Monday, January 20, 2020

Burns Night at Muir Cottage, Inverey, Braemar (17-18th January)

We had an excellent turn out for the first club trip of 2020 to Muir Cottage near Inverey, Braemar, with a fine weather forecast for the weekend.  Muir Cottage, owned by The Cairngorm Club, is a superb hut with 18 beds (plus a few extra for Cairngorm Club members), an ample common room and kitchen, drying room and washroom facilities. 

On Saturday morning a group of six set off early for a cycle 8km south along Glen Ey as far as Altanour Lodge with the objective of climbing Beinn Iutharn Mhor.  The track had a dusting of snow and icy puddles to negotiate but the group made steady progress along the glen before ditching the bikes for later.

Having a pit stop before the steep climb up Beinn Iutharn Mhor 
Heading up the steep Eastern slopes of Beinn Iutharn Mhor
Hazel & John on the summit approach
Some firm neve and ice patches made for slower progress, but the group gradually reached the summit plateau.  Winds reached 25-35mph bringing temperatures of around -12°C with wind chill making the extra layers necessary. 

Helene & Helen smiling on their way up the steep section

Summit success for the team (L to R Peter, John, Helen, Ann & Helene)

Time for a selfie (L to R Peter, Hazel, Helen, John, Ann & Helene)
Keen to make good time back to the cottage the team retraced steps back to the bikes, being careful to negotiate some of the trickier patches, and made their way back to the Muir, somewhat slowed on the bikes by the headwind (and not as hoped by gravity). 

Back at the bikes
Meanwhile Roddy set off for Glen Callater to tackle a 795m summit North of Creag Phadruig.  He cycled in a short distance along Callater Burn before heading off on foot to the summit.  His solitude meant he could practice the lines for his recital (more on that later).  Simon climbed Sgor Mor from the Linn of Dee and Donald cycled en route at Ballater. 

Judith, Mark and Rae climbed Morrone from the track by the Corriemulzie Burn and onto the cold and windy tops.  Due to the windy and cold weather no photos were taken but, by all accounts, the group had an enjoyable day.  They then spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying cake and coffee at The Bothy in Braemar ahead of our tour of the Braemar Mountain Rescue Centre. 

Later that afternoon we all regrouped in Braemar to have a tour of the Braemar Mountain Rescue Centre, kindly arranged by Derek Edge, one of our members who is also a BMRT member.

What’s in your rucksack Derek?  It’s mega heavy!

Mountain Rescue is no laughing matter, but we thoroughly enjoyed our tour, a real eye-opener to the challenges the team face
We were able to visit the team store room and feel for ourselves the weight of the technical rescue kit that the team must carry on top of their own personal rucksacks. It’s clear to see the iron strength and fitness the team need to provide the excellent service we hope to never need ourselves.   

Derek showing us one of the BMRT Landrover Defenders
That evening we were treated to a Burns Supper feast (thanks to the chefs), the highlight of which was Roddy’s address to the haggis and later recital of Tam O’ Shanter.  Fine food, wine, whisky and good company all made for a fantastic evening. 

Roddy’s address to the haggis

‘And in an instant all was dark’ (Tam O’ Shanter, Robert Burns).  Roddy reciting the poem with drama the point where the lights go out, the music and dancing stops and Tam flees. 
The following morning a group set off for a clockwise loop of Beinn a’ Bhuird before dawn to make the most of the short daylight hours.  The team were a bit shocked by the new track up Glen Quioch which is wide and steep in places and far from the river, but they had an excellent day with very clear skies. 

Simon, Ed & Scuz heading up the track

Simon, Scuz & Ed on the snowy slopes
Leaving the hut at a more sociable hour, another team set off for a climb up Carn Liath from Inverey, enjoying lighter winds and warmer temperatures than the previous day. 

The landrover track had filled in with snow and ice

At the summit of Carn Liath (L to R, Jane, Peter, Helen, Hazel, Bob & Roddy)

Heading down towards the river Dee
Excellent views were had North over the Cairngorms, across to Braeriach and Ben Macdui, over to Ben Avon and beyond.

