Monday, 29 November 2010

A wee tour through the Southern Highlands today.

Ben Lui.

Ben Cruachan. The fine Corbett, I had a wander up on Sunday is on the left.

Ben Lomond.

The Crianlarich Hills.

This morning I drove from Oban to Luss to meet my family who got stuck in the snow yesterday. The road side was strewn with abandoned vehicles and solitary figures walking along the roads and returning to their cars. The morning was really beautiful, the early sun rising added a little warmth to a bitter landscape.

As far as the hills go they are white! The further inland you go the whiter it gets! But the hills offer some fine ski touring adventures at present and all from roadside. Ben Lomond seems to be covered in a blanket of fresh powder and Ben Lui looked majestic, The Crianlarich hills were plastered and Ben Cruachan as always looked huge in the early morning light.

What ever you get up to, be careful and have fun! More snow is forcast for this evening and plenty of sunshine for the rest of the week.

We have two Winter Skills Courses left to fill . So get in touch if you would like to develope your experince or skills in winter walking or mountaineering. 01631710317.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Very Cold in the hills today.

Bitter wind chill and snow flouries on the summit.

Won't be long before we will be climbing ice again.

I was due to meet Scott today but he had to turn back before Tarbet, Loch Lomond due to the amount of snow. We had intended to ascend a hill across in Ardgour but the best laid plans and all that; so an alternative hill and change of plan. The Oban area has not had the snow yet but is very cold, creating grey look like Eastern Europe.
I ended up heading up Beinn a Bhuiridh 897m above Loch Aweside, the stream beds and paths were heavily frozen and the water courses are building ice rapidly. On reaching the SW ridge the bitter wind increased and in turn the wind chill, shelter was only found once back down on the lower southern slopes. Fresh falling snow driven by the strong northerly wind made it feel immensely cold. My camera battery ran down very quickly today, guess it was cold out there, if it continues there will be some great water ice to climb.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Ski Touring on Meall a Bhuachaille.

Simon entering the woods.
Ibrahim with Glenmore Forest below from approx 800m

Ibrahim and Hamish Dog in the deep.

Yesterday I was working at a conference at Glenmore Lodge, presenting a workshop on Combined Rock and Water Activities. I arrived to some snow but this morning was so spectacular!
After digging my van out and fitting chains to the wheels, Ibrahim , Georg, Hamish Dog and I, headed up to the ski slopes to gain some height with the intention of going touring on Cairngorm, but the gates were closed so we headed back to the lodge to ascend Meall a Bhuachaille, which sits above Glen More and is a well known ski tour.
We skinned out to Ryovan Bothy and ascended from there. We met Simon and Chris who had the same idea as us so we shared the tour. The going was so hard with up to 3 feet of new snow to trail break through. The summit was covered in thick clag so careful and amusing skiing saw us back at the tree line, which was just loaded with new snow. A frustrating ski, fall and shuffle followed back to the Lodge path. A great day! Winter is here! But please be careful out there as there have been several avalanche accidents already. The avalanche forecast today was considerable and we certainly saw large cracks appearing in the slab on the lee slopes. It is due to get windy and stay cold so this will only create more instability up on the hill for a while yet.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Stob Corie Nan Lochan

Ben Nevis behind the Aonach Eagach.
Summit view looking towards Sgurr Dearg.

The North East ridge, fine neve today gave good cramponing.
Stob Corie from the car park in Glencoe.

I had a wander into and up the northeast ridge of Stob Corie Nan Lochan today. The snow was forming into good compact neve at approx 800m. Clear skies and little wind have created a layer of Hoar crystals and there is Rime on the rocks at approx 900m.

The easy gullies have allot of snow in them. The buttresses, I dare say would offer sport to the mixed fans, as there is allot of snow on the ledges.
Only saw a few folk today, but no one climbing that I could see or hear.

A near perfect Glencoe day for ridge walking in winter conditions.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cold and Crisp on the West Coast today.

Ben Cruachen from my kitchen window, I just love this hill.

I had a great weekend off with friends and family. Abi is 3 weeks old, so enjoying the clear air and fine landscapes across the Lynne and up to Ben Cruachan was charming especially because Abi was outside too.
New snow lies high up and reports of action in them hills are coming in! Time to venture out again this week and have an explore.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Warm but wintry on Ben Cruachan today.

