Monday, 8 April 2013

past few weeks

After a busy few weeks it has been time to update the old blog. It’s been a busy few weeks with lots of work with some play jammed in in-between. Here is the low down of what I’ve been up to:

Emerald gully on Ben Dearg – I climbed this a few weeks back with a good friend of ours, John McLeod Britain’s manliest man, and Tony. We were off to climb penguin gully but the slopes looked loaded and it is really far away!  This was a great cold climbs tick and the main pitch was ace, totally fat! However the next pitch was a bit thin and when tony set off half the pitch came off, I didn’t fancy it so off john popped, giving it the McLeod shuffle and sending it!

Smoking the white owl on Aonach Mor – this was James’ first winter route and what a cracker it was; we didn’t even leave the house until midday! I have wanted to do this route for a while and was curious about whether it was III 4 or IV 5, probably IV 5 taking the last pitch quite direct! Super conditions although the gondola was winded off!!

No 6 gully on Aonach Dubh – some friends of ours, Craig and Marie, were down from Aberdeen and were keen to do a bit of climbing, it is an excellent climb and another cold climbs classic, it was also Craig’s first lead on ice, what a dude!!!

Left twin – I climbed this, again with Craig and Marie and it is well worth the three stars it gets, with that 60m ice pitch at the end being very full value! Although I am not sure I would like to be up there with this sun melting everything as it is!!!

Italian climb – last week I had an awesome day out on the Ben with Scott Kirkhope, this wasn’t our first option or even our second but we opted for something in the shade that neither of us had done before. Scott was happy for me to lead the meaty pitch and I was keen. As I started leading the pitch I noticed the ice was solid, and I do mean solid!!!! As I looked up I began to wonder if this was bit of a mental pitch but it turned out was a lot nicer than it looked and one of the nicest pitches of ice I have climbed.  We shared this route with two climbers from Bingley of all places, called Scott and Ian who were nice enough to invite us back to the CIC for a wee cup of tea. They have had a good week and climbed Orion face direct and zero gully, reporting, as expected awesome conditions, even if the crux on Orion is a little thin. Check out the wee video I put together below.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Ski/ board descent of Carn Mor Dearg

 Fresh snow in Scotland doesn't last long, so when it arrives you need to make sure you’re around to welcome it. With lectures starting at 1.30pm, I had a few hours to make the most of the wonderful white stuff;) that hugged the hills. I accompanied a strong party (you know who you are) on a plod up Cairn Mor Dearg to scope out some skiable lines. The winds have been blowing powerful Easterlies, clearing the East facing corries of soft snow exposing hard neve which didn't look so lovely to slide on.

The day was pretty atmospheric in all; cloud dissipated giving some nice views of the surrounding area.  Icy winds and snow devils added to the Joys of winter.  

On approach we spotted a line which Connor was certain ran all the way down to the North face path. After checking the map the line was confirmed and we set of on well bonded slab. 

As we dropped down the snow became far leaner, though we managed to pick our way to the path on shallow snow patches. Skis and Boards remain surprisingly intact despite rock dodging.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Clear out sale !

i am getting rid of a few things that i have lying around, hoarding and need some more space.

the Boots are batura evos, size 43 or uk 9 , the ones without the metal eyelets above above the lace lock, these boots have only been used on 10 ish routes and the soles are still in great knick, both boots however have been attacked by crampons, nether went all the way through and have been repaired using seam seal.
looking for around £250 for them but room to barter a bit!

the ice axes are DMM Rebels  and hardly used and when used only on ice routes, 10 routes in rujkan and maybe 4-5 in Scotland  picks have not been sharpened and are still really sharp! cosmetic damage on the notoriously crap paint job, i can include the original Allen keys and instructions, £180 for the pair

The cam is an omega pacific link cam, barley used with a bit of cosmetic damage and sling showing no wear. barely used. £50

if you are interested send me an email at

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A Beautiful man

As many of you will know, there was a tragic death of Mark Phillips on the Ben on Monday. 
both Will and my self would like to offer our deepest condolences to his wife Caroline and son Ruaridh, nobody should have to go through such loss. Mark was a friend, mentor, climbing partner and the most gentle loving man anyone could ever hope to meet, it is an honour to have shared a rope and so many beautiful experiences with this man and he will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
i wished to share some memories that i have of him.

from  Connor 

Conditions prevail on the Ben!!!

