A winters walk on Fionn Bheinn (White Hill) near Achnasheen.

To many who know the mountains especially the Munro Fionn Bheinn above Achnasheen to most it is not the most motivating of hills.

In summer it can be a short boggy wander and often climbed quickly along with other hills. Sadly it has a reputation of a boring hill by many !

Why folk ask was I on Fionn Bheinn yesterday. Sadly of the many times I have done it a few times at night with the Mountain Rescue is has been wet and with limited views. Yesterday was a chance with a reasonable weather forecast to get those missing views.

A friend is training for a trip to the Sahara and with my cough, ribs etc I needed a “easy hill” There was snow forecast so this was the plan for the day. Take it easy and get some views.

Fionn Bheinn is barely just a Munro at 933 metres and is Munro 246. The drive was interesting and we met several gritters on route the road was icy so we took our time leaving at 0730. As daybreak came the hills looked superb and Ben Wyvis and Little Wyvis were snow-covered. It was – 3 temperature but the weather looked good. It took just over two hours to park near the old garage at Achnasheen.

It’s a great drive passing so many familiar hills on route looking wintry . There were as always plenty of deer about on the flats of the river Bran. The railway follows the road and we saw the wee train heading to Kyle of Lochalsh a great railway journey.

The snow was down to the road and off the main road the road was icy.

The SMC Munro App a handy bit of technology.

We wandered down to the start of the hill and followed the signs taking you up on the open hillside.

I was amazed that on the hill in places there was a lot of snow. There is a estate road that goes up the hill and we watched an estate

tracked wagon coming down they had been away early. The tracks were nearly on to the ridge we later found out.

We wandered passed the waterfall there was ice forming and I found it hard work in the snow and eventually got into the tracks that the wagon had left.

We met “Cube Cain Alaister Cain from the Scottish Avalanche Service on his way to compile his daily report for the Torridon Area. The wee Coire is an ideal place to evaluate the conditions.

A great book Mr Cain a is a man of many talents!

We had a good chat, we have many pals from the past and he powered off he had to be back to get his report in. My pal John Armstrong who lives locally says you get some big avalanches on this slope.

Do you follow the SAIS reports and blogs? They are essential reading for winter walkers skiers and mountaineers. Well worth a read.

I could see ski tracks ahead one brave soul had taken advantage of the snow and was rewarded. We could also see there was a party of 5 behind. I was glad of the tracks of others to follow. The views opened and this hill in winter has incredible viewpoints .

How folk cannot enjoy these views of Moruisk and Slioch and so many others. We stopped and had a drink and enjoyed the no wind sun and wonderful views.

Snow getting deep.

The party behind caught up they were the first of 3 groups from Inverness Cameron Barracks taking some University Air Squadron cadets on the hill. They were all enjoying the day and they passed us making the walking easier but still hard work.

After 2 hours we reached the ridge and got the views of Loch Fannich and the Fannich Munros. Below us was the remote Toll Mor Corrie where we came on our Big walks across Scotland. Memories came back of many years ago 1976/77 after leaving the famous “Nest of Fannichs ” bothy now long gone. I bet few climb Fionn Bheinn from the long ridge heading from the Lochan below. It is a long way across wild land.

The final ridge to the summit was busy but measy walking at last and another party from Cameron Barracks were with us. Dianne went on and I enjoyed looking into the depths of this rugged Coire and wild land and the great hills. On our walks we would climb the 7 or 9 Fannich Munros in a day nowadays 1 is hard work.

Dianne was on the summit and we met another group this time it was Simon who was guiding the Cadets. He is a friend of Rusty Bale who works in Wales but is up for the winter. The students were loving their day and it was great to see. Now we could see all the Fisherfield Hills and An Teallach what a place to be. It was encouraging to see that all the students were loving the day and moving well.

It w as then head off a great track to follow but I started coughing all the way off. It must have been the cold air but we were soon down the snow still down to the road .

Yet it was slippy and you have to take care.

Nice to meet Simon and his group enjoying a lovely day out in the winter sun.