I had a ramble up onto Ben Cruachan today to see what snow is left lying after the weekend. Monday was cold and crisp, today was completely the opposite, but that's the west coast for you!
I met a couple of guys heading off up Beinn a' Bhuiridh and lots of discussion was had about carrying ice axes, I didn't have mine with me as I had decided not to carry it! At this time of the year each day is so different on the hill. In fact, as is so often the way crampons, might have been more useful, the paths were still chocked with ice or hard slush above 500m. The weather closed in as forecast at 750m and the 'soup cloud' wrapped into Corrie Dearg.
I know I go up Cruachan allot but I think it is such a wonderful and majestic range of hills and of course it is never the same each time.
I am pleased to announce Hebridean Pursuits Ltd is now running Courses for Footpints Glasgow an independent and very successful outdoor gear shop and travel consultancy on Woodlands Road. The first of these courses will Winter Skills Courses staring in January. All courses are open the public, head into the shop and ask for details!
Check out their comprehensive range of gear and they sell Patagonia clothing too!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Moody Morning.

Looking towards Cruachan.
Mull and Lismore.

Atmospheric summit.

An early start for a wee wander on the coastal hills before the gales and rain hit the West Coast. What a contrast from yesterday, but in it's own way, very beautiful. The Prussian blues and Paine greys were just so dominant today, rather inspiring.
Snow could be seen on Ben Cruachan but appears to be receding sum what as the rain pulsed up Loch Aweside.
An unsettled forecast for the next few days, I am hoping the snow starts to establish high up for the start of the winter courses Hebridean Pursuits Ltd have running.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sea Kayaking in the Lynn of Lorn.

Mull and Ben More on left with fresh snow cover.
Mull beyond the Lynn of Lorn.

Autumn lines.

Scotland Outside, is the most amazing place, it has to be one of the finest places in the World!

Today was another beautiful sunny day on the West Coast. In the shelter it was really very warm, but in the Lynn it was a little fresher.

A flat sea and light winds is just perfect for a paddle at this time of the year, indeed if high pressure sets in the winter often is the best time.

Mull was still lightly dusted with snow and the sand remained crispy. A fine day for anyone Outside in Scotland today!
Tomorrow maybe different, fingers crossed as I hope it isn't too bad as I will be on the hill!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Special Offers on Winter Skills Courses.

After Last years sell out, HPL are offering two great value winter skills courses again!
Winter Walking Skills..

Hebridean Pursuits Ltd are offering two Winter Skills courses at great value prices again this winter!
14th and 15th February & Easter Weekend April 23rd 24th for Winter Skills courses.
Only £28 per head per day based on six booking the course.

Based in the Glencoe.
The two days will concentrate on:
Ice axe and crampon use.
Self arrest techniques.
Snow profiles and Avalanche avoidance.
Survival skills.
Ascending and descending steep ground.
For more details contact us on 01631710317 or

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Mountain Biking Today on a very still and sunny west coast

I had a great day today with Graeme on our mountain bikes out over near Am Maoilean near Barcaldine Forest. The day started crisp and clear and only really deteriorated about 5pm just as we got back to the van.

The trees and grasses have been absolutely stunning this Autumn, the ochres and umber's shone with the low sunlight today.

If you like single track and forest trails this area has some great fun and easy biking to be had, linking a variety of forests and trails together offers a fun trip.
I hear there is some winter climbing in the east, but a very deep low is to hit the west very soon, time will tell.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Damp morning in the Oban Hills.

Everyone is soggy today!

Our little baby girl is doing just fine, but after an early start Myself and Hamish headed out for an explore of some very wee hills near Oban.
The cloud level was barely above sea level and it just hammered down, a balmy warm wind created an oppressive atmosphere as the mist rolled over the sea.
No winter feel yet!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Abigail Imogen Spink born 31st October 2010.

I have some great news, Abi was born on Sunday morning so I will be exploring Scotland Outside with small baby and pram for a wee while! Abi was born at home in Oban on a sunny and warm day.
photo: Ben meeting his baby sister for the first time.