Monday, 20 May 2013

Wilderness in the West

Guiding work can be a bit like feast or famine, with some weeks being quite quiet and others being mega busy. This last week was certainly a feast week! Last Saturday I was working for Seren Ventures on Ben Nevis. I managed to get 8 of the group onto the summit in poor visibility but generally benign conditions. Still a lot of snow on the plateau so good boots and poles are a wise choice. Well done team!

On Sunday I headed North to meet my clients for Wilderness Scotland. A drive from Inverness took us to Glen Affric and we enjoyed a walk around the beautiful Loch Affric. A quick detour took us back to Inverness to pick up the last member of the team and from there we drove up to Gairloch. The forecast on Monday was pretty grim so we opted to do a coastal walk from Diabaig towards Red Point. The strong winds and battering rain slowed down progress but we made it to the Craig Bothy for a quick lunch stop before seeking out a Mesolithic Stone Shelter which was nearby. A nice stretch of the legs for everyone.

Tuesday's forecast was slightly better so we opted for a mountain day and went to Torridon for a hike up the Corbett Ben Damh. The Scottish weather didn't disappoint with a proper 4 seasons in an hour keeping things lively! The team did really well and a quick stop in the Torridon Hotel refreshed everyone before heading back to Gairloch.

Meanwhile Back in the Fort on Tuesday, Davie took Nick up Ben Nevis. Nick was keen to learn some navigation skills and the conditions were perfect with almost zero visibility. Well done to Nick who made it up and down in a respectable time of 6 hours!

 Doug and Mark decided on a game of golf at Dornoch on Wednesday so I took Matt and Bill up Beinn Ghobhlach near Dundonnell. This was a great wee hill, with no track, no people and a real sense of remoteness. We then made a lightning speed descent in under an hour from the summit back to the path, good effort guys!

Thursday was our final day and we were keen to get the guys to bag their first Munro. With the Cairngorm Plateau still being in very much Winter conditions I decided on Bynack Mor. The weather was stunning and the contrast to the scenery on the West Coast was stark. Some soft patches of snow didn't slow us down and we made good progress to enjoy some spectacular views of the Cairngorms at the summit. A really enjoyable week with Bill, Mark, Matt and Doug, thanks guys!

Davie was also working for me on Thursday and guided Darren and Chris on Ben Nevis. Another successful summit, good job guys!

On Friday I had a day instructing at the ice factor with school groups from various areas learning how to ice climb and some impressive performances from some of the pupils on heir first ever go at ice climbing!

Saturday was was back up the Ben for Seren Ventures again working with Craig and Willie. The big group of 23 did really well but all but 3 turned around close to the summit due to gusting winds of 50-60mph. The team certainly found a new level of respect for the mountain and appreciated how quickly things can get serious up there. 

A few days off with Glenda and Robin now and probably some more climbing later in the week before the next big stretch of work starts!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

'Summer' starts!

Last week was the start of my 'Summer' work! Things kicked off with a group doing the 3 peaks in 3 days with Maximum Adventure. Unfortunately no-one has told Ben Nevis that it's Spring yet and we were met with pretty full on winter conditions. The team did remarkably well but at 1200m we decided to call it a day. Even though the group was will equipped for Spring/Summer, this was not enough to safely make it to the summit. A great effort from everyone though!


Last Saturday I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides to help a team of 600 pupils and teachers from various schools in the Lanarkshire area walk the last section of the West Highland way from Altnafeadh in Glencoe through to Fort William. The weather was kind to us and the massive group did realy well, raising lots of money for charity and having a good day out at the same time!
The Buachaille from the top of the Devil's Staircase

With a fairly poor forecast for the week and the need to rack up some more climbs for my logbook Davie and I headed to North Wales on Monday for some climbing. We arrived in Llanberris Pass about 1600hrs and headed straight onto Dinas Mot to do Western Slabs (VS 4c). A couple of nice pitches and a cheeky move on the crux saw us abbing down western gully and back to pitch the tent.
With a cracking forecast we headed to South Stack on Gogarth on Tuesday and got a few routes done including Lighthouse Arete Direct( VS 4c), Poseidon/Blanco (HVS 5a) and Pel (VS 4c)
Davie on Light House Arete Direct P1

Abbing back down

Top of P1 Poseidon/Blanco 
Starting up Pel

What a place to be!

On Wednesday we headed to Tremadog and got to climb some fantastic routes including Merlin Direct (HVS 5a), One Step in the Clouds (VS 4c) and Christmas Curry/Treemadock Finish (VS 4c). A brew and a chip butty in Eric's Cafe saw us fuelled and ready to head back to the Pass.

Needing to stock up on a few calories on Thursday, we headed to Pete's Eats for a slap up breakfast before going to the Idwal slabs on Cwm Idwal. Heather Wall (VS 4c) was first on the list followed by Original Route (VS 5a). After a polished descent on the 'Easy Way Off' we called it a day. 

Camping in the Pass
Fantastic weather combined with great climbing led to some really memorable days and I'm looking forward to another trip to Wales in the future.