Archive for Winter climbing

Snow. In Africa?

Myself and Ewan went to Africa to see if we could find some snow!

SNOW. In AFRICA? from Misha somerville on Vimeo.

Point 5

Some pics from Point 5 Gully on the Ben – possibly the classic Scottish ice climb.

Weekend in the cloud for 20 minutes out of it.

Finally manged to peel myself away from the desk and with Ewan’s help made it out to the wild lands round the back of Ben Nevis.  A nasty accident on the A82 on Friday night almost killed progress altogether, as did a seized brake caliper, with further progress only resuming after hitting it with an ice axe.  But coming down off Aonach Beag, the clouds opened and it all became obvious.

8.5mm on the Ben

rescued beautifully from falling down the Ben by Ewan and his rope. cheers for that one. Same rope came in useful for rescuing two other stranded cats with their claws stuck in the ice. Even the thunderbirds used it when we got on the blower for backup. The bellychopper was useful but the rope in the right hands (Ewan’s) came out tops, all 8.5mm of it.

Breaking the Ice

Lamb chops and myself headed out with spikes on for our first ice-climb of the season on Oui Oui (near Newtonmore and conveniently right next to the road).

Still Wintry in the Mountains

While for most the Winter might be considered forgotten, high up in the corries the winter climbing continues. Being north facing and the highest of Scottish mountains, Ben Nevis is famous for late season action where climbing continues into May most years. Having not managed a climb on the Ben this season, Mini and myself were pretty keen to get out and so with a warmish forecast we left Glasgow at 2am to beat the thaw.  The conditions looked rubbish on the drive up, the climb up Green Gully was good, and at half 11 it was fantastic on the summit.

Twisting and Busy

With the freezing level up high we headed up into the dependable Stob Coire Nam Lochain.  Even so, many of the buttress routes were missing ice to make the harder routes  feasible.  And so twisting Gully was a busy place on a saturday morning.

Boomerang Arete

Sitting on a Saturday afternoon looking at the amazing weather outside is a painful experience, but at least it’s given me the chance to put these up from last weekend.  Robin, Spad and myself climbed a funny (and fun) variation of boomerang Arete.  Wasn’t immediately obvious where to go but then I kind of like that.

Scratching Around for Ice

On the Road at 6am it was a familar pilgrimage up Scotland’s Great Western Road on Saturday morning.  Into Glencoe’s Stob Coire nan Lochain, Mini and Kia managed to get the rope properly fankled on boomerang gully, while Spad took a slightly uncommon  route up to Dorsal Arete.  Having previously avoided it for more difficult routes, the Arete proved to be nothing but good fun and I wondered why I hadn’t done it before.  Back down in the Fort it was pints and pub scran before lamb chops arrived.  A good sleep in till 7am, but rescued by the gondola it was off the back of Anonach Mor on Sunday.  We all lacked ice screws and on a variation of Tunnel vision, Mini and myself ran out of rope, with me 25m above the last shakey protection, and 2m from the top.  Plenty of excitement as it felt like I soloing over hard ground (for me).  Soft snow didn’t make life easy higher up, but luckily some other friendly climbers, up from Glasgow, dropped us a line.  We did the same for lamb chops,Skippy and Spad, who had had a similarly taxing climb.  Having run out of time for the Gondola, all that was left was twilight descent into the Glen, some gear sorting, and a pint on road down before making glasgow at midnight.

Glencoe

Glencoe was in spectacular form, and somehow amazingly quiet.  The severe weather warnings for the roads must’ve put people off driving, but as it turned out the roads were fine and the weather was fantastic.  Tim and myself got a day in Stob Coire Nan Lochain on SC Gully, and then out along the Aonach Eagach the following day – something I’ve been meaning to do for a few years.  Jen joined us a the bunkhouse after having been up at the ski centre taking pictures on a pinhole camera – the few frames she showed us from her last trip looked spectacular (hopefully we can persuade her to post them up here).  Spad arrived looking very fresh and ready for action – in completely the opposite kind of form to us after several days out on the hill!  Dave came through for some thinking time, after recent events there was some solace to be found in the snowy Glencoe hills.   A walk up towards Beinn an Dothaidh cleared the heads before it was back to Glasgow.  All in all, another classic weekend.

Pictures from Tim:

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High-8 is a loose gathering of like minded adventurists who document first person, on the ground experiences with words, photos and film. The hope is to form a rough guide to outdoor adventure sports in Scotland and provide a warts and all, honest representation of what we find. No sport is excluded from mountaineering and mountain biking to gorge walking and kayak all are welcome and encouraged.

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The Code

The Country Code, which most of us learned in school (and we probably haven't read since!), was updated in 2004 when it became the Countryside Code. Here's the updated version:
  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people
In Scotland, where there is a more general right of access, there also exists the Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
  • Take responsibility for your own actions
  • Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind
  • Help farmers, landowners and others to work safely and effectively
  • Care for the environment
  • Keep your dog under proper control
  • Take extra care if you are organising a group, an event or running a business.
There's obviously a lot to to be learned from these - it's amazing how many people get out to enjoy the countryside but are still happy to leave it in a mess. Even with the recent updates, the Countryside Codes seem slightly outdated when considering the wider issues involved when lots of people get out into the countryside. Some places just can't handle high volumes of people, no matter how they behave and publicity, no matter how interesting or well-done , has the potential to attract lots of people to an area. Blogs including video, pictures or words, form part the the wider media which could easily contribute to tipping the balance, and so we as bloggers have to consider the implications of what we decide to post. Can the place we're writing about take more people, and if not, it might be wiser to leave maps, place names or grid references out of posts. In Scotland, the Mountain Bothies Association has been careful to protect the location of some Bothies due to mis-treatment and, in some cases, even malicious vandalism. That is not to say they would not advocate people using them - in fact, a well used, maintained and loved network of bothies exist, and the MBA as an organisation is there to encourage this. Some bothies are busier than others but generally it is the less remote places which are more susceptible to abuse - something which might be worth considering when deciding whether to post information. It must be said, in most cases it's obvious what should or shouldn't be publisiced, but it's worth taking these considerations to mind.

Please note: The Code is constantly being revised and added to. If you like to add something login in to the discussion on the forum.