Archive for the ‘Mountaineering’ Category

Cairngorm winter – February 2018 Glen Clova

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

The Scottish trip in February saw us heading to Glen Clova in the southern Cairngorms, keen to make the most of a good forecast and hopefully some great conditions. Axes and crampons were sharpened, skis dusted off and way too much food packed as we made our way to the newly refurbished Braedownie hut, which is owned by the Carn Dearg MC.

A few keen members had gone up early to try and get an extra day in. On Friday Paul and Jamie took the gear for a walk up Corrie Fee, sadly the conditions weren't quite as good as hoped, and all the gullies looked a "bit deathy" (Jamie's words!), so they followed Simon and Carmen up the buttress of Craig Rennet (deep, soft snow and heather).

Rob takes up the story for Saturday: "After much discussion and lots of delays while waiting for the rain to stop, Jamie, Paul, Rob, Dave, Russ, Dan and Peri headed off towards Winter Corrie in the light drizzle. The Walk in is quite straightforward and takes a little over an hour. We were greeted with a view of much snow and huge cornices overhanging the main buttresses. The line of Diagonal Gully did appear to have lots of ice on it but we decided against it. Peri retreated back to the hut before taking a stroll to Corrie Fee, the rest of us made our way to the centre of the Corrie and had a lunch break by the huge boulder.

We picked a route up the eastern (less loaded) slopes which was cornice free and with rocks to join up in a route to the rim. We all trudged up, put our crampons on before tackling a few rock steps on the way to the top. Dan ran laps around various bits of the slope with a huge grin on his face.

We topped out in calm, bright sunshine and blue skies and were rewarded with wonderful panoramic views. The team then plodded to Driesh summit and hid by the trig point before splitting up. Paul, Jamie and Dave route marched over to Mayar and down the Kilbo path. Rob Dan and Russ navved back to the corrie and descended the spur, which was occasionally eventful with deep snow and large patches. At the bottom, they crossed the style of doom and the found the bridge which made a short walk back to the hut".

While they were all playing in Winter corrie, another group of 6 headed further on to Corrie Fee to have a look. Again this was found to be powdery and unconsolidated, although everyone managed a route of some kind, sticking well clear of the unstable looking gullies. After ascending the left hand side buttress, Richard and Pete continued over the plateau to the Munros of Mayar (928m) and Driesh (947m) in the sunshine, with some great sastrugi patterns to admire on the way across.

Jamie: "On Sunday, being pretty knackered and thoroughly sick of carrying a big sack, I went for a wee run in the snow, telling Paul I'd be back in an hour, which turned out to be 13km, climbed to over 700m (at the shelter) and took 2h15m. Only out by 125%!" .

Pete, Mike and Richard having seen the cracking conditions on the plateau the day before were keen to get the skis out and head up for a day tour. After boot-packing up Glen Doll they popped the skis on at the forest edge and skinned up Jock's road past the emergency shelter to tick off their first munro on ski (Tolmount, 958m).

The tour continued over the Munro Tom Buidhe (957m) as the viz came and went in the strong wind, and then the cloud came down properly, resulting in some challenging navigation to get off the plateau. Turns out trying to estimate how far you've travelled and contouring on skis is pretty tricky! Sadly they couldn't do the best downhill ski sections justice in the white out, and found their way down corrie fee before hiking back through the forest to the hut.

Monday was the day to travel home, and with a poor forecast most were planning short trips out before hitting the road. This resulted in a pleasant group walk up to Loch Brandy from the valley bottom behind the hotel. Some carried on to the Corbett 'The Goet' (Ben Tirran) unfortunately no views to reward them, but they did find a bothy to eat lunch out of the weather. Peri went for a 'powder swim' up driesh in an 'epic' amount of snow following fresh falls overnight getting some fabulous views before the clag blew in.

Apologies I don't have a record of what everyone got up to, but all agreed it was a great weekend of winter adventures, hanging out in the mountains with friends, and of course calorie loading YAC style!

YAC go north – Achnasheen February 2017

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Long overdue, but I've finally got around to catching up with some blogs, and what better timing to get you in the mood than when we're just getting ready for another round of winter trips!

The club Scottish winter trip to Achnasheen headed to the Jacobites MC hut in the Lochcarron valley. This was a 3 night trip so we made the long drive north on the Thursday night, and soon settled in.
The weather for Friday was looking like the best day of the weekend, so we all headed out keen to make the most of the winter conditions, which were threatening to break later in the weekend.

