On my last day in Scotland, whilst Jake and Mandy went to climb a route at Diabaig, I decided just to chill out and wander around enjoying the views.
The winter season hasn't quite gone to plan and although I have walked nearly 400 km since mid January looking for snow, there has been nearly as many summer adventures as winter ones this year.
The journey south starts tomorrow and then it is back to the "flatlands" for a while. I will even get to sit in a kayak again next week which I haven't done yet in 2019.
On the 28th February 2009 I decided to start a blog of my Outdoor Adventures. I never really thought about how long I would run it for or how it would turn out.
If I continue to have an active outdoor lifestyle/job then the blog may well run for another 10 years.
Still up in The North West Highlands, Jake, Mandy and I climbed the Cioch Nose which is near Bealach Na Ba on the road to Applecross. The last time I was here was on motorcycles in June 2016. It was a day of two halves weather wise. Windy and sunny at the and low wind and mist at the end.
The routes itself has been on my list for some time. It has 3 pitches of nice climbing (pitch 3 being by far the best) followed by 2 pitches of reasonable climbing before and walk and scramble up the upper tier on rock that seemed to get looser and looser the higher we went
The walk back from the top of the climb kept the interest going with a number of down climbs and short scrambles all the way along the ridge. Quite a few other parties on the route today some of whom need to learn a little bit about etiquette at shared belay stances!
Having decided to embrace summer fully, Jake, Mandy and I headed to Torridon at early o'clock for a traverse of Liathach.
A brutal pull up from the road to the first summit was rewarded with a bit of easy scrambling and a sandwich. It was a little sad to see 2 ptarmigan still in winter plumage trying to hide against a grey rock.
We stuck to the ridge to keep the interest going but unfortunately, the mist did not lift and we did not get to see the potentially stunning views. As always, as we got down to the glen, the mist cleared as we looked back up to the ridge (last picture)
This weekend I have been working for RAW Adventures guiding a group of 5 on a traverse through The Cairngorms from Glenmore to Lin of Dee with a night at the Shelter Stone at the end of Loch Avon.
35km in total with the first day into a strong head wind (it was blowing 80mph plus on Cairngorm summit) along the Strath Nethy into Loch Avon. The next day was up and over Derry Cairngorm before descending into the Lin of Dee and our lift to Braemar.
Last day out with Mark and Paul, clients on a Wet and High Adventures Ltd "Winter" Skills and Mountaineering course as we decided to ignore the lack of winter and go mountaineering. A gondola ride up to Aonach Mor and a walk round to the west face so we could do the usual "is it isn't it" debate as to which rib was Golden Oldy as we stared into the mist
We looked at a full range of techniques from managing ropes when walking, scrambling, moving together, pitching and general basking in the sunshine on the last half of the route.
There are still a few snow patches around but the last picture is a little mis-representative as this is merely a 10 metre wide patch around the rim, the rest of the plateau is unfrozen turf and exposed rock.
As always, there was the matter of managing the timing of the day so we didn't miss the gondola down for coffee and cake.
On the second day of a Wet and High Adventures Ltd bespoke Winter Mountaineering/climbing course we avoided the wind and rain and headed to Newtyle Quarry for some Dry Tooling. Thanks to Stu for coming along aswell.
After some coaching on footwork and axe placements on the beginners slab, both the clients, Stu and I all climbed Bonzai and Groovalicious and some really good techniques (including a adze torque) got used by all. Really nice to see in particular the improvement and car being taken in placing crampons carefully in slots and lips rather than windmilling in hope.
On the first day of a Wet and High Adventures Ltd Winter Mountaineering course we had a look at all things snow starting with footwork and axe before moving onto snow anchors - bucket seats, bollards and buried axes. We did some testing on these anchors at different sizes and depths and with different axes. We then had a look at some stomper belays. As always, safe travel and avalanche awareness was a theme throughout the day and coffee and cake for the post day debrief.
With winds up high forecast to be 80 mph+ and the trees in our back garden swaying around, Olly and I decided to stay low today and explore some of the hills by Newtonmore. I spend a lot of time in Scotland but usually focused on winter and bigger mountains so always nice to go somewhere different.
We saw a large herd of Red Deer and stayed out of the worst of the weather.
Today Rich, Olly and I wandered into Corie an t'Sneachda with an open mind to see what we could do. It became quite apparent that the thaw has been brutal and as the wind was low today we opted to climb Fiacaill Ridge. It was by no means a winter ascent as although we crossed some snow to get on it we could have gone round that. The route itself was clear of snow and only a few patches of avoidable ice. Our crampons stayed in the bag and axe strapped on the side.
After doing a lap of the coire, we found some snow remaining on the Fiacail Coire Cas and Olly practiced his bucket seat, buried axe and stomper before heading down for coffee and cake.
As winter is having a little holiday and Scotland is warm and summer like, Rich and I headed to Cummingston on the Moray coast for some easy stress free seaside cragging. 7 routes climbed during the day with the obligatory coffee and cake afterwards.
You know it will be a good day when there is a slide from the car park down to the old railway line (pic one) which we obviously had to use on the 5 min walk in
Last week, Jamie and I turned round due to wind so it was great to go back in today and climb North Gully at Lurcher's Crag. Given grade III in the guide book it was top end and maybe even a soft IV today. The ice was mainly good with a few cruddy patches around to keep you on your toes. A couple of steep pitches just enough to get the calves screaming and the sun was just starting to thaw the ice near the top and a few bits fell off as we climbed out.
There was another party on the route but it was very amicable. We often chatted at belays and plenty of room to not get in each others way.
All in all a very good day out that as always ended with coffee and cake.
On the last day of a Wet and High Adventures Ltd Winter Skills course, we headed to the relative shelter of the Ciste to look at all things steep snow. We spent the morning looking at abseiling from snow bollards, body belaying from bucket seats with a buried axe. We also had a look at how strong snow was trying to get the bollards and buried axes to fail. We manged to shear the smaller bollard but everything else held on.
We then had a go at some ice axe arrest skills, or more accurately, sliding through wet mush with snow and water getting inside all of our clothes
By midday we were all wet in places where we shouldn't be from feet through to pants so with the wind picking up and the rain coming in harder we ran for the shelter of a cafe and dripped all over their floor (sorry about that)