Working for Steven Fallon Mountain Guides this weekend on the Mamores above Kinlochleven. The pictures speak for themselves for the Saturday....the rest of the long weekend trip wasn't quite so pleasant, but what views/light to begin with eh?! Full blog at https://www.stevenfallon.co.uk/blog.html
I have just got back from a really good trip to Ecuador. Our intention was to acclimatise by climbing a succession of ever-higher volcanoes, culminating in Chimborazo, at 6310m, the highest mountain on Earth due to the Equatorial bulge. (Google it!)
Ecuador has extremely changeable weather, and you really do get to experience four seasons in one day...one hour even! This meant we had a very exciting thunder storm on Rucu Pichincha, our first target at just under 4700m. A couple of the guys were suffering from the altitude, so half of us turned tail just before the summit, and I am glad we did, as the storm that we were in/under was quite something, with hail and deafening cracks of thunder, lightening striking all the hills around. We had to take shelter off the ridge line, but the nature of Ecuadorian weather meant it passed within an hour or less. Phew!
We had a more gentle day on Pasachoa 4200m, and had a lovely surprise as we reached the summit ridge and the collapsed caldera - Pasachoa did not erupt upwards, it sank, leaving a distinctive valley formation that looked spectacular from the summit.
Next was the rocky Ilinizas Norte at 5116m, on which we managed to get to around 5000m on a lovely clear, cold but windy day, before having to descend. A good night in a traditional mountain refuge aided acclimatisation despite our not making the top.
Then it was off to our first glaciated mountain, Cayambe 5790m. Different rope teams made it to between 5300 and 5600m before the deep fresh snow and altitude beat us back. Again, at least we were getting acclimatised.
We were luckier with the weather on the famous Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world at 5897m. I made the summit, along with guides Pancho and Miguel, and clients Magda, Darren and Leanne. A great day out, starting at just after midnight, and summiting at 7am.
Our final and biggest challenge was Chimborazo, nearer to the Sun than anywhere else on Earth. It had changed considerably recently due to volcanic activity, and the PD grade given for the normal route involves a lot of loose ground, then scrambling, followed by some very steep ice indeed, needing ice screw protection. Two ropes had to turn back in the early hours, reaching 5600 and 5700m respectively, due to altitude, cold and fatigue. One other rope party of Pancho, Darren and Magda made the summit, and were were all really proud of them as it was a tough pull.
The Ecuadorian volcanoes are often advertised as easy high-level mountaineering, but I would challenge that. Yes, it is fantastic to be able to sleep relatively comfortably in great refuges, easily accessed, and this certainly enables you to climb higher than would otherwise be possible. But, (and it's a big but), the weather is notoriously unreliable, and extreme cold, poor visibility, difficult route finding and the effects of altitude make them serious propositions despite the touristy feel. I and the rest of the team really enjoyed the food, hospitality and organisation of the local guides, and I hope to go back one day to summit those peaks we had to miss out on. I certainly won't underestimate them though!
It is my wife Tracey's Big Birthday Year, (decency and fear prevents me from revealing which), and like the Queen, she has had several trips to celebrate. This trip was the final birthday treat, with a planned hut-to-hut walk in the Brenta Dolomites along with our youngest son Frankie. We flew into Bergamo, and after a hotel night there, drove up to Madonna di Campiglio after buying provisions for our lunches for 4 days. There we had to arrange to follow a shuttle bus up the very tight road to the Vallesinella hut and car park, as passing is very difficult so cars are limited by attendants each end.
After some final kit-sorting, we abandoned the car and set off in the late afternoon for a 700m ascent to the Graffer hut. It is a lovely walk up a typical wooded Alpine valley, getting ever more rocky as we passed the 2000m tree line. I had only ever taken the cable car to the Passo di Groste en route to harder Via Ferrata routes, so this was a treat. The Graffer hut didn't disappoint, with excellent food and wine and a private room, albeit one with a leaky roof and noisy plumbing which kept the birthday girl awake :(
In the morning it was get walking in earnest. The plan had been to climb over the Groste pass, on to the Malga Spora bivouac, a descent of around 700m, then and up to the Passo di Clamer and down to the Rifugio del Croz D'Altissimo, a longish day of probably 8hrs. Unfortunately we realised that the challenging path 344 would be too much for Tracey, who did not want any exposure or via ferrata, so we had to take an even longer path over the Passo di Lasteri. This was steep and loose, with only a little exposure, but it is fair to say it spooked her. After the pass, Frankie and I took a short scramble to the summit of the Cima Croz d'Altissimo 2338m whilst Tracey waited, luckily shrouded in mist so she couldn't see the exposed ground we ascended! There was then a really interesting descent through giant boulders and dwarf pines that felt very atmospheric in the encroaching grey skies. The rain and hail forecasted finally came on as we negotiated the narrow ridge down the senterio 344B, and being tired and fraught with the added serious feel, she finally cracked as she negotiated the steep slippery tree roots and wet limestone. Frank had to carry her bag, and there were a few tears.
