What a Guy

After much deliberation and a late start Guy and I finally decided to head up to the Ben. Guy had his eye on 'Gargoyle Wall' but on reaching the CIC hut we got some beta on a route called 'lost the place' (V,5***), a hidden gem that deserves its three stars. The last two pitches bring thhe excitement however the first two are very pleasent. The conditions were much nicer than on Tower Ridge because some of the turf and snow had frozen.
Guy on the first pitch.
The second pitch, before the excitement begins.
Guy made short work on leading the whole route, although since he is just back from climbing the Eiger he should be making short work of most routes.


A Cold Warm Up

Craig and I went up to the Ben today and I was able to bag my first winter route of the season. We headed to see what looked good as a nice warm up route to start the season off, then quickly decided on a wee wonder up Tower Ridge.

Craig McKay on the Eastern Traverse
Craig about to approach Tower Gap
 The route had plenty of snow however not much of the snow has consolidated, therefore making progress difficult. There was one other team on the route and there were a few teams heading up to the Coire na Ciste area.


Hanging Up My Paddle

I have just finished a very cold weekend of paddling as a guinea pig for for a level 5 Assessment. Yesterday I was on the Spean Gorge with Scotty one of the candidates and had a great but cold time. Today I was on the Orchy, with Henry, which was running really low as well which made it quite entertaining and another great and long day on the river. Good luck to both candidates, although I think I am ready to hang up my paddle and buoyancy aid for the year and get my axes out!


Roy Gorge

More new sections of river for me and this time it was the Roy Gorge (Grade 4). The water level was sitting below just under the first quartz band, which can be seen river left upstream of the Roy Bridge. The river has two syphons that are really messy when the river is running low and it is best to portage them. This was a great section of the Roy and now I am looking forward to doing the whole river top to bottom.


Half Full

Out with Henry and Ali on the River Spean, Again! Although this time it was running higher than I have ever ran the river before(the gauge was sitting at four). The river has a completely different feel when it is this high. All the technical sections are washed out and become big boils and waves.
Before entering the gorge section, which is hard to see because the river isn't distinguishable as a gorge at this level, there is a brilliant standing wave.
I haven't had a lot of experience of surfing waves of this size but I managed to get on the wave and change direction a few times. This felt brilliant because I have never managed to do this before. The smallest achievements in Climbing and Kayaking feel like little Everest's have been conquered. The feeling of accomplishment gives you such a buzz and keeps you going back for more.
The other first for me was that this is the first time I have done the whole river without a portage.
So another great day on the river and a nice big dump of snow on the mountains, just another thing to look forward to.


River Loy

I think it is fair to say that I am getting a lot of new ground under my belt because I was on the Loy with Henry and Ron, which is another new river for me. The Cameron Gauge under the road bridge was reading at 1, which is low but it still runs. You just need to avoid more rocks than usual. However 2, on the camron river gauge, is a really good level to run the river at but getting it at the right level is tricky because it empties very quickly.
A really good thing about today was that Henry taught me how to do a 'Boof' stroke, a technique I have been trying to figure out for a while. It involved a lot of bashing off rocks before I managed to nail it. Now I am just looking forward to using it in anger on some harder rivers.


Back on the Spean

Next week Henry will be sitting his level 5 assessment, therefore we are cramming the kayaking sessions in. Today I was back on the Spean Gorge and really not quite with it, capsized on the fairy steps rolled up in a pretter big stopper then waited until it decided to flush me out.
If you run this River please be sure make sure and not change at the road side. The residents appreciate it if you take the time to change down at the river bank. I think they have seen too many naked paddlers and are fed up of having their view from their front window spoiled.


The End of a Long Week of Paddling

Today was my fifth day in a row of paddling and this time Alan and I were on the Spean Gorge. The River was sitting at a good fun level and wasn't too strenuous. The water is getting pretty cold now and the Winter sounds like it is just about to arrive judging by next weeks forecast.


The Orchy

Another new river to my list and my fourth day in a row of paddling. Henry was doing some coaching with Dave and I, we went over some four star skills and looked at putting our coaching into practise.
The Upper Orchy is a pleasent grade two which was good fun and would be great for begginer paddlers. The Middle runs at grade 3/5(5), this depends on the river level. The river was low today so it was a steady three and good fun.


Upper Spean

Paddling again today and another new river for me. Henry, Ron, Ali and I paddled the Upper Spean which is a very intimadating section of the Spean. The 'get in' is right below the Laggan Dam, from the get go you're faced with constent grade 3 water for a couple two kilometres. Once this is over the river flatens out until you arrive at the gorge section.
Before going into the gorge I was warned that if I am came out of my boat, my only purpose in life was to get out of the water.
Once you pass the first rapid of the gorge your commited and faced with an intimidating steep narrow passage. This is a great section of river that has some easy but scary rapids. Finishing with waves about three to four metres high.
Laggan Dam Releasing
After getting out I found out why I didn't want to take a swim. A hundred and fifty metres after the last rapid there is a miniture version of Niagra Falls, Known as the Inverlair Falls
Inverlair Falls


2 Star Preparation

I  was out with the West Highland College today shadowing Mark McKerral who was preparing the first year students for their Star Awards.
Everyone started off solo paddling and looked at basic skills like forward paddling and turning. Then we went on to looking at tandem paddling and rescues.


Here Comes the Rain Again

Over the past couple weeks the Fort has been washed out with constant rain. Until today I haven't been able to make use of it but Lorenzo was up for getting on his first river.
We went down the Lower Roy which was at a really nice level, due to the ammount of rain we have had. Lorenzo did really well for his first river and we managed to finish just as it was getting dark.
The death strainer is still in the last rapid but can easily be avoided by taking the line far river left as long as the river is in high water.