Monday, 29 May 2017

Meat in the Sandwich

Craig and Mark followed the sunshine on Saturday, seeking a new route but one which has been much admired from a distance.  It's been a few years since Corrie an Lochan was visited, maybe 7, 8, 9 even 10 years since Craig and Bill climbed RH Y Gully??, and it's a very pleasant walk in if a little rough in places over the boulders.

Craig takes up the story...

Savage Slit was on our minds and I recall seeing it that winter thinking it looked such an awesome line...not necessarily in winter at that time for me!!  Things have changed a little since then, tho the walk in pretty much was as I recalled...lovely

The approaching cliffs look very enticing and SS is well over the right, so we headed past the beautiful lochans, with the great slab coming into view in all its avalanche threatening horror; smooth and perfectly angled - it even released a bit of snow as we made our way to the cliff!

Great Slab in the corrie - Scotland's most renowned avalanche site?
Past the lochan, it's a nice steep pull up a gravely path to the base, where we came upon a pair on P1 who had been completely invisible to us on the walking...a surprise but we had a nice chat and a leisurely prep as they cleared the first stance.

It's intimidatingly steep from below and understandably demands respect; Mark took P1 whilst I watched & belayed attentively.  The book suggests a 10m first pitch followed by a 20m second; this seemed counter-intuitive (even in winter I don't see the benefit but what do I know) so he linked 1 &  2 together, as the first pair had, and struck off up the inviting rock and 'slit'.

The view up P1, as Mark actually abs off the top after we finished
The view down from P1
P1 is a lovely opening pitch with nice bridging and generally stays out the Slit.  The rock is super grippy granite with plenty amenable hand holds and an abundance of foot placements.  The attention it receives in winter is obvious with the wear on the rock from crampons and picks on numerous key placement edges in much evidence.

The only thing about the stance on P1 is the low head height which hardly helps Mark or I as we kept banging our heads on the overhead rock!!  A slick change over and I was off up P2 with a meaty start onto a small platform after about 10 feet, providing a nice photo opportunity;

Craig's feet  heading off up P2
P2 is a lovely pitch, which kept me in the Slit for much of the time and a lovely place it is too.  The hand holds are there when you want them and the narrow constriction in the slit offers nice if narrow bridging and chimneying, and even a little lay backing. The pitch terminates on a nice spacious ledge serving at least three climbs and obviously well set up as an abseil station.

Mark approaching the abseil stances on P2
The book suggests the final pitch is of limited enjoyment and so it proved with an easy scramble interjected with a pull over an overhang.  We got to the top and abb'ed straight back down to the abseil stance proper and used the plethora of heavy duty in situ tat and krab to get back down where we met Allan and Morag who were up for a split shift climb from the Lodge.  As we chatted and checked out, they headed off for a fun day.  The walk out was fast and sunny...

Every pic with an iPhone 7 - what a camera!
...and we got back to the car in a sweat!  It's a long drive and an average walk in to the Gorms from Glasgow but today was worth it.  What lovely climb!  Reasonable on the grade and a stunning location with a quick abseil back to the bags...what's not to like.

We scoped the climb and thought of winter; it's a V6 and a serious proposition for us...but maybe worth the effort to try.  

Definite Type 1 Fun today.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Cairngorms; Into the Wilds

Craig and Bill went into the southern 'Gorms from the Punchbowl seeking a wee adventure on the bikes scoping a dofe route for East Dunbartonshire Council.  A sweet looking route was identified and we set off in the sun seeking single track sweetness.

Craig and Bill have explored a bit of the S' Gorms but this took them to River Avon and the stepping stones, thence to an eastward route down the River Avon.  Sadly, after the Hutchison Memorial Hut turn off, the path becomes very bumpy and unrideable all the way to the Refuge at the River Avon...bummer.

Single track ahead
Time for a swim Jason?
River Avon
Bill contemplative?
Arty Farty...
Nice wee refuge :)

After a long push down the River Avon, we got on our bikes again for the last leg to Faindouran bothy...what we later learned was three hours short of our intended bivy site!!  However, tired and getting cold, we decided the bothy was too good to miss and we settled down for the night, with some food and music.  This is a wonderful bothy, well done MBA; clean, well stocked with wood and warm despite it being at least -3c overnight.  

Comfy wee spot
Bothy #2...all of 6 paces away
Wee Pony Man's Bothy
A few stories to tell
After an early rise, we were off about 630am and found the Wee Pony Man's Hut...not sure if it was the pony or the men who were small but its a great wee find and would make a good howff overnight if required.  The path is well rideable from here for a long distance and we made good time.

The big house at Inchrory is mighty impressive and we then headed south for Lochbuilg with some lovely single track enroute.

Heading for Linn of Avon - beautiful :)
Raised beaches on Lochbuilg...what's the story??
A bit of walking to get through Creag an Dail Mhor and Beag saw us approaching civilisation again...we saw people far in the distance but saw after a coulee of beautiful spots;

A rather pleasant spot
Be this Scotland??  Damn right!!!
Not long after this we got back to the van and somewhat refreshed our selves at the rather special Bramear Bothy Cafe on cake, coffee, coke and scone...burnt a few calories; put them straight back on.  

More especially with the large coke and McFlurry in Perth!!  Who gives a ...........

Anyway, a great wee adventure into the wilds, rewarded with sun, snow, single track and...scones!

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 of many we retrieved on the walk out!