Eventually, soaking wet, we got to the new option of the Rifugio Montanara, which was being renovated and looked closed. With trepidation I went in, praying we didn't have to walk down another 1000m to Molveno. It was open, and we were the only clients apart from another couple. It was hotel quality, the room being brand new pine-clad and luxurious, the food excellent, but of course with prices to match. Worth it after our challenging day of 9.5hrs though.
Next day started wet as forecast, and after me descending and re-ascending by chairlift and cable car to Molveno to get cash, (as someone had left it in the car, doh), we set off over the Bocchettina del Piz Galin. Tracey was concerned about her strength and courage, but we assessed the route, and I promised a less-challenging itinerary. It was. It was a treat, chamois everywhere, and once the weather dried up, a joy, with fabulous views of our previous route to spur us on. The planned stop was the Malga Spora, which is listed as a bivouac, but think posh bothy like the Alltbeithe in Scotland. It is very basic and rustic, and again, apart from two Canadians who arrived late, we had the place to ourselves. The food was all fresh, home-churned butter and cheese, home-brew beer, fresh eggs from their chickens etc. Excellent, and welcome in the torrential rain that arrived overnight.
Next day dawned fresh and sunny, and was set for the rest of the trip. We rose early and we set off for the Rifugio Tuckett, back over the Groste pass. The problem was, so did 700 fell runners in the Dolomiti di Brenta Trail Race. It was a nightmare of tailgating and stepping aside, with not a lot of good manners in my opinion. Frankie had had enough, and strode off, keeping up with them on the ascent whilst Tracey and I continually had to stop/start. It probably took a couple of hours before we made the pass and they went off in a different direction thankfully. At the Rifugio Stoppani we had a nice radler (cloudy lemonade shandy, a treat when thirsty walking), and Tracey started worrying about the path again. Although I had walked it before 7yrs previously, I couldn't remember it in detail, so I was relieved when it was a wonderful ramble through a quarry of gigantic limestone boulders, like an enormous prehistoric giant's quarry. It looked impossible, but meandered delightfully down initially, and then climbed gently to the hut.
The Tuckett was rammed full, and I was glad I had reserved beds as people were turned away. The good weather, weekend and proximity to all the famous via ferratae routes meant it was a very popular place to be. Also, the race passed through as a checkpoint, so it had a real manic atmosphere. Indeed dinner time was a case of squeeze in and hope you got served. It was a shame, as my memory of that hut had been fabulous food and great service, but I fear it is a victim of its own success. Still, we did get a good dinner, and as we were only descending the next day, we had a nice drink and a late night (in hut terms, 9pm). The walk down to Vallesinella via the Rifugio Casinei was lovely, albeit against the heavy traffic of climbers, ferrataerists and walkers, it being such a lovely Sunday morning. Italian walkers are even more friendly than in the UK though, so all morning was a stream of smiles, 'Salve's, 'Buongiorno' and the like.
We had then booked a flat in Riva del Garda for some even better food (if possible) and some of the dolce vita, where Tracey could relax, read, sunbathe and paddle in the lake. Frankie and me however also did the VF della Amicizia, 1200m 3C, which we could walk to from the room, and is right above the town, offering incredible views of the lake and town, a ladder-fest of a climb linking exposed loose paths and wooded terraces. A great end to the trip - Tracey and Frankie really enjoyed it, and Tracey explored her boundaries, only struggling on that one day, getting fitter and stronger by the day. My 6th time to the Brenta, and unlikely to be my last.
Sometimes a plan going awry can lead to an almost better alternative. Paul and I had planned on another attempt to summit Triglav in Slovenia this week, after having had to back off due to avalanche activity previously, but the flights were messed up by the booking company, so we had to cancel. As a consolation, I wanted to bag some munros for my second round, and on this pretext were drove North on Weds night and settled into a very nice lodge in the Old Town, North Ballachulish. The problem was the evening view - the whole of Beinn a'Bhethir (said Ben a Vair) was framed in the lodge window, resplendent in broody late summer light, and Paul hadn't done it yet. Over a drink we soon changed the plans, especially knowing the arcane local saying -
"If anyone should sup from a cup of ale, yet eschew the view for the sake of another, then he shall be damned to forever walk in the shadow of the midge", so the Mamores were shelved for a traverse of Beinn a'Bhethir (AKA the Ballachulish Horseshoe).
