Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Craig and Bill sought refuge in the Scottish mountains on another stellar day to check out part two of a Duke of Edinburgh route we will use this summer...and what a route it will be.

Meandering into the hills on our bikes from the picturesque village of Comrie, we found a good covering of snow high up and enough solid terrain to make riding the bike manageable.  The scenery was spectacular and the biking great fun, with plenty of climbing.

We scoped a couple of excellent camp sites, had lunch in the sun and snow, saw 5 soaring Golden Eagles high in the mountain and chatted to a number of friendly walkers, skiers and estate managers.

All in, a great day in the Scottish hills; reminding us of the great biking we can still unlock with a map and a sense of adventure to just get out there.   Not only is the biking good, the hills are well worth exploring;  there are fabulous ridges to follow and link up a round back to the car with lovely coffee and cake to start and end your day in Comrie.

A simply Epic day :)

Get in touch if you want to visit some gems on foot or two wheels.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Early Birds Miss the Worm

Craig and Mark met uber 'Super Alpine' early for a trip to Glen Coe to tick off the classic climb, Crowberry Gully...imagine our disappointment driving past the Bookle at 0625 hrs and seeing lights on the path :(

Reports of CG being in good nick were rife and we knew the teams were heading that way.   No faff in the carpark and we were off, but not before another team got a 5 min start on us...obviously heading too for CG.   We nipped up the route for the North Buttress hoping to head them off at the pass but once we traversed over to the gully line, the two (then we realised three) teams had just arrived at the foot of the gully and were heading up.

That's life and we soldiered on and up to the first very short ice pitch where the queues had started.  We had two teams visible ahead and one further up but we had this route in our sights for a while, having missed out on good and bad days for various reasons, so we were content to wait.

The guide books are all pretty poor at describing CG in detail, which is perhaps understandable as once on it you can't really go wrong, but the descriptions in the books didn't quite match what we found...maybe it varies dramatically in differing conditions?

Anyway, we found it had five short iced sections requiring protection (the first one is very short but worth protecting with the in-situ tat); a short chimney and the Thin Flake Crack (?) on the second pitch: what we thought was the Cave pitch but clearly later realised it wasn't with a short steep move out right (very similar to the Cave pitch but less steep, though longer) and then the Cave Pitch - the crux and a lovely pitch of some 10m max, which terminates on the summit slopes.

All climbing in between is pretty straight forward, I - II, requiring little protection although conditions were good and if thin it is most likely to be a different story.  We found the going pretty good fun and had a great day out swinging leads.  What we did find was that 60m ropes seem to be pretty perfectly sized for the conditions on the day...we had 50m and had two occasions of moving together for the next 10m to get into what appeared to be the right position for the next pitch.

All in, a brilliant day's climbing; stellar views from the summit, stellar rolls and soup and a pleasant walk down the main corrie chatting to Donald King of Abacus Mountaineering.

Fancy doing it again this week :)   I tried to make a video but Vimeo is playing games with me and wont save my video, so plenty of pictures instead.

NNAS courses are starting up soon; get in touch if you want to get your navigation skills sorted for the coming year and get a formal navigation qualification at the same time :)

Pic of the day! :)

What we thought was the Cave Pitch...wrong!

The top

Cave Pitch Exit

Looking down from the Cave

Approaching the summit

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Wear the Fox Hat?

Craig and Bill went for a recce of a DoE Silver route near Killin on Tuesday and found conditions different than anticipated for the day...lots of snow and very hard going.  Although it's a walking route, we tried to cycle some of it by bike.

In over four hours, we managed around 10k, having binned the bikes and walked to last 1.7k on foot to check out a building for an emergency refuge - sadly it's a shooting lodge for the estate.

Notwithstanding, we had a great day, chatted to the friendly local farmer and saw plenty of deer on the hills for the gentry to shoot in summer.   Even saw some footprints which I hope to get identified...not much of a trapper but I know someone who is very knowledgable about these things - Lucy!

Good day and good chat.

Heading out into a winter wonderland

Face plant in a ditch - walking too!

What are these???

Bikes abandoned due to drifting - heading for One Ton Depot...thankfully we made it with a tuna roll to spare :)

Monday, 11 February 2013

One in the eye ...

Mark and his client spent a few hours on Sunday in the white room of Ben Donich. Mark takes up the story, "It was full on winter with the 2 parties in front quickly feeling, “out of my depth, good luck” and “this is a bit mental for me”.  It was, but we plodded on making holes in the new and crunching up the old snow; there was some slab about but it was easily avoided. We took shelter from the wind in one of the spooky fissures before heading back down the hill". 

A quick but full on day with good learning opportunities for navigation, a free exfoliation and a blood shot eye...magic.

Bill is running a Trail Cycle Leader (TCL) training course this coming weekend in the Glasgow area and has 2 places left, jump in if you are interested by contacting Bill on 07717 005803

Monday, 4 February 2013

Out there ...

North Buttress IV, 4

Craig and Mark headed to Glen Coe to climb North Buttress of Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor). We know this route well and have climbed many times in summer and have had a couple of bailed attempts in winter.

We arrived ahead of another 3 teams of 2. The conditions looked good but the snow only had a crust, so was less than ideal. Still, being first on the route, we pushed on with Mark leading the first pitch. Craig led through to climb the second chimney and Mark the third. At times it was slow going finding gear placements under the snow, and finding bomber placements was just about non existent.

All of the 3 main pitches felt a technical grade or two harder today with some really insecure placements on all the crux moves.

Conditions improved moderately with altitude, and by the time the technical climbing was over we cruised together over super icy but still tricky "easier" ground on the ridge to the summit.

With the avalanche conditions high on East facing slopes and finding lots of slab we opted to come down (Mark's) "dad's route" (the West Ridge) rather than Coire Na Tulaich, as it was loaded.

A fantastic day out with some good decision making on the descent, with energy levels low and in fading light...Epic.