Saturday, 28 May 2016

Warm and dry nav in the Cairngorms

This weekend I'm been working for Glenmore Lodge on refreshers for Summer Mountain Leaders on behalf of the Mountain Training Association.
Today I had a group of 4 folk and we headed up the north ridge of Cairngorm looking at relating the map and contour features to the ground. We also visited the El Alamein Refuge and had a chat about the plants and geology of the Cairngorms.
 Cloudberry in bloom in many places on the north slopes of Cairngorm
 A wee break
 Trying out the Sherpa Lithang jacket
 Where have I been... where am I... where am I going?
 The El Alamein Refuge

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Aonach Eagach

Today I had a great day working on the Aonach Eagach with Martin for Steve Fallon. We also had MIA Trainee Jess along who is working towards her Assessment later in the summer. With 6 fit scramblers and a great forecast I knew we were in for a good day. After a bit of a breeze on the pull up to the first summit it went still and calm ('fail' from the weather forecasters who predicted 20-30mph winds) and we sweated our way along the ridge with plenty of stops to drink in the view and some fluids too.
The Aonach Eagach is a cruise scramble for some and a little more challenging for others. Today we were flexible and with perfect conditions 4 of the team chose to follow Martin without a rope whilst 2 were happier with the security of a rope with Jess and I. Great views and a fun day. The descent is always quite full on on the knees though!
 After the flog uphill
 Amazing view of the Highlands
 Equally great view of Glencoe mountains
 Ready to go!
 Lorne and the view
 Jess on the move
 Jess getting some friction
 Through the pinnacles
 Up the steepest bit at the end
 Looking back along the pinnacles
 Sam savouring the exposure
 Still snow on Bidean nam Bian
 Looking back along the ridge
 Heading for the second Munro summit
What are you little fellow?

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Gneiss sunny slabs

Holly Tree Slab is so clearly visible as a gleaming sheet of rock close to the road from Corran to Strontian that I've been promising myself a wander up it for years. Today the sunshine, inclination and a likeminded partner coincided so Cameron and I headed across the ferry to Meall a' Braighaid. Its less than 15 minutes walk to the base of Holly Tree Slab which was as it appeared: a sheet of cleanest gneiss at an easy angle. We soloed it and then came down its left side, back up a rib there, down again, round to the right and up a slightly harder slab and then wandered up and right searching for its companion routes. We struggled a little with the descriptions but certainly found clean sheets of gneiss that were a lot harder than Holly Tree Slab and gave 60+m lines (including a couple of cracks that would have taken gear). Then we rambled back down to the bags (and I squeezed one more solo of HTS in) before sun induced lassitude caused us to call it a day. Very relaxing...

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

SPA Assessment in the Scottish summer sun

Today was the second day of an SPA Assessment for Cameron and Emma. Yesterday we exercised the excellent new SMC Southern Highlands Outcrops Guide using the photo tops to select some crags at Polldubh that the guys hadn't climbed on but which looked clean. Tricouni Slab, The Corner (new one for me too- good stuff), Route 2, Gambit (still a little dirty but we did some cleaning) and Bardinaghi and more. We had a few nibbling midges in the first few minutes and Smidged up but then the sun came out and they disappeared for the rest of the day.
Today we were across in Ardgour and my eyes were being drawn to the cloudscape back across in Lorn continuously. Baking hot and beautiful.
 1 of several until I hit the Smidge
 Tricouni slab
 The obvious cleaned line
 Come on up.
 Cam on The Corner
 Emma following a great wee line
 Emma on the intimidating Route 2
 Nae bother
 "Scottland's very own little slate route" (polished and prescise)
 Needs more cleaning
 SPA by the sea
 Abseil for Emma
 Definition of 'Roadside'
 Bring me up Scotty!
 That was steeper than it looked!
Stunning cloudscape
 Trust me, I"m an SPA Holder... almost!
 A quick trip down for Emma
Clouds across the sea