OK, I made the last bit up, but it did look so inviting that I was prepared to accept my tally wasn't going to increase by the planned three, only two, but did suggest a FULL traverse, up the cracking Schoolhouse Ridge from Ballachulish, over Sgorr Ban, Sgorr Dearg and Sgorr Dhonuill, but then descend into Gleann a'Chaolais, to which Paul readily agreed.
The forecast was for a damp morning, slowly improving, with brooding views and little rain. We even hoped that despite the lack of wind, the prolonged dry spell would mean few midges as we traipsed up through the bracken and heather on the lower slopes of the ridge. Wrong! The wee blighters were waiting in gangs, getting in our ears, throat and drowning in our sweat as they clamoured for a bloody snack. This spurred us to move quickly, and once we got to the scrambling sections, there was thankfully enough breeze to keep them down.
The scrambling is never hard, always a little loose, but great fun as we gained height to where the N ridge adjoins onto Sgorr Ban, and there is then an elegant sweeping ridge onto the first munro of Sgorr Dearg at 1024m, where we stopped to take in the views and eat some lunch. We then descended quickly to the bealach at the top of the 'normal' ascent route to P757 before making the final ascent up the increasingly rocky Sgorr Dhonuill. When I first climbed this 16 years ago, I came up Gleann a'Chaolais, and up the final red scree-filled coire wall, and I wanted to go back that way to refresh my memory. The path in the lower reaches of the glen has been greatly improved, but the scree slope is still for connoisseurs only, and Paul was very careful after having only just recovered from an ankle injury! ;)
The car was parked strategically at the end of the long fire road by the church on the A82, so after a visit to the Laroch for a pint of shandy, we were soon back at the lodge for a welcome shower after the midges.
Today was to be a short day, and I had planned a solitary munro on the way home, but the law of 'climb what you see' was invoked again, and as Paul hadn't done the shapely Sgorr na Ciche, or Pap of Glencoe, that was the chosen target. We ascended up the very eroded (but drier than normal) path that branches off to the end of the Aonach Eagach ridge, and once we got to the bealach, we took the decision to spice things up and scramble directly up to the summit. Again, it is loose at times, but the rock was dry and warm, and in the sunshine it was a joy. The views were grand, and we shared them with a pretty American hill-runner who arrived just as we got up to leave, muddy and breathless but happy with her work.
To keep to the trip's ethos of circular routes, we went straight off the nose, due West, down some great little rocky terraces that would be interesting in the wet, but handily marked with wee cairns. Once lower down, it was a mix of steep peaty grassland and bracken, and once we crashed out onto the track I was careful to brush off the half a dozen ticks I expected and found on my trousers. Paul had none, apparently due to the fact insects don't like the toxicity of Teeside blood! ;)
Two great days on the hill, whatever the objectives had been. That's how to deal with disappointment or unplanned change - Do something else. Above all, enjoy it!
Was working in deepest Glen Affric last week for Steven Fallon Mountain Guides. A great three days, full blog at http://www.stevenfallon.co.uk/blog.html
A very experienced high-altitude mountaineer once said to me that summit success was '60% attitude, 30% fitness and weather, and 10% luck', and I completely agree. My recent trip to attempt Peak Lenin in Kyrgyzstan, 7134m ended in an early retreat, and the numbers above wavered due to various influences as the trip progressed.
We had a very successful early acclimatisation, with the long walk-in to Advance Base Camp from Ashik-Tash basecamp going smoothly, followed by an ascent of the North ridge of Petrowsky as far as the non-technical ground extended to 4150m. Then, after a rest, it was up to summit Yukin Peak at 5140m, which was a fantastic viewpoint for the whole route. It is there that we started to get an appreciation of the scale of this massive mountain.
Nothing in the Alps compares to the immensity of the Himalaya, and this area, the Pamirs, is no different. The standard convention of not ascending more than 3-500m per day simply will not allow sufficient progress here, and the camps are strung out in 'safer' areas on the mountainside with around 1000m of ascent each time. This, along with the fact that you carry loads above ABC mean that the days are physically challenging, and acclimatisation is at a premium. Finally, as there are various commercial companies operating on the mountain, the bottleneck that is Camp 2 has become an unsanitary and rather sketchy place to be or longer than necessary.
