Wednesday, 30 July 2014

TMB 35

My 35th Tour du Mont Blanc underway with a very fun group, comprising 7 folk from Australia, 2 USA, 2 Israeli guys and one person from Ireland and another from Finland. The unsettled weather is continuing and our first two days of the trek was in very low cloud and rain. The group were full of excitement despite the non Alpine weather. Lots of interest despite lack of views - wild flowers, climbing ibex and whistling Marmottes to keep us going. We must be in for a better August?

Sunday, 27 July 2014


Arrived in Chamonix last night for my second stint of work on Tour de Mont Blanc's this summer. Well while we enjoyed a wonderful week or more of superb hot weather at home in The Highlands the same can't be said out here. Seems like the unsettled theme as continued in much of The Alpine regions since I was last out at the beginning of the month. This morning, however, any cloud disappeared off Mont Blanc and it was lovely and hot. I quickly got through all my admin stuff (yawn,yawn) and had a late morning dash up to Plan Praz which lies below the Aiguille Rouge mountains on the south side of the Chamonix valley, giving great views of Western Europe's highest summit as well as a host of other wonderful peaks- The Aiguille Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi and Aiguille Verte were all poking their spires out of the cloud. My first trekking group arrive tomorrow and then away Tuesday for  another fabulous spin around the TMB.

Friday, 25 July 2014


Lovely scrambling with Loch Einach and Sgor Gaoithe behind
Loch Eianach looking tempting for a swim
One of the best biking routes in The area - Glen Einach, views all the way
Best of the scrambling on the arete
Braeriach's plateau
Recent rockfall covering the path up Coire Dhondail
The weather is becoming rather predictable, another clear skies glorious morning and the heat soon with us. There was a nice wee breeze today, setting off up Glen Einach on the bike early doors to beat the mid day sun. There is a lovely wee scramble on the spur which runs from the pateau of Braeriach, bounding the south side of Coire Dhondail. Guaranteed to see no one here, its a very short affair and a bit vegetated with some loose rock but still a fine way to get onto the hill and with glorious views of Loch Einaich and Sgor Gaoithe in the background. Descending via the stalkers path that runs back into Coire Dhondail it was a surprise to see quite a large amount of recent rock fall which as wiped out around 200m of the path. Here it is quite loose and a lot of mud, despite the hot, dry weather. Take care here over the next few weeks.
So was that the last of the very hot days? Looks like a few showery days and a bit cooler over the weekend. Perfect timing for my departure over to Chamonix tomorrow as I begin another stint of TMB trips in The Alps. Now have The Alps come out of their mixed winter weather?

Thursday, 24 July 2014


Summit sunbathing with Beinn a' Ghlo in the distance
A good path up
Going lightweight today
Ben Vrackie
Taking it easy in the sun
A notch up on the temperatures again today, in the high twenty's. Blue skies and wall to wall sun. A journey south and meet up with Paul, Izzy & Gerry from Stirling. We had a very relaxed stroll up the lovely wee hill of Ben Vrackie above Pitlochry in deepest Perthshire. A nice catch up with friends and a day to take it easy in the heatwave. Plenty of sunbathing on the top and another stroll back to the flesh pots of Pitlochry for ice creams. My rucksack was on the 'minimal' side today, how refreshing!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Looking over toward Carn EtchacHan & The Shelter Stone Crag
Stag Rocks & Loch Avon
Loch Avon, who needs Mediterranean ?
Carn Etchachan
Late afternoon and still sizzling
Loch Avon and Beinn Mheadhoin
Another glorious clear skies morning and temperatures high just after dawn. Karen and I wandered up over Cairn Gorm this morning then away from the crowds and into solitude for the rest of the day to the beautiful views around the rim of the Loch Avon basin. It was a day to linger and sunbath, view the beautiful blue, blue waters of Loch Avon and be treated with 3 juvenile Golden Eagles soaring above and around Stag Rocks. We slowly made our way back to the Coire Cas carpark and the heat was still on even into late afternoon. Oh dear, same again for tomorrow! :)

Monday, 21 July 2014


The finest feature of the Feshie hills-Coire Garbhlach
The final slopes to the summit of Mullach Clach ' Bhlair
Coire Garbhlach
Coire Garbhlach & Glen Feshie
A great run down! :)
This fine spell of weather we have been enjoying in the Highlands just keeps getting better and better. Over the weekend we had lovely sunny spells and no thunderstorms. Today the temperatures in Aviemore reached 25 degrees. I had a good bike ride up to the Munro summit of Mullach Clach a' Bhlair in the Feshie hills today. A nice 'warm up' along Glen Feshie this morning and I saw a buzzard virtually every mile along the road. The 4 wheel drive track up into the hills does detract form these mountains somewhat but they are well established now and why not use them with two wheels? The track all the way up to the 1019m Munro summit isn't really technical, just needs a lot of stamina and determination. A fab run back down after the obligatory views over the impressive Coire Garbhalach. The rest of this week its more of the same, hot sun and light winds. The heatwave continues, great!

