Monday, 24 June 2013

Summer update

The Summer season is in full swing now! Last weekend I was working for Maximum Adventure with a team doing a day walk up Ben Nevis. Despite a very busy mountain we had a great day with some nice views too.

Dave and I tried to have a quick hit on Etive Slabs on Tuesday but as we arrived in Glen Coe the drizzle put an end to those plans. Etive slabs in the wet was a bit of a no no!

Wednesday I started a full 3 peaks with the team from BskyB for Max Ad.
A bit of clag on the Ben, stunning sunset and clear skies on Scafell Pike and pretty nice weather on Snowdon meant an enjoyable trip. Well done to everyone for completing the 3 peaks, some of whom managed within a technical 24 hours.

On Saturday I was marshaling on the Ben for Mountain Sense with the Kier Team. I got top spot on the summit which was cool. I was expecting an absolute soaking so was well prepared to batten down the hatches and stay warm and comfy but the rain that had been constant all morning soon eased and by the time I reached the summit, things were quite pleasant. A nice walk down too saw some cloud clearing and again, some great views. Thanks to Blair, Jamie B, Max and Dan for making it an enjoyable day.

Yesterday I was working for Abacus Mountain Guides with Chris. Chris was recovering from a knee injury and wanted to see how he got on on some Munros. We headed to Loch Trieg to do Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg. The weather, as forecast was pretty foul but Chris and I had a great time and enjoyed the hardship and drama of the fierce weather. A thoroughly enjoyable day out on nice, quiet hills with good company.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Blog Backlog!- Ben bashing and Cuillin Adventures

The past 4 weeks have been super hectic with a mixture of mainly work and a bit of play. I have been up and down Ben Nevis about a dozen times with various groups at various speeds, ranging from 9.5 hours to 4.5 hrs, from folk in their 60's to a 10 year old, freelancing for Seren Ventures, Maximum Adventure, Mountain and Glen as well as my own clients! Also managed a quick trip up Spartan slab on the Etive slabs which was a great route. Rather than a blow by blow account of every trip  here's some pics from those various trips.

Sunday afternoon saw myself and Davie heading to Skye to fulfill as long term climbing ambition of mine- The Cuillin Ridge Traverse. This has the reputation as the best mountaineering route in the UK and I can agree wholeheartedly with this. There are various strategies and ways of doing this but we both were keen for a 1 day traverse. This has the bonus of not carting bivy kit along the ridge and if the weather window is small then chances of success are higher. The downside is that it is a LONG day! We didn't quite realise just how long it would be....

We were thinking about a couple of hours sleep on the beach at Glen Brittle but Scotland's loveable wee beasties (aka midges) put an end to that plan. We decided to walk into Coire a Ghrunda on Sunday evening and have a few hours rest before starting the ridge at first light. Not really preparing for a bivy at 700m a chilly, uncomfortable and sleepless 4 hours saw us welcoming daylight before heading onto the ridge for sunrise. We headed to the South end of the ridge without the packs and then back to start properly.

Evening walk in

A not so good sleep!

My traverse attempt almost came to an abrupt end when I pulled a large loose block off on the descent from Sgurr Dubh Mor. I managed to stay on by a couple of finger tips and kept my balance. A good wake up call early on which caused me to test every hold for the rest of the trip. Before we knew it we abbed into the TD gap to face the technical crux of the ridge. Very polished and strenuous rather than technical it was dispatched fairly quickly before carrying on to Sgurr Alasdair. It was nice to bump into a familiar face from the Fort, Blair, in the gap too.

 Collie's ledge over Sgurr Mhic Choinnich was outstanding and were delighted to see an empty Inn Pin for us to nip up too! Onwards to Sgurr na Banachdaich as the sun started to swelter!

The part of the ridge between Sgurr a Mhadaidh and Bruach na Frithe was definitely the trickiest with solo climbing and down climbing up to about Diff, some abseils and tricky route finding, plus a seemingly never ending slog back up to Bruach na Frithe!

With some relief we made it to the trig point here.

We decided to miss out the Bhastier tooth due to the wind beginning to pick up, time racing on and we were both feeling the effects of no sleep, dehydration and low food supplies!(plus we had both been up the tooth before). Onto the final tops and we picked up a most welcome bottle of water that Peter had stashed for us at Bealach a Bhasteir. Up the West Ridge of Gillean which certainly woke us up a bit as we swung round the pinnacles and enjoyed the sensational exposure. Up through the window to the finish line- the top of Sgurr nan Gillean.

14 hours 35 mins end to end doesn't quite describe how long it felt! The walk off to Sligachan felt never ending with tired legs, burning finger tips and sore feet. I have a new level of understanding how clients can feel when coming off the Ben with sore feet and exhaustion as it was my turn this time! Back to Glen Brittle and a 10 hours sleep of champions (in the car!), a breakfast from Broadford and we both felt a bit more human. A big tick in the box for sure, but a day that I will remember for a lifetime.