Monday, 6 February 2017

Deep Powder in Torridon

Ben Alligin summits

After the difficult plod in deep powder snow on Beinn a' Chreachain 1081m, (never eard of it I hear you say) I travelled north to the Torridon area, my objective was Slioch but one look  told me it was not a goer in current conditions without skies or snowshoes.

As I have done the other Torridon Munros several times so I decided to take some sunrise photos, walk into the stunning Coire Mhic Fhearchair middayish which would allow me to get back for some sunset shots.

Back at the car I had problems so I had to shelve next days plans and make a daylight dash back an auto electrics shop in Fort Bill.

The stunningly impressive Coire Mhic Fhearchair


Liathach Pinnacles 

The dark side of Liathach

 Peering into the Fisherfield Forest 

Frozen Trees on the drive south

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Battery problems

The munro itch returned as I spotted high pressure oversettling in over Scotland, time to head north.

There is not a lot of light this time of year and there had been some big dumps of snow so I was looking at the more accesible hills, starting with the Crianlarich area.

It was gonna be cold, I did not fancy camping so I checked out the Youth Hostels, precictably all the hostels in that area were shut, that was a waste of time. So I looked at I was amazed that I got at B&B at youth hostel prices.

One June day in 2005 I had climbed Beinn Alachdair 1038m crawling the last 50 metres on my hands and knees in a blizzard. I abandoned the plan of traversing the ridge to its higher neighbour Beinn Chreachain 1081m drove south and had a BBQ that night.

Today I was going to ascend the normal descent route to Beinn Chreachain 1081m the temps were -7 at the start so everithing was iced up under deep powder snow making the ascent very difficult. I decided to take some photos with my compact, after a couple of clicks the battery died.

I flogged my way up to the summit and back in deep powder under cloudless blue skies cursing myself for leaving my compact camera overnight in the frozen cars.

Back at the car I decided to drive north and take advantage of the weather to take some classic roadside photos. The final stop was in Glencoe, as I started the car a warning sign came up Remote imobillser battery failing. Luckily it started and I drove straight to the auto electrics shop in Fort Bill just sneaking in as the closed sign was in hand.

I replaced the battery and sat outside the shop in the half light with the car handbook working out how to reprogramme the immobiliser , got it third go!!!!!!

Rannoch Moor

The Three Sisters

Aonach Eagach

Stob Corrie nan Beith

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Crib Goch in the mist

Approaching the Crib Goch ridge

This was another planned attempt to go to Scotland and do some high mountain routes but once again the weather looked naff up there so we 'set the controls to the heart of North Wales'.
After 3 intense climbing days my mate Jim requested we do something a little less taxing, I didn't have a problem with that as I felt jaded too. The theme for the week was to take advantage of the fantastic dry weather and go for the high mountain routes so he suggested Gambit route high on Clogwyn y Ddysgl.
Guidebooks all raved about it being a mega classic. ' Acres of exposure, superb moves, great rock and a crux at the end. What more could you ask for'
All that was left was to work it into a classic mountain day and of course do it.
One of the big advantages of climbing huts over other hostels is that they are set up for walking/climbing enthusiasts and most have have a library of ALL the local guides and maps so I perused and came up with a itinerary that included 3 summits 4 scrambles. 2 classic rock climbs and 'One of the finest easy mountain routes in the UK.'
The route started out of the back door of the hut and we followed the footpath into the hanging cwm below Cyrn Las where we struggled to find the first scramble so I suggested we have a look at the crag opposite as an alternative.
At the time!!!!!!. We thought this gave a 90m grade 2 scramble on immaculate rock.
From this side of the cwm the line of our original scramble was was now obvious so it was an easy contour round to its base. Graded 3 the hard bit was in the first 20 feet after that it was a steady grade 1 that made an interesting route up to the second hanging cwm under Clogwyn y Ddysgl.
This is hallowed territory many regard the Parsons nose as the finest scramble in Wales but today we ingnored it to do Gambit route.
Which finished on the ridge above Parsons nose and gives an amazing scramble to the summit of Garnedd Ugain 1065m.
All that was left now was to reverse Crib Goch 923m then descend via the North Ridge home after doing 3 summits, 5 scrambles and 'One of the finest easy mountain routes in the UK.'

Back at the hut I checked the guides and found our 1st inpromtu scramble was Conway Climb graded Diff.