I had to visit an old pal John Armstrong who was with SARDA for a chat he lives in Achnasheen. John was also with the Tweed Valley Team and was at Lockerbie where they and the other teams did some incredible work.. John like many in SARDA is an unassuming man like all the Dog Handlers. Great folk who I have huge respect for and we had some wild memories of epic 3- 4 day callouts all over Scotland. No wonder our bodies are battered after all those hard rescues and call outs. Would we change it I doubt it despite the toll it takes on your body.

John I cannot thank you enough for the the tea biscuits and Journals. It was great to see you again. Will catch up soon stay well.

John Armstrong one of SARDA ‘s finest and Tweed Valley MRT now like me retired. Great men, women and Dogs who are so important in SAR great folk and even greater memories.

In the end a busy day meeting so many good folk and great to see the young Cadets out in hills loving an experience of Scottish winter.

So for all you folk that are spoiled for choice every hill is an adventure some of us are luckier than others. We all get different things out of the mountains and wild places. I have learned as you get older you never take any day in the wilds for granted.

Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Bothies, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides, SAR, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather | 2 Comments

Gwen Moffat – International Federation of Mountain Guides Association an icon of her time. Thanks

This is from Facebook

“She is Gwen Mary Moffat, the first british IFMGA woman (1953). British Mountain Guides

Moffat discovered her passion for mountaineering during the 40´s while climbing in Snowdonia, the Lakes, Scotland and the Alps. All along the 60´s, she was strongly related with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service.

Gwen has been designated as an Honorary Member of the British Mountaineering Association.

#IFMGAWomen #EliteGuidesUnited #WeAreIFMGA #MountaiLife #Wilderness #UiagmGuides #MountainGuides”

Gwen Moffat is a legend in Mountaineering and the story of her life is incredible. I have always been amazed by her life story and was lucky to have met many who climbed with her when she was extremely active. For a women to climb and Guide on these years she was a wonderful example to so many. When the RAF Mountain Rescue finally accepted girls in the team I recommend Gwen’s books to many of the lassies . It was a huge privilege to meet her when we met her at the big Re union in Bangor North Wakes. Gwen has been a huge inspiration to many and future generations need to acknowledge her incredible life. This was not only in the then mans world of Mountaineering but as an mother bringing up a child on her own.

Her life story is incredible and there was recently a great video of her that is a must watch.


Classic barefoot climbing

It is great that the Guides have now acknowledged her and hopefully this will help tell her incredible story to future generations.

Gwen Moffat – this is from a previous blog.

Few nowadays will know the tale of Gwen Moffat  – She was the first female British Mountain Guide in 1953 and an incredible climber in her day . Her book “Space between my feet” is an incredible tale of a single Mum in these early days after the war.  These were the days well before “Women’s Lib”  and this book is the tale of these days. I advise everyone to get a copy and read this story. She also wrote a great book ” Two Star Red”  about the early days of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service.

Gwen Moffat was Britain’s first female mountain guide. Moreover, in the austere world of post-war Britain where women were expected to stay home and get married, Gwen’s Bohemian attitude was very much against the norm – in fact she was 40 years ahead of her time.

Her autobiography “Space Below My Feet” was out of print for many years and it was long over-due being republished.

In 1945, when Gwen Moffat was in her twenties, she deserted her post as a driver and dispatch rider in the Army and went to live rough in Wales and Cornwall, climbing and living on practically nothing. She hitchhiked her way around, travelling from Skye to Chamonix and many places in between, with all her possessions on her back, although these amounted to little more than a rope and a sleeping bag.When the money ran out, she worked as a forester, went winkle-picking on the Isle of Skye, acted as the helmsman of a schooner, and did a stint as an artist’s model. And always there were the mountains, drawing her away from a “proper” job.Throughout this unique story, there are acutely observed accounts of mountaineering exploits as Gwen Moffat tackles the toughest climbs and goes on to become Britain’s leading female climber—and the first woman to qualify as a mountain guide.

