Guiding on Skye

Finally, it feels like summer has arrived!  On the Isle of Skye, it only really materialised this afternoon, but that was enough to get excited about!  I’ve been guiding on Skye this past week, the first half of the week for Moran Mountain, and today a day of private guiding with Les.  Actually, thinking back to Monday, we didn’t visit Skye at all, with a fairly cold and wild day, Mark, Sinclair, Nathan, Martin and myself decided to stay on the mainland and visit the brilliant Raven’s Crag, near Gairloch.

In amongst the squalls and fresh winds, we managed to get a couple of routes climbed and looked at personal abseiling and belays in preparation for the following day, where we ventured to Skye, and battled our way up through hail showers to the Inn Pinn, which was pleasantly sheltered from the worst of the SW winds, and despite there still being plenty of snow lying on the ridge, the East Ridge of the Inn Pinn was ok, I just had to clear a bit of graupel from some of the hand holds.

Wednesday saw us returning to Skye (from Lochcarron).  With another wild forecast and tired legs from the previous day, we decided to stay low, and climbed the easy, but sustained Spur on Sgurr an Fheadian.  This route finishes on the summit of Sgurr an Fheadian, and coupled with a quick descent down scree slopes into Coir a’Mheadaidh makes it a great choice for windy/wet/short days.  We finished the day off with a quick drink in the Sligachan Hotel, a must for any mountaineering trip to Skye!  Unsurprisingly, it was quite busy in there, with plenty of folk taking shelter from the rain.

I was back on Skye today, this time with Les, who has had the Inn Pinn on his radar for the past ten years.  We set off in amongst a few showers, but restrained from donning waterproofs, and sure enough, it paid off, as the rain soon cleared.  Quite a bit of snow had been washed away since Tuesday, and we were able to make our way to the Inn Pinn without the need for an axe.  The rock on the East Ridge was dry, and Les made quick work of the two pitches of moderate climbing, and we soon found ourselves back down again.  Another team were also enjoying the dry rock whilst making an ascent of South Crack.  The skies cleared on our descent to remind us both that Skye really is one of the best spots in the world.

I’m back in Lochaber this weekend for a couple of days of mountaineering, before heading back to Skye next week to run a Munros course.  The weather forecast is looking very promising!




Escape from Colditz, Blaven & catch-up

So, what’s been going on since the last post?  Quite a bit, which probably explains the lack of blogging over the past few days.

I’ve been running an Intro to Winter Mountaineering course for Moran Mountain, up in the NW Highlands.  On Sunday, we chose to stay low, to avoid the worst of the winds and made an ascent of the brilliantly named Six Track Mono Blues Gully on Meall Gorm, which must be contender for the most accessible winter climbing cliff in the UK.  Being in the lee of the mountain gave us plenty of shelter, and Sele, Gavin and Dave (who joined us for the day) enjoyed their first foray in NW Highlands.

Hannah wrapped up a Winter Skills & Summits course by making an ascent of Stob Coire Raineach in Glencoe.

Rod and his team of mountaineers were also out in Glencoe, and made an ascent of the Zig-Zags in order to stay out of the worst of the winds.

On Monday, Chris kicked off our Advanced Winter Climbing Course by climbing Scabbard Chimney on Stob Coire nan Lochan.  Chris and John then had enough time to fire up Dorsal Arete too.  Not bad going for day 1!

I headed round  with Gavin to climb the ever faithful George, which is more often in condition that not through the winter.  It’s worth noting that the tunnel through route has collapsed recently, and so the options are to climb on the right, up awkward slabs, which are better and more secure when well iced (which it wasn’t today), or a short chimney slightly further to the right. Umbrella Falls was climbed that day and reported to be in good nick.

On Tuesday, Chris and John, on the Advanced Winter Climbing Course were joined by Mike, and they climbed Morwind on the East Face of Aonach Mor, whilst I was out with my Intro Winter Climbing team sampling the delights of one of the deep, atmospheric gullies of the NW Highlands, Deep North Gully on Beinn Alligin.  We continued over the Horns to give a brilliant day out.

Today, Hannah enjoyed a day of personal climbing with Steve.  They stayed low on Ben Nevis, to avoid the suspect slopes, and climbed Gutless, an under-graded and under-rated chimney on the West Face of the Douglas Boulder.  Chris and his team climbed Castle Ridge. Several other teams also out enjoying the good weather by making ascents of The Curtain, Waterfall Gully, Tower Ridge, Vanishing Gully and possibly Stringfellow.  Still quite a bit of avalanche prone slopes though, so care and careful route choice required.

Finally, I decided to venture to Skye with my team, and climbed the short but good value Escape from Colditz III, on Blaven.  The route takes a deep leftwards trending fault on Winter Buttress, and follows a narrow, icy ramp, underneath a curtain of icicles.  We climbed the route in two pitches, offering interesting climbing all the way on dribbling ice.

Traverse of Beinn Alligin & School House Ridge.

Today, Tom was out working for West Coast Mountain Guides, with Ali, Gary, James and Matt. They climbed the brilliant mountaineering outing ‘School house Ridge’ in Glencoe. Looks like they had a great day, and a brilliant weather window to boots.

Meanwhile, I was out running day one of a mountaineering course in the NW Highlands for Moran Mountain. We made a classic traverse of Beinn Alligin, and didn’t see another soul all day.

Konrad was also out with Adele and William, they enjoyed some mixed climbing on the SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder on Ben Nevis.

Storm Henry will be gracing us tomorrow, but the thaw doesn’t look to be too severe, and will therefore really help with the building of some well needed ice.