Friday, 18 July 2014


Looking down the Lairig Ghru from the summit
Nice views today
Looking over to Cairn Gorm
Karen and I had a day out on Creag an Leth-choin (Lurchers Crag) in the Cairngorms, another beautiful clear skies morning. There was a lot of high level cloud building up from the south in the afternoon and a stiff Cairngorm breeze to stop you getting too hot today so very nice conditions. The cloud seemed to dissipate again later in the afternoon and another lovely evening with no thunderstorms up here.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


The fabulous approach to the Angels Ridge scramble
High up on the ridge looking down to the lochan
Looking across to Ben Macdui & Cairn Toul
Carn a' Mhaim, The Lairig Ghru & Cairn Toul
The Garbh Corrie Mor
Angels Ridge
Cairn Toul & The Angels Ridge
A glorious summer day, lots of warm sun and only a slight breeze on the tops. Angels Ridge is a wonderful scramble in a remote setting and a fine way to ascend the Munro summit of Sgor an Lochain Uaine and onto the Braeriach plateau. It's a long way in through the Lairig Ghru and into the Garbh Corrie Mor. A beautiful walk and on a day like today simply splendid. To get to the foot of the ridge it's a steep line beside the burn flowing out of the lochan but there is a path here. The boulder ridge gets steeper and narrower as you ascend and the best of the scrambling is to stay directly on the crest. Fabulous views and the ridge finishes directly at the summit cairn. Not much change out of 5 hours from the house to the top. Now all that's needed is to walk back down, via Braeriach and loads more views and great walking. It's getting hotter!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Ringlet Butterfly
Good time of year for Dragonlies, Golden Ringed Dragonfly
August issue of Trail magazine with Ben Nevis article
It was a fine day yesterday with warm sunshine in the afternoon and great time of year for wildlife and flora. There's no need to wander to far here in The Cairngorms to see some great wildlife. July a great time for dragonflies, we saw at Hawkers, Golden Ringed and small blue all at the same spot. There is a feature on various routes up Ben Nevis in August issue of Trail magazine, photo of the north face in there from me. Looking like its getting hotter by the weekend.

Sunday, 13 July 2014


Cona Mheall & Beinn Dearg
Looking down Gleann na Squaib to Loch Broom
Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor & Cul Beag from the summit of  Meall na Capriachean
Beinn Dearg
Nearing the summit of Cona Mheall
Glean na Squaib with An Teallach in the distance
It must be over 15 years since I last walked around the group of four wonderful Munros just a few miles south of Ullapool, Beinn Dearg, Cona Mheall, Meall nan Ceapraichean & Eididh nan Clach Geala. This fine set of hills offering great views to the west is a big day out with a long approach up Gleann na Squaib but with excellent paths most of the time. These hills used to be my 'local' day out when I lived up in Ullapool all those years ago, how time flies! Unfortunately we had missed the 'mini heat wave' of last week, setting out in very low cloud and drizzly spells of rain. As we got closer to the summit of Beinn Dearg the cloud lifted and the day improved until our final summit where we enjoyed great views with all the summits free of cloud. I had forgotten how quiet it is up here, mid summer, a weekend and only one other person seen all day.

Friday, 11 July 2014


The amazing view from the Refugio Bonatti, looking across to the Grande Jorasses
The high level traverse above  Val Vaney, Monte Bianco and everyone's jumping with joy!
The high level ridge above Courmayeur, Monte de la Saxe. Most folk take a lower alternative, why?!!!
You can never tire of this!
You need patience to see the wildlife, take your time! Ibex mulling it over
And if you don't see these wee cutties then you really are just looking at your feet!
Beautiful early morning light outside the Refugio Bonatti with Monte Bianco to the left and Grande Jorasses prominent
The highest col on the TMB, Grand Col Ferret, looking over to Mont Dolent- The summit of 3 countries
The summit of Tete de la Trenche, for me the finest day of the TMB
The traverse form Col de Bonhomme to Col de Croix de Bonhomme, always snow here into July
Deant de Geant and Grand Jorasses on our way to Courmayeur
Welcome to Italy! First view of Monte Bianco
Back from my 34th circuit of the classic Tour of Mont Blanc. This classic trek around western Europe's highest mountain is always a popular circuit and for good reason. Wonderful Alpine views, challenging ascents and decents of 1000m+ every day, walking through three countries, flower filled meadows, beautiful wildlife and of course guiding with  great company with folk from all corners of the world. Some people in the Chamonix area have been commenting on the 'unsettled weather' to the start of the trekking season, well of  the 20 days that we have been wandering in it has nearly always been was sunshine and great views. Of course the odd shower, snowfall, cloudy and cooler conditions as ever, why else are The Alps  so green! Our trek covers the most beautiful and challenging days of the TMB, cramming 7 days of great hiking into a 10 day holiday. We carry everything on our backs with no baggage transfers, we do all the high level alternatives and one rest day in lovely Dollone (Courmayeur). Circuit number 35 coming up at the end of the month!