A traverse of the southern Cuillin Munros
An early start for what was going to be a warm day, part of the glorious weather the country was experiencing over the Jubilee bank holiday weekend.
This journey was part of a relay connecting all the Munros across Scotland being carried out by the Veteran Women’s Munro Relay.
Looking across towards the Isles of Eigg, Rum and Soay.
Near the summit of Sgurr Alasdair
One of the tricky sections of Sgurr Thearlaich
Traversing Collie’s Ledge on Sgurr MhicCoinnich
On the In Pinn…
In Pinn summit
Rock-climbing at Neist Point on Skye
Summer Mountain Leader Assessment – Expedition to the north of Glenfinnan
A circuit of the northern corries of the Cairngorms – 2nd April 2022
Ski-touring adventures above Zinal – 5th March 2022
Aladdin’s Couloir, a classic gully adventure in the Cairngorms – 11th January 2022
Looking at the back wall of the cliffs of Coire an t-Sneachda in the Cairngorms. Aladdin’s Gully takes the district line to the left of Mel. The gully has a short ice section just at the narrows, which you can see, before the climb heads up and right behind the pinnacles to the plateau at the top.
Different views of the lower section of the gully. Here we are climbing the route by a series of pitches, using the rock and sometimes the snow to make belay anchors.
Nearly at the top…! The gully takes us to a surprising flatter section amongst the pinnacles, with views looking back down where we’ve come from…
… and the last section up to the top…
… and onto the Cairngorm plateau. Quite a different landscape, but great to look back at the cliffs and some of the impressive terrain and the ridge-line of the Fiacaill Ridge.
Ski tour on Fionn Bhein, above Achnasheen – 7th January 2022
A great fairly straight-forward ski-tour on an accessible Munro in the central Highlands.
Great views looking west towards Torridon, with Liatach and Beinn Eighe standing out…
… and to the north-west you could see Slioch catching the sun, Loch Fada and the rest of the Letterewe range.
And not a bad cover of snow for the ski down, so it was worth doing two laps of the top slope!
A snowy day on the Fiacaill Ridge – 5th January 2022
A good first winter mountaineering route after learning some good cramponing skills. The route is like a great snowy scramble, with some interesting steps and a bit of exposure.
Still a whiteout at the top of the ridge!
Winter solstice – crevasse rescue practice 21st December 2021
Looking through the Lairig Ghru, in the Cairngorms, to wards Cairn Toul.
We had had a couple of days of practicing making different snow belays and now the team were able to put them into practice, working through the process of improvised crevasse rescue.
The Lairig Ghru pass looking north…
… and looking further north and west to the rest of the Highlands.
A ski descent into the Loch Avon basin – 12th December 2021
After a few more days of snow fall, the cover made it OK to ski all the way down to Loch Avon, over the back of Cairngorm, taking you right into the centre of these mountains.
Looking up Loch Avon to the cliffs fo the Shelterstone, preparing for the ski tour back up…
…and a further good ski down the Ciste Gully, taking care with a few holes in the snow cover near the bottom..!
Finding the ski legs, first ski tour of the season on Cairngorm – 3rd December 2021
This well-known summit holds the snow well on many sides so is great for combining ski-touring with skiing, and dropping into different views and environments.
Atmospheric conditions on the Cairngorm plateau
photo courtesy of Anna Henly
The best VDiff climb in Scotland…! Agag’s Groove on Buachaille Etive Mor
The approach to the climb involves starting up Curved Ridge, high up above Rannoch Mor.
Looking down on the Rannoch Wall, here catching the sunshine, the location of many fine rock climbs.
Agag’s Groove is a route of 4 pitches taking the right edge of the Rannoch Wall.
Some amazing climbing in a spectacular location!
Welcome sunshine on Glenbrittle beach
A murky day on the Cuillin southern Munros
With a number of Cuillin Munros left to do, we were able to link several of the southern summits of the Cuillin despite not much of a view most of the time. At least the Inaccessible Pinnacle is still distinct!