Pete, Dave and Nan headed for Beinn Damh, parking at the Loch Torridon hotel, hiking up through the forest and then following the path up the valley to stay low and out of the winter wind as long as possible. After summiting, they followed the ridge NW and got some great views on the way down when the clouds briefly lifted.

Over on Liatach, Mike, Rob, Karl, Paul, Mark and Russ were having a big day out, which began with some slippery boulder fields as they left the valley and passed the snowline. This soon turned into a powdery covering as they headed up, making progress slow. Never the less, they completed the ridge traverse and made it back after an epic day knackered but with smiles on their faces and ready for the usual food fest! Richard and Phil headed out to do the A'Chioch ridge on Beinn Bhan, Applecross while Simon and Carmen ticked off the snowy Beinn Eighe Corbetts of Meall a'Ghiubhais and Ruadh-stac Beag.

Saturday brought the thaw as forecast, and after the big winter days out on Friday, people were keen to take it easier. Dave, Paul and Rob headed out to tick a munro in the Cuillin forest, Carmen and Simon walked up the corbett An Ruadh-Stac, Mike, Mark and Russ headed low for a walk around Loch Torridon, while Pete and Nan did the same, checking out the coast around picturesque Plockton. Richard and Phil were more adventurous, climbing up the munro of Fionn Bheinn not too far away from the hut.

Sunday it definitely didn't feel like winter anymore, with the thaw having flooded a lot of the land around the hut, thankfully the raised walkway took us over most of it, and across the swollen river without getting our feet too wet.
Most of us headed south for the long drive home planning for a food stop on the way, Richard and Phil however got the prize for being the most keen of the weekend, scampering up the Sow of Atholl on their way down the A9. So a good selection of routes, summits and walks done over the weekend, making the most of the changeable weather.

A swim up Blea Water Gill

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

On Sat. Peri, Mike, and Rob did the early(ish) start and drive to the Lakes to check out Blea Water. Arriving at the car park about 8.30, the drive being interesting for the last few miles along Mardale. It was a bit warmer than hoped for and the mistier but we were walking by about 9. The large snow deposits had made the hills very pretty but the walking awkward. the snow was soft and deep a but fortunately, there was a trail to follow!

The walk-in should take about an hour to the tarn but was a little longer and once we had sorted out our destination we skirted the left edge of the tarn and arrived at the chimney pitch to be greeted by Yorkie Jim Croft and his son Euan. We thanked them for their hard work trail bashing and chatted about the poor quality of the ice in the chimney. Rob had a look and declared it climable but a long way from good. Jim & Euan were contemplating bailing but we decided as a team to skip around the first pitch and head for the main icefall which looked ok.

When I say skip, what I mean is swim. Snow up to our waists and soft and squishy. Never felt like it would slide off but it wasn't reassuring. After a bit of a battle, we all made it to the buried belay ledge and dug out the boulder.

Mike set off leading up some bulging ice with an awkward step. Peri followed and I went up a little to the side. Jim then led Euan up, who learned the hard way about getting cold hands whilst belaying. The belays are not that great at the top and it took Mike a while to find a decent spike at 50m. Jim on longer ropes found a place to bring up Euan.

After that pitch Jim and Euan decided to head off home, traversing the hillside and back to the tarn. Rob led a pitch with some icy steps and we unroped after that. Stumbling onto the summit ridge we were greeted by a wonderful sunset, and we traipsed off over Mardale Ill Bell and down to Small Water – a lovely wee tarn with a group camping.

We nearly made it back to the car without head torches and the drive back (after pushing a tourist out) got us back to York for 8ish.

Another great day despite poorish ice conditions

pix by Peri, Mike & Rob

Ecrins

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

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In case you missed it YAC lived up to its name this year with a trip to the Alps. Big mountains, long days, the lot. For just over a week 9 of us based ourselves in La Berarde, recommended by Dave W (1st out of the 9) as a quiet(ish) location in the Ecrins Massif. La Berarde is a small village at the head of the Venon Valley, as far as you can go on the road basically. It’s roughly 2 hours from Grenoble and sits next to a lovely glacial run off river. There is easy (ish) access to a number of huts with more mountain routes than you can shake a stick at, for the rest days the valley has a number of sports routes from single pitch within spitting distance of the campsite to all day 15 pitch beasts.

