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!

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 


4  September 2016

First time on rock for Linda climbing the uber classic Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor Glen Coe with Mark on Sunday. The rock was a bit greasy in places but it was very atsmospheric and Linda threw all the right shapes when needed.

They had lunch on Crowbery Tower before heading to the summit.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

School of Rock

After a pretty good winter, Craig and Mark got out on to rock for the first time this season...and that means the Bookle - and why not?

The sun was out and the rock was grippy like a grippy thing, so we headed up with options in mind, largely depending on Mark's recovering ankle after a twist on the hill some three weeks previously.

We were first up and got to the Waterslab in good time and North Face Route was the chosen objective; we'd climbed once previously and it was a fun route though a little greasy on that occasion.

We swapped the start and Craig headed up the first pitch.  The rock was delightful, grippy and warm, and the views were, as always, stupendous.

Mark had the lovely traverse pitch...

and Craig linked the next two pitches together up the corner and chimney - a great idea as both pitches are short and run nicely in series.

Mark had the final pitch with the 'hero shot'...

On finishing, we saw that avoiding the Rannoch Wall was a good idea, as it was a tad busy.  Descent down Curved Ridge and back to the car in the sunshine saw an alpine-esque day in the heat and ice-cream at the Welly!

All in a super day to get back in 'top gear' for a summer of rock and adventure.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

A summer of adventure...

Summer is full on Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE for the Simply Epic team and trusted associates.  So far this year, we have slept under tent 30 nights and it's not June yet!

Summer continues apace with more DofE groups, cragging adventures, some epic mountain bike adventures, Munro bagging for a charity group and Mountain Bike Leadership - Level 2 training and assessments throughout the summer.

Get in touch to organise your adventure or plan your training or assesment here

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Lion's Den...

Point 5

Craig and Mark thought winter was over but some recent action suggested otherwise.

Point Five in mind, the boys were up at 330 for an early start and headed for the Ben with some excitement.  Weather gods were good and the rain stayed off and it was 4'C at the top carpark...with things looking white enough.

The usual long walk in was dusted and they headed for Observatory Gully, which looked white.  There were flutters of snow and the cloud covered the summit down to around 1000m but occasional glimpse of P5 suggested it looked good.

A pair were ahead starting up the Chimney pitch and as always getting to the base took longer due to the steep approaches.  A single screw belay and Craig was off to run the ropes out.   The placements were pretty good but the ice a bit cruddy in places and out of 5 screws only 1 felt good, the others hitting air in the ice or just being pretty crap, though there is the usual tat in place to clip...with little real confidence.

'Fast' approaching the route?

Looking down from the first belay
The route is a bit banked on P1 and we started higher than usual, so Craig ran the Chimney pitch to the top of its first steep section and set up a good nut belay.  The amount of spindrift coming down the route was worrying; initially it seemed it might be the team ahead but the volume was at times heart stopping and increased with progress.

Under the maelstrom

Belay before the rogue pitch

Mark came up and joined Craig on a tight belay and headed off up the final steepening of the Chimney pitch and thence to the Rogue pitch which had nice ice and took a couple of better screws.  The amount of spindrift was now concerning, as if it wasn't before, and after Craig joined Mark, a quick chat and a good decision was made to set up a belay and retreat down the gully; ahead looked grim in the mist and clearly the slopes were getting loaded with little pro on the pitches above.

On an abseil point half way on P2, a massive spindrift 'avalanche' launched down drenching us for a full minute at least...felt longer; we were 2 ft apart and couldn't see each other...that bad!!  Once it abated, we quickly set up and escaped far down our descent to Observatory Gully and the hut.

Nice hanging belay

They eyes have it... Craig on belay
Escape into the void
It's a wonderful climb in good nick just now.  We thought it a bit steeper in the Chimney pitch than previously but it had just enough bridging opportunities to make for comfortable screw placements.

All in a proper belter of a day; steep climbing, challenging conditions and spicy enough to feel tested!

Sadly, that might just be it for us this winter...proper work beckons; after the best day of the season too!