Saturday, 26 May 2012


The team with Am Bodach beyond
Alpine paths to match Alpine weather
The NW top of Na Gruagaichean from near the summit
Binnein Mor from the summit
Ben Nevis & CMD from the summit
A bit predictable really but it was yet another hot, wall to wall sunshine day. A nice stiff breeze though made it feel very pleasant indeed. Our Irish Team were wanting an easier hill day after yesterdays big effort on the CMD arete. We headed over to Mamore Lodge for a bit of height gain for our day on Na Gruagaichan in The Mamores. This wonderful mountain chain has fantastic approach paths, many of which are old stalking paths and at one point I thought I could hear Marmot's and cowbells ringing in the distance, then I realised it wasn't The Alps but this really is The Highlands in amazing weather! We had the whole day to ourselves, not a soul until the summit when we just about made it to the cairn as there were over 20 folk all at the summit! Looks like another hot day again tomorrow.

Friday, 25 May 2012


Another wall to wall sunshine and very hot day. John-Paul and I were guiding 12 folk from Cork, Ireland on the CMD arete today for Walkabout Scotland. It was like stepping back in time, as JP and I guided these guys 12 years ago, when Walkabout Scotland was in it's infancy. Way back then the guys went up The Pony Track on The Ben, today they saw the real side of Ben Nevis and couldn't have asked for better weather! Even though it was hot there was a very pleasant breeze higher up. We're off to The Mamores tomorrow for more sun and mountains! These next few days I am guiding for Walkabout Scotland.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Even hotter today, very little breeze and sea level temperatures in the mid 20's. Another cloudless day and wall to wall sunshine. Joakim from Sweeden was out with me today, having just completed the West Highland Way last week he wanted to top off his Scottish walking trip with a jaunt up Ben Nevis's CMD arete. He was treated to fabulous weather. What a contrast from less than 1 week ago when I was here last-then there was full winter conditions all the way (see post last Friday). Today there wasn't a drop of snow along the ridges, the fu=final slopes from the abseil post is now also bare of snow and the plateau area is well clear of snow, just the summit area from Tower Gully is the only area of any appreciable snow cover now. We saw no one until near the abseil posts then there was a spate of folk going the opposite way late in the day. Up on the summit there was a lot of bare flesh getting sported, I guess there will be a lot of red skins around Fort William the next few days!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Starting along 'The Devil's Ridge', Stob a' Coire Mhail
on the summit of Stob Coire a' Mhail looking back to Sgurr a' Mhaim
The best till last, final Munro of An Gearanach 
and nice easy scrambling on Garbhanach
and across to Gearanach with The Ben in the background
Steall Falls 
What a fabulous and glorious sunny day it was. With high temperatures today and wall to wall sunshine in the  Highlands it felt like summer as finally arrived. What a contrast to less than a week ago when it was snow and winter on the ridges of Lochaber! Today Father and Daughter team Keith and Heather were out with me and wanted a day on the classic ridge walk in The Mamores-The Ring of Steall. A wonderful circuit of 4 Munros encircling the beautiful Steall waterfall. There was a lovely breeze on the tops, we saw only a handful of folk, all going the 'opposite way'. I always start off with Sgurr a' Mhaim first. Plenty of warm, cloudless days to come, till into next week-enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Snow slowly depleating off The Ben
Crib Goch looking tempting

Over the weekend I was guiding on another 3 peaks Challenge event along with Willie & Andy for Achieve Mountains. Our group of 24 all did well and most did a great time of less than 24 hours. We were once again blessed with sunny and dry weather all the way through. Scafell Pike in the dark was lovely, as still and very clear night. The group had an amazing culinary team at the bottom of each hill, cooking up all kinds of wonderful grub, including coq au vin with 4 bottles of wine at 1am in the morning!
This week looks like a cracker with very warm temperatures and bags of sunshine. I think I will definitely put the winter gear back in the cupboard now! Good timing for this heatwave, I am out guiding on The Ring of Steall tomorrow and the rest of the week and weekend some long mountain days with plenty of  great ridge walking in Lochaber and Glencoe. The high temperatures will quickly strip the remaining snow on the ridges and buttresses I would guess. Sunscreen, shorts and shades here we come. Photos from the weekend coming soon.

