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