Monday, 30 December 2013

It's the SatNav!

Craig, Bill and Mark went up north seeking action on Saturday before an MCofS Avalanche Course on the Sunday.  Biblically wet weather and winds saw a climb reduced to a potential walk then reduced further to a day in the Ice Factor.

To be fair, it was a great few hours of quality ice climbing on well maintained routes with some fine hard sections to hone winter climbing skills for...well, most likely more indoor action given the truly bad weather we are having currently (current equating to a month plus)!  Boooooooooo...

Anyway, a fine trip round the gear shops, with the only purchase being a hat and a map, saw us settled at Kimber's place thence some scran at the Grog and Gruel :)

Sunday saw us out on the hill with Heather the Weather from MCofS on a fine winter day; the amount of snow above 650m is hard to believe given the rain we've had recently but we plunged a probe fully 10 feet down in a hollow and the pack is about 1.3m deep on the SW aspect of the Nid.

We had an excellent training day discussing aspects, slope angle, digging hasty pits and walking Rutschblock tests, propagation, windslab, SAIS, temperature gradients, layers, graupel, hoar frost and facets, and most importantly, when to run away!

Looking for avalanche debris towards the back corries
We had an excellent journey on the day, including a long bum slide down towards the Transceiver Park where we played around with some fancy kit; the next thing for the hills!?

The air is very moist at present, evidenced by rain no doubt, but also by the amazing build up of rime ice on the ski furniture;

Serious rime!
All in, we found it a great day's training, well worth the money with plenty of consolidation and new knowledge; big thanks to Heather Morning of MCofS for an excellent day and for organising these events.  Even if you think you know about avalanches and how to stay safe, the course made it clear that new research was updating and amending previously thought best practice regularly; get along to one and keep safe.

Best lunch spot of the weekend...

Can we climb now please???

Monday, 2 December 2013

December, and a wee paddle by the seaside

Winter climbing being rather poor, biking being too energetic, Craig Bill and Mark opted for a wee kayak down at Loch Lomond on a rather splendid day; sunglasses and skip hat being prerequisites for the day.

After some faffing associated with loading up the car with kit (grrr), we headed down and launched in the sun with silly ambitions of getting to Tarbert!  Notwithstanding, we got down to the 'dive at five' and crossed the loch for a pleasant lunch on the jetty at Rowardennan.

After gorging on sarnies, we headed up the east side of the loch and enjoyed the sun and 50 mile views before crossing to Luss and playing at eskimos.

All in, despite Craig's rasping cough, a great day was had by all on the water.  More kayaking needed in the near future...

Falko Dreams

Craig was out with the ladies (9 of them!) from Glasgow Life on a very pleasant walk along the beaches near Direlton, over looking the Forth of Forth, Fife and some outstanding geology from Scotland's distant past.

A quick resume of the local geology, North Berwick being tropical and highly volcanic some 350m years ago, saw us head off on the walk.  There is some fabulous evidence of the violent volcanic past with lava flows, caves and glacial features aplenty from more recent times.

Sea Buck-Thorn
A wonderful short walk along the dunes, typically chilly east coast wind and a pleasant lunch spot over looking the water, saw us back to the bus and a very pleasant coffee stop, thence home.

A new coastal area for Craig and one very much worth returning to, with plenty of bird life and points of interest.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Nopics, or Nomics

Sunday saw Craig and Mark up early to run along a snow covered Aonach Eagach - 730am in the carpark revealed no snow and a couple of options…we chose a quick up and down the much loved Curved Ridge.

Not sure what we might find in the higher slopes to the summit, we travelled light but took crampons and axe jic…pics needed but not crampons…there is very little snow up there bar some wind blown early 'neve' on the eastern aspects.

We took the line of most resistance and enjoyed splendid views and excellent company…

Early morning over Rannoch Moor

Interesting cloud formation in the Glen

Lonely chap high on the mountain
We continued beyond the top of the ridge and skirted round the base of Crowberry Tower and scrambled up, over looking Crowberry Gully, onto the summit for the best lunch spot in the world.

Crowberry Tower
A further scramble off the summit saw us climb over the remnants of the snow to the summit and thence to the 'Tourist' path and back to the car.  All in, a nice day out visiting familiar ground; Curved Ridge is always an entertaining and fun day out…one of our favourites :)

Even better with such good company -

Hopefully the forthcoming cold snap and snow brings more wintry conditions and a bit of quality ice/neve for harder routes in the Lochan area.

Monday, 11 November 2013

It's Definitely This Way!

Sunday 4am and up for the first winter climb of the season.  Mark and Craig headed up North for some action to Aviemore, heading off into the mist around 8am looking for Fiacaill buttress area. Increasing height brought  increasing snow and a final swim to the entrance to the couloir.

A party ahead of us were heading for The Seam, which was on our tick list but the conditions were not great for it, so we took the Invernookie line; always a great early season alternative - indeed, The Seam party bailed after the traverse to the base of the chimney.

