Break of Dawn

I was out of bed at 4.15am to join a team who were climbing the Ben for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and MND Scotland. It was another stunning day with fantastic views in every direction. There was team of eleven, all of which did a great job and summited successfully.

The summit shot



Geoff, Richard, David and John were raising money for the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival. This is a free outdoor performing arts festival that takes place between the 21st and the 29th of June. From looking at some of the videos on the sight it looks like quite a specticle.
So far team the team hs almst raised £3000 by climbing the four highest peaks in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The guys did a great job getting to the summit and back down again so help the guys out click here to donate.

Plenty of snow on the Summit Plateux

Team shot on the summit


Enjoying the Sun

For the past week I have been working for Stramash in Glencoe. Stramash had the Tullochen Trust in Glencoe for their outdoor residential. I was taking two seperate groups up to camp in the Lost Valley, from there we went to Gear Aonagh and the second group went to the top of Stob Coire Nan Lochan. We had great weather throughout the week and both groups really enjoyed the views and lack of Midgies. I hope the rest of the summer is as good as this. 

Heading up to Stob Coire Nan Lochan
On Gearr Aonagh
Looking into the Lost Valley 


Still plenty of Snow


I was on the Ben for the Snowgoose mountain centre today. I was leading a school group from London to the Summit. They did well only taking around six hours to get up and down.
The summit was really busy even with all the snow, which meant that you had more than a few people stepping right out onto the cornices!


Fun in the Sun

Last night I was phoning round desperately trying to find a climbing partner. The weather was going to be stunning and the midges are still not out yet so I was desperate not to miss the opportunity to get on the rock.
Eventually Neil got back to me and we planned to head into the Glen. We started off 'Sues climb' (HVS 5b*) on the River Walls, the first pitch was really dirty and covered in green slime. However the second pitch had plenty of good clean rock and come interesting moves to top out on.
After this we headed over to Gorge Crag so I could have a look at 'Plague of Blazes' (E2 5b***). I have been wanting to climb this for a long time but it is wet on the driest of days. So finding it on a dry day is pretty difficult. I was glad to get on it because it was one of the better climbs I have ever done. It keeps coming and had loads of interest all the way up the route.
Unfortunately my camera isn't working very well so I didn't get any pictures of the route or the amazing weather we had in the fort.


Making Use of the Rain

It's pretty wet in the Fort at the moment, but luckily I was paddling with Nevis Canoe Club today so the rain wasn't a problem for us. I was leading some of the clubs beginners down their very first river which was great fun.
We stuck to the basics and made our way up the canal and then came back down the River Lochy.

The group heading down the river


Sunglasses and Sun Cream!

After looking out the window this morning I was rather unmotivated to get out. Everything was still wet from the night before and I couldn't get any paddling partners. By the afternoon a heatwave had moved over the Fort and everything was dry.

Luckily I got response from Craig so we headed down the Glen for hot rock. We started on Promises (Hard Severe 4b**) to warm up, then I climbed Rubber Face (E1 5b**) which could do with some more traffic.
Craig on Secretaries Direct (Severe)
On Twitch (E1 5b)
We kept heading up the way toward Secretaries Buttress for Craig to do the first pitch of Secretaries Direct (Severe***) and for me to do Twitch (E1 5b*).

A great days cragging and all was going well until I was walking back to the car when I slipped and noticed that I wasn't going to have a soft landing. So whilst falling down the side of the hill I managed to inform Craig that 'this was going to hurt'. Luckily wasn't as bad as it could have been but I do have a nice bruise on my knee for my efforts.


Real Adventures

I have been working with Dan Robinson and Real Adventure over the past four days in the Lake District. It was great fun to be back working with Dan and good to visit new places and work with old friends again.
I was working with 9 girls from Malvern College for four days . Together we Kayaked and Canoed on Ullswater, walked over Birkhouse Moor and gorge walked up Red Tarn Beck.



Kenny and I headed over to Dingwall in search of some dry rock. We found it at Moy Rock which is a Conglomerate South facing sport crag. There was a few showers that went through but not enough rain to stop us.

As it was the start of the season we were trying to get the mileage in so we repeated a few routes on top rope.

