Archive for September, 2011

Stormy still but warming up; 28 September.


While the rest of the UK has an Indian summer the north-west of Scotland continues to be blasted by strong winds.

I was out with John Seal on Sunday when we bumped into past clients David Gray and Nick. It was our pleasure to help David link Dubh Mor with Alasdair to complete his entire collection of Munros.

Beautiful colours and light on Blaven on Monday morning.

On Monday I was on Clach Glas with Ann Gibbs Jordan who was making a return trip from Australia after last years’ fun on Pinnacle Ridge. We were fair battered by winds whenever we were on the Glen Sligachan side and happy to be roped together.

Rainbow over Garbh-bheinn with Marsco behind.

Sunny lunch on top.

We dodged the traditional Blaven climbing because the wind was so wild in the first narrow nick. Instead we dropped below the Great Prow and up Scupper Gully to gain the Normal Route to the summit of Blabheinn.

Top of the mighty Great Prow

On the same day Gillian managed to get Peter Oglesby’s team up the Pinn reporting no problem with the wind whatsoever; just goes to show how varied conditions can be.

Today Annn and I used Sgurr an Fheadain to dodge the wind; low and central in the corrie it remains sheltered despite ripping winds across the higher peaks.

Guides at play; Neist Point.


Francis, Gillian, Rich & I took the rare combination of fine weather & no work to climb together on Sunday. Not many pics I’m afraid but my aching body tells me I had a great workout. Francis & I did Security Risk, Wish You Were Here and Venture Capital. Gillian & Rich climbed Midas Touch, Gritstone Reminscence and Shocks ‘n’ Stares. Francis & Rich then both cleanly top-roped the bold and balancy All the Small Things, E5 6b, (

It criss-crosses the wall left of Venture Capital above the huge flake and was first led by Ali Fulton last year. Comparing the guys at the crux is an interesting study in body position.

Francis & Rich at the crux moves; staying in balance to reach the thin crack out to their right is very delicate

Francis low on the 3 star route Venture Capital, HVS 5b

Almost forgot to mention the whale that Rich spotted and the golden eagles being mobbed by buzzards.

Ridge Traverse success again; 15/16 September


Congratulations to Graham, Jonathan & Dave on successful Ridge Traverse on Thursday and Friday will Gillian as their guide. Less than 2 weeks after her previous success Gill commented on there being significantly less light at either end of the day.

They had 2 very different days weather-wise. Cloud-free laidback climbing on a very long hot first day (12.5hrs), was followed by an early start and a heavy shower arriving before lunch on day 2 (11hrs).

Final packing before the boat trip.

Taking on final water for the long hot haul ahead

Graham gives a wave from half-way up the Pinn

Early start to make the most of dry rock

Dave makes the off-balance move down into Tairneilear

Victorious team on Gillean in the mist

Mid September- a topsy turvy period.


Fitting in work between the tail end of hurricaines has been challenging but the quality of the Cuillin has been proved by some excellent adventurous spirit.

Ben on Pinnacle Ridge,

Robyn & Ben crossing where the Gendarme used to sit on the West Ridge of Gillean

Regulars Dave & Jo Windle came across last weekend despite Katia’s lashing tail. Clach Glas was very wet on Friday but superb fun and made the beers extra well earned!

On Saturday even Neist Point, driest place on Skye let me down but an optimistic drive across to Flodigarry came up trumps. We climbed the superb Newspaper Taxis (Severe) before going for Buoy Racer. This excellent 50m VS was the scene of a near-miss for me in 2003 so exorcising the demons added an extra dimension. The heavy showers finally decided to arrive when I was well commited and then huge waves decided to cover the boys down below.

Dave “the Wave” starts up Buoy Racer VS

Jo tops out as the sun comes out; just too late!

Sunday to Tuesday were total deluges but Gillian still managed to get Ian Rear safely onto Ghreadaidh & Mhadaidh. Wednesday dawned bettter than expected and Gillian & Ian snatched an early ascent of the Pinn before the rain caught them on Mhiccoinnich. The wind direction was more worrying around An Dorus with those descending giving tales of 80mph gusts. I took an unusual step of approaching Ghreadaidh by the deep slot of Eag Dubh as Sara & Nome’s first Cuillin scramble. Again great spirit was shown and was rewarded by a complete lull once we broke the crest. Next the clouds thinned and the sun even showed willing as we made it to the summit, admittedly much to my surprise.

Topping out of Eag Dubh (Moderate)

And finally today was the reward for everyone’s patience with a Cuillin day to remember. An early start got us up to the Pinn first and perfect conditions allowed everyone to really enjoy the experience far more than anyone expected. Gillian is out attempting a Traverse with Graham Batram’s group. They’ve safely reached the overnight bivvy and hopefully they’re enjoying the moon and shooting stars but I think they may be flat out after a huge day.

Helen, Nome, Simon, John & Mark top out on the Pinn; 15th September

An abseil to remember with the Inner Hebrides behind

and all before the hourdes arrived!

A Nome at home!

Autumn colours and busy business; Early September


September is one of my favourite months; a combination of rich colours, rapid changes and anticipation of the first snows.

Magnificent rowan at Torrin today

Ignoring consistently awful forecasts we’ve all been busy and stayed largely dry. Gavin and Nigel finally conquered Sgurr a Ghreadaidh with me on Thursday; 3rd time lucky!

Friday saw the tail end of hurricaine Irene blow through but didn’t stop Tim, Sarah & me traversing Clach Glas to Blaven and with only 30 seconds of rain all day. On Saturday we started up Sgurr an Fheadain in the damp but, by the time we topped out, the crest was dry and views to the east magnificent. An Caisteal is a superb section of the Ridge with narrow edges and big jumps before an exposed descent to Tairneilear.

Sarah going for it along the top edge

Tim takes flight

Completing Chris’s main Ridge Munros on Am Basteir on Sunday

Claire looking forward to traversing Clach Glas in the sun today

high on the climb up……

and below the Imposter

Congratulations to Carole on a successful Ridge traverse with Gillian as her guide over the past 2 days. Hopefully some pics to come.

“What a brilliant day, Francis was excellent and very patient. I’m extremely stiff & in need of a zimmer frame but who cares after a fantastic trip” was the text I received from David after his big day out from An Dorus to Bruach na Frithe yesterday.

And finally best of luck to Matt over the next 3 weeks on his trip to Yosemite for some big wall aiding. He has been working hard for the past few weeks but also beasting himself in the gym. Most importantly he’s been practising erecting his portaledge and got it down to under 10 minutes whilst suspended in space; it took him nearly an hour on the ground first time!