Craig on third pitch
We had a fine day swinging leads; me first and third, Mark second and fourth.  We hooked and swam up the route as the snow was deep and soft, and the turf soft.  A lovely day broke around 12am as the mist lifted and revealed the corrie in its full winter garb.  There was plenty of action around the Fiacaill and elsewhere in the corrie.  
Mark on the final pitch traverse
All in a great start to the season and hopefully more to come, with more super weather and more consolidation of snow and turf :)

Wonderful views
Top of the world - nearly
Me on final pitch
Looking over Corrie an Lochan
Is that the lower car park?

Monday, 4 November 2013

29er and A Baptism of Ice

Craig and Mark were out on the bikes to scope some new trails around Glencoe and more importantly testing out the new Santa Cruz Highball 29er; Craig's first introduction to 29er'dom.

A whiz up the A82 and re-introduction of the suicide deer on several occasions saw us out in the cold, rain/sleet and wind at the bottom of the Devil's Staircase.  Ten minutes in the car saw the worst of it over and then a mad dash to change saw us off up the hill, the Highball running nicely over the rough stuff.

The high pass was 'negatively baltic' and a quick pic of the 'Bookle' in all its approaching winter glory saw us hightail it off down the hill towards the Ice Factor and a warm coffee.

A nice roll and sausage and warm up in the cafe at the Ice Factor saw us checking the winter gear (nothing worth drooling over I'm afraid) then off up the road to Glencoe village and some new trails to keep us off road.

A pleasant spin up the Glen off road most of the way saw us finish off the ride in style with time to spare. The 29er is a lovely bike but I'm still musing over whether it is a trick to get us all to replace our bikes and new kit or a real step forward in technology and progress.

The snow was lying in the Glen and with more cold weather approaching, it may be time to get the ice axes sharpened for next week....luvely jubily :)

Meanwhile, over at the sharp end, Bill was delivering an MBLA Trail Cycle Leader training course around Mugdock Park with staff from Ardmay House and Fiona from Cycle Scotland.   The weather was wet and bedraggling on Saturday but improved on Sunday.

All candidates had a great couple of days learning the requisite skills to lead groups on TCL terrain and headed home with grand plans to get out and ride more...what we should all be looking to do.

Well done to Fiona, Tara, James, Ben, Lincoln and Andrew for keeping with the programme over a hard two days.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Eskimos sunk!

Craig, Bill, Mark and Peter headed to Largiemore for a few days R and R after a hard season with kayaking and biking in mind.   After pasta loading, with accompanying beer and wine on Friday, we headed off in blustery conditions onto Loch Fyne for a day on the water.

The swell started moderate but the fetch was long and it picked up later in the day as we headed for Lochgilphead.  We were planning to round the headland to the town but the swell had picked up big time with the tide heading in and giving some turbulence and current on the water between islands.

With the swell looking pretty intimidating around the headland, we took a circuitous route home and stopped near the seals for lunch.  Sadly I inadvertently left my Camelbak Eddy bottle (logo'd up) on the lunch site - stoopid!  If found.....

After another exciting paddle through the swell, we headed for the beach and spent a bit of time practising eskimo rolls - 10/10 to Mark for being the expert!

Food, beer and chat in the Oystercatcher Hotel saw us walking home in a ridiculous cloud burst; soaked, we dried out and rehydrated with the Malbec!

Waking the next morning to more rain, we headed out on the bikes, via the Beallach an Drain (very steep) and headed off around the penninsula to Tighnabruach and lunch near by.  70k later, we got back to chez Lambie and packed up for home, tired arms and tired legs.  No biking pics as the weather was so pants!

All in, a fab weekend for the team.

What happens at the chalet, stays in the chalet... :)

Bring on winter now :)

Monday, 9 September 2013

Do Penguins migrate to the North Pole?

Craig and Bill had a great weekend out with the candidates from Boclair Academy, along with the irrepressible 'Hutch', for their DofE Silver assessment around Killin.

Day one saw us enjoying plenty sun with some hard walking up the invisible path and pleasant stroll into the campsite for some well earned grub.  The midges were calm and a good nights sleep saw us head off for a long day in a bit of rain.

Keeping an eye on the group from a distance allowed us some great views from high up.  Good quality navigation from all the groups over the open country saw them make solid progress and they found the camp site in good time before the rain really started.

Heavy rain overnight gave all a disturbed night but the groups were up and ready by 8am and raring to get moving...seeing the end in sight is always a great motivator.   After a hard uphill start, it was all downhill and they had to cool their jets or they'd miss the assessor at the end!  

A great effort from all the candidates and all passed; thankfully the utterly massive cloudburst came to Killin just as the last group arrived at the minibus.   A stop off in Callander on the way home provided an opportunity for some well earned ice cream and chips option!

Great days indeed...bring on the next :)

Monday, 2 September 2013

Venici Allez - part two!

Just a wee video of GoPro moments from the week away with Daniel.

