Sunday, 30 January 2011

Laggan Fun 30/01/11

Yesterday I headed up for some more XC action with Sophie, Scott, Helen, Mairi and Andrew. We went up to Wolftrax for the day and had fun smashing around the tracks there. Apparently there are some really good secret trails but we couldn't find them so just ended up on the normal routes which are still really fun and could be dangerously fast if you had a bit of time to work them.

Today Sophie and I cycled into Creag Meagaidh to have a look at some of the classic routes. Cycling in was great and we got to the loch after about an hour and fifteen, especially so with a light rack of a single half-rope and 8 screws...I'd better be feeling confident then!

We were hoping to do Pumpkin but eventually decided on South Post Direct as it was easier to locate and descend Easy Gully than navigate to the Window. The route was great, a nice starting pitch up water ice followed by some gully slogging to the crux pitch. Unfortunately the crux pitch wasn't in condition with the top half being unconsolidated dry snow and very little ice, seeing the party ahead of us repeatedly fall off from the end of the ice and start of the vertical snow made the decision for us and we avoided the pitch on the left. As we topped out into the wind everything went very white and we ended up in that great frozen carboard suit that your clothes turn into after a good old Scottish day!

Eyebrows frozen and all we found Easy Gully and headed down to find Neil and Pauline playing on the great first pitch of Last Post before jumping back on the bikes and enjoying a swift 50min great descent back to the car! Another good day at an amazing venue.

Uni for the start of this week and then Sarah's Law Ball on Wednesday which should be a good night, hopefully more climbing soon though! Make sure to check out Greg's blog ( to keep up to date with what's happening at the forefront of the sport!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Spud action and rainy 'gorms 26/01/11

Yesterday I was hoping to get on some of the ice over on Hell's Lum or some mixed action in the norries, which would be my first time in there this winter and I was feeling bad for neglecting them! I met up with Bruce, Pauline and Fraser and we headed northwards. Unfortunately it started raining around Dalwhinnie and didn't stop even when we were at the plateau of Lochain. It was very misty and claggy and generally miserable but it was still nice to be outside and getting a bit of light exercise. We basically walked through the rain into somewhere near Lochain, fluffed about for a good while trying to find out where exactly we were, realised the buttresses were not only totally black but heavily running with water, and finally being happy enough having climbed from the lochain on steep snow slopes we decided we weren't that fussed to do another hundred metres or so of the stuff just to summit, and so we headd back to the car and homewards.

TodayI had a great day riding some of the more downhill-esque tracks at Innerleithen on the wee bikes with Neil and Sean. Sean has swapped over from flats to SPD's and is mostly getting to grips with them, except when he has a play on Neil's carbon fibre lightning fast steed which swiftly bucked him off and jabbed him in the sternum with the bar ends. Not fun. He soldiered on and we had an awesome day playing in the mud. I need to put in a big order to Chain Reaction Cycles which will be squirmishly bank breaking, but that's what happens when you enthusiasm outweighs ability and you end up on the floor!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Creag Meagaidh and the aftermath 24/01/11

Scott and I headed up to Creag Meagaidh on Sunday after hearing good reports about the ice conditions there. After an early start we walked up into a temperature inversion and some drizzle, this soon died off however and there was fat blue ice evident on the face so we knew we could climb something. Our first objective was Smith's Gully and so we slogged up Raeburn's Gully towards the cloud base around the middle of the crag, the snowpack was a bit wet and the top 4" or so were a bit mushy but there were footprints leading right up the gully. As we got nearer to the route the broken ice patches of the loch became even more impressive and gave a great backdrop, unfortunately the route was in a similair condition to the loch and melting rapidly!
There was a lot of running water about and the first pitch of snow ice looked like mush. After some deliberation we concluded that since we were here already we may as well have a go and see if it got colder higher up. Scott led off up the first pitch of relatively steep snow mush not getting much inspiring gear, after a good effort to get over the chockstone at the top of the pitch he set up a belay and brought me up. Arriving at the belay I felt like I had been climbing out of a Slush Puppy machine! Looking up at the rest of the route and seeing it looked much the same we decided to save the route for a good day as it gets four stars in the guidebook and we were keen to enjoy it! We then walked up the remainder of Raeburn's Gully passing the Blue Icicle which was very thin at the bottom of the pillar and dripping heavily, the ice was incredibly featured though; it's a shame it's only 10m or so of climbing as it's a really cool feature.
After some wandering about on the plateau where we spent a while looking at a huge cornice about 500m away...which turned out to be about 4' high and only 20m away...we descended Easy Gully to have a play on some of the water ice routes. Even though I had climbed it last year we decided on Last Post as it was easily the best looking route. I led up the pitch and belayed about 35m up on a nice shelf on the right, which had the world's best ice thread before Scott quickly followed and led off up the next pitch. The ice was in amazing condition and really fun to climb, again quite featured from the varying temperatures.
We bailed off after the main feature via an Abalakov and then the thread before collecting out bags and making the long walk back to the car. It was a shame our intended route wasn't in condition but it looked amazing and I will definitely be back for it, it was great to get out again on some fantastic ice and it was a really fun day.

Today I was out at Glentress for a light XC spin with Sean to loosen up and enjoy the fresh air before, hopefully, more climbing later in the week.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

A more extended revision break 22/01/11

With the exams finally over I was mega psyched to get out and make the most of daylight hours of freedom; a stark contrast to the depressed, lethargic, lazy state I was in before today! I headed down to Caberston with Sophie to meet up with Stuart, Roland and Simon. I took the big bike and we pushed up, after a good walk hauling bikes over felled trees and general forestry madness we made it to the top and sessioned some of the trails. The trails were good but seemed short for the amount of ascent you had to make, they were technical and rooty but quite flat, in hindsight the xc bike would definitely have been better as the trails can be accessed by fireroad but it was good to be out nonetheless.

Bring on the week, plenty of fresh air and no more books!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Revision Break 14/01/11

It didn't take much to entice me away from the books and into the trees. Sean and I had a fun day playing in the mud at Innerleithen; nice to see the trails with a lower ice:mud ratio.

The weather looks decidedly rubbish for the next wee while, hopefully it will come right again as my exams finish at the end of the week and I can get out climbing again.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Trees, roots and stuff 06/01/11

Back on the downhill bikes today at Innerleithen with Sean, Scott and Sophie. We had a great day with a bit of light snowfall to create some amazing scenes, and then the sun came out later in the day! It was very much like Narnia...

Cracking on with some revision now, I'll maybe get a day climbing if the weather brightens up and studying is going well. It would be cool to get out with Greg before he heads off to France, check out his blog for some very impressive new routes and repeats;

Some more videos of various sections, all filmed on the GoPro;

Monday, 3 January 2011

Back on the Bicycles to start the New Year 03/01/11

Happy New Year!

Over the remainder of the festive period I was lucky enough to spend more time with the family and managed to see Sarah for a few days before we have to shut ourselves off to start revision which was nice. We spent a couple of days up in Aviemore and were hoping to go skiing but unfortunately the weather was rubbish so we ended up spending the time walking or watching films whilst in cozy sleeping bags; a great way to relax for a few days!

I had been hoping to climb yesterday as the weather and conditions looked great but logistically it just didn't work out. With some stormy weather coming in hopefully the conditions will just improve whilst I am studying until the end of January.

Today I headed down to Innerleithen to do some downhill riding with Neil and Sophie, it turned out to be a great day and we got a lot of riding in. Back on the xc loop tomorrow which will be good to get the legs spinning again.

Here is a short GoPro video of me chasing Neil down the middle section of Cresta I believe;