Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Day to Day Mixed Climbing

After a very disappointing winter season, Craig and Mark were off for some rock action but optimistically (after recent reports) took some winter kit 'just in case'!!

Saturday saw a visit to the HS Ardverikie Wall with 4 pitches of fun climbing in a stunning location.  Craig led the hero pitch 1 with a long run-
out on beautiful grippy microgranite; he ran the first 2 pitches together but it seemed the obvious thing to do.

Craig high on P1
Mark coming up P1 slab
Mark ran the flake pitch with a tricky move or two as well as the 4th pitch which was a bit wet and slippy.

Mark moving onto the Flake pitch
Nonetheless, a super climb in cold conditions - snow counts as cold I believe!!  They topped the peak and took a direct line to the car and pizza in the Grog and Gruel.

Overnight in the NF carpark (slumdog disco-life and a nice Rioja with Pringles) saw them second guessing the weather for rock or a Ben classic ridge...low cloud dictated the Ben and crampons with a single tech axe saw them head for Tower Ridge.

It's never a short day on the Ben and the walk in was cold, windy and long but a pleasant chat with folks at the hut saw them heading for the ridge past the Gap.  Sans axe and crampons until the start of the Little Tower saw good progress with careful footwork on the rock.  Thereafter crampons made sense and things a bit easier.

Mark on the Eastern Traverse
The snow was fairly well frozen in places with reasonable hard compacted snow and one wouldn't want to cross the traverse without crampons on.  We Gap itself was as good as snow free but the exit slopes were well covered.  They then headed for No 4 Gully and dropped down for an escape to the car and home.

Looking back onto Tower Gap
A great adventure weekend with a real contrast in climbing styles but both days definitely Type 1 fun.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Sub optimal…

Winter 2016 - 20917

Both Craig and Mark have tweeted @HaveAnEpic @Mark_SimplyEpic more than blogged this winter, just being lazy I guess, but it is a good way of getting info on conditions out there fast and this year the conditions have been “in” and “not in” faster than a fast thing.

It’s not been a great winter season with everyone climbing less routes but still going tooled up into the hills to look for optimal conditions but finding sub optimal (mostly).

The highlights for us have been Seam IV,5 Cairngorms, Shelf Route IV,6  A fantastic day but thin conditions a couple of assents of The North Buttress of Buachaille Etive Mor IV, 4 this is great route that is climable in most if not all conditions, our last outing was probably the best conditions we have had on it but 3 days later it was black once again. Castle Ridge on Ben Nevis with a good dusting of snow to make interesting but not difficult...

Other days that were less fruitful but still spicy, due to conditions; we bailed on D Gully Buttress IV,4 having only one 25m half rope and 6 nuts we charmed the party behind us to do the same as they thought they were on Curved Ridge, this is a common mistake it seems as the party behind them also were on the wrong route, anyway we all bailed and it was all very sociable.

We started up what we thought was Ordinary Route IV on Cuneiform Buttress only to realise that it was most likely Ravens Edge VII,7 – eek, bailed, we are good at bailing!

Winters not over (hopefully) but it feels like early June today…hoping for Crypt Route this weekend...:)

Some pics of various route and days on the hill.


Monday, 21 November 2016

Chasing the Epidural

Craig and Mark have been blown about and soaked through in the last two outings but this weekend's weather brought calm and a serious amount of snow.  It was thick and unconsolidated so something sensible and worthwhile was needed to prevent a slog-fest.

The North Buttress of Buachaille Etive Mor is a lovely IV 4 with a great approach and fun climbing in the current conditions - a rocky climb with plenty of hooks and a spectacular situation.

An inversion prevented a blue sky start but it was cold on the walk in and we noticed the early development of hoar frost around the 600m mark.  Higher up it disappeared but the inversion probably had a hand in that.  Leaving the path after Great Gully, we struck up on increasingly slippy ground and crampons were on early, which made travel much easier.

There is a LOT of snow lying on the ground and it is pretty wet and sticky just now, clinging to everything.  We arrived at the start and Mark took P1 on soft snow and unfrozen rock - care and attention was needed, especially as this was the first time out this winter.

