Friday, 30 March 2012


Away working & playing on the hills in The Lake District, Englandshire next week or so so reports may be sporadic. Looks like it's back to wintry conditions in The Highlands into next week with snow forecast on the tops.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Garbh Bheinn looking very dry and tempting today
The top of the 'Alpine ' road over to Polloch
.....and down to Loch Doilet
My friend has hen and quail eggs for sale at Polloch
Primroses in bloom along Loch Shiel
Back to civilization at Glenfinnan
Another glorious sunny day again, maybe the last day of this heatwave? I fancied a day on the bike today with a few hills along the way. After 'escaping death' along the A82 I was safe to live another day and rewarded with a free ride for me and the bike on the Corran Ferry-one of the few free things in life! Over in Ardgour it is like a different world from the madness on the main road on the other side of Loch Linnhe. It was hard to resist heading on foot and up one of the many lovely and quiet hills in this part of the Highlands, especially Garbh Bheinn where I've had any a fine day. After a quick food stop at Strontian and fueled up for the big climb over to Polloch. This fab road has been resurfaced since I last went over but that doesn't make it any easier! Then a superb run down the other side to lonely Loch  Doilet and out to the SW end of Loch Shiel. This is a lovely off road ride along forest tracks and finishing at Glenfinnan. Then the final blast back to Fort William. This 60 odd mile bike run is full of varied scenery and a favourite of mine, if only there was a cycle lane to Corran!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Stob Ban's splendid North Ridge
....and then a lovely narrow grassy section
.......and looking back along it with fine views of Ben Nevis
........and something a bit more scary, the excellent East Buttress, a grade 3 scramble
The East corrie, snow still in South Gully
It felt even warmer today as the Highland Heatwave continues, just a tad hazy today but a nice breeze high up so very pleasant. I had a day on Stob Ban, going up via the North ridge which is a very fine way of gaining the summit and again it is a route that not many folk use. The North ridge looks a bit intimidating as you approach it but here is only a few rocky steps to negotiate so not really a scramble as such. I descended down the East ridge for a nice half days walk. Another fine day tomorrow is forecast with this big high pressure system sitting over us but it looks like it will be drifting off soon and back to 'normal' March weather for the weekend.

Monday, 26 March 2012


The East ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach 

The fun begins on the first 'Sharks Fin' as I call it
Looking up to the summit area
The second 'Sharks Fin' with the West face of Aonach Mor behind
The blocks are actually quite solid here!
Looking across to Carn Mor Dearg
Models for the day
The Ben peeping into view
The Ben of course
CMD arete
Looking back  on the CMD arete
Another fantastic day, even warmer, wall to wall sunshine, t shirt weather all day! Is it really March? I keep thinking it's mid summer. So long daylight ahead and fab conditions so I fancied a nice long mountain day. I headed onto the East ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach. To get to this fantastic easy scramble I guess most folk take the gondola at Nevis Range but I fancied being puristic ( and save myself over £11 quid!) by starting at the north face carpark and traversing over to the lovely and wild Allt Daim from the Allt a' Mhuillin. I've always had the ridge to myself on every other occasion I've been a long it so it was a surprise to find a couple of other folk just behind me. Anyway, they made excellent models to give the scale of the place and route. The scrambling is wonderful, if a wee bit loose in places but the situation is amazing and quiet with wonderful views. At the summit I carried on over to CMD and the arete, finishing on Ben Nevis for an excellent mountain day. Two more summer days to come!

Saturday, 24 March 2012


Stob Coire a' Mhail (The Devils Ridge)
Stob Ban, with South and North  Gully's still complete
Ben Nevis from Sgurr a' Mhaim
The best till last, An Garbhanach
The excellent easy scramble on An  Garbhanach 
The final summit, An Gearanach
This mini heatwave continues and today the temperatures were even higher, it felt like May not March! So to make the most of the sun and longer days I headed over the classic ridge walk in The Mamores, The Ring of Steall. Four Munros and two other summits encircling the beautiful Steall Falls. A lot of other folk seemed to have the same idea today, many folk going the 'opposite way to me so thankfully not too busy. By the time I reached Am Bodach it was peace and quiet and silent. Base layer was all that was needed today, so nice to be carrying  a light rucksack today which made it a breeze getting around in just over 6 hours. More of the same to come over the next few days, enjoy it while it lasts!