Like so many people later, Gwen just lived for climbing. The book is fascinating, not only for the tales of climbing and mountains, but also just how different her lifestyle was for the times. Dossing in climbing barns and sleeping under hedges was not lady-like behaviour  in 1947! – Highly recommended. I still am amazed at her attitude as the Mountaineering World was pretty slow to appreciate the role of women in the mountains in the 50’s and later on. Even in my time 90’s when we got women in Mountain Rescue in the RAF it was a tricky time and yet many of the girls showed us all how to do it! How Gwen did this in these early days I have no clue, she is an inspiration to us all and how few know her story. It is a story worthy of passing on and admiring her achievements throughout her life. Get that book “Space between my Feet and enjoy it”.

The book I love is Two Star Red that is a book I always  wanted and was lucky to get a copy many years ago. I have had it for over 30 years and it is signed by so many in RAF Mountain Rescue. I was an honour to have met Gwen at the 60 th Anniversary RAF MRT party and she signed my copy. She was looking great and very fit, we had girls in RAF Mountain Rescue by then and I have a great photo of them meeting.  Many of the greats of RAF MR have signed this including Johnnie Lees , John Hinde, George Bruce, Ray Sefton, Taff Tunah, and so many others. I take it to re unions and have so many comments and signatures from troops. It is great that the girls are now a huge part of Mountain Rescue and what they have done to improve the system as Mountain Rescue moves forward. It took a long time in this male dominated world but great to see.

Two Star Red by Gwen Moffat is a great book about the early days of the RAF Mountain Rescue and gives an  insight into mountaineering and mountain rescue in the 50’s and 60’s. Gwen married Johnnie Lees and was one of the first women guides, she has had an incredible life and is a fairly well-known author. Her other books describe how hard it was to be a single woman climber with a young child in these years. How things have changed, thank goodness. You can pick up some of Gwen’s books on Amazon she is still an incredible lady. The BMC did a film on her recently it is wonderful what a lady and I will introduce my grand kids to her life soon she is an inspiration.

This is from an article a few years ago about her. The Quote is Gwen’s words

” When I look back now on my climbing times, it seems like a different life. You lose flexibility, and once your physical strength goes, so too does your confidence and that’s it. Nowadays I’ll look at pictures of some of the things I did, the crux of some route on Ben Nevis, and suddenly I’ll think, did I do that? Was that really me? ”

Gwen Moffat meeting two girls from the RAF Kinloss Team.

I was very lucky to meet Gwen at a big Reunion many years ago and today I received and email from her it made my day, what a lady!  What an example and how lucky do are we that she is still going strong and she truly is an amazing person.

WATCH: The Operation Moffat trailer on BMC TV”

It was her other story of a women in a man’s world of  climbing and living life to full, her life story or part of it is in the other classic book Space between my feet. These were hard days and one it is hard to understand how women were treated in these dark days. This was in the late 50’s and 60’s and is some tale and how these days have moved on from what we have now.

Gwen has moved on and has inspired generations in her books and her life; it is great to see her being acknowledged after all these years. Well done the BMC I watched this film it is magic Gwen was 91 when this film was done and still has that sparkle in her eye, wonderful.

Heavy – Any Comments?



Posted in Articles, Books, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

The snow is back! 0530 my spies tell me Achasheen is white.

I am hoping to head out for a short day today around the Achnasheen area depending on weather. The forecast is for snow and a bit of wind but I need a walk. Its been windy all night and even a bit of snow fell during the night.  My spies tell me that Achasheen is white as the rain/sleet hits my window,

I have hardly been out recently the weather and shaking of various bugs, falls etc have made this a low key spell,

A big river in the Fannichs a lot harder in the dark and when in flood. This river would be impossible after heavy rain.

It was interesting to hear that Dundonnel Mountain Rescue Team we’re out overnight in the An Teallach area a few days ago. The rivers stopped agroup getting back over the water in the dark and they made the correct decision as a river in dark and in spate is so dangerous.

Brave or daft ?