A sheltered picnic spot
Donald, Ann & John opted for a cycle to Linn of Quoich and Keiloch with a stop at The Bothy on their return to the Muir before heading back to Aberdeen. 

Another fantastic weekend with the Aberdeen Mountaineering Club and a great start to the 2020 club programme. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

A walk up Morven, Ballater (12th Jan)

On Sunday 12th January a group of 8 AMC members took advantage of a favourable forecast and walked up Morven from Tullich cemetery, taking this more interesting but less travelled route up the popular Corbett.  The track wends its way up through beautiful forest before emerging at the foot of Morven.  

A rough and spongy ascent up to 872m follows giving superb views over the neighbouring Aberdeenshire hills and glens. 

The group stopping for a snack at the foot of Morven with cloud shrouding the summit
Picnicing (again) at the top of the steep ascent, homemade granola bar was a welcome treat (thanks Helen)
(Mark, Derek, Helen, Chris, Morna, Andrew & Judith)

30mph winds and sub-zero temperatures had us layering up on the top with a 'feels-like' temperature of -10°C.  

A wintery summit approach
At the summit cairn (Morna, Judith, Mark & Hazel)
The group at the summit

Our route

The return was by retracing our steps back to the car.

Thanks to Morna for suggesting and organising the walk, it was great to see some new members joining the group too.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel Meet 8-9 September

Loch Ossian Youth Hotel, located on the edge of Rannoch Moor and the southern shores of Loch Ossian, is an idyllic location surrounded by wild moorland and mountains.  12 AMC members made the journey by car, train and foot to reach the hostel, which is owned by Hostelling Scotland, for a weekend of hill walking and socialising. 

Corrour station, the highest railway station in the UK

Arriving by train adds to the adventure
The hostel itself is comfortable despite its remote location with hydro and solar electricity, hot showers and wood burning stove for heat. 

The hostel with Loch Ossian reflecting the morning light

On Saturday morning a group of 5 (Mark C, Hazel, Bob, Elliot & Roddy) set off from the hostel early with the munros of Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg in their sights.  They were later joined by Ed, Scuz and Bruce and the 8 continued the walk together from the summit of Sgor Gaighre.  

Some of the group on the summit of Carn Dearg
Temperatures were bitterly cold with windchill but skies were generally bright with the odd flurry of tiny snow flakes.

The group as they make their way back along the loch towards the hostel

Approaching the hostel for a well earned cup of tea

Elliot, Ed, Mark C & Bruce resting after a great day on the hill
Mark & Judith climbed Corbett Leum Uilleim in an anti-clockwise direction.  Mark continued afterwards and also climbed Beinn Na Lap before sunset. 

Judith looking very cold at the summit of Leum Uilleim
Rae & Gar opted for a hike up Beinn Na Lap followed by a cycle towards Loch Treig.

Once the party were safely back at the hostel, the socials began with a glass of Prosecco to celebrate Bob’s birthday.  

**Happy Birthday Bob!**  

This was followed by a delicious and filling feast (thanks to the chefs Mark C, Bob, Mark M, Hazel, Elliot and Bruce).  Special mention goes to the bringers of the wine as it had to be carried in from Corrour station, at least the distance isn’t too far and its downhill on the approach.

The following morning a group decided to tackle Beinn Na Lap before the 1230 train from Corrour. 

Morning reflections across Loch Ossian
Mark C, Mark M, Hazel & Bob set off at an energetic pace to ensure the summit was reached before turnaround time though there was nothing to worry about; the team were back at the hostel before 10.30am leaving a couple of hours to spare before the train.

Setting off for an early ascent of Beinn na Lap
Mark C, Mark M & Hazel at the summit of Beinn na Lap
Rae & Gar set off for a cycle round Loch Ossian, Ed & Scuz for Leum Uilleim, while others opted for short walks in the vicinity, reading or simply drinking tea in the comfort of the hostel before the short walk back to Corrour station and the return trains to Rannoch or Tulloch stations. 