My 10% luck really ran out on the day we were due to do our first load carry when I came down with diarrhoea. This meant another rest day and plenty of antibiotics. It is always important to follow stringent camp hygiene, and I have always been fastidious with washing, eating and drinking, but unfortunately here you are somewhat at the mercy of the camp cooks etc, and stomach upsets were rife around the whole mountain, let alone at our camp.
I felt a little better after 48hrs, and managed to eat, so we set off at 2am, the first party to do so. We made good time across the moraines and up the glacier, tackling the crevasses and ladder steadily and safely. We were in no rush, as we would be able to cross the 'Frying Pan' (where the snow and ice reflects the UV light and heat and provides exceptionally hot temperatures and debilitating levels of UV) to Camp 2 before it got really hot. Unfortunately, as each hour went by, I got weaker, the lack of food and rigours of the illness telling on me. We slowed, and eventually got to C2 by around 1pm. We had to find and erect the tents stored there by the porters amongst the relative chaos of far too many people, in various states of exhaustion through heat and effort and of course the altitude, as were were at 5400m by now.
The only place we could pitch was right at the top of a steep stony area, exposed to rockfall, but 'thankfully' close to the melt-water supply and the precarious balcony path to the quite disgusting latrine area. I would need to make countless visits during the night, tottering along the icy, gravelly path in the dark, and could keep no food down. It was pretty miserable and very difficult to remain hygienic, so the decision was made to descend the next day, which we did.
I did feel a little better with the drop in altitude, but the lack of sustenance in over four days was telling, and so we knew we had to rest more days. The problem was that the weather window was slipping by, and to make things worse, there was a guide and his client killed in an avalanche just above C2, a Swiss climber found dead on the summit ridge and various parties missing/trapped up at C3 and C4. All of this affected the 60% factor, that of attitude. We assessed our options, and contemplated getting a local guide to assist, but the weather, the fatigue, the interrupted acclimatisation programme and the ever-increasing serious nature of the mountain was nibbling away at our resolve. After a lot of debate and mulling over our options, we decided to abandon the trip.
It is/was very disappointing and sad, but it's all part of mountaineering. A 7000m summit is a real challenge in itself, without some of the other physiological and psychological issues we were facing. You need to be in prime physical and mental condition, otherwise the higher you go, the more dangerous and consequence-ridden it all becomes. Peak Lenin truly is a wonderful mountain in an outstanding area, and more than lived up to my expectations. Some of the conditions on the mountain not so.
But it is huge. It is very high. It does not suffer fools. Everything needs to be stacked in your favour, otherwise things can become very serious indeed. The nominal success rate is between 20-25%, and anecdotally we had it suggested that this year it has been in single figures - That was certainly reflected at our camp.
You win some, you lose some. Yes, We were very disappointed, but all of us know we made the right decision. Will I be back? Certainly a possibility.............it's a cracker of a mountain!
14 years ago I climbed Eagle Ridge, 250 metres, graded Severe with four stars as one of my first big mountain routes. I felt I was up to a Severe (S) route back then, as I had been leading harder routes on the local crags, and my friend Richard was happy to lead it. True, guidebooks and web pages disagreed about the accuracy of the grading, with most feeling it was actually harder than S, especially when wet, but how hard could it be? It was a S after all..... We actually had a challenging day, not always 100% sure of the route, and me getting ever more tired and afraid, culminating in an ignominious haul over the last hard crux on a tight top-rope. Oh, it was hard alright, with wet, gravelly sections initially, then some fantastically exposed sections on good rock, but with at least three 4b moves with rounded holds or hand-jams, if at all. We got up it due to Richard's perseverance, and with no thanks to my moaning about being 'sandbagged', a climbing term for being a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Over the intervening years, I have never really climbed a lot, defining myself as a mountaineer rather than out-and-out rock climber. So though I have enjoyed fabulous long routes in the UK such as North East Buttress, Tower Ridge and Observatory Ridge on the Ben, various long routes on the continent etc., my technique is slow and steady, and only comfortable on the odd crux move rather than a succession of them. That said, I always wanted to go back to Lochnagar and pitch myself once more, this time as a lead climber rather than a second, so when Eamon, Adam and Kerry suggested a meet up, it fitted the bill entirely.