On our big walks across Scotland before accurate weather forecast we had a few epics river crossing. I have written about this on a few occasions. Folk will always get caught out and Dundonnel Mountain Rescue Team did a great job and it would have been a long night for them and the folk who were cut off..

It’s hard to appreciate how dangerous rivers in spate can be. I wrote a piece on my blog in October about two friends on separate days who had to wait overnight for the rivers to drop! They were both very experienced mountaineers so it can happen to anyone but be aware of rivers especially when planning a walk after heavy rain.

Its worth looking at your route and being aware where potential river crossing problems can be, a bit of planning can save a long night or even worse.


If the weather is poor then we will just go for a low level wander, flexibility is the key to a good day.

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Rescue is rarely instant – be prepared.

This is a piece from yesterdays blog  from a good pal – who was writing about a winter Climb Nordwand on Ben Nevis a long climb in winter that tasked him and his companion.

“Good piece Heavy, That ‘mate’ from the Coe was Kev , {Bald Eagle}. The direct is an epic route. When we finished and got back to the top of the Torlundy track we met some of the Lochaber team, (which Kev was a member), we ended up back at the foot of Zero Gully collecting a guy that was knocked off and gone 300ft. Noel Williams was lowered from the top. pretty epic rescue to end a pretty epic, long, day! Two guys, roped together, fell from Slav route and hit him. He survived, they sadly didn’t. That night is a story all to itself.”

Many rescues happen after a long day on the hill when many Rescuers have been out on the hills or working. The drag back up to the casualties after a long day would not be easy.

It was interesting listening to some folk talking about how quickly the anticipate to be Rescued if it all goes wrong. I mentioned some epics in Torridon where on a wild day it can be a 2 – 3 hour walk to the cliff if no helicopter can fly. You have to carry the gear ropes, stretcher, casualty bag, plus your own gear. Its never easy. It takes time for the teams to be called depending on area, so you could be a while for assistance. Some of the big incidents have been all night bring folk of the hill in wild weather.  If your lucky and in an accessible area like the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms it can be quick. It depends on the weather, helicopter ability your ability to raise an alarm phone signal etc. Its very rarely instant and even it takes time for the helicopter to get there and the team to muster. My advice be prepared to wait for several hours at the best and have the gear to cope. Simple things like a , spare batteries,bothy/bivy bag and light duvet can save your life.  If you have broken an ankle and cannot move you will be cold/ shocked and if the weather is poor the team will take time to get to you. Few understand how many  folk it takes to carry you out of a corrie especially at night.  It is a hard carry off in a stretcher my back will agree needing a lot of folk. Rescue is rarely instant unless its on the TV. This is why the helicopters are so important in modern SAR but in wild weather they can do little.


Team Work

If you go into the remoter areas where phone signal are poor your companion may have to go for help if you have a problem. Up in the North West Torridon on An Teallach or in Assynt you could be there for a while.  I have been asked  several times by casualties”what kept you” on arriving after our own hill days on Beinn Eighe and Liathach and then getting called out as we sat down to eat.

Old Photo of a  stretcher carry Ben Nevis zero gully accident LOOK HOW MANY FOLK ARE INVOLVED.

Teams do not sit and wait for Rescue they all  have lives most are climbers and many have been working or climbing when they get the call. They may have already been out that day already. They are unpaid volunteers and do it to help there fellow mountain lovers. You can do your bit by having enough equipment to survive and let folk know where you are going.

Bothy Bag can save your life!

Be aware that cars are being broken into in the Feshie area in car parks as some folk leave a note in the windscreen.   Leave a route with someone dependable and be prepared. The winter is on its way back so enjoy and be safe.

Comments as always welcome.

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

More on Ben Nevis the classic Castle Ridge and another quieter area. The North Wall of Castle Ridge.

How many flash by these big cliffs on their way to the CIC hut on route to the winter classics. Some do not get that far but head for the quicker easier and quieter climbs.

On the Crux of Castle Ridge a lovely climb.

