Posts tagged Skye
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!

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.
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.

Skye Wall and Stairway to Heaven
Boat in, climb out.

Life as a guide take me all over the country and abroad so I have to make early plans if I want to see friends and go climbing.  So months ago, Murdoch and I planned and hoped we could get out climbing.  The weekend finally came round and surprise! suprise!  the weather was perfect.  We could do anything and not get bothered by seepage, rain or midgies.  As always, Murdoch has a plan but we finally agreed on going up to Blaven to climb Stairway to Heaven (E5 6a) on Day one.  Yes it's in the shade but a very interesting route with a very 'adventurous' feel to it.  We bumped into Donald on the drive down so he joined in for some laughter on the belays...not so funny when Murdoch accidentally pissed on us from his belay! :(
Stairway to Heaven has a crux traverse with not a great deal of gear.  With a massive swing potential and a very high risk of both our ropes being chopped we opted for a back rope which made it slightly more comfortable.  Maybe a route best done in a pair rather than a 3!
The view from the crag

Day two was one we had been looking forward to for a while.  Murdoch wanted to climb Dave Birketts Skye Wall (E7/8 6b/c).  Fortunately with this route, it is a plumb line so if I fell off at least im not going to swing.  Donald came along also to help with carrying some kit, some rigging and took some photos.  The rest was up to Murdoch.  And unsurprisingly, he made quick work of it.  Making it look quite easy, not even needing a shake out.  A truly stunning piece of rock on immaculate gabbro made some a superb route in a superb location.  It was a privilege to climb it with Murdoch as I know he had wanted to do it for quite a while.  Just for record, I did shake out on it...I even did some 2 handed shaking out!  We travelled in on the boat from Elgol and returned to Glen Brittle via An Dorus.  A long but brilliant day.
Me seconding the 1st Pitch (E6 6b).  Photo:Donald King

On another note, huge admiration to Caff (James Mchaffie) who on-sighted it!
Murdoch cruising the main pitch (E7 6b/c).  Photo:Donald King
Skye Delight
Brian getting to grip on day 1
Looking towards our next objective
After a mixed season of winter climbing and skiing, this week has been a dream come true.  I have been based up in Lochcarron heading things up for Moran Mountain as Martin is away in the Himalayas.  I was teamed up with Brian who was hungry for a Cuillin Ridge traverse as his attempt 2 years ago was thwarted by foul weather.  His luck came in tenfold this week.
Mighty fine
Brian and his ascent route
Our first day was a training day, an opportunity to practice the crucial skills for the Ridge so we climbed Pinnacle Ridges and traversed over Am Basteir and abseiled down the tooth.  Everything was bone dry, the views were far and wide and this was the 'worst weather' of the week!

Day two we had a slightly restful day rock climbing in Applecross before an evening of lectures and packing before we headed back to Skye.

Day 3+4 we made our traverse.

And we are off!

Moving well over the Southern End
Into the mid section.  TD Gap and In Pinn done.



Another hour to go!

Perfect ridge scrambling

Mint evening

The view from the bivi after I had done my water run
Brian feeling 'awesome'.  The overused word that we used now and again.

  We walked up from Glen Brittle and agreed that we wanted to do all the Munro's and all the technical sections of the ridge,  have a big first day and a shorter second day in tie for lunch and beers at the Slig.  Our first day was 11 hours in which we arrived at Bealach na Glaic Moire for a stunning sunset and a brilliant bivi.  An early start saw us on our final Munro, Sgurr nan Gillean at 1pm before we ran down to the pub for 3 well earned pints.
Evening sunset
Day 2 objective

Scotland is special

Top of Am Bastier i think...

Done and dusted!  Well done Brian!  

Our final day of the course we teamed up with Jeannie who was on the rock climbing course.  We all climbed at Stone Valley crag on immaculate gneiss.  It was a good rest for the legs and a good opportunity for Brian to see what all the fuss with rock climbing is all about.
Jeannie on the sharp end

Jeannie cruising some 3 star classics

Brian in the zone

Brian trying hard

Jeannie seconding the HVS

Superb week with great company and a pleasure to be working with a great team - Robin and Kev for Moran Mountain.
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!?
Exploring with the three amigos
Sam top of his tricky pitch.  Castle Ridge

Ade finished on the Clach Glas Traverse
The time had came around.  Sam, Katya and Ade were here for another instalment of the winter.  'Mid january would be fine' I said, 'there will be enough snow' I promised.  I was wrong and I'm sure I was not the only one.  Fortunately Sam, Katya and Ade just love being in the mountains so there was no need to cancel or reschedule.  Out of 3, we had two days in summer conditions, our final day gave a wintery ascent of Castle Ridge (III).
Katya belays on the final pitch on Clach Glas Blaven Traverse

Katya leads up the final pitch on CGB Traverse

View from the summit of Blaven, Skye
With a pretty flexible itinerary throughout, one objective was mentioned and that was of Tower Ridge.  In an ideal world I would have liked to do this on the 2nd or 3rd day but due to weather and weekend crowd avoidance, we opted for the friday.  With a Cuillin Ridge Traverse, multiple days in Torridon, a An Teallach traverse and several days in Glencoe and Ben Nevis all under our belts together, it was obvious that Tower Ridge would go with no problems.
Team shot on Castle Ridge

Summit of Blaven

Top of Tower Ridge

Sam and Katya on the start of Tower Ridge

The team on Tower Ridge

Sam belays Katya on CGB Traverse
We had the ridge to ourselves.  Sam and Katya climbed on a rope and Ade and I were on a separate line.  I led the way and they followed safely and carefully for a great day out on the ridge.  We topped out in glorious weather which I shall let the photos do the talking.
Views from Ben Nevis

Katya belays on Tower Ridge
Day two, Saturday, we went to Skye.  An early start, 2 hour drive and a brilliant 8 hour (car to car) day on the Clach Glas Blaven traverse.  Again the weather was fantastic.  We (ahem...I mean me) managed to pick the only mountain in Scotland which was covered in cloud (gulp) but fortunately as we climbed the cloud lifted so our views were never blocked.  We had the ridge to ourselves and as always the scrambling was fantastic.
The only cloud in Scotland on Blaven
Team on the top of Tower Ridge

Team in the gap
Day 3, a 7 hour day, car to car on Castle Ridge.  Our first taste of winter this trip and Katya and Sam, like the previous two days, safe guarded themselves and made the ascent on their own rope.  A great effort by both Sam and Katya who both had a tricky pitch.  Top job.  Ade and I cruised up ahead finding the route and hurling advice (and some banter) as we climbed.  Today was a snow day, unconsolidated snow....but still snow.  Thanks team for a great 3 days.

Ade, Katya and Sam on Castle ridge

Ade on the Crux.  Plenty of runners for Katya to clip on her lead
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!?
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!
Back to Skye
First peak - going to be a good week
Approaching the top of Sgurr Alasdair
Having had a few brilliant days on Skye this winter I have been really keen to get back on the hills once all the snow had gone.  This week I have had a nice gentle introduction to the season with a Munro course for West Coast Mountain Guides.  4 days, 11 Munro's, not a raindrop.  It was too easy this week.  We completed our task with a fantastic group of very able members.  The transition from hill walkers to mountaineers through the week was evident as all member picked up heaps of confidence as the week went on and were moving over technical ground very efficiently.


Ascending out of Coire Lagan - the easy way!

Pinn day!

Top team!

Foot soak at the end of 3 Munro's

Day 3 and look at the weather!

Day 4 we had some snow on the North end