Thursday, 24 December 2015

Pays Your Money...

Craig and Mark headed for Glencoe after a late plan to get out on Wednesday.  The weather was really pants but a day out is a day out.

Glencoe looked whiter than expected but warm fronts and heavy rain guaranteed no ice nor frozen turf...a mixed route was needed.  The North Buttress of the Bookle looked as best as they might get so they headed there for a look see.

The walk up the 'path' after Great Gully was a climb in itself and half way up they donned crampons and the axes were out.  Craig takes the story...

'Sketchy slippy rock was a challenge at times but we got to the stance in reasonable time after the crampons were introduced.  I took the first pitch which had no assistance from snow or turf.  It was a hooky affair with some difficult moves but plenty of good gear; it was a longer pitch than I recalled but maybe that was just imagination...or fear??   The graupel showers filtering down the face were the worst I've ever seen but it all added to the atmosphere.

Mark dispatched the second pitch in similar style with purely hooks and the occasional wobbly rock.  We continued on and Mark finished the final chimney which was a bit thin to say the least.  A quick set up and we were off down the first abseil followed by a second to the lower platform below the first stance.  From there we traversed to the bottom of Curved Ridge and made good time back to the car.

All in a good day's climbing but winter, although looking nice, isn't quite in yet in the Coe; a good freeze thaw cycle is needed before the next 'storm' strips everything back.'

Monday, 14 December 2015

On Your Marks...

SCNL 12 DEc 15 from C Coid on Vimeo.

After a few false starts, Sunday dawned with a blanket of recent snow and the plan was The Seam but a late check revealed, 'West is Best', so Craig and Mark headed for the Coe.  Scabbard Chimney had apparently been climbed on Saturday and had potential.

Early start and two VERY near misses with deer on the road in Glencoe saw a still 'nervous' pair heading in to the Hurt Lochan.  An early pair ahead of us and a pair of youthful whippets passing us on the way saw 2 pairs with eyes on Scabbard Chimney; tbh, it looked very thin, with soft snow and no ice.  Probably a tad too committing for the guys in that condition.

Summit buttress was very black and central buttress looked better.  Raeburn's Route looked fairly white and the pair headed off from the luncheon stone.  Craig takes up the story;

SCnL cliffs - Central Buttress
'Very soft snow on the approach was pretty brutal to walk on with many hidden rocks.  Onto the first belay and Mark was off up the chimney in good style.  No ice meant hooks on increasingly steep ground, with a tricky exit onto the crest.  I took pitch two, a delicate short section on very soft snow with more hooks.  Mark led up the third on tenuous slabs with balancey moves and I led off the final pitch.  We abseiled down the route for fun, practice and discussed rescue techniques and scenarios.

All in, a most enjoyable day but, to be honest, we don't think winter is quite here yet. The snow has just been laid and is pretty homogenous; there is a crispy top layer after the freeze (-5'c on the way up) but a decent freeze thaw cycle is needed to provide some useful snow, ice and neve.'

Summit Buttress
Aonach Eagach ridge

Sunday, 6 December 2015

It was the Best of Times...It was the worst of Times!

What the Dickens is happening to our winter?  Turbo thaw then torrential torrents.

Craig And Mark were looking for something, anything, to do but the weather gods were not happy and ensured the wild winter weather was...well, a washout!  Sadly, after some promise last weekend things might be getting wintery, the hope faded fast and virtually all useful snow disappeared.

With options on Saturday being biking in the rain, walking in the rain or 'climbing' in the rain, they chose to have a look at the North Buttress of the Buachaill.

Early signs were bad...there isn't usually a causeway at the white bridge after Bridge of Orchy by the NE end of Loch Tulla...

The drive past the Buachaill showed a river flushing down Great Gully and the River Coe a good three feet higher, so access to the North Buttress was going to be a little problematic.   However, they got the the central Coe carparks and considered options of; get out regardless; coffee shop; gear shops; or, home.

As the picture shows, the weather was truly mince but a day out is a day out and they went for a double hardshell strategy and headed for the Zig Zags to burn some calories....hats off to the Jottnar Bergelmir jacket and Vanir salopettes; worked a treat and kept the boys dry in the worst the weather can give!

The rain was relentless and the flow of water around them was limitless; the route had a steady stream running continuously.  Notwithstanding, a grand day out was had but the rain has stripped a great deal of snow away; a real dump of snow with some cold fronts and freeze thaw cycles are needed to give any climbing this year, unfortunately.

The team sought direct descent off the top of Gear Aonach and got a real feel for the amount of water flowing down the Corrie; a slip into the normally tame burn would be fatal!

