Mountain Trainin Picture

Mountain Trainin Picture

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Home time...

Well after I returned from South Wales I had 2 days to unpack and then repack in order to return home to Scotland for a week. Well 1 day as I worked the other.

So here is another very short blog about my time spent back home.
During the week I spent home I managed to get out in the hills and get another 4 quality mountain days logged.

Here is a view of the mountain days including mapped images from

Ben Arthur via Succoth car park - with mum.

Ben Vane via Inveruglas - With Leo.

Beinn Dubhchraig via Tyndrum - Solo.

Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime via Succoth car park - Solo.

All in all an enjoyable week. Bagged 5 summits, 4 of which were Munros. I have now registered for the Mountain Leader award so will be out very soon in order to bag some more quality mountain days.

Until next time...

The Gower...

Well now that I have returned from a climbing trip to South Wales I thought it would be best to scribble down a quick passage of how the trip went. More of a quick recollection than a blog!

I teamed up with good friend Jamie during the 4 day trip which saw the group climbing at a number of destinations along the coast of the Gower Peninsula.

Myself and Sam running to 'Three Cliffs Bay'...
The list of climbs I managed to tick off:

Transit - HS 4b - Lead on-site.
The Nose - HS 4a - Second on-site.
Jamie following myself up 'Scavenger VS 4c'
Legge - Severe 4a - Lead on-site.
Pistas Canute - VS 4b - Lead on-site.
Great Deidre II - VS 4c - Lead on-site.
Forgotten Elephant - HS 4b - Second on-site.
Curving Crack - HS 4b - Lead on-site.
First Deidre - Diff - Second on-site.
Atomic Wedgie - 6a - Lead on-site.
Slab and Rib - V-diff - Second on-site.
Groove - V-diff - Lead on-site.
Scavenger - VS 4c - Lead on-site.
Initiation Flake - Severe - Second on-site.
Left Edge - HS 4b - Lead on-site.
Perseverance HS 4b - Lead on-site.
Spouse Crack - Severe - Lead on-site.
Arch Slab - VS 4c - Lead on-site.
Wall Climb II - Diff - Solo on-site.
Dulfer - Severe 4a - Lead on-site.

'Three Cliffs Bay' rising up from the sand...

Recently returned from a trip back home to Scotland so another blog post will be on its way shortly.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Land of the Orcadians..

For the past fortnight I have been working far North on Orkney for the Orkney Islands Council on behalf of Adelong Outdoor. During the 2 weeks I was there I was part of the outdoor education staff team in place to run a variety of sessions for their summer schools programme.

School group bottom roping at Yesnaby...
The first 3 days I was there I was working alongside Alice and Kristian delivering the outdoor ed programme to the Northern Isles Schools. This involved me taking half of the school group climbing on the Monday and the other half of the school group climbing and abseiling on Tuesday. The venue used for these sessions was a small quarried sandstone crag called Yesnaby.

Canoe sailing at Boardhouse Loch...
On the Wednesday I ran a morning and an afternoon canoe session at boardhouse Loch for the same 2 school groups and even managed to set up a diamond raft for each group in order to canoe sail back down the loch to reach the get out! Both groups, and myself included, thoroughly enjoyed the canoe sailing with some of the group saying it was 'epic'. Job well done. On the Wednesday evening it was time to say goodbye to the Northern Isles Schools groups. Receiving a mass hug from all the kids was enough feedback to know that the 3 days spent teaching and instructing them was a job well done!

After saying our goodbyes myself and Alice packed up all the equipment and caught the last ferry of the day to reach Hoy and meet up with Nigel. After having dinner for the evening at Nigel's house down in Racwick I packed my daysack and made a solo walk up to see the Old Man of Hoy. I got there late in the evening and managed to get some superb silhouette shots as the sun was setting behind Britain's highest sea stack. The glow of the setting sun turning all the Western facing sea cliffs a burning orange

Myself beside the Old Man and the orange burnt sea cliffs of Hoy...

