Sunday, 19 February 2012

19th February - The Pap of Glencoe with the Marshall clan

The Marshall clan, a motley crew!

A lovely picture looking up Fionn Ghleann towards Beinn Maol Chailuim and Stob an Fhuarain

Anna leading up the final stretch to the summit

Superb views down Loch Leven towards Ardgour

Patchy skies dulled down what woud have been cracking visibility

Good views out over towards the Ballachulish Horseshoe, which we climbed recently

Today I was out with Anna and her family on the Pap of Glencoe to give her family a wee taste of winter conditions in Scotland. Unfortunately conditions weren't really that great, but there was enough snow to play in above the 600m mark, and it was certainly cold. Anna was keen to do most of the leading and instructional stuff about using the axes, moving in difficult terrain and group management so I was happy to sit back and observe, looking for any teaching points I could bring up with her later. She did really well, and was clear and concise with her instructions, and I'm hoping that she will one day go for her ML as I think she would be great as a leader in the hills.

We just trekked up the normal route, overtook a few folk and took time to enjoy the surrounding views. I think her family enjoyed the walk up the Pap even though it is a bit of a trudge, but the craic was good and it let them see Anna in her element.

We were the first group to summit (possibly the only ones!) as everyone else turned back at the boulder field before the top, but Anna guided the troops through and kept them safe (even though her brother was keen to use his axe'properly' by driving it into every rock, snow patch and turf he could come across...time to look the file out...). On the summit we were rewarded with some tremendous views, and the Marshalls were all pleased with their achievement. We had a bite to eat and headed back down (with the obligatory snow ball fight of course) to the car. Hopefully her folks got a bit of a taste for snow covered mountains, and will come back up once we actually have a real winter so that we can do something a bit spicier with them! All in all a pleasant day and another for the winter ML log book as the assessment looms...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

12th February 2012 - Sgurr Nan Conbhairean

Creag a Chaorainn from Cairn Ghluasaid
Graham on the summit of Sgurr Nan Conbhairea

Looking west towards A' Chralaig

The cloud clears on A' Chralaig

Looking south towards Sgurr Nan Conbhairean from Saol Chaorainn
Graham moving fast on the descent towards Drochaidian Tuill Easaich and home
Today Graham and I headed up to Glen Sheil to have a look at some hills neither of us have done before, namely Sgurr Nan Conbhairean and Cairn Ghluasaid. We headed off at a reasonable time and were both surprised at how close Glen Sheil actually is to Fort William. After parking up we started at a leisurely pace up towards the ridge which approaches Carn Ghluasaid. The gloomy weather began to clear a little, although the summit of Conbhairean was still shrouded in clag. On the approach up to the top the slopes were covered in verglas, making walking pretty interesting and I'm sure we both almost ended up on our backsides on several occasions! However, we managed to make it to the top with our dignity intact, and we were well rewarded with superb views and a heat inversion which revealed peaks far and near. We invited a fellow walker to tag along with us as we were all heading to knock off Sail Chaorrain, and apart from the hellish verglas on the way down, it was a nice easy walk with continuing views north towards Glen Affric. On the way back we opted to skirt round Conbhairean and head towards Drochaidian Tuill Easaich before breaking off southwards and back to the car over Meall Breac. Another cracking day out, a good laugh and a Munro bagged. A shame there was no tricky nav conditions but good just to get out and explore a new area. I'm now starting a new job for three days a week, giving me plenty of time to get out in the hills and enjoy myself :) please try and contain your jealousy :)

11th February 2012 - Stob Ban

Anna doing some coaching

Looking back over the East ridge towards the Ring of Steall

Looking towards Mullach nan Coirean

The cloud rises

'The Fingers'

Today Anna was keen to take Aoife up Stob Ban, one of our  favousite hills in the Mamores. Although the weather forecast was a bit grim its a lovely walk, and quite short so its not overly taxing. This gave Anna a good opportunity to do some winter coaching on equipment and techniques while I strolled ahead. The East ridge was fairly uniform, the snow was wet and slippy but stable and the summit provided us with some excellent views yet again. We decided to carry on along to Mullach nan Coirean, making it a nice little circuit and enjoying the extremely warm winter weather, and changeable views as we went. From the second summit we descended towards Glen Nevis, but as always the boggy ground was awful and for the second day I had soaking feet! Anna did well conveying different techniques to Aoife and Aoife did well to put the techniques into practice, although they were unnecessary given the conditions. Another great day on the hills.

9th February 2012 - Ballachulish Horseshoe

The slog. Yucky ground, wet boots!

At the top of one of the steps

Anna with her pose on

The cloud breaking, peaks in the distance

Sgurr Dhonuill appearing through the clag

Anna with Sgurr Dhonuill in the background

The cloud drops again from the summit of Sgurr Dhonuill

As we descend, the cloud climbs back up again
Anna's old housemate Aoife was up visiting us for the weekend, and was keen to get out to make the most of what was left of the snow. Anna was keen to take her up something more than just a snow plod, and I have had my eye on the Ballachulish Horseshoe for years. Although not technical, it offers some interest and is definately a good starting route for a beginner. We knew it was going to be a long day, but that didn't stop us having a more than leisurely start. The initial slopes were a slog until we reached the snow line, but we were getting hints that the over bearing cloud cover was beginning to break up a bit, with good vews over to Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe beginning to show. On reaching the 'difficulties' Anna and I took turns at the front, and the slippy ice on the steps were the only real issue. We made good progress up the NE ridge, and onto the first summit of the day, Sgorr Dhearg. Here we were treated to what would turn out to be stunning cloud and weather conditions. The cloud slowly dropped, revealing peaks across Glencoe and Glen Etive and further afield, it was stunning. However, we had to press on and after a long plod we found ourselves dealing with the tricky, slippy and wet final step onto the summit of Sgurr Dhonuill, where we were again treated to some excellent views, although this didn't extend very far north so the Ben was hidden.

From the summit we started what we hoped would be an easy descent ended up being horrible, boggy, uneven ground. We plodded on until eventually, with the threat of darkness fast approaching, we hit a reasonable looking gully to descend and made our way through forestry to begin the trudge along the forestry track to Ballachulish and the car. A superb day and a great effort from Aoife on her first proper winter day!