There have also been some significant land slips in the corrie, one giving about 3-4 feet of debris over the path.  However, we can only hope for a turn in the weather and be thankful we are not suffering the floods the Lakes seems to be getting.   

Naesayers of climate change?  Eejits!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Great Expectations

Gorns2 from C Coid on Vimeo.

Craig and Mark packed late and got up for an early start before the early bird.  An early visit to what was hoped would be a snowy Cairngorm saw lots of white stuff on the way up.

Snowgates closed at Glenmore didn't bode well but 903am saw them open and we were second on the path from the carpark.  We trooped in but met a couple of kent faces walking out - overnight in the Sugarbowl gave them a head start.  They were disappointed and saw only black faces...ever the optimists, Craig and Mark wandered on in increasing wind and wind blown snow abounding.

Near the lochans, all was revealed; plenty white about but not on the faces and pretty thin all round and not overly cold, bar the windchill.

A chat, a cooling in the gusting wind and a sense check that said not sensible nor ethical winter climbing saw the guys walk out for coffee and thin reindeer biscuits in the drabbest coffee house at the new 'Natural Retreat'.

A few tasks in Aviemore and then down the road...good grief, the drive up and down is dire with the new speed cameras - stuck behind a lorry at 50mph; that's more dangerous than the old system with impatient drivers and icy roads!

Nice to get out and walk the ropes and tools but sadly its not winter yet, unless you enjoy blunting metal and scratching rock!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Noah...nuff said!

Biblically bad forecast for rain at lunchtime saw Craig and Mark make a plan for a quick hit in the Coe to stretch the legs, burn some calories and get out and about for some fun time.

Craig takes up the story...
"Having never quite got round to doing Dinnertime Buttress in the west end of Glen Coe, I was keen to sort that out and given the forecast, a quick ascent might give us a nice day out.  A quick drive up, already on 'deer watch' saw us head off up the ridge before 9am.  It's a pretty relentless 30-35' slope most of the way up but we made good time to reach the path proper where the rock buttress begins.

The rock was a bit slippery in places and care was always required but it's a lovely route up with terrific views all round the glen.  Higher up, options exist for some fun in a chimney line and we found a nice way all the way to the top on steeper ground.

Near the top, the view west was laden with rain clouds and the wind began swirling around us and in the next 5 minutes, the Jottnar waterproofs were out and taking a serious soaking (2 hrs earlier than forecast) which they did for the rest of the day...a truly challenging day in the wind and rain but great fun nonetheless.

As is our want, we snuggled down on the ridge for soup (Heinz tomato of course) and a sandwich...which it transpired was still on my kitchen worktop!!  The excellent MSR Windboiler worked a treat in the conditions and after a quick bar and cuppa, we were off into Corrie nan Lochan".

A fine day out for Craig and Mark who laughed at the amount of water coming off the hills in various unlikely locations on the drive down.  Noah was no doubt busy today!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Thunderbirds Are Go...

After the cancellation of the final Gold DofE exped on Skye, Craig found himself 'sans-purpose' on Sunday; thankfully Mark was planning a raid on Curved Ridge with Jane so we made our way with much anticipation...a Sunday of play rather than work!

The weather was atmospheric but generally dry and windless.  A Lagangarbh start saw us make good progress to the start of the trail, just ahead of an MCoS intro to scrambling party.   Jane on a short rope saw us past the difficulties of the first major steepening.

There followed a desolate cry from the mist as a crag fast scrambler on the far side of D Gully asked us four some assistance.  Craig and Mark made their way, threw a rope loop to him and he was up and over the short difficulty in no time.  He was thankful for the assist, sheepishly admitting he had decided to solo unknown ground after getting bored waiting for others in his group...lessons learned all round, they continued without incident to the summit with a spring in their step.

We continued on and up, reaching the top of CR in good time; seeking further adventure, we made for the top of Crowberry Tower by way of a pleasant view into Crowberry Gully under the face of the Tower. This is a lovely scramble with fabulous situations on positive holds the whole way, if a little exposed at times.

Lunch on the Tower (the best lunch spot on the planet??) followed by a further scramble down and onwards over the summit saw us descending a rather busy Tourist Route back to the car, past disabled dogs and two year old summiteers!

All in a great day catching up with life away from work.

Now lets get planning for winter...

Friday, 2 October 2015

Classic Rock...

Arderikie Wall**** HS 4b

Gerry and Mark took advantage of the good forecast and headed North to Binnein Shuas.

Some thoughts from Mark...

We walked up the estate track with various overnight camping teams heading out in what can only be described as July weather.