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Wow, what a stunningingly beautiful day. Ian and I planned a bigger than normal route over Ben Cruachan's many tops, heading up and returning down the long and wonderful ridges to the east of the main Cruachan Munro tops. This involved retracing our steps but with weather like today it was an absolute joy. There was some cloud snrouding the mountains up until mid morning and then suddenly the cloud broke and fantastic atmospheric views as the cloud drifted away leaving blue skies for the rest of the day. It was warm and definitely spring like with the first sighting and calls of a skylark over our heads. More of the same please for next week!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


A visit down to  the Southern Highlands for a couple of days with Ian this week. Today was looking ok, with a forecast of just a bit of drizzle and up to 50mph winds on the tops, the reality was hardly any wind and completely dry all day. We headed to the isolated Munro of Meall Bhuidhe near Loch Fyne. A long walk in can be eased by a bike ride up the glen but we chose to be purist's and walk it. A hill I've not been on for a number of years and today's route a new one. Quite a craggy wee hill in places. It was very summer like, down to T-shirts and the flies have suddenly awakened, thinking it's more like May! A good forecast of sunshine tomorrow! 

Saturday, 17 March 2012


Nice cumulous clouds above the North Face of The Ben
The guy's first view of the arete from CMD summit
Paul & Matt enjoying the arete
The ridge just keeps on coming and blue skies!
More sun and Aonach Beag peeping out

NE Buttress white again
Paul on the final exposed bit
And finally the summit, to ourselves
The team were all keen and eager for the CMD arete onto Ben Nevis after our half day of winter skills yesterday. With a good forecast of  sub zero temperatures, lighter winds and pleasant sunshine we were away from a busy north face car park. It wasn't long before the snow showers piled in from the west and they got more frequent and prolonged as the morning progressed. Not much in the way of views but great winter weather back on the hills at last. The winds were still relatively strong when we reached the summit of Carn Mor Dearg and after our lunch stop we headed off along the arete. Then the showers stopped and at last we were rewarded with great views as the cloud was blown away off the ridge and some lovely sunny periods. The final slopes of old refrozen snow up to the summit of Ben Nevis were great for cramponing has we headed back into the cloud. Heading down in the late afternoon the sun shone again as the clouds lifted and it was back into Spring temperatures, which saw some very under dressed folk wandering up the Pony Track. We finished at dusk and the guys were all pleased with themselves has they thought they may be doing this classic ridge onto the Ben in summer conditions just a few days ago.

Friday, 16 March 2012


Steve axe arresting
Paul, Steve and Dan are out with me for the next couple of days, today was an winter skills day for our route over the Carn Mor Dearg arete and Ben Nevis tomorrow. We had an leisurely start-heading to Aonach Mor late morning and having a coffee whilst we waited for the Nevis Range gondola to get going because of the high winds early on. So it wasn't until after mid day we got walking, perfect really as we also missed the early heavy rain. We did get a few brief snow showers above 850m but it was mainly dry and very pleasant. There is still plenty of snow in the Eastern corries and we had the whole area to ourselves. Tomorrow is looking very nice with sunny spells and much colder temperatures so any snow should be well frozen up.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Another temperature inversion, we hoped. Ciste Corrie
Barrie having a breather half way up No.4 Gully
The top of Number Four Gully
Barrie donning his shorts for the sunshine, out of the cloud inversion
The summit free of cloud, spot the climber at the top of Smith's Route
The wonders of an inversion
Tower Ridge
It was another day of low cloud and light winds and mild and with a forecast of a possible temperature inversion Barrie and I set off up onto the Ben. We headed up No.4 Gully and on the approach we could see the blue skies and sun trying to break through. Then it went dull again. It was relatively quiet up the gully which still has a steepish finish, normal for this time of year. Walking along the plateau it was surprising to see the amount of snow depletion since just a week ago, some of the Pony Track is now free of snow above 1250m. Then at last the sun was visible and we walked up the final 70m in blue skies and warm sun. The summit of Ben Nevis was the only piece of mountain above the sea of cloud. A beautiful scene. We descended down onto the Carn Mor Dearg arete, knowing we were going to be back into the dull and cold cloud, but far preferable than the dull Pony Track back to the car park. No views of the north face from Carn Mor Dearg but a grand day out all the same. I was just thinking back two winters ago when I had a fantastic mid April day on the same route which was plastered in deep snow to 700m.