Rock-climbing at Neist Point on Skye
The Green Lady pinnacle, the venue of our rock-climbing as well as the sea cliffs down to the left.
A sunrise start on the Cuillin ridge
An early start from a cold bivvy, above Coire Grundda, having climbed the Dubhs slabs the day before.
Arriving at the summit of Sgurr Alistair, a shadow of this peak sits out on the morning haze.
Looking north from the summit of Sgurr Alistair.
…and looking east….
… and south, looking on towards Gars-bheinn and Sgurr nan Eag at the south end of the Cuillin ridge.
Approaching the narrows between Sgurr Thearlaich and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich.
The very fine route of King’s Chimney (Diff) on Sgurr Mhic Choinnich.
A moody Inaccessible Pinnacle
The continuous profile of this scramble of rock slabs and short walls extends up from Loch Coruisk, initially to the summit of Sgurr Dubh Beag. Following a couple of exciting abseils off this summit, a further scramble up onto the munro of Sgurr Dubh Mor and on to the Cuillin ridge can be made.
At the abseil…
… looking on to Sgurr Dubh Mor
Looking back at the site of the abseils on Sgurr Dubh Beag and beyond to Loch Scarvaig and Elgol.
An Teallach traverse
Starting at Dundonell and finishing in Corrie Hallie, our traverse started with tackling the fine summit of Bidean a’ Glas Thuill.
Fine views looking north from Bidean a’ Glas Thuill towards Little Loch Broom and on to the Summer Isles.
From the summit of Bidean a’ Glas Thuill the fine summit of our next challenge of Sgurr Fiona.
On the summit of Sgurr Fiona.
Looking on towards the Fisherfield wilderness.
Ben Macdui and Castlegates Gully
Sgor Gaoith and the Glenfeshie hills
A sunny day on Castle Ridge, Ben Nevis – 27th September 2020
Castle Ridge frames the right-hand edge of the north face cliffs of Ben Nevis, and also, facing south-east, catches much of the morning’s sun. This was welcome as some snow had fallen 2 days previously and still some remained beneath the summit on the Observatory face. This route is a fantastic line on good rock with many moves on slabs and short walls. There are key sections where a longer pitch is necessary where the terrain becomes as easy climbing, with some interesting but possible moves and just a bit of exposure.
High up on the route having done the upper tower, the sense of space and wonder of the corrie behind and the surrounding cliffs.
Looking back behind Castle Ridge at the summit of Carn Mor Dearg that connects to Ben Nevis on the right.
Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor – 26th September 2020
West Buttress on Lochnagar – 14th September 2020
A dawn start to the Cuillin Ridge – August 2020
Walking in to loch Coruisk and the start of the Cuillin Ridge – August 2020
A fab day on the Jamspitze in the Silvretta – 22nd February 2020
As part of a multi-day ski-tour in the Silvretta region of Austria, and sandwiched between some days of poor weather, here we had an excellent day with powder and sunshine on the Jamspitze summit.
Winter mountaineering in the Cairngorms – 14th February 2020
Col d’Argentière – 16th January 2020
Col de l’Encrenaz in the Aiguilles Rouges – 15th January 2020
Col du Passon traverse – 14th January 2020
Brèche du Berade ski-tour – 2nd January 2020
A free-for-all on Cairngorm! – 19th November 2019
A sunny day had been forecast, with no winds. In the week before there had been freezing temperatures to the valley and the snow that had fallen a week earlier was still covering the higher summits of the Cairngorms. Despite it being a Monday, a fair number of folk were out on the hill, try all modes of transport…!
Setting off from Cairngorm summit looking across at Beinn Mheadhoin.
A fellow ski-tourer heading back up the slope.
A boarder letting it rip…
…followed by some bikers!
Looking across the Cairngorm plateau and beyond to Ben Macdui, Cairn Toul and Braeriach.