Many head for classics further up like Harrison’s Direct, Boomers Requiem and Raeburns Direct then others onto the big routes like the Shield ,Waterfall Gully, Gemini and many others. Yet way before these routes are some fun routes with an even shorter walk in. I used it often as I was late after sorting out climbing parties for our winter climbing Courses head annually.

This is the North Face of Castle Ridge.

These are first cliffs you see if you take the path there are various ways to the routes one from Glen Nevis up the mountain path to half way Lochan  then follow the path that drops down into the Allt a Mhuilinn that skirt the cliffs. Few realise that when you drop over and under the cliffs that there have been a few avalanches that have even hit this path. There is also a way into this area from the CIC Hut making a rising traverse beneath the Great Buttress and the North Face of Carn Dearg to the foot of the Castle.

1976 avalanche Ben Nevis

Memories can be short and I was involved in a huge avalanche search many years ago the scale of it shocked me.  It’s still well worth being aware of, Most now walk in from the North Face Car Park and as you leave the forestry these are the cliffs you see. In summer they are big and broken and the profile of Castle Ridge is one of the main features.

Yet I feel that apart from the classic Castle Ridge I think there is little known about the many routes on this face. In the old Clough Guide there were only a few climbs here and a great question was what is the first and last routes on the Ben – It was La Petite a 600 foot grade 3 put up in 1959 by Clough and Pipes ( ex RAF Kinloss MRT) was the first and what is the last?

I always enjoyed these routes maybe it was the solitude and openness of this face, it can be a cold dark place out of the short winter sun and foreboding.. I always especially enjoyed Castle ridge in winter it was a great day out. It was a route that took you into some wild terrain yet once on the ridge it was a joy to climb.he wee chimney that is the crux can be tricky at times. I have seen a few minor epics here as at this point the exposure hits you. What a place for a photo but not one to fall on as I had watched a few cocky leaders here struggle and fall off.

It was a route we used a lot with our potential winter climbing leaders. In early winter Nov/Dec it could be interesting in the short daylight hours. In the past many years I was helped one Christmas Eve in a blizzard in the 70’s by Mick Tighes mate  a guide name escapes me.  He left me some gear in the chimney and waited at the top of the it! We walked off together in a blizzard I was glad of his help. Mick enjoyed hearing of this as he was an ex marine.

1954 an early avalanche in the main gully that is the approach to North and South Castle gullies and Castle ridge. This was one of the first time that probes were used on Ben Nevis.

Care has to be taken at the start of the route as above you is some serious avalanche terrain. There can also be a fun-direct start on some ice that forms near the entrance of the Gully and can add to a longer day.The fun is not over as at the top of the ridge in bad weather care has to be taken getting off the mountain. In a bad day this is serious ground and not many know this area.

The old guide with some Avalanche information.

North and South Castle gullies used to be popular in the past and are a good introduction to the easy gullies but can have an interesting route in thin conditions. Again this can be Avalanche terrain and care needs to be taken in poor conditions. I would advise to keep away if in any doubt!

I only once climbed The Castle first climbed by a party lead by Naismith in 1896 and it was pretty scary in again moderate conditions before we had an Avalanche Service. It was not a route I enjoyed but how bold were the first ascent party.

On the North Face of Castle Ridge The Moat and the Serpent were long grade 2 routes that took you through some scenery. I had a few interesting days with young team members on the ledges. It had an Alpine feel about it.There are a lot more routes nowadays on this face but it’s well worth a visit. I must get my old slides done as I had a few great days on this part of the Ben.

Yet on the North Face of Castle Ridge in the old original guide book there were not so many routes. The classic was Nordwand in the old guide a 1400 foot 2/3 was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. What a route, at the time it involved some complex route finding and in the shade all day . It was first climbed by Clough, Pipes and others in 1959. The time in the old guide was 4 hours it took us so much longer. There was so much ice on it that day and it went on and on. How many see it on the way in as they head up to the CIC Hut. Yet it was a great experience and I doubt that many climb it. My mate Chalky from Glencoe and his pal who lived locally said it was “inspiring” and they climbed a direct start on the initial ice fall in the 80’s. It lived up to its Name!

