I am going through some old guide books and found this gem an Interim Guide to rock and ice climbing in the district of Easter Ross published in 1966. It was written by A.R.M. Park & P.N.L. Tranter it was published in 1966. Easter Ross was not a traditional climbing ground before 1960 it contained only one route. By May 1966 there were 40 routes mainly climbed by the famous Dr Tom Patey, The Corriemulzie Climbing Club & RAF Kinloss MRT. How many routes are there now in 2013 in the new guide Northern Highlands North by the SMC ?
This guide book is an adventure and reminds me of many huge days big walk in epics on The Fannichs , Beinn Dearg, Stron Nea, Seana Braigh, (Corriemulzie) and Fionaven with its epic long routes. So much fun .and never a soul in sight it will be the same today. I lived through a golden age and this battered guide means so much to me. Philip Tranter was a hero of mine and I tried to climb many of his routes. He died in 1968 on his way back from the Alps in a motor bike crash. Scotland lost one of its finest mountaineers.
Vanity made me tick and mark the Guide book – and what a journey it takes you on! There were some incredible loose summer routes on Beinn Dearg with the rarely climbed Tower Of Babel a 450 feet climb soled by Tom Patey. The guide gives lots away in the possibility of new climbs and I even went rock climbing in the Fannichs on Sellars Buttress another once in a lifetime summer visit. Fionaven is where we climbed a bit on the RAF Kinloss routes Creag Urbhard a huge wild place, The rock is quartzite and slippy when wet and this cliff is over 200 -300 metres high and is complex. It is – 3 hard hours walk in into the routes Pantargruel a 560 feet Severe and Garantua a 600 ft hard Severe on wild loose rock climbed in the RAF Kinloss team by Terry Sullivan M. Denton & T. Abbey on the same day in April 1959. Years later Terry told me they traversed the ridge after a hard day of about a 12 hours. They were as they say “all in” as we were when we repeated it and they could climb. It was a complex day with some lose rock, very difficult route finding and poor protection. The rewards are great though with traditional mountaineering on a remote back drop. It is hard to believe it wecame back for more and had another few routes all great days, finishing with a huge walk out and ridge walk. My log tells me I was climbing on Fionaven in 1976/ 83/85 / 92 & 2000 The Fionaven Ridge is an incredible day with views that will always live with you and after a great days climbing what a finish. The feeling of being alive after a day here is one to savor. Remote glens, incredible wildlife,and climbs rarely visited this is place Easter Ross is a place to be. As for winter that is another story and I visited Seana Bhraigh on several occasions in winter with various friends always staying for a few days.In these days we never recorded our climbs they are all in the memory now. There is a great bothy by Loch A’Choire Mor where I have stayed in many occasions on my big walks in 77/79 /82 and a winter course with RAF Valley MRT in Feb 1981 .They North Wales boys loved it and could not believe the location.I love this area and it was a regular haunt during my Kinloss days many a night was spent here in the wildness. There is also now a newish bothy rebuilt in 2001 “Magoo,s” after a lad who was killed in a helicopter crash in Kosova and it is a grand place to stay. How many climb Seanna Bhraigh and never see this huge Corrie. Last winter I went into the fantastic Corrie Ghranda on Beinn Dearg and what a day to walk and enjoy the wildness. There is so much to do so many ways up these great hills why not research and have real day in these mountains?
In June 1964 Philip Tranter son of the author Nigel Tranter was the first to cover all of these mountains in a single trip, taking in the Mamores 11 munros, Grey Corries 4 munros, the Aonachs 2 munros, Carn Mor Dearg 1 munro culminating on Ben Nevis 1 munro.Tranters Round involves a journey of 36 miles with 20,600 feet of ascent; it has been successfully completed many times in recent years.
I hope you enjoyed this we bit of nostalgia, why not get the guide books out and go somewhere new. For the winter climber there is so much to do in these remote corries and how many can still sneak a hidden gem in these areas.