Returning down the north side of Cairngorm through the closed ski area of the Ciste, still loads of snow though…
…and finishing looking down at Glenmore forest and Loch Morlich.
Cairngorm ski-touring – 13th November 2019
Driving past Loch Morlich, I had to stop to take a photo of the mountains reflecting in the loch, with the sun just appearing over Cairngorm.
Not many other photos today as the cold wasted the battery’s life too quickly… Here I’m close to the summit of Cairngorm looking across to the northern Corries. The snow had a surprisingly good cover, and although it was quite crusty there was enough of it and space to make the turns. It was great skiing off one of the highest peaks around, and in the sun too..!
Cuillin scrambling on Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh – 3rd November 2019
Traverse of Bla Bheinn – 2nd November 2019
Mont Blanc Summit – 16th September 2019
Aiguilles des Entreves traverse – 3rd September 2019
Dri Hornli rock-climbing – 30th August 2019
Weissmies South Ridge – 29th August 2019
Riffelhorn scrambling – 25th August 2019
Monte Rosa summits – 22nd August 2019
Mont Blanc at sunrise – 16th August 2019
Zumsteinspitze Monte Rosa – 3rd August 2019
Aiguille du Tour – 31st August 2019
Finsteraarhorn summit – 23rd July 2019
The Dufourspitze, the highest of the Monte Rosa summits – 4th July 2019
Getting the first of the sun’s rays at 7am. We’ve been on the move for just over 4 hours since leaving the hut, on glacier and snow ridge, and the rock of the summit ridge is very welcome.
Looking back towards Lyskamm
… and across to the Monte Rosa summit of Nordend
Rock-climbing on the Riffelhorn above Zermatt – 2nd July 2019
A good training rock-climb, one of several on the south face of the rocky summit of the Riffelhorn
The climbing really is in a spectacular place, looking down at the vast Gorner glacier and all the fine mountains all around.
Looking across at climbers on a parallel route to us.
Moiry alpine ridges and glaciers – 28th June 2019
We spent a few days at the Moiry hut, building on the team’s experience of ridge climbing and scrambling.
Here we are on the north ridge of the Pigne de la Lé…
… and on its summit
The next day we travelled further up the Moiry glacier to reach the Dent des Rosses which had a good rocky ridge to climb and descend.
Aiguilles Marbrées traverse – 24th June 2019
The traverse of the Aiguilles Marbrées is a great introduction to alpine scrambling and mountaineering on a rocky ridge.
With a little bit of exposure…
…. and a little bit of awkwardness, it’s a great ridge for trying out this sort of alpine adventure.
Last ski-tour of the season in the Vanoise – 20th April 2019
On the approach into to Refuge du Col de la Vanoise, looking ahead to the Grande Casse and some amazing rock scenery. The Col de la Grande Casse in at the back in the centre.
Looking back at the start of the main Vanoise glacier, and our refuge below.
After a couple of hours of touring the last section to the col de la Grande Casse needed to be done on foot.
Great to be at the summit…
… and to see the view beyond. Here we are skiing down from the prominent col right underneath the big north wall of the Grande Casse.
A good ski down the mountain before reaching the valley back to Champagny.
Bishorn summit and then on to the Blanc de Moming – 14th April 2019
An early start to catch the best of the mountain before the afternoon cloud was to roll in. Here we get a glimpse of the Brunegghorn and the Barrhorn, where we had been the day before.
A steady climb up the main glacier
The last part of the ascent is a short simple mountaineering section and then the Bishorn summit at 4153m is reached.
Skiing down in atmospheric conditions and on excellent snow.
The journey continued round to the Refuge de Arpitettaz and then across and up the glacier to the Blanc de Moming.
Looking south from the Blanc de Moming…
… then skiing back down its north flank, beneath the summit dome
The descent continues in increasingly heavy snow beneath the rocky summit of Besso
With Besso at the back, the ski descent makes its way through the larch woodland and a welcome track that takes us all the way back to Zinal.