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The first day got off to an exciting start, Mike and Russ had a pop at Pain Grillé (V+) on Tete de la Maye, but finished the day coming to the aid of two climbers who’d been involved in an accident. The injured climbers were safely delivered to the ground thanks to the help of Mike and Russ, not daunted by this turn of events they returned later in the week to complete the climb. Rob and I also did this climb later in the week and I can say it is an excellent 15 pitch route, the grading is quite homogenous, the bolts good and the start within a short walk from the campsite. Tete de la Maye has may multi pitch routes and is within walking distance of the village which makes is a great option for a late stare

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After a couple of days acclimatising the whole team set off for an assent of Pic Geny arete est. Perhaps this is considered a minor peak in Alpine settings but it provides an excellent 1000+m of climbing (PD+, according to camptocamp https://www.camptocamp.org/routes/54110/fr/pic-geny-arete-e), in UK money I say most was close to a grade III scramble with a couple of slightly harder climbing pitches (Diff/VDiff), culminating with a superb pointy summit. The decent, by a number of crumbling gullies and abseils, takes you back to the Venon valley by way of the Sellier hut. Our route description was in french which made this quite exciting — certainly motivation to recall to distant high school classes. The whole route took around 15 hours door to door but could include a bivy close to the start of the route if you didn’t fancy such an early start. I’ll leave the final word to DW who said this was a contender for his finest mountain day.

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The following day saw us retreating to our tents as a monster storm dropped so much rain on us Rob had to dig storm drains around his tent with an ice axe. I the meantime Carmen and Karl had retired to the local climbing shop/ cafe/ bar for a session on the aperitifs. We joined them later for a meal in one of the local restaurants, when you’re sick of cooking on the camp stove there are a few places to eat in La Berarde, not overly expensive either. The next morning we found a landslide had covered the read and a walk up the valley showed quite a lot of the paths had been washed away, along with bridges.

The other big tick for the week was the magnificent pinnacle of La Dibona that soars above the Sellier hut. Despite the freezing start there were reportedly crowds on the popular lines. Three three teams did different routes including the Madier Route (TD).

Teams also visited l’Encoula Barfly are, where the route that follows the right side of the waterfall provides a very nice day out.

Scottish Islands Part 1 – Arran Easter

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

14 of us headed to Arran for Easter – camping at Lochranza.  The ferries from Ardrossan were all booked up well in advance so whilst some of us went over that way – others headed in from the North from Kintyre.

The campsite grew rather wet and squelchy over the course of the weekend – with a few tents requiring shifting to higher ground.  However, Sunday was the only wash out day (with various low level walks undertaken).  The other days were fine for trips into the mountains and ridges.  Due to the reversal to more wintry conditions it turned into more of a walking and cycling rather than climbing trip (so much for third time lucky!).

Annie and Pete E cycled around the island over 2 outings on road bikes.  Jamie and Esther also cycled on one of the days.  Most of us went up Goatfell at some point.  Karl went on a backpacking adventure testing out his new kit.  Paul and Jamie were the only ones to get some rock-climbing inclimbing at the crag above the campsite on Monday.

Great trip despite the lack of climbing – plenty of good walking/scrambling instead.

Winter adventure talks series 2017

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In the winter months of 2017, the club ran a monthly ‘adventure talks’ social evening at the Falcon tap pub in Micklegate, York. The idea being that we have a couple of short talks by members or visiting speakers about a trip they’ve been on, and get a chance to have a drink with friends, meet new members and find out more about what people have been up to, hopefully getting inspired for the coming year at the same time!

We’ve had some great talks this year, starting in January when Dave told us about his trekking and mountaineering trip through Peru and Bolivia, and Peter described his adventures horse riding and trekking in Kyrgyzstan.

February took us to New England with Carmen and Simon to see the fall colours and of course do some walking and climbing, and then over to Northern Sweden with Donal for a multi day hut-to-hut walk along the Kungsleden or ‘King’s trail’.

Finally, in March we got on our bikes with Chris who competed in the transcontinental cycle race from Belgium to Istanbul (everyone was exhausted just listening!), and then Rob gave an introduction to lightweight backpacking (with props!) along the Haute Route Pyrenees.

Many thanks to all the speakers for giving their time to put a talk together and present it, and to all those members who came along to support, hopefully have some fun and learn about somewhere new. Looking forward to more adventure talks next year!

