Ally and I headed up into Coire Lagan today with some mixed climbing in mind but found the crag on thearlaich far too dry. We headed back to the iceflows beside the path on the outflow from the lochan.
Ice is always a worrying medium to climb, particularly at the start of the season, so it was good to “break the duck”. Faith in the theory saw axes not ripping and crampons not slipping but forearms far too pumped; must relax more when climbing but, more importantly, start some pull-ups!
Chris and I snatched a Clach Glas crossing between the tropical rains of Tuesday and northern gales of Thursday but not without a fight. A mix of snow and dry rock allowed us to reach the summit without crampons but they were obligatory on the sketchy descent.
Sheltered sunny approach
The pics are a pretty true reflection of the weather, we only got hit by one heavy snow shower on the summit, but don’t do the wind any justice. Unpredictable gusts added spice and watering eyes knocked the concentration; we were certainly glad to be roped the whole way!
Down-climb early on
Summit view north
We happily dropped out of the maelstrom by the screes below the Putting Green and reached the car before darkness and the real storm arrived.
Stars last night created a heady mix of anticipation for great things so Ally and I packed a full rack and ropes. Sadly we woke to a murky warm (7 degrees) morning and fought hard to keep up the enthusiasm. Adopting the “you can’t do it if you’re not there” philosophy is always best though and we got our just desserts.
The sun stayed out for most of this rise and the mists rolled around providing tantalising glimpses of Am Basteir and Pinnacle Ridge.
The only real rain eventually caught up with us but only for about 5 minutes. Payback was a full parting of the mists to reveal the autumn colours beautifully lit by evening sunshine and a pair of eagles rounded off the aesthetics nicely.
For me the first day out in winter is always double-edged; inevitable pain from carrying all the extra metal-work is countered by the thrills and wonderful beauty of our play area. I can confirm, and feel, both sides of the winter sword this evening!
I was treated to some cragging near Windhoek today by Richard Ford of the Namibian MCSA branch. I had given a wee talk on the Cuillin to some of their members last night and Richard managed to wangle an afternoon off work. Access is a big issue over here so I can’t report on the exact location (had to be blindfolded for the journey;).
The crag is in a beautiful dry river bed where a waterfall forms in the rainy season. The rock is a metamorphosed sandstone with horizontal bedding that forms great holds, very reminiscent of climbing at Elgol but without the sea below.
All the lines have been bolted sadly but Richard was keen for me to lead the routes on my trad rack as a side of climbing he really wants to get into more.
The cliffs are about 15m high and we had time for 2 routes. Both gave great moves on steep ground.
Graded 17 on the South African scale I would give them HS or VS The rock was solid and yielded plenty of gear on the 2 lines we climbed. There was much talk of exchanges with Namibian climbers coming to Skye for snow and ice and the potential for UK climbers out here.
Slabby granite with its huge crystals characterises the routes. I was limited to clipping a few bolts on one of the smaller areas but can’t wait to get back to tackle the peak itself and some of the huge long routes.
Hopefully Richard and I will manage to get something arranged over the coming months; anyone interested drop me an e-mail.
I’ve been having far too much fun in the beautiful weather this week and it has been great to finish such a good season with 2 of the uber classic rounds.
Best known is the round of Coire Lagan which takes in the Cioch, Bad Step to Alasdair, King’s Chimney and climaxes with the In Pinn. Local enthusiast Gerry has explored quite a bit of the Cuillin alone but wants to explore further. Our super pure and fast (8.5hrs) round on Wednesday gave him plenty of tips and encouragement for the future and loads of enjoyment for both of us.-
We started on Sgurr a Bhasteir (with a 20 year ambition finally put to bed for me across a certain intimidating step),
climbed Naismith’s Route on the Tooth (2nd time for John),
a new line up onto Am Basteir (not easier sadly), Lota Ledge onto Gillean and then a classic descent of Pinnacle Ridge to finish (8.5hrs as well).
Just a quickie to let you know there’ll be some footage of the Cuillin on 28th October at 7-30pm on Beeb 1- see below. It’s BBC Scotland so elsewhere in UK will possibly need to adjust your sets
Filming in the Cuillin is always a challenge trying to mix the usual challenges of weather with artistic content and improvisation. Working with Paul Murton who runs TimeLine Films was a pleasure. A keen mountaineer himself he understood his project very well, brought a fit and able crew of 3 others. Lou Reynolds was helping guide and we all reached Bealach a’Bhasteir in just 2.5hrs despite the big camera & sound equipment. This gave an hour before the predicted rain arrived and we nailed it just in time. Highly intrigued to see how it has all panned out……
Apologies for not blogging so far this month; plenty going on but very little reliable broadband still!
There’s been a mixed bag of weather and a late surge from the midgies but the majority of missions have been accomplished with the use of cunning tactics and a great attitude by clients and guides alike. Monday last was only the fourth day this year that has been lost to the weather completely!
The work has varied from Ridge Traverses, stag dos and showing travel journalists the stunning Cuillin to stunt filming for a new Gaelic soap. Clients have come from as far away as New Zealand, Majorca and Colorado; ranged in age between 11 to 70 years old. Major achievements include Jenny Dunn climbing her last Munro, Laura climbing the Pinn for her first ever mountain in full “Scottish” conditions and Marcus completing his long-held dream of a Cuillin Traverse.
Basking sharks and Orcas, eagles Golden and White-tailed and the last of the alpine flowers like Devil’s Bit Scabbius have all added to the enjoyment.
Here are some images-
Great day exploring Window Buttress with Simon yesterday. Cool but dry and midge free we started with 4 pitches on the original route. Simon was keen for more so the beautiful soaring corner of Widow’s Eye on the middle tier was next; it really is a quality pitch, thoroughly deserving its 2 stars.
Above again I’d never climbed “Upper Window Buttress” and the description was ambiguous. We took the most obvious line of weakness in 3 pitches. Can’t recommend anyone follows us as “Broken Windows” (VS 4b) had a bit too much on the worrying rock front. Caution got us up safely and with plenty of adrenalin dished out.
Looking out to Loch Harport past Sgurr Thuilm from Mhadaidh.
Great fun this week with guests from Northern Ireland, Canada, France, Germany and England all having great climbing adventures. Camera issues mean a lack of shots of the rock climbing at Elgol and Neist but a few to whet the appetite below.
German fireman Alex coping well on his first ever climb Cioch West