First day of winter climbing work      04th/11/2012


Another fine day in the Northern Corries

Sometimes I wonder at the start of the season ‘will I enjoy this season as much as the last, will I be bored of the Northern Corries by now, will the routes still inspire or just feel repetitive’?

I can safely say that none of this has happened or will happen for sometime to come. Don’t get me wrong, I love the wildness and remoteness of places and climbs away from the common, well traveled honey pots. Some of my best memories burned into my mind through shear enjoyment of the climbs, views and experiences have been remote, off the beaten track days out with friends or work. Many folks give the Northern Corries a hard time due to their popularity and that’s true it is a busy venue on the right or wrong day.

Gordon in action

But this also adds something to the day if your in a sociable mood and the conditions are plentiful. Gordon and I met a number of good folks today walking-in, on the belays and walking out. Many folks I already new, which was good for a catch-up and some we did not know but we were happy to chat with. This on top of the excellent climbing and conditions, gave a welcoming and memorable day out for all the right reasons.

Gordon at the top of Hidden Chimney Direct IV-5

Gordon and I climbed Hidden Chimney Direct IV-5 today and up into Hidden Chimney. This was Gordon’s first day out winter climbing this season so we took it nice and steady, dusting off the summer cobwebs and getting gordon’s head back into the joys of mixed climbing, “it’s not like ice, you know”!

Topping out on Hidden Chimney

As we walked-in today we chatted about routes done and routes that Gordon wanted to do. High on the list of winter targets for this season was climbing tech 6 mixed. So after todays leg and arm stretch, tomorrow should see us on some steeper ground…….

Gordon has timed his two days up here perfectly, with tomorrow looking like the last cold day before temperatures rapidly go up on Tuesday. Here’s hoping we get something good done.

Sending the Messenger and got the Message             02/11/2012

Just had a great couple of days out on the hill, all be it two very contrasting days and on both days I either forgot my camera or I’d not charged it. Muppet! Lucky Dunc was along today with his.

The clearing view of the snowy Sneachda today.

Yesterday I was out working for Glenmore Lodge , not a normal day at work by any means but great fun all the same. The Lodge has just taken on a new mountain clothing sponsor, The North Face and they were keen to get some photo’s of instructors at work! Thursday was the skiing and mountaineering shoot, what are the chances of a blue skies day, with fresh powder snow on a firm base and not a breath of wind on the 1st of Nov, F all I would have said but thats what we got. The skiing was short lived in Corrie Domhain, a maximum of about ten turns but a blast all the same. We did get some odd looks as we bumbled into the corries with ski’s strapped to our packs.

Very pleased with the conditions, no armchair UKC winter climbers could argue with this!

Having forgotten to charge my camera it was down to The Dunc to be snapping away today, this is a rare moment that A: Dunc has a camera and B: he actually uses it. Lucky me!

I’m sure I was waving to the camera and not falling off?

Today started off very calm as we walked into Sneachda, even as we drove up the ski road I was surprised at how much more snow had fallen. The obligatory stumble through the snow covered Corrie floor boulders is always much missed winter pastime but soon forgotten as the climbs are reached.

We opted for Mess of Pottage in Corie and t-Sneachda, all the crags in the Corie today looked well snowed up. Our route haul for the day was the ‘Messenger’ V-6 and ‘The Message’ IV-6, I’ve never done the Messenger before and this provided an excellent first route of the season sketch about, we even had to pull quite hard on the axes. The Message which I’ve done a few times now is always an enjoyable route with great hooks and a bit of tricky foot work needed.

Hello hot aches………. araarrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhh

With it being so snowy today, all the clearing, pulling quite hard on the axes and the general winter thing going on, it proved ideal conditions for the much missed but never forgotten Hot Aches. If you’ve never experienced them, lucky you. If you want to experience them let me know and I’ll help set up a perfect day to experience this dark secret of winter climbing!

Off to Aberdeen tomorrow so missing what looks like an excellent winters day. However I have a long term client and friend Gordon arriving on Sunday for two days of winter climbing action. With the forecast as it is we should be in for some good conditions.

Back to Blogging                                                                                                                           19th/10/2012

I never really intended for my blog to be a winter only blog, it’s not that I don’t do stuff during the summer. I guess I have more time to play with in the evenings when the nights start closing in and the weather is cold and ming like outside.

It has however started to put down the white stuff in the hills and yes I went out to see how it was shaping up. On Tuesday I walked in with Gordon and if you were super keen or super desperate you could have climbed something steep and whitish but we decided to save it for when winter strikes back. So we opted for taking our big bags for a walk! I went back in again on Wednesday with Dunc and we slithered our way up Faicaill Corrie an t-Sneachda, no crampons needed really but nice and snowy.

