All posts by alantees

Peregrinations and a Goshawk


Back to Muckish again, for the umpteenth look at the Colossus, the big pillar off to the right of the miners track- but this time we had a plan…


So much for the first bit of the plan, (that the evening sun would come around and bathe the north face in benign warmth).  The cloud was down.


Part 2 was the erection of a bomb-proof belay on the short side of the pillar.  We would attempt it on the long side, and when/if the leader (Marty) got to the top, he would untie and drop the end of the rope down the short side to the belayer ( me) who had scuttled back around.  The rope was secured ( no need for a desperate search for an ab point on top), and we would ab back down the long side.


Part 3 was a fixed line across the exposed ledge to protect my peregrinations* back and forth.


This went to plan and soon we were across the ledge, me belayed, and Marty climbing up into the mist. From the belay climb into an unattractive corner, and swing out left and continue up on sloping spikes etc to a big ledge.  He had been to the upper ledge before, and made short work of the first bit.  Sounds of hammering echoed from the cliffs as he placed two pegs up on the ledge ( there was nothing else) something he learned from his last visit.   I craned my neck to catch glimpses of my noble leader as he went this way, then that, then this way again, managing to place a good cam high on an overhanging crack before retreating.  Then he traversed left around the corner.  “Slack, Slack”, I was giving him slack as best I could,  but the rope was going through the high cam, then back down, under an overhang and around the corner.  I kept playing out and gradually it became taut.  Suddenly he was on top.  The rope was flicked over, no more drag, and he went up the final step to the top, untied and dropped the rope down the short side- to which I had peregrinated*.  I tied it to the belay and peregrinated back across the ledge.


My turn.  The first bit was a bit awkward and exposed, and my hands were cold, but ok, about 4b, to the upper ledge.  Then I had to recover Marty’s cam in the high crack, and back down. The traverse left was easy and there was this lovely wall with good holds, but then there were no more.  How Marty got up that with drag is beyond me, because although it was only a couple of moves and the friction was good, it was quite ballancy, and  totally devoid of protection.  I found it unnerving enough on a top rope.


We abbed off ( a free abb) stripped everything and were back in the pub for 7.30.


A great day and a great climb, Goshawk HVS 4c ( or 5a)  see what anyone else thinks.  I had been looking at this for almost 40 years. 


Culdaff International Climbfest.


Culdaff International Climbfest.


Well, that what it was.  We had citizens of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Iran, Wales, England, Scotland, (and probably a few I have forgotten) with a much higher proportion female than ever before.


The beginners’ session at Dunmore started late due to morning rain, but was well supported with 40-50 at the crag.  It was getting mobbed, so I took a group of 12 who arrived from IMC around to Finbarr wall, which was sheltered and sunny.  There were other groups at Brasil Rock etc at the same time.


The top ropes at Dunowen were a great success, maybe we could setup more next year?


It stayed dry for the barby for a change.


Sunday also started wet, but cleared after 9.00, and Pinnacle bay and Brazil got a lot of traffic, before the forcasted rain arrived about 3.00.  People were pretty climbed out, so some packed up and went home, while others went to McGrorys for a bite.


Just a few climbed (plus a couple of late arrivals) on Monday, which was bright and blowy with a few short sharp showers,  before the site was cleared.


We are missing two kiddies body harnesses, possibly a DMM harness of Anthony’s, a pair of green rock shoes belonging to Valli, a screwgate belonging to Gerard, and I have a couple of harnesses I don’t recognise in the kit bag + a 9mm rope possibly Geoffs.   Let me know if you have some of this, or are missing anything.


A concern was people not wearing helmets, particularly belayers.  Whilst the routes had been mostly checked for loose rock, you can never be sure, and particularly so when the climber strays off route.


Thanks to everybody who turned up and helped, the feedback I got from all our visitors was great, they all loved it.


Crag Cleaning at Dunowen

Got a good crowd on Sunday.  Access paths cleared, Bogged til the Oxters, cleaned by Damien, Jericho, Thessalonians, Utmost Good Faith and Aries cleaned by Jim, Andy, Yours truly and Frank. The crabs Claw climbed by Margaret etc plus ascents of a number of routes.  Plenty of sunshine on top, alas in the shade below.