After much ale and little sleep the alarm signalled the start of the day.
Today Tristan and I raced up the Allt a’Mhuilinn on possibly one of the busiest weekends of the year to see what we could get done.

Whilst kitting-up in the base of Observatory gully, some bloke came skudding down towards us. This is no place for neglectful footwork, especially when there is plenty rocko bricko neve to contend with. After a 200m slide, the gentleman stopped and thankfully was well enough to gingerly walk down the rest of the gully and off the mountain with only a few minor injuries.

After wiping our bottoms, we continued upwards to inspect which routes were free as despite our early start, a spot of obligatory first aid put us at the back of the queue. Despite the crowds there was plenty to go at. Observatory Buttress looked as prime as I’ve ever seen it and provided a super alpine day out.
Early morning cloud soon lifted and the views were astonishing!! No matter how many times I go up the Ben, every time is a great one. I always feel utterly stoked and in a sense privileged to be born and serve my apprenticeship in the Highlands… no wonder when the surroundings are as such:
Teams were strung-out on Tower ridge and the winding trail up its spine looked as broad as Fort Bill high street… though I wouldn't stagger down that road!!   

Descent was made via No. 4 and the rest of the weekend was spent enjoying the Fort William Mountain Festival which was especially ace this year.  

from Will

Friday, 22 February 2013

Magic day on The Wand

Yesterday we got out on Creag Meagaidh with the idea of climbing Smith’s route, a cold climbs classic that rarely comes into condition.
At 4.30 am I heard Will wander back into the flat after going to the opening night at the fort William mountain film festival (I am assured he got some sleep), knowing we were getting picked up by John Macleod (Britain’s manliest man) at 5.30 it was time to get a wiggle on and eat my coffee and drink my porridge. After stopping at Spean Bridge to pick Sam up we fired on through to go climbing!

 As we walked into the corrie I knew it was going to be a good day with such an amazing sunrise, it was a nice easy walk in with just fell shoes on as the path is bare up till the Lochan. As we rounded into view of the corrie we could just see a team starting on Smiths route, gutted!!! I had seen a picture of a route called the wand earlier this winter and recalled a spectacular ice coated corner, so we opted for that in the hope we would get on it before the masses rushed into the corrie. We parted ways with Sam and John (who climbed north post direct in great condition) and headed round towards the Wand. As we rounded the corner we saw three teams on the Pumpkin, no thanks, but the wand was still free!

Conditions were great with super sticky ice and massive ice umbrellas, and great screws. Take a look! We were back at the car by about 3.30 and what a magic day it was!!!!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Skiing on the Ben

Yesterday 'Billy no mates' was without a climbing partner, but with conditions at a seasonal best there was no time to waste worrying about social inadequacies! After a wee study, I felt that by 2pm the snow should have soften in the red burn and provide a great descent, so I left Fort William on my rusty Chariot for the Achintee...but not for a beer;) 
There was lots of folk on the Ben today, even some happy campers who were looking to camp on the summit!! Though pretty crazy (without crampons/axes) these guys did have the sense to take other essential provisions including: beer, beans and bacon- the three camping B's!! At least they would enjoy their last supper!


Even though I left late in the day, the snow remained incredibly hard and the top 300-400m of the top was coated in ice. You can really appreciate just how icy the top was on the video... CCCCRRRRCCCHH!!

 I dropped down the top section of the red burn but shot across to the left side (looking down) giving better skiing due to the burn being so chopped up with foot prints. The descent was fairly steep and very fast giving enjoyable skiing almost until where the tourist track and the red burn meet.  The sky was absolutely tremendous and the clarity was such that the Skye Cuillin could be seen in the distance. I love theWest !!!!