All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The sun never shines in Scotland

Well I am just back from my 2008 trip to Scotland. This year saw the introduction to winter climbing for Nik and a mate Matt, while Jamie another friend and I got on the pointy end. Cat grade jumped and the sun did actually shine on a couple days unlike last year.
We (Nik, Jamie, Matt and I) headed up on the 7th March, and were to stay until the 16th March, but Jamie had already had to cut this short. The car was jammed with the gear of five people even though only 4 were actually travelling, Matt did have a lot of gear, even after we shrunk it the night(morning) before. We wedge Jamie and Matt in the back seat and set off. (The crew below).

The drive up was effortless and a pleasant one. A couple of stops and about 8hr30mins (driving onto Ranoch Mor is always a exciting moment, it signals you are there) saw us delivery Nik to the doors on a 4 star hotel for her 3 days course with Jagged Globe. Which it would turn out she loved and the has the winter climbing bug.

We dropped in ont he Glen Coe UKC meet briefly and then headed to Fort William and onto Farr Cottage. This would be our error.

A quick drink and feed and we headed for bed. Jamie and I had to be front and centre at Alan Kimbers by 8am. The Advance Climbing course would not wait.

The next morning saw Jamie and I rise early, eat and head for Alan Kimbers. This would be repeated the next morning. The course and the instructor (Pete) would prove to be excellent and would have Jamie and I lead Grade II/III on the second day. The climbing on the Saturday would prove to be in lean conditions and dry tooling was practiced for most of the route. However, South-West Ridge on the Douglas Boulder I can highly recommend, even in ther conditions we climb it.

Sunday would see us arrive on the slopes the Buachaille, Stob Dearg. A short but more technical walkin moving as one and a moment of avalanche panic (see Curved Ridge Avalanche below) would see us arrive at the foot of Curved Ridge, which would prove to be a lovely climb and a fun atmosphere as Pete, Jamie and I were joined by Alan Kimber and two other students and two other groups, that would climb the route closely to each other talking and laughing all the way to the top, with Alan providing excellent environmental, geographical and historical information along the way.

The climbing would prove to be great fun with some amazing exposure, but never too difficult. nearing the top we struck hard pack snow and then some amazing ice which sped our progress. A short walk to the summit, another Munro for Jamie, then a short descent would see me presented with the best invention in climbing ever, the glassade. Basically a bum slide done a gully. This one would prove to be about a hundred metres and was great fun, the simple things hey.

Saturday night had seen the arrival of Cat a good friend of mine and the catching up of the UKC Glen Coe meet. It was nice to see these guys and girls and to meet a few new faces and put faces to some of the screen names. Cat would also be gracious enough to take Matt out on the Buachaille for his first winter experience while Jamie and I swanned around with a tea party on Stob Dearg.

Monday would see a rest day and a move from Farr Cottage to the Glen Coe YHA as the girls attitude at Farr needed a realignment with a hammer. (Sorry Matt, and we don't blame you). Nik would also return to the crew.

Tuesday saw Jamie, Matt and I head for Dorsal Arete and meet Matt Kemp, Westy and a friend, for an ascent of Dorsal Arete. This would prove to be an interesting day, with Jamie and I seemingly the only team on the route with a plan and organisational skills. Matt D would also do a great attempt at dying on the way in, but he was recovered by Jamie and I and we topped out in fine fashion, if a little later than planned. But threes move slower and Matt is a complete beginner and does a great line in faff. (Jamie on Dorsal Arete, insert).

We topped out, congratulated each other and then got out of there as the weather was closing in.

Wednesday, would see Cat rejoin us and the entire crew head for Beinn a Chaorainn and a rigde suggested by Alan kimber. The weather was meant to be a bit rubbish, so we treated even the walkin as a day out. The walkin was lovely and gentle compared to other days, the sun shined for the start of this, but soon would be covered by cloud and drive snow, with winds increasing all day long. A lovely walk and a spot of lunch with a great view was enjoyed and another ridge route popped in the back pocket for the future.

Thursday would see me feeling rough, thanks to no sleep and Jamie off down south again. The Ballachulish Horseshoe had been suggested by Cat, I was in no state to head out ont he hill in the slightly wild conditions that would be reported by other groups returning to the YHA that night. An enforced rest day was taken and much needed sleep obtained for by myself.

Friday, would see an epic adventure fill our day with, stress, cold, a bit of pain, some swearing, benightment, more swearing and a sudden cloak of calmness when I realised I had things in hand, not to mention Nik being awesome and lovely. :-) Look for the Stob coire an Lochan Epic post.

Saturday would bring our last day in the West Highlands of Scotland, a feeling of sadness within myself and Nik, but a feeling of contentment as goals set had been achieved. We chilled most of the day, drying mountain gear, packing, buying food, not buying whisky (good boy Scott), annoying Cat (well I try), chasing and finding Niks Highland Cows with success. (See my flickr)

Saturday night Cat and I produced a feast for everyone, including Dan Gibson arriving out of the blue with his mate Brian. A few beers consumed and a cheeky tipple taken at the Clachaig with Cat and Nik. After this it was time to say goodbye to Cat once again, she had had succesful week as well and was as sad as Nik and I that the next day we see all of us depart.

There is always next year or Verbier as they say.

The drive back was even swifter with no delays and comfortable stops, however it is not so great to be back and work feels meaningless after a such a great week and realisation that of a couple of personal goals.

"Such as life" Ned Kelly, 1880

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