A fantastic day on the Barrhorn – 8th April 2019
High above the Brunegg glacier and with the view of the Bishorn behind, we made our way up the south flank of the Barrhorn…
… to the summit!
The descent found its way down a big broad couloir down the north side, with some excellent snow
Looking back at the Barrhorn and the broad valley couloir of our descent.
Ski-tour traverse of the Breche du Berard – 28th March 2019
Skiing down from the first col, the Col du Crochue
Skinning the next slope, with plenty of kick-turns included…
… and one short section of exposure as the ridge narrows.
Looking back at the Aiguille Floria
The ridge continues up towards the breach itself, with a spectacular view of Mont Blanc in the background
Skiing from a high position at the top of the Berard valley
Cold day on Mont Buet – 26th March 2019
Traverse of the Col du Passon – 24th March 2019
Starting up the Argentiere Glacier looking up at the Aiguille du Chardonnet and the start of our ski-tour adventure to the left of this peak.
After skinning for way, the couloir narrows and needs to be climbed…
… not too steep but good fun to use the axe and crampons
A bit cold at the top, at the Col du Passon
Skiing the Tour Glacier all the way back to the village of le Tour
Pointe Alphonse Favre and the Glacier du Mort – 22nd March 2019
Booting up the big couloir start to the Pointe Alphonse Favre, with the Col du Crochue just visible top left, where we had skied across from.
Climbing up the final snow pitch to the summit…
Great to arrive at the rather small summit
A comfortable wind-scoop just below the summit was good for getting the kit sorted and for a lunch with a view….
…. before setting off to ski the top section of the Glacier du Mort
The snow slope winds its way at a good gradient through the steep rocky terrain all around….
… before arriving at the upper slopes of the Berard Valley
Ski-tour over the Col de Fenestral – 20th March 2019
Above the village of Finhaut are a number of ski-tours that involve a good hike for 3-4+ hours but they take you high up in the mountains and can have some good snow on their shaded north-facing slopes.
The journey up to the Col de Fenestral is mostly in full sun, so it can be quite hot work by the time you reach the col.
The snow down the other side was worth it!
Lots of potential for fresh tracks…
Looking beyond the Val d’Emanay to the Grand Combin
…. and an adventurous exit finish the day back into the ski area.
Courmayeur off-piste skiing – 8th March 2019
New snow in the back bowls – 5th March 2019
With the weather starting to become more and more unsettled, bringing in welcome new snow but also wind and at times, poor visibility, it was even more important to choose the right slopes to ski on, despite the great looking snow. With a little bit of touring we kept to this plan, and still found some great snow.
Grand St Bernard ski-touring – 3rd March 2019
Another popular destination for hut-based ski-touring, the accommodation at the Grand St Bernard Hospice is a good stopping-off point for ski-tours in the local Italian and Swiss Alps.
Our main summit day, ascending Mont Fourchon, being at the weekend was a tad busy, so it was great to find some of the slopes for the descent less busy. Fun to share the mountain with a couple of happy dogs though…!
… and still some good snow to be found on our north-facing slopes.
Wildstrubel summit ski-tour – 27th February 2019
The Wildstrubel area of the central Bernese Oberland in Switzerland makes for a good multi-day ski-touring venue earlier in the season. Starting and finishing in Kandersteg we were able to use the mountain hotel at the Gemmi Pass and the Lämmeren Hut to support our 4-day tour, taking in a number of the nearby peaks and cols.
With it being the second week of continuous fine sunny weather, the snow conditions were a little in doubt, but with a good eye for slope aspect and time of day, the skiing proved to be quite reasonable.
By the third day we were keen to try the Wildstrubel summit itself and with wall-to-wall sunshine we ascended the glacier summit in good time.
From the top you have a fine panorama of all the Valais Alps before you, and skiing from the main summit had good firm, compact snow at a great gradient for sweeping down your first turns of the day!