The group celebrating Bob's birthday, Trainspotting style
As always, a fun weekend of mountaineering and socialising with the Aberdeen Mountaineering Club.    

Monday, October 14, 2019

Clashgour meet

Only a small number of attendees (four) from AMC at the Clashgour meet in October.  Perhaps just as well it wasn't a huge turnout - if you've not stayed at the Clashgour hut before then it could best be described as a bijou residence with a lot of character but not a lot of space. 

The Clashgour hut     

The hut instructions say a maximum of 10 people but I think that would involve having a rota for sitting down and for taking turns to breathe !

Saturday weather was OK initially but then deteriorated.  Scuz and Goat braved the elements and did a long walk north across the Black Mount peaks almost to the Glencoe ski resort.  Bob and Jane decided to delay their arrival until Saturday afternoon and have an easy day - once the fire is lit it's a very cosy hut and a great place to relax with the weekend papers !

Sunday weather was fine with some mist hanging around in the valleys and occasionally on the tops.  Bob, Scuz and Goat did the 2 munros north of the hut, Stob a Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabar with a return down the NE ridge to Sron nan Giubhas then back over the col to the stalkers path back to the hut.  Stags could be heard roaring, and there were great autumnal views in the valleies and over Rannoch Moor.  Jane headed over to the east of Bridge of Orchy to do the Corbetts Beinn nam Fuaran and Cam Chreag.

On top of Stob Choire Odhair overlooking Rannoch Moor

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Real 3 Peaks Challenge Litter Pick on the White Mounth 5th October

The national coordinated litter sweep to ‘deep clean’ the highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales has been extended to include many other popular mountains across the UK.  The initiative sees teams of volunteers climbing the most popular hills and clearing as much as they can from the common approach routes and summits before the frost and snow of winter arrives.  

As mountaineering becomes more popular with locals and tourists alike, the problem of litter also increases with items such as toilet roll and hankies, plastic bottles, sweet wrappers and fruit peel being the most commonly seen items. 

A team of litter pickers from Aberdeen Mountaineering Club joined in the challenge to tackle two of the Munros of the White Mounth starting from the Spittal of Glenmuick on Saturday 5th October.  The effort was arranged in cooperation with head ranger of the Balmoral Estate, Glyn Jones, who provided litter pickers and bags for the group.

Watching the weather forecast all week (and Hurricane Lorenzo) it was decided that the strong SE winds might prevent a full route of the White Mounth, bearing in mind that we would be clutching a long stick and a billowing plastic bag, but at least the most commonly trodden hills of Broad Cairn and Lochnagar could be prioritised.  

The team setting off from the Spittal of Glenmuick
The group split into two, one heading clockwise on the South side of Lock Muick to tackle Broad Cairn and the other heading anti-clockwise on the approach to Lochnagar.     
Derek, Luigi and Chris (friend of Hazel & Derek’s) found most of their litter on the lower Loch Muick paths and at the pony hut.  Not much litter was found on the summit of Broad Cairn.

Derek on the way up the landrover track to Broad Cairn

A bag of rubbish found at the pony hut
Hazel & Mark headed off up Lochnagar, finding tissues and food waste to be the most common item.  A few tins, bottles and bits of plastic were also picked up including those stuffed into cairns on the approach and summit.  

How not to leave your picnic spot after lunch (egg peel, banana skins and a muffin wrapper)
The weather was kinder than expected but still windy, wet and cold with poor visibility on the tops so both teams dropped down (via Corrie Chash and Glas Allt respectively) meeting at the Glas Allt Shiel bothy for a quick cuppa before the walk back to the Spittal.  

Luigi heading down the Corrie Chash path
All volunteers agreed that the day had been a great success, pleasingly not too much litter but still a worthwhile task before the winter sets in.  Everyone felt a good sense of achievement and well exercised from a day on the hill.  

The litter pickers with their haul

The litter will be weighed and added to the grand total picked for the The Real 3 Peaks Challenge. Glyn Jones, on behalf of the rangers, paid thanks to the volunteers.  

For more information and to follow the main event on Saturday 12th October visit Real3Peaks Challenge on Facebook, or follow #real3peaks challenge on Instagram.

