Saturday, 21 July 2012

Catching Up

It's fair to say I've neglected the blog a bit recently. Life's been hectic but there's been plenty of good stuff happening, particularly with the good run of weather on the west coast in spring & early summer.

Alps Trip
Heike and I had a great week in Chamonix at the start of March. For once, we were lucky with the weather. We made the most if it with ascents of the Petit Viking, Swiss Route on the Courtes, Fil a Plomb and Frendo-Ravenal. Anyone who's ever skied with me will know that I'm not exactly comfortable on skis, so the approaches and descents were probably the crux for me!

Spring Cragging
We had some brilliant clear, dry weather on the west coast this spring which made for cold conditions in the mountains but great cragging weather at low level. Highlights for me included a weekend in Ardnamurchan with James, Heike and Brian, a trip to the north-west with Ally and a visit to Neist with Matt.

I'd been wanting to get to Ardnamurchan for ages and it didn't disappoint - the climbing and the scenery are both incredible. Return of the Jedi and Star Wars were the climbing highlights, but the views across the Small Isles and the magic of the Ring itself made them all the more special.

The NW trip coincided with warmer weather so Ally and I got up onto Stac Pollaidh for ascents of Jack the Ripper, Wingless Warlock and Vlad the Impaler. We also made it to Inbhirpollaidh Rock Gym, a crap name for a great crag! The steep, physical Gneiss was the perfect complement to the rough Sandstone slopers & jamming of the day before.

I'd been to Neist years ago but it poured so I'd never actually climbed anything there. The big, intimidating face of Supercharger had made an impression though, and I was glad to get back there & get on it. It turned out to be more solid than expected and had some great climbing on it.

For the bank holiday weekend at the start of May, Elizabeth and I embarked on a journey through one of Scotland's greatest wildernesses - the Knoydart peninsula. Day 1 was a little bit epic - we started from Glenfinnan, ran in almost to Loch Arkaig, then turned left, went up & over the 3 munros north of Glen Dessary and finished at Sourlies bothy. Day 2 was fortunately a bit shorter, taking us up & over Luanaidh Bheinn and down to Inverie for massive feast in the Old Forge. The ferry to Mallaig and bus to Glenfinnan completed the loop the next day. With great weather, phenomenal scenery and blissful solitude, it was a weekend to remember.

Mountains and Sea-Cliffs on Skye
Whether you're a monarchist or a republican, you'd have to admit that the Royal Family gave done a good job of giving us extra bank holidays in the past couple of years. We celebrated the jubilee (honest) with a 4-day trip to Skye in perfect weather and with barely a midge in sight.

Andy and I started a little over-optimistically, heading for Vulcan Wall area first thing on Saturday morning. After I'd experienced the joys of leading an E2 crux with no feeling in my hands or feet, followed by hot aches at the top belay, we retreated to a slightly warmer crag. A great link-up on Sron na Ciche allowed us to get the blood flowing again, with a dubious topo for Atropos adding to the fun.

The next day, we headed North for some warm rock at Kilt Rock. What a great crag! 4 50m lines of E1 & E2 up impeccable rock had us grinning all the way to the pub!

Monday gave another adventure, this time teaming up with Lisa to do Kung Cobra on the back of Sgurr Coinneach Mor. This 4-star classic clearly doesn't get much traffic but is worth the walk for the solitude & views alone. A circuit of the Coure Laggan round with Elizabeth on the Tuesday completed an excellent weekend.

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