I did the lovely line of La Petite after two attempts it was an interesting climb and we abseiled of the climb in the first attempt in thin conditions hoping for a quick climb as again we were a bit late we had an exciting day.

A more recent Ben Nevis Guide with more updated climbs grades etc.

So why not go an have an adventure on this face! It’s a shorter walk in but got some interesting lines!

The Old Guide wonderfully short and with some fast times.


Let me know how you get on?

Posted in Avalanche info, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

Some of The Brenva Face routes on Ben Nevis in the 70’s . Classic climbing, long Alpine climbs in a wild place of great beauty.

In my early winter climbing days I loved reading the history of the famous routes of the characters and the stories especially about the first ascents. It was incredible what was climbed with simple equipment and gear.
Even in the late 70’s the Ben was busy as the popularity of the winter climbing exploded. I was extremely lucky I got to climb some of the classic lines with so many talented pals.

We got to know the Ben quite intimately as we did a lot of callouts. We got some wild areas to search but on the plus side we got when the weather was good to see some of the neglected lines. As we wandered looking for lost souls I was amazed how huge this mountain was.

The RAF teams had a few good climbers in the early days after the war and later a few new routes were climbed by Ian Clough and his fellow National Service Climbers.
To them it must have been incredible to climb on the Ben in these days when there were so many new routes to climb . They climbed all over Scotland then there were unclimbed climbs everywhere to a climber this was incredible and many routes were climbed. We must remember the simple gear they had basic axes and limited protection. Step cutting would be the norm winter climbing was developing and Scotland was one of these places.

Jimmy Marshal and Robin Smith and many others picked the plumb lines on the Ben but there were so many others great routes to climb.
Many were a lot easier and often little was written about them.

Early Guide Book

So with my limited climbing ability and the old basic guide book I had some wonderful adventures away from the crowds on many of these routes .

Many a young RAF Team Member or winter Course pupil went on these voyages of discovery.
This is a few of the places we climbed and enjoyed every route different and many not climbed at lot .

One of these places was
The Little Brenva Face.
To many it was a walk to far. It is past the CIC hut and head up past the huge North East Buttress and then you have a winter face of over 1000 ft (300 metres). I have walked in a few times from Glen Nevis up by the “Waterslide “as advised by a famous climber with a sense of humour.It was purgatory !

The name Little Brenva Face was the main draw also the lack of other climbers. It does look huge and intimidating from below and when icy has so many lines even today .

Chris Chapnan

“Snap! Classic Alpine style routes best done early in the day before the sun starts to rot them! Spent many a dodgy day on these in treacherous conditions!”

The classic for us was “Cresta” a 900 foot in this old guide grade 2/3 by Patey. Nicol and Lovat in Feb 1957 a formidable team. It was great route because in these days the guide description was sparse and had a time of 3 hours!

We loved this route as we had a black and white video that Hamish MacInnes did on the second ascent by the Kinloss Team.it is a wonderful insight into the climbing and was filmed over a week on the Ben. It is a great film for the time.

The film is a wonderful picture of winter climbing in this era, the commentary is old BBC very prim and proper. The basic equipment and lack of gear was incredible. No one had a helmet on they were not invented. I was told that Hamish had invent fibre glass flat hats to protect the head from falling ice. I had also heard that others had old pieces of carpet in the hats to protect the head these were wild days, where “the leader must not fall” The kit was very basic, cut down axes and simple gear, they were brave people. The film is great and Hamish did so well with it.

I did it when pretty fit the first time in the late

70’s I was amazed at the scale of it . The protection in these days was scant and we climbed a steep ice column at the end that was pretty serious and I dropped my camera down the face as Keith Powell shook his way up that pitch. The sun was setting and it was that Alpine glow and I lost all the pictures but the memory still has them and I am grateful for that. Poor Keith had his first dose of cancer after that climb and we lost him later on . I have such memories of that day and how pleased we were with ourselves.