Friday, 18 May 2012


The cloud lifts on CMD
Here we go!
Fab views as always
dinner time
Great views and sunshine
The final bit of the arete
Alone on the summit, still over 2m of snow
Stuart was out with me today for an ascent of Ben Nevis, which he booked last week. Initialy he was thinking summer conditions but the high hills of Lochaber at the moment are most definitely winter on the tops above 950m or so. So after a quick run down on axe and crampon technique we headed over a fab snowy arete. It was well plastered in fresh snow and looked more like a February day, in fact there was probably more snow than a lot of 'winter' month days. Stuart just loved every minute and we were rewarded with glimpses of the hills, the arete and The north face of Ben Nevis as it flirted through out the day. There was some snow furries through the morning but the afternoon was great. We only saw one other party all day, Spike and his clients had just come down off Ledge Route and we crossed paths at the abseil post. It was heavy going in some deeper snow on the final slopes up to the summit and there is still over 2 metres of snow on the summit area. A great winter day out, how long will it last? I'm back on The Ben tomorrow and the start of another 3 Peaks Challenge event. Looks like good weather again and for early next week, with something a bit warmer in keeping with late May!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Sgurr Bhan & Ballachulish before the drizzle
Tom, the photographer
Mark, the writer & Editor
Tom, getting the angles right
I was over in Glencoe today guiding Tom & Mark from Holland who are over for a week in The Highlands. They work for  Columbus Magazine and are doing a variety of activity articles for the magazine. Here's me thinking I was just doing a bit of guiding in Coire Gabhail when all of a sudden I'm being asked to get into a variety of posses in beautiful mountain surroundings. Never a dull moment in the hills. Unfortunately the guys missed the glorious sunny weather in the morning, due to their tight schedule we didn't get walking till after 1pm today. The cloud quickly came in by early afternoon and we had some drizzle which should give some atmospheric black &white shots for the mag due out in January.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


The team, The Ben, number 1
Cutting down the zig-zags on Ben Nevis
Still plenty snow high up on the Pony Track
Summit Scafell Pike, Number 2
On the Pyg track, Snowdon, beautiful early light
Yr Liwedd from the Pyg track
Summit Snowdon, we had all 3 to ourselves!

I was guiding a group of 12 folk from London on their national 3 Peaks Challenge over the weekend. The challenge involves ascending Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon and if you can do it in 24 hours then it's a real bonus and massive achievement. We had fab weather all the way through, we were away from Ben Nevis by 1.30pm and missed the weather front that came into the west coast of Scotland that night. Scafell Pike we started at 8.10pm and back down by 0030 Sunday morning. We reached Snowdonia by first light and had beautiful weather with fantastic light for the third and final mountain. The team did superb, 26 hours which was really good considering half the team had never been up a mountain in their life! This weekend I was working with

Friday, 11 May 2012


Sgurr a' Mhaim from the garden
After a rather wet and cold day yesterday it's left the hills with another fresh coating of snow above 800m. The forecast in the long term is to stay cool on the summits. Looking like a nice day tomorrow with sunshine.  The skies cleared late afternoon and the tops came out to play in the evening sun. Off tomorrow guiding  a  group on their National 3 peaks challenge, that is Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours. Looks like we will be escaping the next weather front through the 24h hour period as we travel further south, that's lucky-well we'll see!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Stob Ban's North Ridge
Ben Nevis, Aonach's and Grey Corrie's from the summit of Sgurr a' Mhaim
The Eastern Mamore's
The Devil's Ridge
Ben Nevis from the summit
It was back to fine weather again today, more like a typical May day. After some early cloud the sun soon burned off the cloud and most of the summits were cloud free with some lovely sunny periods and hardly a breeze. Fresh snow from last couple of days has given the hills a fresh dusting of white stuff and it felt quite warm in the sunshine and snow reflection. I headed up to Sgurr a' Mhaim and The Devils Ridge in The Mamores today which gives a nice shortish day with bags of views. A fine day to be out. Looks like more snow on the hills tomorrow then back to fine weather for the weekend.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


One of the many falls & pools in the Allt  Coire Guibhsachan
Coire Guibhsachan & Aonach Beag
Laurence on the summit looking to Sgurr a' Mhaim
A snowy Aonach Beag beyond
Heading down and the CMD arete with fresh snow

Looking into Steall Meadow and The Mamores
It was another cold night with rain into the morning which put some fresh snow down to 750m on the hills of Lochaber . Looks set to be quite cool all this week so don't put the woolies away just yet! Today Laurence and I went up the lovely Meall Chumain which only reaches the lowly height of just over 600m but it has many impressive mountain features which put many a bigger hill to shame. Our route today went through the lovely Glen Nevis gorge  to Steall Falls and meadows then alongside beautiful wee waterfalls and pools and finally up the pathless east slopes to the fine summit viewpoint. Great views looking all the way down to the car park, across to Ben Nevis, Aonach Beag and The Mamores. There was a cool breeze on the tops so it must have been winter temperatures on the higher tops.