Craig followed through onto P2 and after the tricky first chimney, easier ground led to a swim-fest of 4ft walls of snow which collapsed under each step.  After struggling manfully for 30m on the easier ground, common sense prevailed and a down climb to a good spike settled our high point.  Mark followed on and, once safe, a sarnie for lunch seemed as good an idea as any.

Thereafter, the first of this season's abseils was executed, taking us 120m down in 2 abseils, thence a walk out to the path and the car.  All in, a great day out; good choices and decisions saw a successful first winter day for us.

Worth noting the weather above the inversion was stunning; the summit shelter on the Ben was visible with ease and it was a true white winter wonderland for 360 degrees.  More of the same please.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


23 October 2016

A call off on Saturday gave Linda the opportunity to call in her Simply Epic Adventure birthday gift voucher with Mark on Sunday.

The weather was set to be fair with sun mid-morning, but the wind was cold when we made our way up Am Bodach.

Linda having a low centre of gravity has good sense of balance and made the initial down climb look easy. We both enjoyed the mountaineering style journey to Meall Dearg - the official start of the Aonach Eagach ridge. Consistent exposure and beautiful views with varied scrambling; taking in everything from terraced ridges and knife-edged arĂȘtes to towering chimneys . We made our way across  the crazy pinnacles before the final pull up to to Stob Coire Leith.

We descended from the summit to the Clachaig road junction and thumbed a lift back to the start point.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Pterodactyl Attack

 9 October 2016

After a long hard summer of work, injuries and disappointments, Craig and Mark got out onto the Cobbler today with a psyche to climb in the sun.

A not too early start saw them leaving Glen Croe for the slog up the Cobbler via the west face.  An hour plus later, they arrived at the Beallach and dropped down to the wonderful face of the north peak for some action.

They climbed Incubator six years (jeez!!) ago and decided it needed a revisit.  It's a meaty HS 4b with three lovely pitches offering their own challenges along the way.  Craig headed off up the first pitch, a pleasant introduction to the joys of mica schist in the dry...grippy but hollow rock in places.

P1 heading off
Mark coming over the lip of P1
The next pitch is short with a sting on leaving the stance; an off-balance overhung sloppy hold type move with little confidence but well protected.  Despatched with aplomb, Mark brought Craig up to the crux balance-centric, bridging fest with a weird phallus rock protrusion half way up.

Craig won the rock paper scissors duel and headed off up the steep crack corner, lacing it up like a wild Western bar girl trying to look thin.  Half way up, the crack line terminates and it seemed churlish, if not irresponsible, not to make use of the phallus rock for safety, despite the sense of inadequacy it engendered...

Craig on P3
Mark leaving the crack line and heading for the haven on P3
The pitch kept on giving and involved some balance moves to escape the line right into a notch/haven and first available stance.  Mark followed up with style and led off up the final short rock moves which we didn't really recall from 6 years ago.  The guide book may reveal the proper finish if we got it wrong but it all seemed logical, unlike the heat from the October sun!

Craig coming over the lip of an awkward move on P4
Coupla geezers...
An old egg sandwich for Mark and smoked salmon for Craig saw them back to the car in the sun in jig time for coffee and cake in Arrochar.  A grand day in the hills for the boys, knocking off their THIRD!!! rock climb of the season - where has the time gone?

Crikey, roll on the winter season...

A ubiquitous new species of plant...?
Sad that people are so despicable in the hills...one of many we retrieved on the walk out!

Friday, 23 September 2016

The borrowers…

18 September 2016

Kevin and Jane were keen to add another Munro to their tally.
The weather was in-coming so we decided upon Ben More as it’s near and we could go direct to the summit in a bid to get a view.

Sadly this never happened but it was great fun never-the-less and we met some enthusiastic people on the summit to take our pic.

Funny things happen when you ascend hills you have been on before - you remember the people, the friends, the conversations, events and stories told… Ben More is on of those hills and my head was full them on Sunday.

Craig and Bill are as normal for this month on back-to-back DofE expedition…

Monday, 5 September 2016

Late Birds

Some pictures from an earlier summer climbing trip on the Cobbler. Can't recall the route name but it was very pleasant.  A nice traverse on the route. Simply epic fun