School days

Ive not done much climbing since Bosigran but I have certainly been busy. We have finally made the move to Fort William and what a weekend to do it – the sun was splitting the sky’s! Since moving up its been full throttle with a day out re-learning multipitch rescue scenarios with Craig and Al plus an inspirational day out with Kev who made a first ascent of his new route Arrakis Taught E3/4 (5c)……..

Monday morning, 0420 the alarm is going off. Usual for a mid-winter tick but for Kev who wanted optimal rock conditions this was essential. We met up with Dave and Sean so I knew what Kev was about to attempt was going too be pretty important. As it turns out Kev didn’t go for his intended repeat of Pallor E7/8 but instead, consolidated with a superb new E3/4 up a lovely steep slab that Kev made look easy! A great day to be out and see how its done!

Read Kevs blog for a super report and impressive pictures…

Kev practising the very serious Pallor and Sean getting the angle right

Kev practising the very serious Pallor and Sean getting the angle right

Dave trying something 'sketchy'

Dave trying something ‘sketchy’

Easter Holidays – Bosigran

Cornwall - AKA Transporterland!

Cornwall – AKA Transporterland!

What a difference a few miles make in the UK. From snow falling in Scotland to truly Mediterranean weather in Cornwall I was slapping myself on the back for committing to make the journey to deepest darkest South…….

Duncan and Joe have climbed in this area extensively so for me it was great to be in point and shoot mode which was super relaxing to make hardly any decision making and just enjoy some fine climbing. We climbed a bunch of routes from VS – E2 with the pick of the bunch being Thin Wall Special, Paragon and Commando Ridge. Once initiated with climbing on granite it becomes really, really enjoyable. For most part, routes at Bosigran seem very well protected as the rock is riddled with parallel cracks and lovely flakes (take a load of small cams and wires for the harder routes). Duncan and I also made a swift evening solo of Commando Ridge whilst Joe, having done it several times, was employed as cameraman.

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Joe on the steep groove of Paragon HVS,5a

Joe on the steep groove of Paragon HVS,5a

Duncan attacking the Ofwidth on Paragon HVS,5a

Duncan attacking the Ofwidth on Paragon HVS,5a

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Joe starting up Little Brown Jug VS,5a

Joe starting up Little Brown Jug VS,5a

Anvil Chorrus 4c crack - what a delight!

Anvil Chorrus 4c crack – what a delight!

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Three Stooges

Three Stooges

The most enjoyable way to climb Bosigran Ridge. No ropes or queues just great company

The most enjoyable way to climb Bosigran Ridge. No ropes or queues just great company

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Duncan making his pilgrimage

Duncan making his pilgrimage

Me, getting scared on Visions of Johanna E1,5b

Me, getting scared on Visions of Johanna E1,5b

Duncan cruising up Thin Wall Special E1,5b

Duncan cruising up Thin Wall Special E1,5b

It seems as though luck just isn’t with me at the moment though, as I became ill and had to return to Scotland prematurely before we actually got to our intended ‘Bosigran tick list!’ I think Cornwall may just become my permanent Easter break………

Aonach Eagach

Davie always brings the 'goods'

Davie always brings the ‘goods’

Well we thought we were going to get some blue sky’s on the Aonach Eagach yesterday, instead we got a typical Scottish day out. It didn’t detract from a great day on the ridge though and with James and Davie in tow it was always going to be full of the banter. Loads of snow on the second half of the traverse but plenty of rocks about to make things quite straight forward on this pretty soggy day.

 

Steady progress along a snowy ridge

Steady progress along a snowy ridge

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Lots of hands on and little in the way of ropes or axes today, a nice way to traverse the ridge

Lots of hands on and little in the way of ropes or axes today, a nice way to traverse the ridge

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On the way home today I managed a quick jaunt up Geal-Charn, A’Mharconaich and Beinn Udlamain from the Drumochter pass. I was rushing a bit as I didn’t leave the van until 12, because of that I left the camera on the dash after picturing the Munros from the A9. Another beautiful blue sky day!

Shame the spring weather wont last

Shame the spring weather wont last

Making do….

