A YEAR IN REVIEW 2013: September-December...... more stunning wild camps and an amazing start to Winter...
After what can only be described as a rather good summer :) Autumn got under way with a solo morning adventure to Glencoe and a whiz around curved ridge. It seemed like a few weeks since I had ventured out so I headed off early to get round Curved ridge, one of best routes in Scotland in my opinion. Great weather and dry rock after a wet night gave a great half day outing.
Keen to keep the wild camps going, the next outing was half way through September. Being way up North for work represented an opportunity and after work on the Friday I headed west towards some of the finest hills in the UK. I tackled three Corbetts including the mighty Foinaven and had a spectacular wild high camp between Arkle and Foinaven. Although the weather was not brilliant, it was ok and the remoteness and spectacular locations will linger long in the memory :) A long walk, I was exhausted by the end but still had a long journey home (about 6 hours!!)... Well worth it though.......
A final wild camp of the year was a decision made late in the day and up a local hill. At the end of September I headed up Ben Chonzie and was treated to a spectacular sunrise!! A lot of rushing about on this one as I had to be back to pick the kids up from a sleep over at 09.30am.... Managed it with minutes to spare - didn't want to leave the top of the Munro!!
Next up was a trip to Ben Dorain in October and a proud moment. My daughter had previously been up two of the easier Munros in Glenshee, so this time we tried something different. A fabulous, cold but clear day got us ascending Ben Dorain with Uncle Ross and the dug... First snowball was thrown and yet another belter of a hill day weather wise in 2013....
November started with a bang, and what a bang!!!! One absolutely perfect mountain day on Ben More, and what a way for my friend to return to the mountains after back surgery. Although earlier in the season, the amount of snow felt like a perfect mid winters day!!!! Blue skies and white mountains gave stunning views but when you throw in the odd brocken spectre, inversion and fog bows, this really was a special day in the mountains. Would the winter continue in this vain???
The promising start to winter continued for a few more weeks as two weeks later saw us heading up the Zig Zags and onto Broad Gully in Glencoe and Stob Coir nan Lochan. A lovely day in the hills again and more progress being made, this was looking too good to be true, would the great weather which we had been blessed with in 2013 continue and see us through to 2014????
Well to answer that question was a big fat NO!!!!!..... December came in and hit us with Atlantic Storm after Atlantic storm... wind speeds on the hills exceeded 100mph on numerous occasions and even today whilst writing this on the last day of the year , more storms are forecast for the next few weeks. I think I can count about three days when there have been slight lulls, and one of those day was Boxing Day wen we headed up the Cobbler to look at the SE ridge route. Turned out that the route was not in condition with unfrozen turf and belays requiring a JCB to dig them out!!!! However we did have a nice wander around :)
A final attempt was made on the hills on the 28th but the storm force winds and whiteouts beat us back!! Hoping for better weather soon!!
So in summary 2013 has been one of the best years I have experienced due to the fantastic weather throughout (well apart from December!!!). Some great trips, starting my kayaking and wild camping adventures and continuing the mountaineering journey has been great!! Hopefully we will have even a slither of he same weather luck in 2014!! and hopefull be able to share some more adventures from the Scottish mountains ...... and possibly further afield!!
Happy New Year all....
After a fantastic start to the year, the spring and summer yielded some further fantastic trips and an introduction to proper wild camping for myself...... An extremely bad experience strangely enough started this when myself and my brother headed deep into the mountains of Glenuaig near Achnasheallach. 10kms from civilisation and high on a mountain ridge we were caught overnight in an unexpected storm which wrecked my old tent and inflicted psychological scars after a sleepless night............ oooo horror video below.......
This experience forced my hand and I decided it best to purchase some new camping gear. After some great advice online, I opted for the American Scarp 1 tent from tarp tents. This purchase led to some memorable wild camps in the coming months.......
However before the new tent arrived we headed on a overnight adventure to Knoydart with the kayaks!!! I headed up a Corbett late on the Friday night (amazing unexpected views to the Cuillin) and then headed to Loch Quoich to sleep in back of car before headed off over the loch in the kayaks at about 05.00 AM!!!!! We were stood on the Summit of Gairich at 08.00 AM - cracking and home for early afternoon - a fantastic micro adventure.
After this boots and paddle trip, I had a few other great outings in June - a few nights cragging at the Whangie and The Starry and some trips in to the mountains including a great day on North Buttress route on The Buachaille. My new tent arrived and my first wild camp proper with the Scarp was up to the hills high above Glencoe. This was amazing, but better was to come in July with my favourite (along with the CMD arête) adventure of the year....... The video captures the highs of this trip high in the mountains above Glen Etive - Scotland's Mountains at their best.......
The weather in mid July must have been great as a week later I was at it again - heading up into the Cairngorms via The Fiacaill ridge and camping high above the Laigig Ghru. A few hours later and I was on top of Scotlands second highest peak - Ben Macdui- the time was shortly after 05.00 AM!!! It was amazing and I was treated to a spectalular cloud inversion... what a place and what a summer of adventures!!!!!!!!!!! How would Autumn fair in comparison......??????????????????
With ten days left in 2013 (and also with the poor December weather!!) - I have been spending the last few days looking back on the last 12 months. It seems hard to imagine presently, but I think this year has produced some amazing weather and with it some memorable adventures in the Scottish Highlands. Not getting this out this month has left me with cabin fever, so this blog is getting a battering with the aim of providing some sort of mountain fix!!! I am starting by looking at the first four months of the year an picking out the trips that stood out for me....
January - Well this could easily be called Corbett's January as I managed three outings and three Corbetts. Starting as I meant to go on was a New Years day hike up Ben Vrackie in the snow ( http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=27869 ). A good way to clear the head, up my local Corbett.
Next was a trip through to the west coast and a battle up Garbh Bheinn in extremely windy conditions!! There was a lot of wind and snow being blown about so the ridge walk/battle seemed a safe bet - didn't stay long on top though as the winds were horrific!! http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=28439
A few weeks later and I had a strange encounter with a reptile in the snow. Was strange seeing this animal in such cold weather. After almost being stuck in the car when the snow got a little deep I headed up Gairbeinn and was treated to an unexpected cloud inversion on the summit ridge. Always feels better when these treats occur unexpectedly :) http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=28914
February - Undoubtedly some of the finest Winter Walking and mountaineering I have experienced occurred in February, mainly thanks to a settled high pressure system that brought calm and cold conditions for Scotland. The highlight for this (and the year probably) was a memorable hike along the CMD Arete and onto an almost empty Ben Nevis! The weather was perfect, the snow was perfect and the experience was amazing- video shares some of this.....
However before the CMD Arete experience, I did manage a day in Glen Etive, bagging another Corbett and as the weather was so good, I headed up Creise too, it was too good to leave off!! One of those days you don't want to head home on - another perfect weather day: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=29124
A trip up Ben Vorlich as a short escape was also enjoyed : http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=28771
before heading up The Ben http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=29355
February was going to be hard to beat!!! But we tried !! March started off with something a little different - utilising our purchase of some Scupper Pro sea Kayaks we explored the East Neuk. We got wrapped up and headed over to a few memorable landmarks that I have seen for years but never been able to get close to - namely The East Vows Beacon!!!
Back on dry (and cold ) land we headed to The Cobbler to bag an impressive gully in unimpressive (read storm force winds!!). Chockstone Gully gave a great route and day out and although we did not "thread the needle " (we would have been blown away) - it was an enjoyable day http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=29995
Then to finish the month myself and my brother completed another classic winter mountaineering route - School House Ridge at the bottom of Glencoe.. http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=30166
After a memorable few months things semed to tail off in April and for one reason or another I didn't get out as much as I had done. However a late snow fall saw us investigating yet another classic winter route - sron na lairig. However half way up we got a glimpse of some dodgy looking exit slopes (read large pieces of wind slab had broken away with lots of soggy snow ) so we retreated to return another day.
An amazing start to the year, but there were more memorable trips to come...
to be continued...... ;)
Worth while viewing for this coming Wednesday. I was contacted (as were numerous others who have youtube footage from the Scottish Mountains) to see if we could submit some of our footage caught during the Winter of 2012/2013. I sent in some clips from a few memorable days in the mountains (notably the CMD Arete and a Torridon climb as well as some footage from Assynt). Will be interesting to see if any of it is used. Some has been used in a couple of trailers for One Wild Winter in the Scottish Highlands- see below links:
Looking forward to it. Linked in the two flims from which I sent in footage for the program : One Wild Winter in the Scottish Highlands.
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...