Further down the descent the snow was to become spring snow, which was still fun to ski, much better than its frozen state during our ascent.
The main dilemma of the afternoon was whether we should continue to skin up a second peak as the sun was really very warm by this point. The decision was quickly made and the team made a good ascent of the neighbouring Steghorn, though this still felt tough with the heat and tired legs. Yet from the summit we had a great view looking back at our morning’s journey on the Wildstrubel…
… and the descent, skiing on the softened snow, wasn’t too bad either!
Half-term week Vallée Blanche – 21st February 2019
A number of families of keen off-piste skiers had been brought together by the Ski Club for a week of fun and adventurous skiing around Chamonix. By the end of the week, on a good weather day, two teams, with 2 guides, skied the Vallée Blanche starting from the Italian side at the Helbronner and the Skyway lift.
The skiing at the top section was open, with good snow amongst the spectacular views. Further down the descent we were moguls skiing to the side of the Giant’s Icefall, the complex section of crevassed glacier, giving the team a good visual geography lesson.
Before the glacier ends there can be the opportunity to ski along narrow, filled-in melt-water channels in the ice (not crevasses!) which are like skiing an enclosed luge.
Much easier for the shorter skis, so some walking helps as well!
Schoolhouse Ridge – 11th February 2019
Setting off from the Glencoe village of Ballachulish, Schoolhouse Ridge is clearly seen. With a little exposure and a number of short rocky and steeper snow steps, this ridge takes you to one side of the Munro circuit of the Ballachulish Horseshoe, and today was certainly a fine day to try it.
The terrain was good for the team to use their axe and crampons, and then with height as the difficulties increased we roped up into two teams. With amazing views of Glencoe and the surrounding mountains and coastlines we had a very enjoyable time climbing the ridge.
Eventually the ridge joined the main mountain that would become Sgurr Dearg, a Munro, so we continued along the journey to reach this summit.
Returning back along the ridge of Being Bhan we were able to have a good view of the line of our ascent.
Central Gully in Coire an t-Sneachda – 10th February 2019
After a windy training day at the Ciste crag, this route was to be the first winter climb for one of the team, and the second for the other. Today was a fine day for the weather; clear, not too windy and a good cover of snow and ice on the cliffs in Coire an t-Sneachda.
Central Gully is a grade I climb with occasional short ice sections. It was in good conditions for the climbing and not too busy once we got started.
We climbed the route in a series of 5 pitches; it is one of the longest routes in the corrie.
Quite windy still at the top of the route, but a great winter climb and a fine winter’s day out in the Cairngorms.
Powder skiing above Arolla – 29th January 2019
Using a couple of drag-lifts at Arolla to make a good start on the height gain, we soon had some powder turns in the sunshine! A day to explore as much as possible by touring, though this involved breaking trail most of the way, but we were able to find plenty of slopes where nobody had been to yet with he new snow.
A busy Saturday on the Bel Oiseau – 19th January 2019
Above the Swiss village of Finhaut lie a number of spiky peaks and high cols, between which a number of ski-tours journey. The peak of the Bel Oiseau looks very striking from the valley and the col d’Oiseau is a popular objective, particularly at the weekend. However, with a little local knowledge a whole untouched slope lay waiting for us…
Ski-tour on Pointe Ronde – 18th January 2019
This is a fantastic ski journey when it comes in to condition, and when you all find yourself as one of the first on the mountain after new snow. Starting from the Col de Forclaz the journey follows a trail up through the forest to reach an alpage and from here you zigzag up the back slope to reach the open ridge which eventually arrives at the summit of the Pointe Ronde.
Once on the open ridge the views all around are amazing, looking across to Verbier and the Rhone valley. Many of the high mountains of the Valais are visible such as the Matterhorn and the Dent Blanche.
The team were skinning at a good pace and we reached the summit in just over 4 hours. Still a long time to be touring and it was good for folk to recover for a moment before setting off to enjoy the snow on the descent.