It is not the route to be caught in the sun as later in the season there can be a lot of ice falling from this face. Well worth being aware of if passing under it!
It was a grand climb and I had many adventures on it over the years . It weaves a line through some great scenery and the belays feel serious as if your on a massive face .
The companion routes like Slalom another 900 feet 2/3 in the old guide by Clough, Shaw, Flagg, Pipes. Alexander Jan 1959 was another great adventure. As is Frostbite Clough, Pipes, Alexander, Hanson and Burke 900 ft Grade 3 and finished below the “mantrap” on North East Buttress.
This route was given 6 hours in the old guide ! As it finished on the crux of North East Buttress! Another grand climb!
There was something about being o this face on a belay and on a long run out. It felt so open and wild and despite being easier climbing compared with the harder routes. It focuses the mind.
Route Major 1000 feet route climbed by Ian Clough and Hamish McInnes in Feb 1969 is a classic line and one of the “most enjoyable winter climbs on Ben Nevis “ complicated route finding and Hamish recommended it to me. It was pretty interesting but gave a grand climb and the line missing the “Mantrap” made me think hard. I did it again with a good climber Al MacLeod and it was a different prospect. There are now many more climbs in this area and sometimes great ice smears form here.
It’s well worth a visit and the extra walk when the classics are busy ! Of course there is always the classic North East Buttress 1500 feet of grade 3/4 always a long interesting climb a must climb route with great views of the huge faces of this magnificent world of ice.

I wonder what these routes are like now with the great gear.

I will never forget that I had a super day on “Frostbite” when a mate soloed it as we were walking off. He was so fast and did it so easily. Now I wonder who had the best day?

Please note many of the routes grades are a changed as are times rarely mentioned now so worth looking at the new guides for updated information. The last route on this face and the Ben was Bob Run a short grade 2 that we would climb sometimes on the way off. That was a bit of ego and youth. It is always worth remembering that we got a few call outs after a long day on the hill. They called it character building in these days.


Be careful on descent from the Carn Mor Dearg Arete the abseil posts are long gone but there is a cairn on the ridge.
It can be a tricky descent and there have been accidents here in the past .
Take care but if you pass under the Little Brenda Face it looks incredible and well worth a special day on a special mountain.

In the 90’s I picked a climber up who had fallen from the top of the route and survived landing in the Corrie . His axes were still in the route what a lucky man . Sadly he was to die next year in an avalanche in Glen Feshie. The mountains can be hard.

Climbing on Ben Nevis is more popular as its cliffs offer up some of the most challenging traditional summer and winter climbs in the world. This title offers history of Ben Nevis mountain from 1585 – 2008. It includes chapters on: Ben Nevis Observatory, Ben Nevis Distillery, Ben Nevis Aluminium Smelter, Ben Nevis Hill Race and Gaelic Place Names.

More to come on these routes if anyone is interested.

Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, History, Mountain rescue, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

A busy Clavie Night.


Last night my village filled up with people as it was the Annual burning of the Clavie to celebrate the New Year. The place was busy with the crowds and the weather was fine. I had a few visitors but was taking it easy as I am driving today and hope to go and watch the Inverness Ayr United football game today in Inverness. I am looking forward to it. It was great to see the crowds of folk following the burning barrel through the town in the ancient ritual, there looked a lot of folk about. It would be standing room only in the pubs and great to see food available in the bothy and the chip van about.Its a good night for the village.


It was good to see a lot of pals who are out enjoying themselves at the Clavie, As always the party went on for a while well after midnight with a band in the bothy across the road and its good to see folk enjoying themselves.  It is good to see the village busy and folk out and about. Thanks to the Clavie Crew and all those who put so much effort into the Clavie night. The media were filming in the village last night and Dan Ralph the Clavie King even got a mention in Parliament in London!

I have still not been out on the hills as the ribs are still sore maybe another week is what i need. Though there is little snow about folk are still winter climbing and enjoying the mountains. Winter will be back.

Posted in Articles, Health, Local area and events to see, mountain safety, Weather | 2 Comments