Sunday, 29 April 2012


Fantastic clarity of light today
Justin who was camped up high last night
CMD and the arete
Beautiful clear skies all day
Looking back down the arete

Tower Ridge from the summit
Possibly the best day of this wonderful spell of weather. I set out early once again to capture the sparkling clarity of light for some photo shooting. As I headed onto the first snowfield on Carn Mor Dearg I enjoyed fantastic neve at 900m, wonderful cramponing all the way up to the wee bealach between Carn Dearg Mheanoch and Can Mor Dearg where I  bumped into Justin, a professional photographer ( ) who had pitched his tent the night before to capture a wonderful sunset and sunrise on the north face of Ben Nevis. He had waited 3 years for the perfect weather! After soaking in the sun and views at the summit I headed along the CMD arete. I umped into a guy who was telling me he's doing all the Munro's in one go, walking and cycling in between them all on a 4 month trip. It wasn't till I was chatting to him a bit longer that he told me his bagging trip started at his home in Snowdonia where he walked all the 3000ft  mountains there, then cycled up to The Lake District and walked all the 3000 ft fells there and then on his bike up to The Highlands! Obviously using the hills on the way up to warm up! Great meeting all these interesting folk today, combined with stunning Alpine scenery. It was a scorcher on the final slopes to the summit and views all the way to Skye in really clear views. Will the 'winter' continue into May?!

Saturday, 28 April 2012


The Comb and No.3 Gully
No.3 Gully
North Gully  and No.4 Gully
Comb Buttress and Creag Corrie na Ciste
Trident Buttress

Wow, what another amazing day. Clear blue skies first thing this morning so I was away smartly and in the Ciste Corrie on Ben Nevis by 9am. Beautiful clarity of light and not a soul around. I headed up toward No.3 Gully and it was beautiful just getting some photographs, watching the light, rimed crags and listening to the ice melting off Trident Buttress as the sun soon warmed the rock up. The snow that was in shade had a firm crust and it was really good cramponing in places, considering it's end of April. There were bits of ice/snow starting to roll down most of the easy gullies too, it always seems worse than it actually is with the sound being amplified in the corrie. I was happy just lazing in the sun today and taking it all in. On the way down there were a few folk heading up, a couple of guys up No. 5 Gully and Ledge Route and I did bump into a local landscape photographer who had been up toward the CIC Hut at 3am! Well it was like being in the Alps today and another fab day to come tomorrow too. There seemed to be more work getting done on the CIC Hut roof which was temporary repaired after the gales in December. Must be Spring, first Cuckoo heard by the Aluminium smelter pipelines on the way up.

Friday, 27 April 2012


Diann enjoying the Alpine conditions, snow at 950m
The quiet Pony Track
Tower Ridge well rimed
Looking across to Carn Dearg
Looking across to Aonach Mor, CMD from the top of Comb Gully
Tower Ridge
After the gloomy day on Ben Nevis yesterday I was back again with Diann today and in a completely different light. This was Diann's first major hill walk and she was so lucky to get a day like we had. Beautiful clear skies this morning and some cloud did threaten to cover the tops, as the forecast said, but we were so fortunate that all the showery cloud seemed to be avoiding the UK's highest point. Fabulous views and clarity of light today. We ventured off the Pony Path and I took Diann around the north face corrie rim to show her the delights that the 'other side' Ben Nevis has to offer. She was well impressed and amazed at the view and scale of the mountain. We were well down toward Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe before te shower clouds eventually came over and had a hour or so of snow showers at the end of a perfect day. She's threatening to drag her partner out on the Scottish hills now! The weekend looks like a cracker-enjoy!

Thursday, 26 April 2012


John and Neil were out with me today wanting a day out up Ben Nevis. They booked me last minute after seeing the weather forecast and snow conditions and thought it would be wise to hire someone to guide them up safely. The forecast was for quite a bit of rain/snow and gales on the tops. Reality was only drizzle and snow but more importantly the winds were only around 40mph so the ski goggles stayed in the rucksack today. Nevertheless it was still a good challenging 'winter' experience for the guys and they loved it. There is snow lying on the Pony Track at around 900m and above 1000m it is starting to get quite well banked out, coupled with low cloud it wasn't a place to be 'bumbling up' today. I had to get the map and compass out at the plateau, some folk today didn't really bother to pack there's unfortunately and one guy who had turned back at around 1100m  thought he'd like to 'tag along' with us and start his way back up. Apart from that wee episode on the hill we had a nice quiet ascent and were the first to the top today. This was Neil's first hill walk and he just loved it, and told me he's be back for more. Well done guys.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Heading up the North rib of Druim Shionnach, looking across to Am Bathach and Cluanie Inn
Looking down Glen Shiel and Five Sisters
A big fluffy snow shower
20 minutes later and sunshine!
Final day Munro for Rachel, Creag a' Mhaim
Looking back along the ridge from Creag a' Mhaim to Aonach Air Crith
Day two and back onto the Cluanie Ridge for the last 3 Munro's. Another day of sunshine and showers. Quite a contrast in temperatures when the sunshine broke out, especially late in the afternoon as we came through a heavy snow shower with beautiful big snow flakes and  hardly any visibility then 20 minutes later it was bright sunshine and temperatures high. The remaining snow is all soft and  we had no need for axes. Again we saw no one all day. Some of the finest Munro ridge walking in the Highlands on a weekend in late April? So that's Rachel  on 98 Munros and nearing the champagne for 100!

