Blog > Techniques & training

Missing beach!


I haven’t visited my local bouldering spot on the Moll (NG563 316) since last year so was a bit shocked to see a big rockfall as I approached.





As I got closer I realised that the change was actually that my beautiful flat shingle beach had been washed away revealing jaggedy ankle-twisting boulders.





Here’s a shot of me playing last year; at my feet you can just see a white band of quartzite-

The next shot shows the same quartz band  now that the shingle has been washed away-

The bad landing put me off anything at all poky and I’m now faced with a choice-clear what I can & buy a bouldering mat or sandbag the base and spend a few hours reconstructing 10m of beach. There are good anchors at the top so top-roping is the other option.

It may only be wee but I don’t know of many solid outcrops of rock with so many positive holds on Skye. Once my arms hurt enough I took a wander further south along the shore towards the fish farm. There were a few more spots to play around but all with poor landings again.

It’s a fascinating section of shoreline with obvious otter debris but it was the huge array of ancient car debris that provided most amusement. The trees are all far too big to be able to have got cars through for many a year. Antique car buffs would have a field day.

Snow-laden Coire Lagan and rare Avalanche. 4 November


It had snowed very heavily last night leaving Coire Lagan even whiter than yesterday.














On the approach to climb Deliverance  Guy & I returned to the Great Stone Shoot. Initially I thought piles of snow debris was from our descent last night but it soon became apparent that a pretty broad & big avalanche had happened in the early hours.

Just at the foot of CD Buttress that we climbed yesterday we came across the “crown”, the shear point. Perhaps our wanderings had had something to do with triggering it. Two very obvious individual 8″ layers are left above the shear line suggesting at least 3 seperate and poorly bound layers.

Above this point we were back to deep wading.

Broad Gully. January 6th


Chris was back again after his first taste of the Cuillin in November, this time for an introduction to the white stuff. Despite the rain being heavier than the Beeb predicted we had a good day on Sgurr a’ Bhasteir.

Enjoying the dry approach

We were helped by a dry start and then a fine set of tracks left yesterday by, at a guess, Sgurr a’ Bhasteir officianado Mr Beads. These led us not only to our objective but right up into it and a handy dry cave in which to kit up.

Our surprise shelter

Broad Gully is about 600ft long and gives a great way to approach the NE Ridge of Sgurr a Bhasteir and holds snow for most of the winter. There are some great icy alternatives on either side that form readily, all in the lower grades and all put up by Beads with a variety of partners.

 Looking up…..

…and looking down

On hitting the ridge the weather had deteriated to a tropical rain storm so it was time for a sharp exit with some ice axe breaking instruction on a perfect slope that dropped us straight down to the lochain in Coire a’ Bhasteir.

Far too much fun being had in this serious winter mountaineering game!

Winter Skills in Fionn Coire


Matts Report

I was out with Tim and Nina today introducing them to basic winter skills in preparation for their attempt on Mt. Blanc later this year. We had an entertaining time walking into the wind and rain for a while but it was quite sheltered from the wind high up in Fionn Coire. We found a good variety of firm and soft snow so that we could practice moving around all types of terrain on the way up and down the coire. The snow-melt was increasing as we came off the hill today and I expect the hills will be looking quite bare in a day or two. There will be plenty of patches of snow along the ridge for quite a while yet though.

Going up the hill….

And down again!

Alpine skills introduction, Thurs 17 Feb; a traverse of Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh.


Peter did a complete Ridge Traverse with Gillian as his guide last year and has his focus on the big 3 alpine peaks of Eiger, Matterhorn & Mont Blanc this year. He has asked for a course giving an introduction to the skills he will need and today certainly covered most of these areas.

Pristine snow in An Doras

For starters we covered crampon and axe work on simple slopes as pristine snow led us easily to An Doras. Only one small step was needed to gain the slopes of Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh above. We found wind-blasted hard snow on the Coruisk side with a complete contrast of softer powder on the lee slope above Glen Brittle.

Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh’s huge bulk behind us.

We moved together throughout the next 1.5km as far as Sgurr na Banachdich. Generally conditions were excellent but the knife-blade crest of Ghreadaidh was very taxing and required extreme concentration.

Yawning drops focus Peter’s concentration

Peter took to crampons superbly but also realised why the rocky ridges of his alpine objectives will need to be clear of snow.

The narrow crest section finally comes to an end.

Great Gully on Bla Bheinn. 14 Feb 2011


Matt was out with Phil and Andy today. We had a fantastic time making our way up the Great Gully to the summit of Bla Bheinn. The cold air has finally had an effect on the hill and the snow pack is really firming up now, it was so solid that we were extremely thankful for the old footsteps. We spent some time playing with the rope, digging bucket seats and body belaying on the way up the gully. Sadly the cloud had closed in when we topped out but it did provide an opportunity for some navigation practice. It was a grand day out and many thanks to the guys for good company on the hill and an entertaining natter.

Beinn Sgreithall on the mainland rising above the mists.

Andy coming to terms with the art of body belaying!

Mike was out with Sam and Tom on Bla Bheinn as well, climbing South Buttress Gully. They looked pretty happy when they passed us on the way down and Mike would not shut up about how much fun the climbing was!

South Buttress Gully is just visible to the left of the main buttress. Great Gully is on the right of the buttress 

South Glen Shiel Ridge


I enjoyed a couple of days introducing 3 Jonathons, Alasdair & Donald to crampons and axes on Friday and Saturday. The guys flew up to Inverness and had a stunning sunny drive through to Kintail Lodge on Wednesday afternoon.

We fitted crampons that night and headed off from the Cluanie Inn next morning. Everything was frozen solid and crampons needed at about the 600m mark as we followed the stalkers path up Druim Shionnach (987m). Cloud blocked the vista as we reached the top but with hardly a breath of wind and conditions under foot just perfect everyone was keen to carry on.

Druim Shionnach (987m)

The next 2 kilometres took less than an hour as we headed west to our second Munro, Aonach air Chrith (1021m). We had passed some impressive drooping old cornices along the way but the closest col gave a gentle descent back into Coire an t-Slugain.

Slooping Cornice

This is normally a boggy nightmare of a corrie but the heavy freeze let us wander happily. The clouds even decided to finally lift above the tops so we could fully appreciate the whole ridge we had just traversed. Spirits were high in the comfort of the Cluanie that we reached just before needing torches.

Saturday defied the forecasts and started with heavy mists and heavy heads for most of us after a fine night of Kintail Lodge hospitality. The stalkers path had a fair covering of ice despite the thaw but we only donned crampons on reaching the ridge east of Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais. Much talk was of the promised fine weather that seemed to have forgotten us but, right on cue, the mists started to clear just as we reached the summit. Wonderful glimpses of the Five Sisters and South Shiel Ridge came and went and then Brocken Spectres formed on the cloud still sitting in the corrie below. A golden eagle seemed as surprised to see the sun as us but then sank straight back in to the mist once he realised he had company.

Taking it in from the top of Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais (847m)

We continued west towards Sgurr na Sgine, used the rope to descend a surprise steep section (that cleared the heads) before heading back towards our approach path via Coire Toiteil.