Scottish Winter Meets 2016, Onich(MI), and Ullapool (CCC)


Scottish Winter Meets 2016, Onich(MI), and Ullapool (CCC)


I pretty much missed the first one, having arrived in Onich,( fresh from a fine traverse of Ben Cruachan), on Friday, the last night of the MI meet.   Also almost managed to miss Keith, Billy and Alex on Ben Cruachan, over a combination of changes of plan, and lack of a phone signal.  I caught up with them on the way down.   Weather was fine but the snow was soft and tiring.


We had a sociable night in the Inchcree centre, joined by Sandra and Dave and the remaining MI contingent.  I was pretty bushed, so decided not to join the other 8 on the ring of Steall on Saturday, which I thought was a bit ambitious anyway, given the conditions.  Went to climb Buachaille Etive Beg, my last remaining Munroe in Glencoe, only to realise when I got there, that I climbed it last year.  Plan B was to hire a mountain bike at Aonach Mor ( there were none), so it was plan C, coffee and the rugby.  Alas!  Still, the others were soon blown back to Fort William and a congenial evening had by all.


I thought we had a plan to do Ledge Route on Sunday, but my lack of a deodorant must have kicked in, with most preferring to go somewhere else or stay in bed.  Mercifully Sandra took pity on this Johnny no friends, and we had a great day out on this easy*** classic route.  Co-incidentally this was the day the young couple disappeared from their tent behind the CIC hut, but we were unaware of the tragedy about to unfold.  An added bonus was the lift we got from the top car park back to the Hobbit.


 I went on to meet up with eldest son Chris in Aviemore,  in the morning, picking up the line manager at Inverness Airport, and staying with my brother Jimmy and Mairi.  Had an afternoon walk on the Cat’s Back’ a local hill, and the next day we were joined by Chris, in the aptly named Dufftown, to climb an easy Corbett called Ben Riness.  Easy my ****!  We had to abandon it in the most extreme wind I have ever experienced .The zip pocket in the top of my rucsac blew open twice, with the contents taking off over the Cairngorms so fast I didn’t see them go.  Two hats, goggles, gloves, an iphone bag are missing, presumed lost, (sofar).  We crawled off.


Having been entertained to another fine dinner by Mairi, we left for Ullapool and Finbarr.


Wednesday dawned wet, but cleared nicely in the afternoon, so Margaret, Finbarr and self had a trip up Stac Polly in lovely conditions, then we moved around the coast to Gruinard Bay for an early start for Ben Dearg Beg.  This is a remote and dramatic peak in Fisherfield with a 3 to 3.5 hour walk in to the base.  We left at 8.00 on Thursday, and did the traverse over the 3 summits dropping to the col at the far side by 2.45.  It took us to 8.00 PM to get out to the road, with the last two and a half hours in darkness. Epic or what?  A great mountain though.


Our late arrival caused some consternation amongst the gathered hoardes of Colmcillers who had arrived at the rented house in Ullapool, as apparently some elderly people were reported on Scottish radio to have got into trouble. I don’t know what all the fuss was about as It couldn’t have been us, as we are not old.


Keith was back, this time with Sam, and at the house, Sandra, Dave, Les, Ivan, Gerry, PJ and Anthony.  The weather forecast alas was dire, so while we exhausted young folk took a rest, the others tacked Stac Polly in fairly challenging conditions.


Saturday’s forecast was no better, but a party of six trogged up the valley and climbed a gully in Ben Dearg with chest deep spindrift.  There was some discussion as to whether it was Orangeman’s gully or Papist’s Passage, before someone lodged a’ Petition of concern’  a decision could not be made, and the matter was put in abeyance.


The other six, ably led by ‘Keith the snowplough’, conquered another Corbett called something beginning with E. 


The weather, being no better on Sunday, I headed South towards home.


The hostel and the Hobbit

Despite a number of cryoffs there will still 7 hardy souls in the Old Monastry Hostel in Letterfrack.  It is rustic but lovely, full of character, warm and cheap.  On Saturday we climbed the Glencullin Ridge on Ben Bury, in deteriorating conditions, getting down safely, saturated and somewhat humbled.  Meal out in the Bards Den.  Sunday was supposed to be worse, so the wimps went home, I had a dry walk by L.Inagh, Valli had a very wet Canoe/swim, and Denis was going for a walk along the Killary track.  Finbarr arrived just in time for the weather to get even worse overnight.  We pulled the wagons into a circle for protection but had to evacuate the area in the morneng just before floods closed the Westport road.  Good call as the sun was out in Sligo and we had a good scramble around Eagle Rock.  I stayed outside Valli’s but another storm ensured little sleep, so I headed up more flooded roads early morning home, Must get more buoyancy fitted to the Hobbit.

