Archive for August, 2010

Wheel Chair on Ben Nevis

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Yesterday Sally Hyder in her Boma Off-Road wheelchair reached the Half-way Lochan with some help from a host of well-wishers and friends from Canine Partnership.

The off-road, battery driven wheel-chair struggled in the boggy ground ascending towards the ‘Halfway-Lochan’ from the North Face Car Park approach. Once the good path system around the lochan was reached the going became much better, but we had run out of spare batteries by that stage!

Sally is one of very few people (maybe the only one) in a wheelchair to reach the 2,000ft mark on Ben Nevis, largely under her own steam, although she did have a few folk pushing and pulling on the steeper sections. Once (if) the Nevis Partnership completes the link path into the Allt a’Mhuillin from the lochan it will be much more accessible to wheel-chair users in off road chairs. Sally thoroughly enjoyed being able to visit this scenic side of Ben Nevis.

We started from the North Face car park, although in future it will be better to take the longer route coming in from Nevis Range, as the gradient is far less drain on the batteries. The Allt a’Mhuillin was low so it did not present any problems  for the chair. It was the terrible boggy ground from the burn to the halfway point which caused so much trouble, as it does to hillwalkers and climbers. The sooner this section has a path the better in my view. It seems such a shame that a good mid-level walk is spoiled by a short section of extremely wet ground.

Well done Sally and the group from Canine Partners you are all very inspirational and hard working folk.

If you wish to see how other countries approach this issue see for disabilty trails in the USA. By the way disability is all in the mind.

See the video of Sally’s attempt

Steall Bridge is fixed

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Steall Bridge is fixed.

Busy on the Buachaille

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Some respite from the recent wet weather today, saw queues on Rannoch Wall and a very ‘sociable’ day out for all of us. A few showers did not dampen the enthusiasm of the many teams clambering all over the place! The midges were seriously bad news on the lower approaches to Curved Ridge.

Early cold for Scotland

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Check out The Weather Outlook for some interesting news concerning the possibility of winter climbing as early as this coming September. It may not be to everyone’s liking but I doubt if Point Five Gully has received an ascent so early!!

In advance of this possibility I’m offering ‘money-back’ guarantees on any days out booked for any level of winter activities from mid-September to mid-December. No snow…No pay. I cannot of course guarantee blue skies as well:-)

The deal will involve just keeping in touch a week or less before the date you have booked in order to make an assessment of whether or not it is worth travelling. Simple.

Wet and unsettled in the Alps

Friday, August 13th, 2010

This last two days has been fairly poor on the high peaks of the Alps and continue to be so. Fortunately we experienced decent weather on Monday to Wednesday but then it fell apart. A ‘considerable ‘ landslip’ on the road up to the Grimsel Pass from Meiringen is causing very time-consuming transport delays and my advice is to approach via the Rhone valley to the south for this popular rock climbing area.

The snow on the high tops is actually very good when frozen, but lower down the glaciers are very open and dry. We were travelling between Jungfraujoch and the Grimsel Pass, via Finsteraarhorn summit and the routes at times were circuitous in order to avoid crevasses. Anyone considering using the Gemschlucke pass to access the Finsteraarhorn hut from the east may need to abseil on the west side and it is fairly loose. This was the advice from the very helpful guardian at the superb Finsteraarhorn Hut. Our party avoided the pass by trekking south-east to point 2843m, then working back towards the Oberaarjoch Hut, avoiding the obvious icefalls enroute.

Time from Finsteraarhorn Hut to the Berghaus Oberaar, via the cosy little Oberaarjoch Hut was around nine hours with a short break at the hut. We took a taxi back to Grindelwald and that included a forty minute walk to get around the landslip mentioned above to meet another taxi on the downhill side of the slide! All in all a long day, but the beer was good at the Alpenblick Hotel where we were staying.

On this trip I was being helped by Mark Seaton and James Thacker and Jonathan Preston

Cloudless in Chamonix

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Today has been very settled and hardly a cloud in the sky. We traversed the fine rocky ridge of the Aiguille du Crochue (crooked finger) with ‘wall to wall’ views of the larger peaks all around. This ridge is easily acccessed by cable car and provides a fine day out with harder variants on the adjoining walls.

The amount of snow on the Walker Spur suggests it might not be in very good shape just now. Mt Blanc will almost certainly have new tracks set in and the high snowy peaks that do not rely on dry rock will be getting considerable attention.

Stellar Day on Cosmiques Arete

Friday, August 6th, 2010

After the heavy snowfall, rain and poor weather of recent days, today proved to be just the tonic required for a good day out on the Cosmiques Arete. Plenty of trails and good anchors on this little gem above the Chamonix valley, accessed by the Midi Telepherique.

A few adventurous souls tried to climb Mt Blanc du Tacul but all turned back. Lots of new slab avalanches on that serious face appeared to deter the teams fortunately! Many ropes were active in the Chere Couloir and that route was in good shape by all accounts. Such a shame that the British ‘lads’ who broke trail into the couloir were overtaken by locals after all their hard work!

Mixed weather in the Alps

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

This last week has been very mixed with some very fine days, followed by snow and rain. Mike, Julien and Jerry met me at the superb Almageller Hut, having traversed the Weissmies themselves from Hohsass, up the northern glacier flank then down the ridge to the south. Not bad for a team that have been visiting the alps now with me for more than twelve years.

We climbed on the South Ridge of Mittelruck, which had some very good rock and some very poor. Descent was made to the east. We followed that with a climb on the Dri Hornli until the rain set in. Following an abseil-piste down the east side took us safely to the foot of the cliff, however I would recommend 60 metre ropes as the bolted anchor stances were over halfway on a 50 metre rope! Fortunately we had two ropes.

A visit to the Dix Hut was followed by a wonderful day, yesterday on a traverse (E-W) of Mont Blanc Chelion. In descent it is worth following the winter ski route completely on snow, rather than tackle the rocks lower down. One climber who did follow the lower rocks said they were far more secure when following the northern crest near the edge. The winter ski route is gained by a short ascent after arriving at the small snowy col on the ordinary route, after descending the final summit rocks for maybe 30 minutes.

Today it is snowing, so we have fled to the ‘flesh-pots’ of Chamonix. Tomorrow looks better!