Ben Broken

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Karl and I headed for the Southern Highlands last weekend for a bit of walking as the weather looked ok, if a little windy.


We stayed at the Wigwam campsite again, just south of Tyndrum. With a Snow Moon, the Feb full moon, (and a comet and eclipse neither of which we saw) and a decent level of the snow the Crianlarich Munros mountains looked absolutely stunning in the moonlight. Quite a surprising view.

In the morning we did the short drive down towards Oban to walk the Ben Cruachan & Stob Diamh but were quite late so had to squeeze Knob2 in the layby. The walk up through the woods to the huge dam went quickly and we were greeted by 40mph winds. Along the reservoir we headed up the valley to the col catching a few groups up. As we approached the ridge we were past by about 6 people who had turned back due to wild winds blowing across the ridge. We pressed on.

The ridge proved surprisingly calm and long, with granite boulders hiding beneath the snow, quite tricky and slow. We were after about 3:30, about 20 mins longer than the summer book time. Blue sky and magnificent views to Mull (Ben Mor visible over K's shoulder) and all the Glen Etive hills made for a good lunch stop. We decided (well I did) to head along the ridge to do the full horseshoe, which was interesting. After just 50m a bad step had stopped the parties ahead. I had a long sling which I used to protect all 5 of them and K & me. In another 10 mins we were stopped by a snowy exposed slab and opted to traverse under the summit, a long step kicking exercise. The Glasgow students bailed but the dad and son paired followed us.

All this messing about meant we were both quite late and tired by the time we got to the second Munro. Karl was really feeling it and took a bit of encouraging to top out. The above picture shows a beautiful sunset and K's state! It hadn't escaped our notice that we had to get a shift on as it would get dark real soon !


Over the last bump on the ridge the descent is really rather easy, especially in the snow and we made quick progress with only a few hundreds falls for K. We sparked up our torches close to the reservoir path, before rejoining the path through the woods. We caught up team dad & son, the dad was struggling badly with fatigue and they were torchless having only one phone so I stayed with them back to the road for about 7.30.

The kitchen and diner and showers were most welcome and we crashed out about 11. Karl was a bit the worse for wear and entered the Brown-Bradshaw zone of sleeping in, eventually surfacing at 10:45 – so we chilled out and came home.

Great quick hit, fantastic mountains and stunning views.

January Wales Meet

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

For the January meet we decided to try a different hut: Tal-Y-Braich, situated between Llanberis and Bethesda. Meet got off to an interesting start as we managed to lock ourselves out within 10 mins of arriving – doh. Just as well it was a dry, clear evening.

Nice little hut with a large wood burning stove. Living/dining area would be rather cramped if full – but good beds and view. Saturday was amazingly clear and sunny for the majority of the day. It was rather chilly for rock climbing & no winter climbing options – so Richard P, Liz and Mike headed off to do the classic Snowdon horseshoe.

Meanwhile Simon and myself walked from the hut to Carnedd Y Filiast to do The Ridge a Mod/3S scramble and finished by walking over Foel Goch to Y Garn and back again over Elidir Fawr, down to the hut. I carried a rope and slings etc just in case – which needless to say remained in the sack all day. Annie, Pete and Donal also walked from the hut taking a similar route without the scramble diversion, and heading on to the start of the Glyders.

Being the weekend before Burns night – we thought we would celebrate with a ton of haggis and mash. Simon lit a fair amount of whisky – which kept burning for sometime afterwards!

Sunday morning the weather was not so great – low cloud and damp. Hardly bad – but nothing like the previous day. Donal needed to head to Manchester airport so made a plan for a walk around Conway mountain. Most others decided to join in – not entirely sure if everyone went. Simon & I set off from the hut a bit later and also headed to Conway mountain – taking in most of the summits and stopping to watch the foals.

 

Last minute lakes dash

Monday, January 16th, 2017

IMG_20170114_133511429_HDRWith winter making a fleeting appearance and complicated arrangements (when is it ever simple) K and I decided to head to the lakes for the w/e. Paul was in at 00:06 and Mike at 01:08 Sat morning !

A bit delayed we left York and headed across to Brown Cove Crags hoping for snow in the gullies to play in not expecting much in the way of ice. Leaving the car at 11 it's a short but steepish pull up to the cove in fantastic weather but not great snow. We had a rope and scrambling rack, single axe each and no idea what to head fr. the gullies, as we had been warned by a walker, were pretty bare, but the buttresses were rimed up and looking good. Turf varied between rock hard and soft and smears of ice were visible across the crag.