Looking at the forecast for the next week it’s mildish for a few days but then it talks about it getting much colder later in the week. Watch this space……

Just to remind us that we did have some good summer this year. Dunc high up on Angel Face E2 5c, Far East Walls, Beinn Eighe

This Wednesday up on Faicaill Corrie an t-Sneachda

It even cleared slightly for us

A pair of Grouse low down in the Corrie

Looking up to the crags in Sneachda last Tuesday, not quite white enough to climb on????????

Climbing at Gogarth at the start of the month, rock climbing can’t quite be finished yet, can it?

Paddling, Climbing and some more alpine action

Staff training with Glenmore lodge was excellent last week, I managed two good days cragging, a river day, a staff training and meetings day and a day sea paddling at the Grey Dogs.

The cragging days were at Glen Nevis and Ardnamurchan, the river days were on the Loy and the Arkaig two new rivers to me and the sea paddling day was surfing some good waves at the tidal race of the Grey Dogs.

This weekend I’ve been out playing on the river Feshie with a good mate followed by a wee forearm burning session bouldering at the Old Bridge.

Tomorrow takes me off down to Glasgow then a flight out of Edinburgh to Munich on Tuesday. For what will hopefully be an excellent multi day ski tour in and around the Ortler Alps for a week. I’ll let you know how it all goes?

Jon Jones cranking in Ardnamurchan

JJ enjoying the incredible friction at Ardnamurchan


Staff training out West

I’m now based over in the Fort William for this week on five days of staff training with the instructors from Glenmore Lodge. So far we’ve had a couple of excellent days with some sun drenched climbing in Glen Nevis on Monday, followed by some paddling action today. We paddled two new rivers for me, the Loy and the Arkaig both classic west coast rivers.

Me on 'All Our Yesterdays' E1 5b**, great crack climbing. (Photo by Giles Trussell)

Doug Cooper enjoying the early rapids on a low Loy

Giles Trussle dropping into the main event of the Arkaig

Pete Gwatkin, styling through at the end of the main event on the Arkaig

Me, making a face on one of the bigger rapids on the Loy

Doug Cooper punching through on the Arkaig

New snow fell last night down to about 400 – 500m with the hills all around the West coast looking wintery. It’s really hard just now to know whether we are in Spring, Winter or Summer?

Hoping to get out rock climbing the next few days with some sea paddling later on this week, we’ll see what the weather deals us……


The Hoarmaster VI-6 in mega wintery nick

Wading in through loads of fresh in the company of Andy Nisbit, Jonathan Preston and Dunc Hodgson. Making our way to Corie an Lochan


Dunc tucked in under Number 3 Buttress, we all were amazed at the amount of winter that had stuck to the crags

Dunc getting stuck into Hookers Corner, we backed off this due to to much rime ice. Eyes getting glued closed, hard to breath and s**t loads of clearing. "Not today thanks"!

We then opted for The Hoarmaster (VI-6), this is quite a pokey wee route. Again lots of digging and trying to remember how to winter climb!

Dunc cranking it out at the 1st belay

Jonathan Preston and Andy Nisbit cruising up Fall Out Corner. Number 4 Buttress looking well wintery

Happy to be finished, it was way more wintery than anyone had expected and felt like we were back in the depths of a proper winter again!

The view into the Northern Cairngorms from my house this evening. It's looking like it could be a stunning day tomorrow?

Back in Scotland and off Winter Climbing

24hrs of near non stop driving carried us from a dull and snowy Chamonix and returned us to the bright and snow covered mountains over looking Aviemore.

Kenny Grant finding some fresh remote tracks.

Our ski touring adventure over in the West Bernese was initially delayed by a day due to poor weather so we hung out in Les Diablerets trying to tour locally and drinking beer. The beer drinking was purely just to pass the time, none of us really enjoyed it……. 🙂

The never ending ridge of impressively steep mud covered with some snow. Fun!

We managed to get up through the lift systems the next day and were unleashed onto a powder covered mountain range none of us had ever visited before. Just what ski touring should be about.

It was a tour of two half’s, one half being dream snow at times on great mountains the other being poor snow on steep, awkward hills.

Bright early morning skinning conditions

Both days we tried to top out on a 3000m+ top but both days we where beaten back due to avalanche threats and tough snow conditions.

The biggest avalanche, remotely triggered by us and passed just behind the last person!