Lots of opportunity for fresh tracks on the upper slopes of the mountain and then through the larch trees to reach the alpage.
Fresh tracks at the Grands Montets – 15th January 2019
With a short ski-tour needed to reach the upper slopes of the Grands Montets, on this morning few folk had been up on the glacier. It was great to be one of the first teams down this usually popular run with lots of fresh tracks, and it was interesting to search out the journey lower down through the crevasses.
Fine views on a wintry day from the Cabane Loriaz – 14th January 2019
On the day after a big snow fall we headed up through the forest above Vallorcine to reach the upper slopes and the Cabane Loriaz. The snow was deep, and there was a fair bit of trail-breaking to do but eventually we got the views looking back across the valley. The refuge was very welcoming with its hot chocolate, tarte myrtille and friendly dog.
Vallée Blanche from Pt Helbronner – 1st January 2019
A great way to start the New Year! The team headed through the Mont Blanc tunnel to ascend by the Skyway lift system to reach Pt Helbronner, the Italian start to the Vallée Blanche.
Perched on the high crest of the Italian-French border there are great views all around from here from Mont Blanc to all the way east to the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa.
It was our aim for the day to combine the descent of the Vallée Blanche with some ski-touring, and this helped us travel around the bowl of the glacier to be more in the sunshine. It was fantastic being out in this environment, it wasn’t too busy and the views were amazing.
After cruising round the slopes of the Grand Rognon for many turns we eventually travelling through the the more complex section of the Salle à Manger, with the impressive Géant Icefall in the background.
Heading down the final section, here with the Grandes Jorasses and the Dent du Géant in view, we were going to find the snow conditions a little thinner… But despite the rocks and the moraine the team arrived in good style to reach the end of the descent.
First ski down the Vallée Blanche – 29th December 2018
The recent snowy weather has by now done a good job for this time of year at filling in the glaciers high up. Yet below a certain height the rain of a few days previous had done a bit of damage to the potential ski conditions. Even the Midi arete at the start of the Vallée Blanche was looking a bit thin..!
We went to have a look, finding the arete was not completely equipped, nor straight-forward, being more similar to its summer mountaineering condition. Yet once the skis were on the snow cover and quality were pretty good.
We decided to ski the Petit Envers descent of the Vallée Blanche, the snow was fairly compacted but still soft and the cover was good. We were able to head to the left of the Petit Rognon before heading down past the Requin Hut and the Salle à Manger.
Needless to say, the final section was a little icy and rocky but we were able to keep our skis on until just before the steps up to the Montenvers train..!
The Grands Montets by the ski-touring approach – 26th December 2018
Following a period of poor weather, snow in the mountains and rain in the valley the sun finally came out for everyone to enjoying the new snow on Christmas Day. The following day we headed up to explore the Grands Montets, which this winter season will be without both its telepherique lifts.
Skinning up from the top of the Herse or Bochard lifts still gives access to the upper slopes of the Grands Montets, now as a backcountry outing. It is different to having the ease of the lift but still within around 1-2 hours you can reach a point where you can ski.
Heading down the after all our efforts, with the Aiguille d’Argentiere in the background.
Winter Climbing in Coire an t-Sneachda – November 2018
The winter has arrived early at the end of 2018, affording three separate excursions into the Northern Corries on Cairngorm to go climbing and mountaineering. Conditions have been really quite snowy, with the buttresses being well covered.
A group of teenagers heading in towards the back of Coire an t-Sneachda.
To the left of the corrie is the crag known as the Mess of Potage where on one day we went in to climb route named Pot of Gold.
Pot of Gold takes a line directly above the climbers
Stepping out round the buttress to start the pitch.
On a second day we returned to climb Hidden Chimney Direct which first takes a corner on the right of the crag, before crossing easier ground to find the chimney itself.
Very snowy conditions made the chimney good fun to climb!
… and a great view looking back out of the corrie towards Loch Morlich and Aviemore.