Easy weekend ahead. Watch out for fires

I have a social weekend with a BBQ with friends in Inverness the weather looks great and the sun is out after last weeks great weather in the sun in Skye. I was looking through my kit from Skye and my water container (my platapus) needed a good clean, you have to ensure they are cleaned regularly, otherwise you get all kinds of bugs in it!  You cannot drink to much just now and with the ground so hard the water flushes of quickly. Even after a bit of rain there may be a shortage of water high up (like Skye last weekend) Make sure you carry enough water for the day, slowly, slowly in the heat.  Watch out if you are starting a fire for your BBQ there is a big risk just now, PLEASE MAKE SURE IT IS OUT and all the rubbish is taken away.

Early morning in Skye.

Early morning in Skye. It is 0800 and already very warm. No water up here. 

 

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Thunder and Lightning – very, very frightening!

This great weather has a few drawbacks one is the change this week and thunder and lightning is forecast. Last night there was a huge peal of thunder at my house, I am glad I was inside at the time. I have been scared a few times on the mountains and when abroad in the Alps or the Himalayas there is nothing so scary as a crash of thunder or even worse seeing a bolt of lightning when you are on a ridge. Nature is hugely impressive and we are such a small part of it when in the middle of a thunderstorm. Sit is a small tent in the big mountains and watch nature show you who is boss in a thunderstorm it is wonderful and frightening.

Not the place to be on the Via Ferratta in the Italian Dolomite's.

Not the place to be on the Via Ferratta in the Italian Dolomite’s.

My first experience was on the Fannichs in Scotland on Sgurr Mor a big hill with a sharp ridge, the dog sensed something was up and we all felt the air tingle, then bang! We were off as fast as we could following the dog and getting of the ridge as soon as possible. Then came the rain torrents of it was scary and we ran for it, This was mid 70′s and yes it was forecast but we were on a mission to complete the Fannichs Ridge.   Be aware that the heavy rain that can follow is also very dangerous as the rivers can swell incredibly fast and the cliffs can pour water down them making retreat far more difficult.   Another time was on Skye in 2000 at the abseil on the Dubhs Ridge just as we completed it the air got very close and the black anvil clouds came over. The main ridge was hit by lightning and the blue flashes ran along its entirety. We had to get off quickly and had an epic getting into the huge corrie and again we had flash floods with the crags just pouring with water.It took hours to get down and we were very lucky. That a day one walker was killed not far from us! There have been others but I am very aware of lightning and look at the forecast a

What can you do to prevent this – Read the weather forecast and if thunder and lightning is forecast do something else than ridge walking or climbing! If not good luck!

The interesting abseil on the Dubhs Ridge in Skye not the place to be in a thunderstorm.

The interesting abseil on the Dubhs Ridge in Skye not the place to be in a thunderstorm.

30/30 rule

Research shows that people struck by lightning are predominantly hit before and after the peak of the storm. This means that you should be thinking about the proximity of the lightning, not the occurrence of rain. The 30/30 rule provides a good way of ensuring one is sheltering during the most risky parts of the storm. It proposes that if the flash to bang is 30 seconds in length or less you should seek shelter. Staying inside this shelter is advised until 30 minutes past the last clap of thunder. This ensures that any distant strikes at the beginning of the storm (lightning can travel up to 10 miles), or trailing storm clouds at the back of the storm do not take anyone by surprise.

  1. Quickly descend to a lower elevation.
    Descend and find a less exposed place. It’s best if you’re away from the direction of the approaching thunderstorm that is accompanied by lightning.
  2. Don’t be the tallest object around.
  3. To avoid lightning, don’t stand in open areas like meadows or mountain tops. Instead take shelter in a thick forest and avoid taking cover beneath isolated trees or a tree that is taller than nearby trees. If there are no trees around, get down in a depression and squat. Don’t lay down on the ground.
  4. