Friday, 13 April 2012

Gorgeous Goatfell

Living on an island on the West Coast of Scotland, we on Arran are quite used to feeling as if we have our own personal rain cloud stuck on the top of Goatfell, whilst the rest of the country basks in glorious sunshine. Yesterday the opposite occurred, as Arran twinkled in the sunlight, we watched heavy rain, snow and hail showers scoot right past us on either side, dusting the Highlands in snow and leaving the air clear and bright.
I climbed Goatfell with a lovely family of four who have been out with me for a couple of days this week. Great company, and the views from the top were breathtaking, with Jura and Northern Ireland clearly visible.

On the way up cloud began to skim the summit.  "Uh-oh" we thought- "there go our views", but it soon broke up and the sun returned.

Looking out across Brodick Bay with the top of Holy Isle visible beyond. 

Great summit views. From left: Achir, Cir Mhor, Caisteal Abhail and the Witches Step (Ceum na Cailleach)

The Peaks on the far side of Glen Rosa: Beinn Nuis and Beinn Tarsuinn at the rear, Beinn a Chliabhain and Achir in the fore.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Horns of Alligin

Continuing the catch-up theme, here are some pictures from our traverse of Beinn Alligin on Wednesday. This was first visit to the Torridon area for a long while, an a new mountain for me. Beinn Alligin is an absolute stunner, and for nervous scramblers, the horns, while spectacular, are not that difficult. In fact I'd say I found them to be easy and fun, unlike the look of the teeny traverse path that avoids the difficulties, which appeared to be pretty scary. Be bold- take the bull by the horns and climb them direct!

 Beinn Alligin, with the Horns on the left.

Gardyloo (oooooooh) Gully

I'm playing catch up a bit with this post and probably the next couple as I've not been in to update as much as I would like. On Monday last we were heading in to Ben Nevis on a rumour that there may still be some wintry stuff to be found high up. What followed was a classic Ben spring day, with plenty of helpings of fun (good), falling ice (bad), and a lovely late finish in daylight (just).

Looking up in to Coire na Ciste from the CIC hut. Already roasting hot. 

We headed up in to Observatory Gully for a look at Gardyloo.  There were a few parties about, including teams on Tower Scoop which looked really thin, and lots of activity on the great ridges.

Observatory Gully, leading to Gardyloo on the left, and Tower Gully on the right.  The thin dribble of ice down and right of Tower Gully is tower scoop.

The initial pitches of Gardyloo were straightforward grade 1 on good snow. However, two pitches in, a party abseiled in to the top of the gully above us, and proceded to lead some necky and fragile grade V ice on the left wall.  It made entertaining and impressive viewing, which was a good thing, as it pinned us down for some time, hiding from the large lumps that were hurtling in to the gully regularly.  In the end we had to wait for them to finish as it was nuts to proceed into the shooting alley while they were on it.No matter, it was a gorgeous day, with plenty of daylight, and the best climbing for us was still to come. 

Gardyloo chockstone tunnel pitch. 

The penultimate pitch of Gardyloo has a big chockstone, which often has an icy tunnel behind it, which is how we found it.  It was the strangest ice climbing I have ever done, and I found the bridging both funny and hard work, as I tried not to get flushed down the U Bend. 

Yep, I'm giggling. 

From the tunnel, it wasn't far to the top, and a mellow bask in warm sunshine surrounded by walkers in shorts and T shirts.  From there, we prolonged the day a bit by heading back down over the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, in a leisurely fashion, and lingered to enjoy a magnificent sunset  just before we dropped below the treeline above the North Face Carpark. 

The CMD Arete was bare of snow. 

A magic end to a magic day.