I’ve been busy over last week making use of the typical Scottish conditions to fit in some long hill days and complete a BASP First Aid course.

Van life can be good life when the suns out!

Van life can be good life when the suns out!

Winter truly returned to the West Coast this weekend with snow down to sea level for only the second time this season I believe. It has left enormous amounts of fresh powder over the hills which is being transported and whipped around by the fluctuating winds we have come accustomed to this year. Today was only my second ‘blue sky day’ this year, so James and I slogged up Aonach Mor in strengthening winds to be rewarded with fantastic views for as far as the eye can see.

From this...... (Angus Munros)

From this…… (Angus Munros)

To this........(Aonach Mor four days later)

To this……..(Aonach Mor four days later)

The Ben and CMD looking very Alpine

The Ben and CMD looking almost Himalayan

Aonach Beag

Aonach Beag

Many cool wind features about today. These flumes are being swept up the crags on the East Face

Many cool wind features about today. These flumes are being swept up the crags on the East Face

James descending the Nid Ridge

James descending the Nid Ridge

 

Soggy…..

The summit of Ben Macdui

The summit of Ben Macdui

Yesterday John, Tom, James, Alfie, Zoe and I walked in toward t’sneachda to go over steep ground stuff including: ice axe arrests, bucket seats, bollards and confidence roping. We managed to do this on the East flank of the Fiacail Ridge where there is enough snow at a reasonable angle to make things work. It rained on and off all day with most of us going through at least two pairs of gloves. The forecast storm force winds didn’t materialize though which has been a theme over the last week or so, maybe the forecasters are trying to put us off?! Looking at the dirty debris that has fallen down Aladdin’s Couloir it wouldn’t surprise me.

Today I was out on my own so made speedy travel from the Ciste car park over to Ben Macdui before turning around, contouring the top of Cairn Lochain and descending the Fiacail Ridge. No records broken here but I was back at the van in a respectable 5 hours and the journey involved following my compass for at least 3 of those. The snow is very soft and slushy with the freezing level sitting way above the summits; it was even raining on top of Macdui. Again the wind was pushing about 45mph but certainly no sign of the 70’s we were led to expect  and I even got some sunshine on the return leg! The only folk I bumped into all day were ascending the Fiacail Ridge otherwise I didn’t see a soul.

My view for most of the day meant a good classroom

My view for most of the day meant a good classroom

Sunshine!

Soft and droopy looking snow at the top of Coire an Lochain

Soft and droopy looking snow at the top of Coire an Lochain

Large sections of the plateau are now bare

Large sections of the plateau are now bare

Tomorrow looks like more of the same but a cold front is expected on Thursday so it could be a busy weekend…..

Early season

I was out clipping bolts at Kirriemuir yesterday which felt like a shock to the system. The last time I was on rock was in Spain last October so the forearms certainly got a wake up call. We did a bunch of routes upto 6c including laps of routes to finish off the session with a burn. I like this time of year though as it means the Spring is upon us and its time to train like a daemon for the Summer trad season. If there is an area I am keen to improve on massively its on rock. After training and loosing so much weight last year and really seeing the improvements it can make this time round I am keen not to let it fall by the wayside over next winter. I wont be hanging up the ice tools just yet though as Ben Nevis is starting to look good for a bit of Spring ice climbing.

Loads of people out at Kirriemuir

Loads of people out at Kirriemuir

Crawling around the Cairngorms

Ive been in the Cairngorms for a couple of days, yesterday was benign but today was pretty wild, wet, warm and WINDY! No climbing to speak of but some nice long walks with a mates dog, which was good company even though I had to rescue him from a crevasse and put him under my arm when we got battered by the ferocious winds. Good job I didnt have our two huskies to carry!

Says it all really!

Says it all really!

We have lost allot of snow during the latest thaw, from the walk toward the Chalamain Gap I could see The Mess of Pottage which has been unrecognisable for the last few weeks. Lurchers is just about stripped and the slog upto Sron na Laig was very wet and soggy. We keep saying it but a big freeze would now be ideal………..

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A big change to the ski centre over the last week

A big change to the ski centre over the last week