After an overnight along Glen Muick, the forecast dictated a later start, and we made a hot, muggy march into the coire in a sharp 90 minutes, which is testament to everyone's fitness with ropes, harness and gear on our backs. After a short snack stop at the mountain rescue box, we scrabbled our way up the Douglas Gibson gully to what the Classic Rock guidebook diagram showed as the start of the route. It had signs of passage, and Adam gamely started on up. He soon encountered difficulties, and the memories of my previous struggle came flooding back, ebbing my confidence. Just then, another team following us shouted up that they thought they were on the correct route, having used the photo and better topo in Dan Bailey's book. True enough they were, and I scuttled down to lead off, leaving Adam to abseil off and join us later.
I led the odd pitches, and Kerry my partner the even. The route is steady enough to start, though moist, lichenous and vegetated, being North facing and sheltered as it is, so we were all looking forward to cleaner if more challenging rock higher up. It came, initially as a succession of corners and grooves, ever more exposed, ever more absorbing. What was surprising was the challenge of the first of what turned out to be three hard step-ups, exposed, all but hold-less and terribly committing. I knew about the crux move above the aptly-named 'sentry box' belay, as that was where Richard had had to pull me up all those years ago, but the years had erased the others from my memory. I also feel my strength isn't what it was back then, when I was doing manual work on the fences, and was of course so much younger.
Still, despite my 'disco-legs' (as climbers call the involuntary spasms your legs go into when stressed on an awkward stance), I had taken my leads, and we were on the last couple, so it looked like it was in the bag. Then I got to my previous nemesis whilst on the lead - I was stood on a knife-edge, the gully many hundreds of feet below me, with an off-set wide groove and no holds to speak of above. 'Here we go again' I thought, only this time I had no top-rope. I had a couple of attempts, thought it through, and with a cam placed as high as possible, reached up and found the loose but 'thank God' hold, and was up. But I was fried, mentally and physically. Thereafter I should have taken the belay on a small ledge, but feared too much rope drag, so ended up perched on a well-protected but teetering gable of rock less than single shoe's width, and brought Kerry up.
After some careful gear swapping, she set off on the last pitch, traversing the fabulously exposed wall, her rock-climbing prowess coming to the fore as she moved gracefully up, before coming to a halt at the 'official' crux. It is a scoop of rock with a no-holds mantelshelf move high above the void, and despite her being able to lead much higher grades in less committing and vertiginous situations, this was proving tough. After a lot of thought and up and downs, she went for it, and despite scarily snagging her belted gear as she wriggled up the crazily exposed slab, made the top. I decided there was no way I would make that move when I got to it, and she left a sling for me to pull on as she came to the final obstacle.
This was v-shaped groove, with no positive holds at all. It proved too much. Adam and Eamon were watching and shouting encouragement from the coire rim, and as the day was pressing on and enthusiasm was waning to say the least, Adam abseiled down to offer a top-rope to Kerry and then myself to finish the route.
So, had I exorcised the ghosts of 14years ago? Well, I had lead half of the route, something I would never have been able to do back then, but it wasn't that stylish, more perseverance and bloody mindedness. But is it a Severe? In it's entirety I suppose yes, with much top-end Very Difficult interspersed with three or four really challenging moves, some of which get 4b or at least Hard Severe or even the odd call of Very Severe on some web pages. I hoped I would swan it, as did Kerry - After all, it is ONLY a Severe ;) But no - Eagle Ridge is a full-on mountain route that tests. To quote Merlin, a UKClimbing contributor - 'It's mostly VDiff apart from the HVS unmentioned bits :)', or MWilkes - 'For those competent, but low grade, leaders, don't let the Severe grading lull you into a false sense of security. Its a serious, committing and exhilarating full day out.' I concur wholeheartedly!
Thanks to Kerry for sharing the leads, and for sharing the mutual challenge. Thanks to Eamon for getting us all together, and especially thanks to Adam for the final top-rope, and for putting up with us numpties when he can climb oh so much harder. Still a great day out.
Last week I was working for Steven Fallon Mountain Guides over a long weekend on the Hebredean island of Rum, during which we did a full traverse of all 7 of the mountain tops which constitute the Rum Cuillin. For full blog, click on - http://www.stevenfallon.co.uk/blog/2018-07-06-rum.html
I have several munros close to home, living as I do in Stirling, and the most prominent are Ben Lomond to the West, Ben Chonzie to the North East and and Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin to the North. I have climbed the latter ones many time, usually taking the standard route in from Ardvorlich on Loch Earn, but I have also done them from Glen Ample over Ben Each. On the summits, I have always looked at the surprisingly wild country to the south, and the beckoning nature of the two ridges that bind the Gleann Dubh Coirein (The Valley of the little Black Coire), and promised myself that I would do them one day.