 Photo showing the line of Gambit Climb

 Gambit Climb

The Grade 2scramble that turned out to be Conway Climb

 Cyrn Las in the mist

 Finishing the classic ridge


Saturday, 19 November 2016

I've gotta leave old Durham town. (And the leavings gonna get me down)

Wednesday afternoon on the river

One of the best things about the late warm summer nights is that you can get out walking/climbing/bouldering on an evening after work.
Its something I have done all my adult life man and boy, to me its what life is all about, that almost spiritual feeling escaping for a few midweek hours of physical outdoor excersize away from the grind of working life. Slowly watching the sun drop below the horizon then as darkness enfolds sadly its over and time to pack up and go home to normal life.
So one would expect the clocks going back would be a depressing time BUT a funny thing happens late October when is fading by three and dark by five. My interest in the counrtyside switches to the bright lights of the cities like the click a switch.
When its grim outside and dark and wet, I like nothing more than a walk round some of our magnificent northern towns and cities.
In particular I have a thing about bridges, cathedrals, stations, trains, old buildings, new buildings, still life, moving objects, old pubs, well am sure you get my jist.
The very best thing about this time of year is that we all know winter is truly on its way.........................

 Carful cropping to avoid the scaffold

 Buskers convention

 The 4.15 heading south

 Uni Campus

The 7.15 ueading north

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Confessions of a compulsive weather watcher (Part Two)

Looking across to the New DG

Yesterday we had arrived at the hut in Langdale to find the occupants had just had 2 wet days, while we had been basking in the sunshine on the east side of the country so they were skeptical when I said it was gonna be brill for the next couple of days.

Next morning we all awake to blue skies and sunshine, decided to do a traverse of Lingmoor then complete the circuit back thro the valley, the views were very impressive and we had spotted some potential spots for taking photos. It also allowed us to make some notes about the timings of shadows in the valley.

The next day we were up at 06.00 the plan was to get some some sunrise shots, which were a disappointment, you can't win em all, back to the hut for breakfast.

Today's main walk was on the North side of the valley including Blea Rigg and Silver Howe. The sun eventually broke thro and this walk gave us chance to observe the timings of the shadows on the other side of the valley.

After three superb walking days so the next day was going back home, we had a lie in, late breakfast and tidied up the hut, as the predicted time approached, we wandered across to the north side of the valley, as if by magic the south suddenly lit up and we were treated to an amazing view.

II don't think it will be long before I am back in Langdale, now what is that weather forecast doing​?.

Leading lines on Lingmoor

 Hidden water feature

Pano shot

Thursday, 3 November 2016

A Ryolite Romp

Starting the Monster Kilometre Traverse

Yesterday was a sad day, I did my last remaining Munro in the dramatic Glencoe scenery now I have to make an excuse to go back there.

Its one of my fave areas and I have done a lot of summer and winter climbing here.  As you approach the road drops down into the Glen the mountains seem to soar higher each side. With all those buttresses, ridges, faces and corries in close proximity to the road its a unique area for scramblers and mountaineers, theres even stuff here for walkers.

The most famous scramble in the area, the Aonach Eagach attracts the masses BUT there are dozens of other great days out just as good that avoids the crowds.

Today we plan to go onto one of these on the mountains opposite, Aonach Dubh,  the Ryolite Romp. 

Never heard of it I hear you say...................

It starts on the West Face, steep territory here,  home to some of the best rock climbing and mountaineerimg routes in Scotland.

So our route really is a sheep in wolfs clothing, sneaking up an easy scramble called Dinner Time Buttress amidst steeper ground . This leads onto a monster kilometer long traverse time with steep crags above and below. A break in the upper crag allows you to escape and ascend a gully leading you onto a second traverse leading back past the point you started.

My mate is keen to do summits so we quit the upper traverse and visit the top of Aonach Dubh. 
We decide to drop down into another major mountaineering area, Stob Coire nan Lochan where we pick up the main path down into the valley,

We call in at the Clachaig for a pint where I bump into one of the youngsters I helped as a beginner, now working as a MIC. 

Great day out with a bonus catch up. 

 Yes the route goes up there

 Ascending the gully

 Looking across at the Aonach Eagach

Stob Corrie nan Lochan

Saturday, 29 October 2016


Eek Just looked at my last few entries on here and they are all all landscapes so here is something a bit different.

I was struggling with ideas for my first ever 'Altered Reality' photo competition.

I have always said that one of the very best things about using Mountaineering Club huts is that you meet fantastic interesting people, so this guy turns up, he's got plenty off like most scousers. He's a fellow climber, an artist and a builder who has been a millionaire and lost it all, we hit it off straight away.

He lets it slip that he used to be a John Lennon lookalike when he was a lad, he was 64 at the time, I looked closely and see a vague likeness BUT hey non of us have ever seen a photo of a middle aged Lennon. The wheels in my mind start whirling round and I ask him if I take take a portrait of him for an altered reality project and he agrees.

I processed the photo, the number 64 stuck in my mind so called it 'Imagine'

I rarely put any comp photos on here, this one got nowhere but it was my first attempt and its got a good story..................