Not having any coins we tossed a wee blue lip balm tin to see who was first up and I win. Gerry had climbed the route many years before with George so it seemed only right. We followed Gary’s description and ran the original 12m first and second pitch together.

The climbing and situation was fantastic if not a little run out on the top section, but the holds were good and with such good weather it was easy to just keep climbing. Gerry arrived at the belay looking relaxed and eager to tackle the impressive looking flake (I was slightly jealous of this to be honest). Pitch dispatched without drama and I led through on yet another great pitch on great rock with good gear. Being ‘now’ in the groove  the final two pitches went by in a flash and left us feeling we wanted another 10 pitches !!!

The route is amazing and impressive in equal measures and well worth getting up early for. It’s been on Craig’s list for a while also so perhaps I'll get to lead the flake pitch sometime soon.

Meanwhile Craig and Bill ran back-to-back Duke of Edinburgh Silver awards on the hills near Kenmore.


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Tour de Force...

21-29 August 2015

Mark teamed up with Gerry for this years Alps trip.

The plan - to climb Alpin-durst (14 pitches 4c) on the Jagihorn. Castor and Pollux, the Eiger, the Matterhorn, Lyskamm, the Frendo ! So, within 10 hours of leaving Edinburgh they were swinging leads on the grippy gneiss high above Sass Grund sucking in thin air on a bright sunny day and adjusting the plan for the coming week.

The Swiss meteo was showing a 1.5 day blip with heavy weather up high so they relocated to the valley for some sport climbing and Ferrata at Belvedere then onto the Grand Hotel Kurhaus in the Arolla valley to pack for a couple nights at Klein Matterhorn. Arriving in Zermatt in good time and up to the Hut for stunning 360 views.

First up each day they had the plateau and journey to both mountains in complete solitude. Castor and Pollux being in great conditions with firm and squeaky snow and on both occasions they had the summits to themselves.

High altitude sleeps over they headed to the valley to mainline on some oxygen and then some multi pitch climbing in the sun at Pierr du Moelle.

Some pics below from a great and busy week...

Alpin-Durst               © Gerry McGarry

                                                                                           © Gerry McGarry
Jagihorn summit 
Gerry on Ferrata Belvedere       © Mark McGinnes
Breithorn with Pollux and Castor behind                © Mark McGinnes
 Mark tying alpine butterflies at 5am                          © Gerry McGarry
Mark climbing the fixed ropes on Pollux              © Gerry McGarry
Gerry on the Pollux summit ridge                           © Mark McGinnes
Summit ridge Castor                     © Gerry McGarry
 Castor summit ridge                                             © Mark McGinnes
Summit selfie
 Looking across to Lyskamm                                  © Mark McGinnes
Limestone multi-pitch climbing                             © Mark McGinnes
                                                                                © Mark McGinnes

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

In By October....Aye, Right!

Craig, Bill and Peter took advantage of a weather window but more importantly a day off, to seek some biking fun in Glentress.

The ubiquitous Andy McKenna had shown Craig some trails earlier this year and efforts to link everything together again were proving beyond his mental capacity.

However, Tuesday was the day; there are so many trails in and around Glentress that I suspect only a very select few would dare claim to know them all; I am certainly not one of the select few!

However, I know some and by the end of the day we all had a big smile on our faces and a grand day out was had.

I'm still testing out the GoPro and my sedentary pace on the bike is exacerbated to a walk - Bill and Peter are experts at this art mind you!  So rather than have a one hour long video, it is running at bit faster at places, though you might not know where...

If you fancy a Simply Epic day's biking, feel free to get in touch

A Simply Epic Day's Biking at Glentress off piste routes from C Coid on Vimeo.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Knoydart Wanderings

Craig and Bill had a quick hit in Knoydart with a Gold Dofe expedition, travelling around the peninsula then to Sourlies, A' Chuill bothy and then out to Glen Finnan.

This is one of Scotland's finest areas of truly outstanding beauty; known as the Rough Bounds, the terrain is tough, the midges tougher and the views to die for.

The candidates were strong and uncomplaining, and finished the route in grand style.  We then gorged ourselves on a MacDonald' first for some 15 years I think but well worth the subsequent guilt.

I think the following pictures may answer any questions or doubts you may have about Knoydart's beauty.  Truly stunning and, IMHO, beyond compare for beauty AND solitude.

The journey begins

Final salvation

Sunset from the camp

Beauty with Skye in the distance 

Glen of the Midge

Midge hell

Exiting midge hell

Sgurr na Ciche



Loch Nevis

Nice buttress

A pleasant bimble

Getting better

and better

views to die for

The dinner table

and its view

Salvation after a long day

Early start

Back to Glen Dessary


Corryhully bothy

The big hoose