mountains I will still be carrying axes and crampons on some of my objectives.  No light weight summer bag just yet.  I have been looking forward to 2016 I turn 30.  As do several of my friends and between two birthday weekends last month, one at a beer festival in Stuttgart and a surprise party down south, I have been trying to regain some rock climbing fitness, see friends and family and do a little exploring.  Whilst being in the Lakes we managed to get some days climbing at St. Bee's, Langdale, Borrowdale and near Thirlmere.  The nice weather has been surrounded with wet days so I have made use of The Ice Factor, Kendal Wall, Keswick Wall and Ratho.  Unfortunately, I'm weak as a kitten after winter.  The new wall opening in Fort William might help build up a little strength for the coming climbing projects this summer.
Can't go to a German beer festival without wearing a Leiderhosen and drinking a few Steins
Another course done, another signature in the book
Whilst in the Lakes, I embarked onto my first training course (after the inductions) to become a IFMGA Mountain Guide.  The course, Rock One Training, focussed on all aspects of British summer mountain guiding.  It was a great week with a wide range of fellow candidates, some with instructing and guiding backgrounds and some new to the concept of managing and guiding novices.  I have been asked to write a course report on the week which will be put on the new British Mountain Guide website soon so feel free to have a read.
Mountain cragging on Pavey Ark
We had fantastic weather

The milestone of turning the big 30 this year will be marked with some interesting climbing trips with friends, family and clients, both old and new.  I hope we all have dry rock and full chalk bags.  I left my camera up north so only have a couple of picture of my phone.

Bouldering ayt St Bee's whilst the crag dried
We were pretty lucky with the weather
Got very close to this little fella

Sea cliffs, sea stacks, mountains, dolphins and the Royal Navy
An you name the peaks (Clue...Suilven is there)
The last few days I have been fortunate enough to be involved in a great trip around the North and West Coast of Scotland.  Unfortunately we were unable to climb any of the cliffs, stacks or mountains due to a tight schedule.  We started in Orkney and followed the North Coast passing the Old Man of Hoy, around Cape Wrath, past Am Buachaille and the Old Man of Stoer.  Here the summits of the NW Highlands came into view before we made our way around Skye, around Ardnamurchan Point, into Oban before finishing our trip in Kinlochleven.

The aim of the trip was mostly a maintenance trip but also as a recce trip.  The vessle is an ex-fishing boat which is being converted into a passenger boat.  The beauty with this boat is that it can withstand very rough seas and pretty much go anywhere so when it is fully converted we will be running trips to St Kilda, the outer and inner fact anywhere on Scotland's coastline.  Watch this space if you like climbing, hill walking, bird watching, sea kayaking, island hopping and being on the water!

Tanker meets destroyer

Dolphins leading the way

Got my sea legs

Loch Leven...a stunning glen.

Isle of Lewis
Our camp site view 
Impressive coastline
Originally we planned a 6/7 day trip to the island but given the way our summer has gone we knew the this would be an optimistic itinerary.  With Uisdean's van and my tent, we agreed that if it was very wet then we would head back to the mainland (so I didn't get wet and uncomfortable) to find some alternative plans.  Our plan to visit Lewis developed quite a while ago however as the trip approached the weather was looking doubtful.  Fortunately we were given a break and it looked as if we could climb for the first 4 days at least.  By no means 'stella', but we went for it anyway.
Cold but we could still climb
We left Glen Elg at 3am, took the 5am ferry from Uig on the Isle of Skye and arrived at Tarbet at 7am.  Admittedly quite tired but we drove on to our chosen destination.  Given the 'long isle' of Harris and Lewis comprises the largest of all the Scottish islands it was over an hour before we arrived at Uig Sands campsite, idyllic and perfectly located for some of the best sea cliffs on the island.  Tent was erected then, Uisdean slept in his van and I got 3 hours in the tent before we geared up, had some breakfast and headed to the crags.
Me on Painted Wall
We headed to The Painted Wall, a easy 3 minute walk in to an array of quality routes on the eponymous Lewisian gneiss.  We started off on a nice 2 pitch E1 5b called Triton***, accessed by abseil which gave nice climbing above the water at low tide.  From here we abseiled into the main area of The Painted Wall.  It was my lead so I couldn't turn down the 4* E4 5c called...The Painted Wall, a superb route on great rock.  Best E4 I have done this year for sure.  After this Uisdean cruised up another brilliant route called Dauntless E5 6a *** which certainly built the pump up into our forearms, sensational climbing again.  After a quick bagel, we abseiled back in and I led up The Dreaded Dram, a 3* E4 5c which again, was brilliant climbing and pretty spaced protection.  Another great route!  A good start.

