Friday, 13 June 2008

Cold and showery with snow on the tops!

That's the weekend weather forecast for you - yes it's summer!

After all the lovelly hot, dry and sunny weather Scotland has been having throughout May and early June it looks like winter will again briefly return to the Cairngorm tops.

It's been very snowy in the Alps at the moment too putting summits such as Mont Blanc out of bounds due to the deep snow and avalanche risk. Cat who was out in the Alps to climb Mont Blanc for charity with Kenton Cool climbed another 4000 metre peak, Grande Paradiso instead. I filmed Cat and Fi on Tower Ridge recently training for her charity event. It was her first ever rock climb and her first ascent of Ben Nevis - so well done. More details can be found on Fi's blog.

In east Scotland the midges were out this week in mass but fortunately we were working indoors at the Glenmore Lodge climbing wall. Apparently it got so bad that Tracey and Ian had to bin an outdoor archery session despite poor Richard being tied to the abseil tower as midge bate for Glenmore!!!

Next Tuesday we're off to the Alps and return mid September - that is if we can find and afford diesel for our campervan and the Rosyth ferry is still running!

We have a few folk climbing Mont Blanc with us and BMG guide Jonathan Preston so we'll try and keep you posted on how they get on and conditions in the Alps.
Monday, 9 June 2008

Cairngorm 'Crane' capers with camera crew...!

Fantastic weather and a long, tiring, but fun few days with the production team of Tern TV. With presenter Nick Crane they are filming the latest Mapman series entitled Britannia.
I was providing advice, guiding and support to the film crew on their amazing journey from Braemar into the Lairig Ghru and up and over the Devils Point to their high arctic tundra camp at almost 1,000 metres. The following day we had to travel across the vast featureless stony mossy plateau to our pickup point at Glen Feshie. A serious place in bad weather with huge distances little shelter from the high winds and no mobile phone reception.
While filming the camera crew assistants and production team had to carry the large heavy camera equipment, tripods, sound equipment, monitors, spare batteries, two days supply of food as well as all the essential hillwalking, survival and camping kit.
Weight wise fortunately, Mountain Equipment had supplied some excellent strong lightweight geodesic mountain tents (Dragonfly 2) and compact subzero rated down sleeping bags for the crew.
I too had my lightweight Black Diamond Firstlight tent and my cosy Rab Summit 300 down bag. I stripped out the frame sheet of my Pod Cragsack and rolled my sleeping mat inside to further reduce weight. Lightweight waterproofs my trusty Rab VR and cosy Generator smock kept me warm in the twilight as clear skies meant the temperature dropped close to freezing eating dinner at midnight on the high Cairn Toul / Braeriach plateau.
However my plans for a nice light rucksack had been scuppered somewhat when I was politely asked if I could carry the essential three two litre stainless steel flasks of coffee! The flasks actualy weighed more than all my camping kit even when empty...
After leaving Derry Lodge early on Sunday we arrived at our high camp on the plateau above Corrour at 22.30 hrs - due to the filming! On Monday the original plan was an early start to cross all the way over to Glen Feshie by 10.00 am before the winds picked up - however there was filming to be done, the winds picked up and it was 4.00 pm before the crew arrived back...!
Meanwhile Fi and Kim were on the Cairngorm high tops too with their bivy kit enjoying the fantastic weekend weather with lots of walking, scrambling on Angel Ridge and Munro bagging. Some great photos of the Cairngorms and Scotlands summer snowfields in the arctic corries of Braeriach and Ben MacDui can be seen on Fi's blog.

Also on Sunday my friend Walter had apparently passed us during the filming near Derry Lodge on his way up to climb on Sputan Dearg's Amethyst Pillar on Ben MacDui. He said it was fantastic as can be seen from the photos...


Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sun glorious sun

Another fantastic warm blue sky day in the east until some late afternoon cloud appeared over Cairngorm. It was dry yesterday too despite heavy rain being forecast. Much of the rock is dry in the mountains though there are still some large snow patches in places.
Monday, 2 June 2008

An absolutely blistering day in the NW

Rain and a lot colder weather was forecast to hit the Highlands sometime on Sunday and it was moving in from the south east, so we headed north and to the wild west climbing crags. See

We made the right choice and had a fantastic hot rock day at Stone Valley crag. The climbing is south facing on lovely clean rough gneiss with reliable trad protection.

We had sun, blue skies and as it's been dry for weeks with a light breeze there were no midges. It felt more like being in Spain but with better unspoilt views and a lot cleaner and fresher air...

Fi and I enjoyed two of the cleanest and most perfect trad rock climbs we've done for along time.

They were Open Secret (HS; 4b) and a rather bold feeling Bald Eagle (HVS; 5a). There are holds on the upper blank slab although they aren't apparent until you climb up to them with minimal spaced protection...!

We also climbed the aptly named Cheese Grater a fine rough slab (VS; 4c), Touch and Go (VS; 4c or HVS; 5a?) depending on the guide and lastly Inside Information (HVS; 5a; 5a).

The last climb has a strenuous start, scrappy middle on the first pitch but a good second pitch up the black water streaked groove - as long as the black streak is dry!
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