I'm not going to try to cover it up or tell you how good the climbing was today without mentioning the negative points, the billions of negative points called midges. With very light winds, low cloud, light rain and a warm 15C or so the midges were in heaven and Joanna, Emma, Ben and I certainly were not. It quickly became very apparent that it was too midgy to climb so we raced up The Gutter and went home. Sometimes, the elements get the better of you and you have to admit defeat.
The clouds were floating around the ridges and gullies of the North Face of Ben Nevis this morning as Sally and I walked up the Allt a'Mhuilinn to the CIC Hut. We were with a very nice group of Californian visitors who were only in town for one day on their tour of the UK. So there was no finer place to show them than the magnificent North Face, especially when the mist was moving through the crags, showing the shapes of the buttresses and the coires perfectly. It really did look magnificent today!
Yesterday I enjoyed an excellent day of rock climbing with Ken and his son Carlson. We went to climb Engineers Crack on Buachaille Etive Mor followed by a big boots climb of Agag's Groove with the packs on so we could go to the summit and walk down Coire na Tullach. Today we watched Ken and Carlson start up Centurion on Carn Dearg Buttress. The crag looks dry but the big corner of pitch two was quite wet and challenging. Anyway it looks like we will start to get some rain tomorrow and over the next few days so that might be the end of the fantastic dry sunny weather for a wee while.
Lochaber and Lorn Ramblers are a dynamic and very active group of walkers. They have a busy schedule of walks right across the area which all have nominated leaders so it is a great way to get out walking and discover new routes with some support. There is also great potential for scrambling in the area so a small group of ramblers and I went to Buachaille Etive Mor to push the envelope a little and coach some scrambling skills.
We went up Broad Buttress to see what a grade 2 scramble is like. This one is very sustained and quite airy but generally with good positive rhyolite holds. We had some thunder on the way up and a couple of heavy showers but the rock stayed grippy and we got to the top very well. You don't need to reach the summit of Stob Dearg, instead you can turn around and descend Great Gully Buttress which is a nice grade 1/2 scramble. It has a distinct crux formed by a wall with a groove running straight up (or down) it. We looked at using the rope to protect this and found the rest of the route to zigzag from side to side finding the easiest line. Despite the rain it was a very nice day with spectacular views.
Fifty years ago this month Nigel traversed the Cuillin Ridge on Skye as a teenager. Over the last to days we enjoyed a brilliant traverse to mark the anniversary of his first time on the ridge.
We walked in from Glen Brittle in warm sunshine and got to Sgurr nan Eag in quick time. A cool breeze kept us from over heating and we had no hold-ups at TD Gap, King's Chimney or Inaccessible Pinnacle so we got to An Dorus in very good time. We even found a snow patch on Sgurr a'Greadaidh to fill up with water just before we set up for the night.
The weather was not perfect though. We had a windy and wet night which kept us guessing what it would be like today on the second day of the traverse. We woke to mist and wet rick but there were breaks in the cloud which showed some promise of a good day so we packed up and got going, hoping for the best.
It did not take long for the sun to warm weary legs and dry off the rock. The cloud also burned away to make it a hot and sunny day on the west coast with nearly no wind at all. Not far inland we could see thick cloud and rain so we were lucky to get such a good day.
Nigel has a lifetime of experience of climbing mountains and this really showed. His fluidity of movement in the most exposed positions and technical ability on the climbs made it a super smooth traverse and we got to Sgurr nan Gillean not much after 11am.
We still have a brilliant forecast on the west coast of Scotland while the south east of England gets cold and wet weather. I must admit, it's quite a nice break from the normal pattern of weather across the country. Come on up to The Outdoor Capital of the UK for a bit of sunshine and a big adventure!
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.