Me seconding Dauntless.  Uisdean's foot in for a photo bomb!
The Dreaded Dram
Day two was dawned with drizzle and cloud.  Our plan was to climb the spectacular exposed diagonal line of the Prozac Link but after we abseiled in we found damp and 'smeggy' rock.  Lets save it for another day.  So to get back out we climbed a VDiff called 'If All Else Fails' followed by 'It's Raining Rocks' E3 6a just before the weather closed in.  We bailed and opted for a spot of sight seeing instead.
One of the many abseils.  Prozac Link is the wall behind me.
The morning of day 3 was the same, damp and overcast.  As the day went on it was dry enough to climb (between showers).  We went to the stunning Dalbeg beach and onto Dalbeg Buttress.  Given that it was my lead, I stupidly jumped on the stunning 4* crack line of Limpet Crack E3 5c.  Given it was a little greasy and damp I got utterly 'flash pumped' and had to sit on the rope to allow my arms to recover before continuing onto the top.  My advice, warm up on the E2!  Uisdean then forged a path up the amazing 3* Tweetie Pie Slalom E5 6a which was stunning and a great lead by the youth.  We were both feeling a wee bit tired so I finished off on the excellent 4* E2 5c called Neptune up the right side of the crag.  Probably in the top five E2's I have ever done.
Limpet Crack
Tweetie Pie Slalom
A beautiful little bothie
We had got intelligence from our source that Thursday was to be the best weather.  This meant The Prozac Link.  We didn't want to make the same mistake so we went and climbed a route called Moscow Mule, a 2* HVS 5b which we both agreed was more like E3/4 5c.  Desperate.  Anyway, as this took ages to climb it gave ample time for the PL to dry.  The sea was calm, the wind was gentle and the sky was blue.  Everything was perfect.  Off we went, every pitch was brilliant, this turned out to be the best E4 I have climbed....ever!  Exposed, impressive, perfect rock, adequate protection and on a deserted cliff.  These 2,900 million year old weathered cliffs certainly provide some of the best rock climbing in the country.  Cant wait to get back.

Sun at last

Topping out on Moscow Mule.
Uisdean on the 1st pitch of The Prozac Link
1st pitch of PL
2nd pitch - brilliant
End of the second pitch
We timed it perfectly, as we reached the top, the heavens opened which marked the end of the climbing for us on the island, the weather deteriorated and we headed back to the mainland the following day...after a good few beers, games of pool and a couple of rounds of darts in Tarbet.  A great wee trip, back to work this week working on a Summer Mountain Leader Training.

Bath time!
North Wales and Ardnamurchan

Last week I had a quick hit in North Wales to get some mileage on the rock. This spring/summer has been very wet and I have struggled to get much mileage on my days off. Days in Llanberis Pass, Tremadog, Gogarth, The Orm and Devils Gorge meant a great few days climbing, getting pumped and hanging out with some cool people. Back to work today and I was out with Alan (also a cool person) again who was keen to kick start his rock season, find out what level he is at compared with last year. We went out to Ardnamurchan ring crags and climbed 9 pitches from upto HVS. There was blood, sweat and dehydration but still a great day on a brilliant crag. Big Al and Ruraidh were there too with Nathan so a good sociable day but none of them are as cool as Alan and I...obviously!