Mountaineering Scotland are also running a campaign to encourage the mountaineering community, and others, to remove litter and plastic from our hills and crags.  To participate you can take photos of your litter haul and tag #takeithame on social media to promote that we, climbers and hillwalkers, are part of the solution! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Glen Brittle Memorial Hut Meet (Skye) 20-21 September

With a favourable forecast, 8 AMC members set off on the long drive to Glen Brittle Memorial Hut right on the doorstep of the Skye Cuillins, an enviable location for walking, scrambling and climbing.  The hut, held in trust for the BMC and Mountaineering Scotland, is a luxurious space with plenty of accommodation and sociable areas with stunning views on to the Cuillin ridge itself.   

6 members of the group arrived some time on Friday evening, with Mark C and Mark M having climbed at Huntly’s Cave near Granton-on-Spey during Friday en route to Skye.

On Saturday morning all 6 climbers set off for Sron na Ciche on the south side of Coire Lagan with it’s wide selection of well-established classic routes on offer and the opportunity to stand on top of the iconic Cioch, famous for its feature in the movie Highlander (1986). 

After a short walk in, Mark M and Mark C opted for ‘Cioch Direct’ on Cioch Buttress whilst Hazel, Derek, Roddy and Simon chose ‘Little Gully’. 

Both routes lead up to the face of the Cioch Slab.  The two Marks, Roddy and Simon climbed 'Arrow Route' while Hazel & Derek climbed 'Slab Corner' leading directly up to the neck and onto the Cioch block itself, the perfect spot for a relaxed picnic in the sunshine if you don’t mind the sheer exposure on all sides! 

Hazel leading Slab Corner, Cioch Slab
Mark C leading 'Arrow Route'
Derek picnicking on the Cioch with Mark C leading the final few moves of 'Arrow Route' in the background
Mark C & Mark M on the Cioch
Simon (in orange) leading the first pitch of 'Arrow Route'
From there Mark and Mark continued on to the Upper Buttress and ‘Integrity’, a reportedly deserved 4* route and classic end to the climbing.  A boulder-filled descent down Sron na Ciche and back to the hut ended the day in the warmth of the late afternoon sunshine.      

Views over to Sron na Ciche
Derek & Hazel descended via Eastern Gully with a couple of short abseils, some scree and boulder and concluded by an abseil down a very wet chimney!  Roddy, equipped with prior experience of the wet abseil, and Simon decided to abseil directly from the slab and traverse the buttress to make a much drier descent to the footpath. 
Elegant abseiling moves by Hazel, trying to avoid getting soaked in the overhanging waterfall
All teams arrived safely back at the hut, with Ed and Scuz arriving late on Saturday afternoon following a morning of chores and a short afternoon on the hills en route.  A grand sociable dinner was enjoyed thanks to the volunteer chefs (Roddy, Hazel & Scuz) and to Roddy for the wine. 

Sunday brought another reasonable forecast so after tidying up the hut and packing away, Mark C and Mark M were first to set off to tackle The Bastier Tooth (Am Bastier) from Sligachan.  Having hiked to the foot of the tooth the weather turned for the worse and both agreed that the climb would have to be tackled another day, retreating for coffee at the Sligachan before the long journey home.
Hazel & Derek opted for a scramble up Sgurr Dearg and a climb up the famous Inaccessible Pinnacle. 

Derek making his way up the Inaccessible Pinnacle's Eastern ridge
Hazel at the top of the blustery In Pinn
Derek at the top of the In Pinn
Hazel abseiling down the face
Scuz, Ed & Simon selected to link some scrambling routes in Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda leaving directly from the hut. 

Roddy decided to set off on the journey home stopping near Achnashellach to climb Corbett Sgurr a’ Chaorachain on the way, with a few light spots of rain and breezy gusts of wind.  Lovely 360° views from the top were had and a rather hazy view back over Skye.

Views from Sgurr a' Chaorachain
As always, a fun weekend of mountaineering and socialising with the Aberdeen Mountaineering Club.