Saturday, 21 April 2012


The skies clear and lovely views
The summit of Sgurr an Doire Leathaid
and the view the to the west with Sgurr an Lochain
The only other living being we saw today! Well and the usual skylark, meadow pipit, raven...........
Last Munro summit today coming up, Maol  Chin Dearg
Rachel, a regular client, is out with me for two days in Glen Shiel. An avid Munro bagger and this weekend she was wanting to walk along the South Cluanie Ridge which has 7 Munro's along it! We decided to take it easy and do the ridge over two days to enjoy and appreciate it more. WE went against the guide books and started at the western end of the ridge. I guess all the guidebooks go east to west because of the 200 and odd metre advantage by going that way! The day started unpromising with light rain and cloud on the tops but by mid morning the cloud lifted and we had great views all day. There were a few very brief snow flurries but most of the showers seemed to be further north and east. We saw no one all day!

Friday, 20 April 2012


'Roughing it' above The Cluanie Inn and looking across to The  South Cluanie Ridge

I'm away for a  weekend's work over in Glen Shiel. 'Wild camping' 5 minutes walk from The Cluanie Inn. Weather looking ok, sunshien & showers so same weather pattern.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


Typical April weather we are having just now, April showers as they say. It started off another beautifully clear morning before the showers arrived by early afternoon. I took a quick trip up to Carn Mor Dearg. Should have got out early doors but still managed to get the views and sunshine before the big black ominous clouds from the NE rolled in. Snowline is still around the 850m mark with the cooler temperatures, especially at night so the snow on the higher tops will be around for some time yet and more snow showers to come through the weekend.  It's been a great week to get out and some nice views from the tops, the forecast for this week wasn't really encouraging. If you were a fair weather walker maybe you'd not have made the effort? I'm over in Glen Shiel this weekend. Still a couple of places left for two days of fantastic ridge walking with the added spice of still winter conditions on the tops. Not too late to book-077 2000 1326.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


Excellent scrambling with views to match
The final summit in light snow
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And nice sunbathing rocks!
A fine sunny day once more, a it of a bonus as the forecast seemed as though it was going to be a bit damp a few days ago. It looked like more sunshine out west so I cycled over to Glenfinnan and along Loch Shiel to one of my favourite hills, Sgurr 'a Guibhsacan. It's a fine hill and one that's in lots of postcards and holiday snaps I guess - the backdrop to the Glenfinnan Monument view. But a hill that I never see anyone on (one of many in this area). It gives fine views all the way along, looking down to Loch Shiel. There is excellent scrambling on the rocky tiers that lead up to the main summit, or you can avoid them if desired but the rock was relatively dry and warm today, apart from the final summit cone which had a light covering of snow. Only time I got wet  today was on the bike ride back from Glenfinnan.  

Monday, 16 April 2012


No. 4 Gully & Trident Buttress (in glorious sunshine)
Looking across to Carn Mor Dearg ( in glorious sunshine)
The Comb (in glorious blue skies and sun peeping through)
Tower Ridge, The Comb (in glorious blue skies)
The last day of this wonderful spell of weather and what a way to finish. Virtually clear skies for most of the day and exceptional clarity of light. I had a leisurely start, not arriving at the North Face car park till after 10am. Surprisingly only 4 cars and none at the top car park. I saw no one all day on the hill. I headed up into the Ciste Corrie and what a place to be on a day like this in mid April. The sun hits part of the corrie and crags at this time of year and there was quite a bit of ice/rock creaking and rolling. This noise, the distant water in the Allt a' Mhuillin and the odd breeze were the only sounds I heard. A place to linger and savour with warm sun on my face. Still can't believe no one was up there today? To round the day off nicely I just got back to the bike at the car park as the sun disappeared as the cloud rolled in from the west, what perfect timing. Looking very wild and snowy next week. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012


NE Buttress & Tower Ridges looking good
Starting down the CMD arete
Excellent snow cover along the arete
The best bit!
Little Brenva Face, Coire Leis still tons of snow!
We were blessed with yet another fine day. The usual pattern of clear skies and bright sunshine early on was replaced by some thin, high cloud but with nice bright spells. Quite a wind chill on the tops once you stopped, even though the wind was just a breeze. I wanted more snow and as much sun as possible again (how greedy) and headed up onto Carn Mor Dearg and along the arete onto Ben Nevis. Not many folk out, just a party of four behind me and one or two individuals. There was a nice crust on the snow in places today and along the arete it was well trodden so a joy to stroll along. The snow along the ridge today was the best I ad encountered for most of the winter season! The final slopes from the abseil post is well covered with snow too . Last day of this fine weather spell tomorrow then next week looks stormy and snowy on the tops-winter is alive and kicking :)

Saturday, 14 April 2012


The summit cone and NE ridge (left) of Binnein Mor
Approching the summit
Binnein Beag
Ben Nevis, CMD, Aonach Beag, Aonach Mor
The view 'on the way home'
Another beautiful clear morning again and as in previous days the cloud rolled in by mid morning. Then, just like previous days , there was big breaks in the cloud as the sun shone for good long spells. I cycled up to the top car park in Glen Nevis and wandered up to Steall Meadow with no real plan for the day, except to get into some snow and hope for some sunshine. There are two lovely NE ridges running off from Binnein Mor in The Mamores and today I headed up on the shorter of the two. It's a long and wonderful walk up through Glen Nevis and then a pathless ascent to the foot of the ridges, so guaranteed to see no one. In fact only saw 4 people all day.There was some very brief snow showers through the day but it was mainly another wonderful day of sun and and late snowy mountains, unfortunately bad timing as I hit the summit as one of these showers rolled in. Tomorrow looks even better with clear skies forecast!