MI October Meet Glendalough

Had a great weekend at the MI October gathering in Glendalough. I am not a fan of the Wicklows, but reluctantly have to admit the rock climbing in Glendalough is superb. Did a couple of routes on Hobnail Buttress, Pyramid Route and Hobnail Chimney, with Jack Bergin, both excellent, and the 5 pitch Great Gully Ridge** with Jack and Maeve. I think it deserves***. Bloody cold though.

AGM Report and Minutes 2015

We had the AGM on Saturday night, with a small but select crowd. Minutes to follow with a provisional meets list for the winter. Ivan travelled all the way from Sligo. George and Gerard had been climbing at Kinnego, and were a bit late, but well done to them too.  A good meal was had, and various people went climbing to various places on Sunday.

Download Minutes and Secretary’s report below.
AGM Minutes 2015

Secretary’s Report 2015

Owey Dear!

Our miserable climate continues to frustrate, with the midsummer Owey trip being the latest victim. A cold relentless wind, and 2.5 m swell made climbing a dangerous chore, the highlights of the trip being a fantastic meal cooked by Aideen, and a kayak trip around the east of the island on Saturday, when the sea had calmed enough to venture out on the sheltered side of Owey. Located a promising new area to climb, but that will have to wait!


Just got back from County Down ( Hobbit snag list) and the Mournes in time to see Ireland get beaten by Wales and then go out with Geoff, somewhere- to Malin Head. Venue only decided at the other side of the Foyle Bridge. As it turned out it was a good decision, as we managed three new routes in the Laurentic Area. Audacious (after a wreck) Ajax ( after another wreck) and Navigatourists after the landowner who appears to have gone back to live in London (so might not be about much).

Bravehearts 2015

Bravehearts 2015
All a bit last minute due to the unavailability of the new Hobbit van, but we managed to get booked into the MI accommodation at Inchree Onich for 4 nights, fired the stuff into the car and drove over on Tuesday. Wednesday, Margaret and I did Buachaille Etive Beg with a guy called Russell, as a warm up,( a Munro I had not done before, so not bad for a warm up I suppose). Snow was good but nil visibility!
Met up with Keith and Sandra for Thursday, and Margaret prevailed upon us to do the Corbett on the South side of Lough Leven ( another Garbh Beinn 867m). Nice, and we stayed below the cloud which obscured the N side of the Aonach Eagagh, and the Mamores on either side of us. Alun Richardson did a slide show at night.
It was very sociable at the Inchree centre, and word had it that the Gr 2 at Sron a Lairig was in condition and a great outing, so Keith Sandra and I did it on Friday. No views again, but great fun with lots of variety, including a steep gully variation no one else had tackled. Dave and Sandra arrived.
Creise was one peak in Glencoe I had not done, so it was on the menu for Saturday, again with Keith, Sandra and Dave ( very nice of them as they had done it before). The snow had suddenly sugarified so gully plans were shelved in favour of some nice hollow ice ( Sandra loved it) and mixed rock and snow ( and cloud). The snow improved higher up and the last step to the top of Sron a Creise provided some excitement, before exiting up the crunchy neve on the top. Onwards to Creise, descent, and re-ascent to Meall a Bhuiridh. Took the ski lift back down, just in time to watch Ireland beat France on the telly in the Onich Hotel. All very satisfactory indeed! Topped it off by a St Valentines meal for 6 in the hotel with a happy wife who had just claimed her 72nd Corbett, with Sandra (Kennedy).
On Sunday we were starting to head back. The others had plans for the Aonach Eagagh, but Corbett duty called again so we went South to Glen Lochy to claim the scalp of Beinn Chuirn. The old knees were starting to feel the strain of 5 days solid toil, and the terrain was steep, but at least it was clear ( I always get a good day arriving in Scotland and good day leaving, it’s the bit in between that’s the problem).
Dave and Sandra had kindly offered us accommodation for the night in their new bothy, so we made our way there. They had wimped out of the AE Ridge on the somewhat spurious excuse of food poisoning, but treated us royally in their fabulous new residence ( no resemblance whatsoever to the bothy referred to above) with a superb meal cooked by Sandra ( joke, it was Dave). Thanks to both of them.
Home… A great trip!