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After some chatting we decided to have a look at Right Buttress Crack, a really obvious line today up the clean middle lump. We geared up, left the rope in the sac in case and quested off up the grooves. Nice route with some good ice, some good turf and lots of good hooks. The rock was really clean and not verglassed so I used my hands in preference to the axe quite often. The main middle pitch has chockstone which proved awkward with poor turf above so Paul and ignored it. Karl and Mike went around with an interesting traverse back into the groove. The top section K followed the footsteps and make quick work of a short steep section with a great hook but little else. Tis proved problematic for the rest of us and Paul ended up wandering around it with bruised ego, amongst other aspects.


Topping out in sunshine we did a bit of hill spotting before we headed the short walk upto Helvellyn in the cloud with very few people about. We returned via White Stones doing some excellent nav practice along the way. So good was the nav that we eventually emerged into the public bar of the Thirlspot Inn.

I had booked us into Grange CC hut and we all slept long and well after the curry and booze, as we knew the forecast was poor. Sunday was a tentative start and after much debate whilst drinking tea and watching the rain we headed upto Newlands Hause and bagged a couple of Wainwright's (Knott Rigg and Ard crags in the mist) a fun little jaunt. We took a look at the waterfall on return and tried to imagine it well frozen.


We returned to the hut for tea and our lunch and were home by 7 after cleaning up, nice little last minute trip.

Christmas & New Year Meet 2016

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

P1070868The advance team set off Crianlarich on Boxing day – with the others arriving on the 28th.  Conditions meant it was very much a walking or cycling trip, with the usual excess of food.

27/12/16 – Simon and I went off to do Beinn Mhanach and Beinn Mhanach – Beinn a'Chuirn summit  as we had not visited the munro top previously.  Recent rain and snow melt meant that water was reasonably deep in the numerous fords required to reach the hills.   Annie and Pete E overtook us (on their bikes) as they were heading up the same P1040625valley but intending to cycle around the loch.  We were surprised to see them cycling back towards us only 30 mins later!  Annie's bike had a terminal break – doh!

 

28/12/16 – With a bust bike Annie was P1040641now limited to walking.  We all went to do the Tarmachan ridge.  S & I had not done it since 02 and hoped to have views this time – but didn't.  But it was quite fun doing the whole ridge anyway – still snow on the ground – bit P1070781icy in places.

29/12/16 – Karl, Rob, Gav, Esther & Jamie went up Beinn a'Chroin & An Caisteal.  Annie came Corbett bagging with S and me – Creagan na Beinne.  We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves out of the cloud whilst traversing the summit ridge.  Rather windy-so were glad we found an isolated small crag to give us a bit of shelter for a late lunch.  Pete E P1070796with a functional bike enjoyed the cycle around the loch (abandoned route from 27th).

30/12/16 – Seriously wet and windy.  Esther & Jamie got dropped off at Bridge of Orchy and cycled back to the hut; Gav walked along part of the West highland way.  We dropped Rob off – so he could do Ben Challum.  Annie, Pete and Karl went touristing to Aberfeldy and shopping.  S and I did an easy Corbett tick – Meall nan Subh – taking in all the various summit cairns.

31/12/16 – Even wetter and still windy.  Esther & Jamie sensibly headed home.  Karl, Rob & Gav did Meall Ghaordaidh and seemed to enjoy it despite the weather.   S & I went and did Meall Odhar (a Graham) – downsizing in hills!  A group of kayakers looked like they were having fun in the rapidly flowing river.

1/1/17 – S, me, Annie & Pete did Stob Binnein (taking in a couple of extra summits) and Ben More.  Don't walk through the forest at the start – path is blocked by fallen trees etc – there is a vehicle track on P1040709the other side of the river (for hydro-scheme).  Great day out – made interesting by the strong winds – and cloud free summits.  Karl, Rob & Gav  did Meal nan Tarmachan summit – but abandoned the full traverse due to the wind – and enjoyed a pub visit instead.

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2/1/17  The others headed straight home after cleaning the hut.  S & I stopped off to do Beinn nan Imirean on the way back -a Corbett we had failed to get to the summit of 2 years earlier.  No problems this time – but no view from the summit.