With the weather getting really bad on the third day, lots of wind and even more snow. It was not a tough decision to abandon the tour and bail out to the nearest wee village.

We had some good skiing high up, quickly followed by some warmed up, deep ming crud for most of the rest of the ski out 🙂

Once we arrived back in Chamonix another night on the beers was called for to help console ourselves after not finishing the tour. The next morning in the haze of a hangover and all the weather forecast confirming a rubbish forecast for the next while. It was time to quit the Alps and come home.

Back here though it’s been snowing off and on for the last few days, with some really big snow showers coming through. The hills look more wintery than they have for most of the winter. So I’ve unpacked my alpine stuff and re-packed my winter climbing bag ready for a weekend scratching about in the Northern Cories. We’ll see what we get done………

Back to Blogging

Trevor enjoying some guided rock climbing on Stag Rocks. It was still supposed to be winter!

I thought I should start to try and Blog again seeing how there seems to be some folks out there still interested or bored enough to follow my blog?

My last post was from before I headed out to the Swiss Albula Alps ski tour with some friends from Glenmore Lodge. This was a truly stunning tour with six days of excellent and varied touring. A much welcome break from the misery that was Scottish winter this year.

Andy seconding a very wet yet enjoyable 'Smiths Route' on the Ben

Since the ski tour, as we all know winter took a sever nose dive and finished way too early, well for me anyway. But there was some good winter to be had and I enjoyed a busy week working for Alan Kimber a couple of weeks ago. Our haul of routes included: Tower Scoop, Comb Gully Buttress, Central Gully right Hand, Observatory Buttress (rock) into the last three pitches of Zero Gully, Shoot in the Foot and Upper Tower Cascade Lft Hand. Not a bad weeks climbing seeing how it was all in a state of melt down and poor weather for the start of the week.

Deziree and Dunc seconding the upper pitches of the Fiddlers Nose. In awesome weather for MARCH!

I was also busy for a couple of weeks working on a MIC Training and guided winter / Summer climbing course for Glenmore Lodge. This proved to be the last scraps of winter for this year.

After this I’ve had some great days out rock climbing. One was with regular client and friend Trevor over in the Loch Avon basin climbing some nice remote rock routes. The others were up at Reiff for a weekend with friends and lovely dry – hot rock, the ‘Fiddlers Nose’ up North of Ullapool, Creag Dudh for some early season fear and a few evenings bouldering down near the Old Bridge inn.

Deziree sending in fine style 'Jump so High Combo' E2 5c. This is a great route with steep, pumpy climbing.

I’m now out in the Alps having some time off after such a wet Scottish winter and looking to try and climb or ski for the next few weeks. This week has not started as well as we’ve hoped with some poor weather and a couple of false starts. Dunc and I are off today to Switzerland to meet Kenny and Donald to start the West Oberland ski tour, weather looks good for the first few days then we’ll see what happens!

Some mixed weather on one of the day tours this week. We even needed to use a map and compass, what's that all about!

I’ll be away for the next five days so fingers crossed I’ll be back with tales of fresh tracks and great huts!

Bye Scotland Hello Alpine Touring

Date: 24th/02/2012


Life’s been full of stuff over the last few weeks, lots and lots of work. I passed my Mountain Ski Leader, presented a very successful lecture for the MCofS at the Mountain Cafe on Wednesday night, directed another Winter ML training and now my bags are packed for the Alps.

I’ll be off-line blog wise for the next nine days while I enjoy some great touring hopefully, I’ll be out in Switzerland with some friends making the most of the white stuff, seeing how there is no winter left in Scotland!

The conditions in the mountains in Scotland just now are very very poor, there are no routes left complete in the Northern Cories. There is just enough snow to run winter skills. It truly is a sad sad sight.

Fingers crossed for the return to winter soon.

Here's how it should look 🙂

Skiing some Steeps out West

Heather Morning and Di Gilbert getting psyched for the day

Today we headed out West for day three of our Mountain Ski Leader course. We took the risk and bought tickets that allowed us to access the top of Nevis Range giving us easy access to the back corries.

For most of the day the skiing was good over the back, spring like snow with only a small amount of heather / mud skiing to get back round to the lifts.

We covered lots today looking at belays, rope work, safeguarding steep slops and entires, steep skinning and change overs from skins to skis and vise versa on steep ground. We also looked at lots of group management issues with steep slopes and poor vis, all well catered for on Nevis Range!

Ski belays for safeguarding steep entries

Ian Sherington testing the belay, think it will hold???

No return for Ian

More ski belays