scrambling

Mixtape

In the absence of time to blog individual trips, here's a few snapshots of recent excursions.

Curved Ridge was a day out from the city, and a good one to get under our belt. The hardest part was finding the start of the route! After so many years building up to it, we got to the top somehow having missed the crux, thinking 'is that it?' but the situation is absolutely stunning all the way up, even in the summer dreich. On reflection we'll rope up for the start (what felt like the crux to me) next time, and finish off with Crowberry Tower.

In July, David, Richard and I went way out west with the intention of exploring Loch Morar. It was a trip about a year in the planning, but suffered several changes on the ground due to the vagaries of Scottish summertime. By day 3, the 3 drowned rats were hiding out with their tails between their legs in Sourlies bothy with beer and logs donated by the cook for the neighbouring estate. The trouble with only doing short trips of course is that you are soft for when more is required, but a fire was welcome relief at the time, never mind the alcohol. It went from the ridiculous to the sublime, with an early morning paddle on the ebb tide among Purpoise and Jellyfish, right around Loch Nevis into Inverie. A stylish finish, totally by accident.

In August I reprised a slow attempt on the Paddy Buckley Round, with more success than last year. The weather was kinder this time, grey and opaque for the first 2 days and blistering hot for the second 2. I rolled my ankle on a forestry ride and heard it pop. I lay there for 15mins in the middle of nowhere and a fair amount of pain, wondering how I was going to drag myself to the road. Luckily it was only a ligament that had torn, and with enough vitamin I and elevation overnight I was able to limp over Snowdon the next day and complete the Round. I bumped into some very twitchy Squaddies policing the military heli' crash on Y Aran, was charmed by quiet, heathery nooks and crannies in the west, and was utterly blown away by the foxes path through the Dinorwig quarry. I love Wales, it's my second hill home. I've spent the last 3 years trying to get these 3 big rounds done - they are long, intense days whether you are walking or running, I think.

Another day out scrambling recently, this time on Arran. Ian took Mick and I on a favourite route of his. Ropes were not really needed but we went through the motions just to prove to ourselves how we need to do this more than once every 3 months to make sure it's second nature. We're slowly getting the message I think. More planned for winter, if life doesn't make other plans.

Give 'em enough rope

and they'll traverse Liathach. And so we did.

I met Sam on that scrambling course I mentioned.  He's just passed his MIA (congratulations Sam!), but at the time he was assisting on the course to gain experience. He suggested we meet up between then and now, an arrangement which was mutually beneficial - he got more client days under his belt, and I got to practice some ropework. It was a good excuse to meet up with the very excellent Ben Dolphin for the first time, as these things are better in threes. After stopping off at the Fiaciall ridge in the Cairngorms, we chased better weather to Torridon. We spent a day at the seaside on a three star classic in beautiful weather, and then onto Liathach for the full traverse, pinnacles n all. It ended up being a more guided experience than the course, but it was still invaluable. I finally have my Italian hitch sorted - hey, I'm left-handed, my brain ain't wired right.

I 'll spare you the word count for now, there's still too many boxes to unpack in the new flat. More to come in the May issue of The Great Outdoors Magazine. In the meantime, Ben can tell you all about it over at his place. And here's a few more shots from the trip, below.

Mountain training instructor Sam Owens can be contacted here

Old boots, new routes

The sales pitch:

Naturally you've all been paying rapt attention and will know I've taken on red pen duties for a couple of outdoor magazines. The first one is now free to read online. I'd be keen to know what you think. Those in the blogging fraternity will recognise Keith Foskett as a contributor.

One of the features is an account of a Mountaineering Council of Scotland scrambling course I attended earlier in the summer. I hold those who instructed us in high regard. As well as a dose of knuckle cuts and sore knees, learning the ropes (or at least making a start), perhaps the deepest lesson was an understanding of what hill culture means for these dedicated few. I'll leave the article to do the talking - pages 40-45 - but for now, here's a few shots that didn't make it into the magazine. Thanks to the MCofS, and Heather Morning and Sam Owens in particular for making it happen.