On the Thursday morning myself, Alice, Nigel and Karen all met up at the Hoy centre to check in with the group whom Nige and Karen took Gorge Walking on the previous day. The group were from Stromness Academy and were in the process of packing their personal equipment including food, tents, clothes etc for the day and night ahead. Once the group were all packed myself, Alice and Karen walked with the group through the Rackwick valley and had a lunch stop at the beautiful Sandy Loch before we made our way to the Rackwick bothy and camping site. Once at the site we helped the group pitch their tents and stay occupied until the evenings activity. During the evening Karen and Alice took part of the group canoeing whilst I took a few members of the group on an evening walk to the Old Man of Hoy.. This time it was quite foggy and much more of the detail was captured in the atmospheric photos.
The Old Man it all its glory...
The next morning was an early start for myself and Nigel. We were down at the camp to greet the group and take some volunteers who were up early on a quick canoe up the burn. This was partly done as it was easier to paddle the canoes rather than walk them up to the car park! Once this was done we rounded up all of the group and headed back to the Hoy centre where all of the kit was sorted and aired out. Another goodbye was said and some unhappy faces from the group as they had to board the ferry and head back to the main island. Now that the working week was over we all said our goodbyes to Karen as she left Orkney and made the long journey south back to Devon.

Alice on top of 'Richy's Step' pitch...

Now that we were free until Monday morning myself and Alice went on an exploration of a nearby gorge and made some good progress. We made some first ascents in the gorge and even made it right to the top of the gorges main source. After making the first ascent of a steep waterfall pitch I set up the electron ladder and passed it down to Alice to make the second ascent. This pitch has now been named 'Richy's Step'. 

On the Saturday I didn't want to waste any time on the island so I made an early start and went on a solo walk on the hills of Hoy and managed to bag 3 summits and claim a good mountain day. 

On the Sunday myself and Alice met up with Kristian and Orkney kayaking club on the mainland and done a long journey from Dingyshowe Bay to Lamb Holm. On the journey we explored some fascinating caves and tunnels. One tunnel in particular was superb, running under the cliffs and was at least 35 metres long!

Sea kayaking journey - image above left. Walking journey - Above right...

On the following Monday I was working on the mainland once again. I ran a further 2 climbing sessions for another school group down at Yesnaby where the sun was out and I managed to bag 12 solos, all on on-sight. 8 in the morning before the 1st group turned up and a further 4 inbetween the 1st and 2nd group. 

The list of climbs was:

Running 2 climbing sessions and bagging some brilliant routes, not a bad day!

The next day I was down at Yesnaby again to run another 2 climbing sessions, this time with Shapinsay school. The group enjoyed the climbing and the weather was enough to ensure that everyone went back to the centre red faced and tired!

On the Wednesday I was down at boardhouse loch with Shapinsay school where I ran a raft building session for each group and played 'distressed civilian' with each group. Unfortunately only one civilian was saved and the second group all took the plunge before they made it back to safe shores!

Scapa Arete - S 4a. First ever first ascent...

On the Wednesday evening myself and Ron headed down to Scapa Beach Quarry to reccy the abseil site where I would be working on the Thursday running sessions for both Orphir and Stenness school. The quarry looked to be virgin territory in a climbing sense and looks as though it has never had a climber on its walls. With this in mind I mad my first ever climbing first ascent on one of the very crumbly arĂȘtes, done a horrendous mantle to top out and then got spewed on by an angry fulmar. What a story to tell the kids.
On the Thursday morning I headed down to the quarry early in order to rig up the abseil which would be used throughout the day. In total I got no less than 14 of the kids from both schools to brave the abseil down in to the quarry. Abseiling from a cliff top walkway to a beach is not a bad day out for a school trip I suppose. 

After the abseiling sessions had been run I made my way back to Hoy for the night and met up with Nigel and Alice to do some more exploring! Nigel had convinced myself and Alice that he had spotted a tomb which was situated on a band of sandstone perched high up on a cliff. After a week of talking and scouting from the road with the binoculars the time had come to check it out. The 3 of us slogged it up the hill for the best part of an hour, stopping to briefly rest and enjoy the views. Once we had all reached the 'Tomb' we discovered that it was merely a small cave that had been weathered out from years of savage weather on the island. However if we had all went home for the summer and not explored the area we would surely have regretted it. 
The view from the 'Tomb'. Haist in the foreground with Ward Hill in the distance...
All was not lost though. Whilst up at the 'Tomb' I managed to climb another 2 first ascents bringing my total to 3!
Making the first ascent of  'Richy's Chimney ' Hs 4b... (Photo courtesy of Alice Hewson).

Making the first ascent of 'Tomb Raider' Hs 4b... (Photo courtesy of Alice Hewson).
All in all a brilliant fortnight with great company. The groups were great to work with and I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent there. I will be back to Hoy one day to climb the Old Man, that's for sure!

In the process of packing for a trip to the Gower peninsula tomorrow to get some climbing done! Take care all...