Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These Conditions Reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

I went for a bike ride today. I say a ride - to be honest I carried my bike up the first Munro, most of the way between this and the second Munro, and short way down this one before finding some good riding. Thankfully the descent (650m of it) was fantastic and more than made up for all the carrying. The way I see it, I get all the enjoyment of hill walking with none of the sore knees and leg muscles on the descent. In fact I have a lot of fun on the way down and get down quite quickly too.

The hills were Spidean Mialach and Gleouraich and the descent down the SW ridge of Gleouraich on the stalkers path was a delight of switch backs and flowyness with a drop of 600m down to the side to focus the mind! Was it worth the hike up? Oh yes!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

We're delighted to be working with Mammut on the North Face Botanical Survey of Ben Nevis. Yesterday we climbed Ledge Route with Rolf Schmidt (CEO of Mammut), Chris and Steve from Mammut UK and John from Go Outdoors. Rolf is climbing the highest peak in the top ten countries selling Mammut gear, a really fun project. Mammut has also given the North Face Survey rope for each of the three years of the survey and we need a lot of rope!

There is still lots of snow to negotiate at the foot of Number Five Gully before you get on to Ledge Route. On the first ledge we went right past a collection of Yellow Globe Flowers in full bloom. These are not common but not the really rare plants we will be looking for in August.

The Moss Campion has been doing well this year too.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

On another hot and dusty day I had a full day of biking starting off with a TCL Assessment with Laura and Janey. We had a great ride along the canal and round Glen Loy in full on sunshine with brilliant views across to the Nevis Range. There are some superb trails in most of the glens and forests round here, you just need a map and a sense of adventure to find them.

It was really nice to see the canal being used by a good number of people. For a walk or cycle ride it is an excellent option with no hills! There is a great wee board at the forestry car park near Strone as well which tells you all about the geology and geography of the hills too.

This evening I met up with Will again, a local ripper on a mountain bike. We made the most of the good weather with a ride up the Allt a'Mhuilinn. This trail is the normal walk in to the climbs on Ben Nevis but more recently it has become a classic mountain bike ride too. The riding is quite technical but never too steep. Lots of drainage channels keep you on your toes and all under the cliffs of the North Face. Brilliant.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Donald and I had a day off today so we went climbing. We hope to be involved with a botanical survey of the North Face cliffs of Ben Nevis in August so we went up The Long Climb on Orion Face to give us an idea of what it will be like. The crags are really dry at the moment too despite the huge snow patch at the base of the face. Take an ice axe and some sturdy boots for the snow and be ready for some exciting moves to get across the gap from the snow to the rock!

The snow covers the first two pitches so you can get onto the wee platform directly. The first crux is getting up to the Great Slab Rib but take the right line and it is all OK. The Great Slab Rib is an amazing pitch in a brilliant position. Crossing the Basin is simple enough and full of flowers and plants. It will be great to work with a botanist there this summer to discover exactly what does grow there and elsewhere on the North Face.

The Second Slab Rib provides the crux of the route and I found it harder than when I did it with Donald in winter! Above there the line is not obvious and the last pitch is still quite wet so we went left to the Forty Foot Corner of NE Buttress. Generally the rock was dry, grippy and clean. A brilliant climb and much better than I remembered it from 16 years ago.

We descended Tower Ridge enjoying the perfectly dry rock some more. Carn Dearg Buttress is very dry too and most of the climbs there look great. There is snow at the bottom of Number Five Gully still and most of the crags have some snow to deal with.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Colin and I had a great day on Curved Ridge yesterday. There were one or two showers but it was more dry than it was wet. We got a great view from the summit too. Lots of snow has melted from the slopes at the top of the ridge so it is very easy to finish now without touching the snow. The descent down Coire na Tullaich is also clear of snow.

In the coires on the North Face of Ben Nevis though there is still a lot of snow. Today Colin and I went to climb the SW Ridge of Douglas Boulder which has had very many ascents in recent winters. There is still a big snow patch near the bottom of West Gully of Douglas Gap but you can avoid this on the way to the ridge. There are a few loose blocks on the climb but not as many as I remember from a few years ago when I did it for BBC Radio Scotland. It will take a while for the rocks to be less slippery in the wet though.

After the abseil into Douglas Gap we descended East Gully and went across into Observatory Gully. Here the snow is dense and a few metres deep still! If you want to climb The Long Climb or on the Minus Face you'll need an ice axe to get there! For us today it just gave us a nice slide back down to the Allt a'Mhuilinn.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Another nice day on Ben Nevis with Maz and Daryl from Australia. Maz has completed the Kokoda Track a few times and done several other walks so they thought they should enjoy the highest peak in the UK while they are here. Thankfully it was a nice day and we got a great view from the summit and had just a light shower in the last 20minutes.

It's amazing how much snow has melted away in the last few weeks. Exactly a month ago there was about 2m depth of snow on the summit which has all gone now. Also gone from the summit already is a bench that was placed there on Saturday. I think this was supposed to be a nice gesture along the lines of a memorial bench that you might see in a town park. However, Ben Nevis summit is not the place for this and you would need the landowners permission anyway. All gone by the time I got to the summit with Maz and Daryl though!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Working for Infinity Mountain Guides today I joined Nigel and Amanda for a traverse of an t'Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe. It was warm and humid on the climb up Am Bodach before turning to drizzle with brief glimpses of the spectacular view down into the glen. The rocks have been well scraped clean of lichen on the crest so it is good fun scrambling even in the wet. We had the ridge to ourselves too!

Over on Skye it was even more wet. Donald and Helen went over Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Bastier and Bruach na Frithe before going down to wring themselves dry. Mixed weather will continue for the rest of this week by the look of it.