Sociable Descent into the Gorge

Sociable Descent into the Gorge

I have since returned back to Fort William after a successful but fairly frustrating summer Alpine trip. The finale was spent back in the Verdon Gorge where Duncan and I had a few days cragging and enjoying the exposure of the main cliff. Highlights include; red-pointing routes to 6c, almost onsighting my first 6c+ and climbing Cocoluche Right Hand (6b) at sector Dalles Grises. All excellent fun in the sun followed by an epic 31 hour drive back to Fort ready for the week ahead……….

Duncan enjoying Cocoluche (6b)

Duncan enjoying Cocoluche (6b)

An Albanian couple on Dingomaniaque (6c+)

An Albanian couple on Dingomaniaque (6c+)

Cocoluche (6b)

Cocoluche (6b)

Van life in the Verdon is awesome!

Van life in the Verdon is awesome!

Running out of 'guns' on La Terreur an Estafilade (6c+)

Running out of ‘guns’ on La Terreur an Estafilade (6c+)

The last four days have been spent with Ian, Shirley and Baz who wanted to experience roped scrambling and learn some of the skills needed to progress to leading under their own steam. We started off on Sron na Lairig on Stob Coire Sgreamhach, a friendly grade 2 scramble with just one slippery corner to negotiate. We descended the Beinn Farda ridge to give a great day of mountaineering in glorious West Coast weather – a great start.

Getting to grips with scrambling

Getting to grips with scrambling

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Shirley approaching the top of Sron na Lairig

Descending the Beinn Fhada Ridge

Descending the Beinn Fhada Ridge

The following day we were met with gale force winds and the threat of lightening so we decided to spend (hide) the day in the Ice Factor covering movement, rope skills and belaying aswell as letting the guys get a taste of ice climbing in the ‘big fridge’.

Ice wall fun

Ice wall fun

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With their new found skills we spent Saturday on Buachaille Etive Mor. Under a watchful eye Ian did a superb job of leading Shirley and Baz up Curved Ridge (3). It had been raining constantly for over 24 hours so conditions weren’t at their best, a great effort to be able to learn and soak up information in such a challenging environment.

Ian in the lead on Curved Ridge

Ian in the lead on Curved Ridge

Shirley doing well in the challenging conditions

Shirley and Baz doing well in the challenging conditions

Wet but happy to be on the summit of Stob Dearg

Wet but happy to be on the summit of Stob Dearg

For their first taste of Ben Nevis Ian, Shirley and Baz were easily convinced to tackle a route on the North Face, I decided Castle Ridge (3) would fit the bill and enable us to put everything they had learnt over the last four days into practice. I swung between guiding and shadowing the guys who enjoyed sharing the lead before making the effort to walk across to the summit to complete a fun and very rewarding few days for us all. A great way to spend my first few days back in Scotland!

Baz doing his bit to lead the guys up Castle Ridge

Baz doing his bit to lead the guys up Castle Ridge

Ian tackling the crux of the scramble

Ian tackling the crux of the scramble

Happy days!

Happy days!

Wee bit of leading for Shirley

Wee bit of leading for Shirley

Amazing sky's on the way down!

Amazing sky’s on the way down!