But we climbed Black Streak (6a+), The Dark Side (6c), Little Teaser (6b+) and attempted the Seer (7b).


Peanmeanach Bothy

I was out with Nevis Canoe Club on their first Sea Kayaking trip of the summer. They have lots of trips taking place over the summer so check out their site and get involved.

Our first trip was just a simple overnight to Peanmeanach Bothy which was a good fun trip. With lots of laughs and an interesting disturbance during the night.  On the way back we managed to see an otter and remain dry. Only to get soaked putting the boats away.

Getting ready to go 
Jen up for it!
Jen, Steve and Allan
Our home away from home 
Getting ready to go


Back on Rock!

The rain has stopped, the sun has come out and the rock is dry! Niel and I headed down the Glen for a quick blast.

We jumped on Calvary Crack buttress and warmed up by joining two routes together.  The first pitch of Storm then on to Drizzle. Then we jumped onto Dundee Buttress and I led Dundee Weaver (HVS).

Only two routes but it has got me psyched for the rock season!


Chilled Upper Roy

We headed back to the Upper Roy because we didn't have loads of time to get out but we knew we were going to be paddling a different river from two days ago.

Bridget and I had a much more relaxed time on the river even getting the chance to make eddies and have a conversation instead of a passing word.


Spean Gorge

It didn't rain too much overnight but we hoped that there would still be enough water in the rivers to play on. There was enough but he Spean didn't have as much as we expected sitting just under '2' on the gauge.

Still made for a good run but it is surprising how fast the rivers go up and down around here.


Upper Roy in Record Time

With more rain falling overnight there was still plenty of water to play on. So Bridget and I headed up to the Upper Roy this time. The river was absolutely huge, the grade 4 rapid 'rooster tail' was now a grade 2 and looking the easiest part of the river instead of the hardest part.

Once we were on the river it was a case of being pushed down and only having a little say in where you wanted to go. It took us around five minutes to get down because everything was moving so fast.

Great fun! Unfortunately no photo's camera isn't too happy at the moment!


Flash Flood

An overnight spillage of rain meant the rivers were almost overflowing. Henry and I headed over to the Lower Roy, we knew we were going to have a good run because we could hear the river roaring from the car park. With this much water the Roy is easily one of my favourite rivers to run.
However, we didn't stop at the bottom of the Roy, we kept on going into the Spean and found that almost flat until the Railway Bridge Falls which was flowing bigger than I have ever seen it before.
I hope this is the beginning of the paddling season.


Slav Route

Today Henry and I were heading up the Ben to have look at Slav (VI,5***) route. After having a pit stop in the CIC hut we were having doubts as to whether or not were going to be drowning in spin drift. We almost changed our minds but decided to stand at the bottom of the route to make help make our decision.

We were getting dumped on by plenty of spin drift but we went for it anyway. This felt like Orion Direct all over again. Long face route and spaced out gear in some sections. The route has some brilliant situations and keeps coming right up until the end.

Will this ever winter ever end?

Henry somewhere on Slav Route


Smith's Gully ****

It was time for an early start this morning because Meagaidh isn't the shortest walk in and we wanted to be the first to the route. We only saw three other climbers throughout the entire day, two of which were heading for our route until they heard our plans.

 It was two and half hours to the bottom of the route but the weather was great and the route was looking supreme condition. The route is definetly worth every one of those stars, its possible it was given one for each pitch. The first and last pitches are the ones that stand out as just brilliant.

Henry on the First Pitch

3rd Pitch


Smoking the White Shark?

After missing an entire week of fantastic weather I was desperate to get out and take advantage of more of this winter. I was in luck because Henry had plenty of time of as well, so after a leisurely start we headed up to Aonach Mor to see what we could find.
The clag wasn't making it easy to find the routes but we started up what we thought was White Shark. It wasn't in great condition, after topping out we headed down to Sgurr Finnisg-aig Falls (Smoking the White Owl). A quick play on that then it was back down the Gondola. No pics as I left my camera at home.


Crowberry Gully

I was able to bag another Cold Climb classic today on the Buachaille. My Dad and I had picked a perfect day for it, hardly a cloud in the sky and not breath of wind either. 