One thing that had put me off was the fact the bridge over the Keltie Burn had been washed away in a storm some years ago, and there were therefore two difficult burn crossings to be made in normal Scottish conditions...well, that and the expected bog once over the bealach at Meall na h-Iolaire. But here we were, the chance to scope out another route, excellent blue skies and the ground as dry as it was ever going to be. It's on!
I parked at the forestry road end a couple of kilometres past the tourist honey-pot of Bracklin Falls, (though I doubt there was much of a fall in these conditions!), and got out the bike to cycle as far as I could up the track. As I was doing so, I greeted a chap who was planning on camping out, and he informed me that Drummond Estates had reinstated the bridges. Hurrah! As we chatted, we spotted our first Red Kite of the day, and I was to have them circling overhead for many hours as the walk progressed, and added bonus. They weren't the only things in flight though - The heat had all but suppressed the midges, but the horseflies, a.k.a. clegs in Scotland were out in force. I had liberally applied Smidge, which seemed to stop them biting, but by heck they were annoying until over 600m or so.
I dumped the bike at Arivurichardich, where some guys have apparently rented the old bothy and have done it up for stalking and the likes, and set off up the feint path. Though it is shown on the OS map as going right over to Loch Earn, it doesn't. It sets off up my panned descent route at the bealach, so it was off piste after I reached the high point at 580m, and I lost height as I waded through the swamp grass to gain the SE ridge of Ben Vorlich. It was very hot indeed, and I was glad of the 3 litres of water I brought. I didn't want to bank on the burns, knowing that even if they weren't dry, they would be very brown and acidic. The Allt na Dubh Coirein was exceptionally low, more resembling things I have seen in Argentina than Scotland!
There is nothing exciting about the slog up the ridge, other than it's remoteness and expanding views, though the kites added entertainment, as did another hovering bird of prey that you may be able to identify but I am not good at my birds :( Before long I was at the summit at 985m, which I predictably shared with folks coming up the standard route. The views were expansive indeed. I chatted with one chap, and said that I was planning to try some scrambling on the connecting ridge to Stuc a'Chroin, and he said he'd watch me first before trying it! I had once backed of before when I had my young son with me, and know of a couple of fatalities and injuries there, so I planned to be cautious. There is a much easier path that takes the shallow coire to the NW, but I knew the other path, though steep and loose, is easy enough if I decided to back off.
Once at the foot of the boulders, I elected to follow the path to the second terrace, but could not find any decent rock to start on. Maybe a little higher? And so it went - Every time I went higher, looking for a decent place to start, I was faced with loose piles of choss and vegetation. I suspect there may be cleaner rock around to the SE side, but that has much greater consequences in the case of a slip. Eventually I made the top, and the cairn memorial to a member of Falkirk Mountaineering Club. I peered over the edge to see if I could spot a decent route, but simply put, I couldn't. I am sure there may be a safe-ish route, but I don't think it's a coincidence that there is little in the way of a route description anywhere, as it is a pile of teetering blocks waiting to fall in my opinion.
I rested a minute at the summit a little further on, slightly miffed at my cowardice but knowing that I had made the right decision, when I was joined by the chap from Vorlich who concurred on the scrambling decision, and Bill, (the chap I had met at the start of the day) who had ascended my planned descent route from his camp. We decided to wander down together, and had a lovely chat about mutual folks we knew from our days in the Carronbridge Hotel and further afield in the hills. Folks of Bill's advanced years (76) who are still on the hills always inspire me to keep going. Well done to him!
I was so glad of the bike for the final few kilometres of the descent, and even more glad of the cold beer in the garden when I got home after the unusually short drive. A great day's recce, and a very satisfying route.
Last week was spent walking in the Northern and Western section of the Cairngorms, basing ourselves in Glen Feshie. The weather was very warm indeed, and on one day we even set off at 05:30am in order to be up and down our objective before it got too hot. Even then it was 20c on the summit! Not a problem we often have in the UK, let alone the highest area of upland in the country.
What was noticeable was the lack of wildlife, and I can only surmise that it must have been keeping in the shade....that is except for black flies. They had a field day in the light winds, and our heads resembled 'Pig Pen' from Schultz's Charlie Brown cartoons!
Still, I am not moaning. Off to Rum this weekend coming, so hoping for good conditions to continue.