Craig, Bill and Daniel had a grand time indeed - hope you enjoy the video...I did whilst riding it :)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Venez Ici - Allez Partout

Working for the legend that is Andy McKenna from Go-Where Scotland, Craig met Daniel 'True Lies', a French-Canadian living the dream in Geneva, at Glasgow Airport and spent a great week showing him some of Scotland's finest biking in the Tweed Valley and Andy's Crown Jewels Deeside secret trails, which he has scoped and bled over.

Danile had spent a week biking around Zermatt in preparation for his Scottish tour and, like Crowded House, brought the weather with him - well done Daniel :)

Each day went better than the last and after two epics in the Borders, including some excellent Scottish fair at Innerleithen's best Indian restaurant, we headed north to Braemar, where we met Bill, and had awesome riding around the trails - best descent for some considerable time according to Daniel.

Great food and hospitality helped make for a  great week but the highlights, bar the biking of course, were the truly amazing Dunkeld sandwiches (8 bread choices and 26 filling Scotland??!!?!) and our mutual love for ice cream - sampled every day in every flavour...mmm :))

Two more classic days in the hills in the southern 'Gorms gave Daniel a real sense of Scotland's beauty and abundance of biking opportunities.  Fantastic descents (some rideable others merely survivable!); tough but manageable climbs and one hike-a-bike saw us complete some 4500m of ascent and descent over the week - Go-Where for biking...Go-Scotland of course!
The 'merely survivable' approaches - Daniel contemplates
Daniel cooling his triceps as well as his brakes!
Pic of the week?

Daniel gives the holiday the big 'thumbs up' :)
After a full on week of laughs, pumped arms and legs, and superb biking, Craig and Bill were sad to bid Daniel a fond farewell, as he headed home.  He leaves with a new insight into Scotland's biking, hospitality, good food (even for a vegetarian in the Highlands!) and, of course, renewed respect for our ice cream, Dunkeld deli sandwiches and curries.

Haste ye back - always welcome :) Especially on your new flying carpet...hope it's like the Audi R8...

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The long way round...

27th July 2013
Driving to the cobbler to find rain and low cloud is becoming a habit, we turned tail and headed to Ayrshire in the hope of some dry rock and to salvage the day. 

Pulpit Arete (severe 4a***) Frustration Wall (hard severe 4b**) and Conclusion Crack (hard severe 4b*) made for a short but interesting day climbing on the basalt crag of Loudon hill... we must go back and do Cave Crack and The edge.

Whose supper keen then ...

12-13 July 2013
Craig and Mark headed to the Coe on Friday after work looking for adventure. Racing to the start of January Jigsaw we knew that it would be dark before we finished the route. We climbed to the big block belay and abseiled off in the dark. We down climbed curved ridge and got back to the hut at 1am.

Next morning we dragged ourselves to the East Face of Aonoch Dubh. The plan- warm up on Eves arete and climb a couple of the "Severes", but being Scottish and not used to the 30ÂșC heat we climbed Eves and went for ice cream...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

One Wheel on my Wagon

On Friday and Saturday Craig was working for GoWhere, an excellent mountain bike (and more) holiday company based in Innerleithen, but covering Scotland.  It is run by the MTB route encyclopaedia known as Andy McKenna and his good wife Aneela, who we have the good fortune to know and have ridden bikes with for some time.

Andy, having man-flu, called Craig in to do some guiding with Prof James, over in Scotland for a bio-chemistry conference but, in reality, it seemed more like a whisky tasting tour with much biking thrown in.  James is a super keen biker from Salt Lake City and we have plans to go there and hook up with him for some sweet riding in the US if all goes to plan.

I met James on Friday - a real cowboy who greeted fellow travellers on the trail with a 'Howdy' everytime :) - and we went for some big ups on the bike around the secret trails in Glentress then headed up the Black route to the radio mast and dropped down into the adjacent glen.  It's never a real day on the bike unless you hike and we found a short cut, unintentional, through a fire break in the trees and re-entered the glen much higher up - meaning more biking and tracks for us.

Scottish hospitality - seats provided as necessary :)
Down the glen we met Neil from Alpine Bikes who joined us and we headed for '3G' and a little 'Community Service' and had a blast down there.  After a long hard day on the bike in hoooooot weather, we called it a day, went for a shower then met for dinner and had a few beers and a chill.

The next day, Aneela joined us, Andy still being unwell, and we headed for some beautiful exploring across the hills from Inners' to Peebles and had another fab day in the hills, descending into Peebles for lunch at the Deli-Bean, where a lurgy ridden Andy dragged himself out to join us for lunch.

Awesome lunch


More climbing saw us up Janet's Brae and into the Buzzard car park and more sweet single track, reminded me of Chamonix big time, onto the new track joining Peebles and Inners' - what joined up thinking there is around the Tweed Valley - great vision from the local community and council.

Anyway, back to the Traquair Arms and a well earned pint saw me heading home with heavy heart leaving sun, great biking and new, and old, friends.

Very well deserved!
All in a fantastic couple of days.  Hope to be back real soon.