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.    

Monday, July 1, 2019

Multi-pitch climbing course with Mountaineering Scotland

One of the many benefits of Aberdeen Mountaineering Club's affiliation with Mountaineering Scotland is having access to part time Mountain Safety Advisor and Mountaineering Instructor Ian Stewart (MIC).  Part of Ian's Mountain Safety Advisor role is to work with clubs to enhance skills and safety in virtually all aspects of mountaineering.  AMC club members survey feedback indicated that multi-pitch climbing training was top of the list for skills development. 

On Saturday 29th June four club members (Roddy, Andy Tweedie, Derek & Hazel) attended the first of two day-long multi-pitch climbing courses arranged for AMC at the crags at Pass of Ballater, on a beautifully sunny day with just enough wind to keep the midges at bay. 

The day started with a recap on setting anchors with some tips on improving and refining the technique with a multi-pitch context in mind.  Discussions also focused on rope administration for block leading as well as normal leader changeover.

Andy preparing his anchor
Derek setting anchors

The day progressed to look at climbing in a three in both the block leading and normal climbing scenario.  Belaying with a regular belay plate and guide plates were reviewed in both block leading and normal climbing scenarios as well as protecting seconds in a traverse with parallel ropework.  Plenty of tips were shared to ensure effective and efficient climbing.  Single and twin rope scenarios were also used.

The most important part of the day, lunch!
Abseil methods were discussed and practiced. 

Finally some problem solving and self-rescue techniques, such as locking off the belay plate and an assisted hoist, were demonstrated and practiced. 

The day was peppered with discussions on various aspects of equipment, technique and rope management to refresh and fine tune members knowledge, with practical demonstrations and exercises throughout. 

The day finished with a recap of the syllabus at 'The Bothy' in Ballater, with an obligatory coffee.  And thankfully we arrived just in time before the thunderstorm and torrential rain hit!

Thank you to Mountaineering Scotland, Ian Stewart and Andy Hood for arranging the very informative course.  Not only did we recap on existing skills but we learned some very useful tips and tricks for our future climbing adventures.   


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Naismith Hut Meet (Elphin) 7-8 June

An ever-changing forecast for the June meet didn’t discourage 7 AMC members from travelling to the SMC Naismith Mountaineering Hut located in Elphin in the far flung corners of North West Scotland.  The hut is impressive, tidy and well-equipped, with superb views out to Cul Mor and over Loch Veyatie. 

Late arrivals by most meant a short evening together on Friday discussing plans and adventures for the following day.  Over a glass of whisky Ewan, Ed and Simon plotted an early start to tackle the iconic Old Man of Stoer, the 60m high Torridonian sandstone sea stack near Stoer Head Lighthouse.  With conditions looking favourable, but low tide at 5.30am, limited shut-eye was on the cards. 

As alarm clocks rang at 3.30am the party sneaked out quietly from the hut and made their way towards Stoer, North of Lochinver. 

The Old Man of Stoer
Supposedly the Old Man can be reached by a walk or a jump at the lowest of low tides.  On arriving and discovering a large swell, a dry route across could not be spotted, but happily someone had left a brand new static rope across the water channel for a Tyrolean traverse.   

Tyrolean traverse
The incredibly slimy first pitch was not the easiest introduction to the day’s climbing. Ewan at first backed off from the committing move but soon returned, soaking wet after getting hit by a wave from trying the walk round, emboldened by the inevitability.   

Ed on the first pitch
The next pitches were very nice climbing and the weather very sunny, the penultimate pitch was a traverse and so was very enjoyable for both the leader and seconds.    The last pitch was a chimney which made a nice classical end to the climbing.

Views from the top

Views from the top

Relaxed once at the top
Ewan tested the abseil to see if 50m ropes could really reach the bottom in one go. They did, with 30cm to spare! The rope for the Tyrolean traverse slipped off on the return journey with the shoogling of the prussicking (the technical term!), but the backup the team had placed held, so no-one did any swimming that day. 

The early start had not been in vane since there was plenty of time left for a visit to the famous pie shop in Lochinver. 

Suitably later Derek, Hazel & Scuz set off to Glencanisp Lodge near Lochinver to start their traverse of Suilven in sunshine.

Suilven this way
 A pleasant walk down into Glencanisp Forest from the lodge using first a landrover track then a well-maintained walkers path made for easy work to cover the distance to the turn off up on to Suilven 

Suilven in the distance from the track at Glencanisp Lodge

This (newish) path continued up onto Bealach Mor between the two tops of Suilven.   

Scuz approaching the bealach
With a through-walk in mind the group tackled Caisteal Liath to the West first, an easy walk to the summit, then heading Eastwards, taking in the grade 2 sections up and over the spine and bobtail to the summit of Meall Mheadhonach.   

Hazel and Scuz at the summit of Caisteal Liath
The hump ahead, Meall Mheadhonach

Scuz on a trickier section of the scrambling
Hazel negotiating one of the scrambling sections
From here a steep descent to the East of Loch na Gainimh then back to the continue on the path Eastwards all the way back to Elphin.  It was exceptionally warm and dry weather throughout the day with just enough wind to keep the midge away.         

Denis walked to Knockan Crag to explore the fascinating geology and plant variety on offer.

As usual an enjoyable AMC supper was had, thanks to volunteer chefs Simon, Ed and Hazel.  We had a lovely visit from Robert who had travelled the short distance from Ullapool after dinner too.  

Sunday’s forecast was for continued good weather so plans were made to tackle Cul Mor from two different approaches;  EdScuz, Hazel & Derek from Knockan via the mod/grade 3 scramble up Pinnacle Ridge on the North of Sron Gharbh and Simon and Ewan from near Loch Lurgainn.  After tidying up the hut, everyone set off.   

The first team followed the walkers path from Knockan which was enjoyable then had a distance covering rough and wet ground to reach the start of the route.   

Derek, Scuz & Ed on the approach track
Views over to Suilven

In Coire Gorm
The pinnacles were easily identifiable being prominent half way up the slopes of Sron Gharbh.  The scramble was discontinuous but provided plenty of interest and some more challenging individual moves.  There was plenty of loose rock and questionable flakes so care was taken when moving together.   

Scuz donning climbing gear ready for the scramble
Scuz on one of the pinnacles with Derek keeping at a safe distance
Meanwhile, Ewan and Simon started their route to Cul Mor from Loch Lurgainn.  Denis had promised the best view in Scotland and he would know.

Denis had also told about a dune landscape at the lochan, Lochan Dearg a Cuil Mhoir, and there was indeed a lot of sand there.  The view from Creag nan Calman was indeed stunning, a beautiful vista over Loch Sionasgaig and of Stac Pollaidh.   
The best view in Scotland
On reaching the summit, with the other climbing party still some halfway up Pinnacle Ridge, they descended using the walkers path to Knockan where a short while later they hitched back to the starting point and the car, another classic finish to the day.    

As always, a fun weekend of mountaineering and socialising with the Aberdeen Mountaineering Club.