We were joined by two other teams and found the ice a tad thin in places but this didn't take away anything from the really enjoyable climbing. 

Icicles hanging off waterslide slab

Looking down crowberry


Orion Face Direct

So this route has been climbed a lot this season and every other season. It's probably on been every climbers tick list since 1960 after its first ascent its been on mine for a while now. There is not much more that can be said about this route either but it is probably the best route I have and will ever climb in Britain.

When I was getting up yesterday at five in the morning I didn't think it was going to be getting home at nine at night. Walking in the weather couldn't have been better lilac skies and not breath of wind in the air. After panicking all the way up to the route about people being in front of us we couldn't believe it when we arrived there before anyone else.

We got started on the route and found the ice to be in brilliant condition but not thick enough to take any screws. It soon became apparent that getting gear and belays was going to be tricky. After a while it became apparent that it was becoming an issue. It took a long time to place protection and even longer to get good belays placed. It took us a while to realise that this was eating away at the time so before we knew it we were climbing well into the evening.

I was so glad to top out the on the summit the route didn't ease off until the top. When we hit the summit it was a long walk down to McDonald's for a Fanta Orange, I don't know why but all I could think about on the way down was a Fanta Orange.


Heading South

With winter everywhere at the moment we decided to go South, we heard the Cobbler was in great condition so we went to have a look at Recess Route. A classic of the crag but when we got there we thought that it could do with a bit more winter. So we headed route the corner and climbed Ramshead Gully IV,5*. This is one pitch of really interesting climbing that was worth the journey.

Pictures to come.


All Quiet in the Corrie

Rich and I headed up for Stob Coire Nan Lochan, even though we didn't have an early start we still headed up there alone. After seconding Scabbard Chimney a while ago I was feeling good to come back to lead it.

The first pitch was an awkward pull up a thugy crack with no protection. The next pitch is an interesting well protected bit of climbing which leads up to the crux. I remember the crux being very spicy even on second. So when I looked at it this time round it looked horrible really sketchy thin ice and no obvious protection. After some deliberation I went and had a quick look and after throwing an axe into the ice I realised it was bomber. It made for a really easy climbing, the easiest V,6*** I will bag.

Rich climbing into the Chimney

Rich Climbing out of the Chimney

The final pitch


Number 6

I had to get down to Glasgow today which is why I was up at 5.30 to get a route in before I left this evening. Craig and I headed back down to Glencoe because we heard that Number 6 Gully (IV,4****) on Aonagh Dubh was in good condition. It was a short walk in and low enough to be away from any considerable avalanche hazard. Being west facing it was completely sheltered from the wind and after yesterdays fun that was a must.

We soloed up the first pitch because we weren't going to get any gear placed anyway. Then swung the leads once we got ourselves established. It's a great route but most of the fun is in the fourth pitch which luck gave to Craig.

The Aonagh Eagach Ridge

Craig starting off

Craig on the fourth pitch


Frosty Eyebrows on Crest Route

Stob Corie Nan Lochan car park was unusually quiet this morning. Even though we had an early start we thought we would be joined by a few others at least. Jamie has had his eye on Crest Route (V,6***) for a while and after a failed attempt last week he was desperate to get back for a second go. A few years ago I had also climbed the first pitches of what we thought was crest route (still not sure were we did go). We decided to escape that day since I was belaying off a single old rusty peg. I honestly never thought it would be a route that I would contemplate coming back to lead.

This morning I felt good and psyched for some hard climbing but as we approached the route doubt began to grow. Jamie did point out that the weather wasn't entirely optimal for hard climbing; low visibility, blowing a hoolie and plenty of fresh snow.

Jamie got us established on the route with an easy first pitch, which had a interestingly cheeky move at the end of it. Once I joined on the belay Jamie I was able to get a look at what we were up against, it looked good, it looked possible and it looked like it would go without too much difficulty. After climbing up an awkward flake crack you arrive at a slab which has two parallel cracks running down it and each only wide enough for an axe pick to fit in. After the slab there is a vertical groove which had steps intermittently spaced all the way up it, which I thought would be the easier bit.

After getting on top of the slab I found myself wanting some protection although I was in a precarious position. I opted for the quick fix piece of mind Bulldog (a metal hook shaped like an axe pick) over a dodgy piece of frozen turf. After I put my mind at ease I forced myself up the groove, bearing down on my axes due to the lack of footholds. I was swinging hopelessly for something which eventually came and with no other options I put my faith in my axes I committed everything to them and by tapping my feet up the wall and heaving myself over the block I managed to get over the easy bit. What followed was another ten metres of what felt like an eternity to get myself to the belay. By this time Jamie hadn't been able to move for the best part of an hour so even he admitted he was feeling the cold.

Jamie got to work on the third pitch and plugged away at it methodically digging and stepping up bit by bit as the cold crept into my body. After not moving a muscle for a long time (another hour-ish) and not getting any break from the constant wind blasting at us, it was safe to say I was cold. When I finally did get to move I was groggy and stiff. Mid crux of the pitch of the last pitch the hot aches started up and even though I wanted to get off that route I forced to stop and let the pain pass.

As soon as I topped out the wind died and the Sun came out and I was rather glad and pleased that I had managed to lead my first V,6.

Jamie pulling on the second pitch

Moving on to the third pitch

Victory shot

The obvious black line in the middle is the route we dug out.


Second Coming

I met up with Jamie and Rich in Glencoe on the way down to Bridge of Orchy. Hoping to get some shelter from the wind we headed for Creag an Socach on Beinn Dorain. After getting blasted by the wind all the way up to the crag, my psyche was none existent. However Jamie was determined to get on the route so we persevered and kept going.
In hindsight I'm glad we pushed on because the route, Second Coming, offered two interesting pitches of climbing possibly harder than the grade suggests but still well worth the hour walk in and an even quicker walk out.

Walking in

Rich seconding on the first pitch


Winter Mountain Leader Training

Over the past week I have been doing my Winter Mountain Leader Training at Glenmore Lodge. Over the course of the week our group was shown and put into different scenarios to test our ability to lead in the mountains in winter.
It was a really great course and it has got me looking forward to putting some of these skills into practise!



Jamie and I headed up to the Ben to see if we could make anything out of the thawing conditions and high winds. We headed up to Harrisons Route (IV,4**) which was in fine condition however it was snowing blocks of ice thanks to the Shroud thawing out. After getting on to the second pitch we decided it wasn't a safe place to be and headed home.
Jamie on the first pitch



Neil and I saw no need for a early start this morning so we left at a rather sociable hour of 7.30am. Due to the late start we were keeping our options open and noticed that nobody was heading for Boomer's Requiem (V,4***).
After soloing the first pitch we used an insitu belay and I headed for the crux. It's completely vertical for seven metres and it was a case of placing two screws then holding my breath until it was over.
At the top we were able to see that there was sixteen people on Orion Direct and five people on point five.

Neil on the 3rd pitch

Looking onto the North Face


Indicator Wall

I have a full week of work lined up tomorrow so I was desperate to get one more day of climbing in. So I was heading up the Ben with Dave Buckett at 6 in the morning hoping to get to the routes before many others. On appraoch to the CIC we watched the crowds leave on force towards the crags. By the time we arrived and kitted ourselves up a few teams were at the bottom of Point 5 and one team at the bottom of Orions Direct (our choice for the day). Once we were moving up to the route the team hadn't made any progress yet so we decided to change plan and head for indicator wall (V,4***).
We topped by noon then back to the car by 2, didn't feel like a full day on the Ben.

Topping out
Dave seconding up the second pitch
Teams on Tower Ridge
Plenty of teams still heading up after we were walking off


Staghorn Gully

After a couple of big days I was looking to do something a little more chilled out so Craig and I headed up to Staghorn Gully (III***, cold climbs classic) on Creag Meagaidh. After the early start eventually every man and their dog was in the Coire, due to the fact that the conditions are great and loads of great routes are in fantastic condition.
Staghorn starts off as a big long grade II snow plod but thankfully this was well stepped out and meant we had a staircase all the way up. After looking at the North Pipe (III) we decided to do North Pipe Direct (IV,4) and meant that Craig could do his first lead at this grade.

Craig on South Pipe Direct

Climbing out the cave on the second pitch

Inside the cave on the second pitch

Walking in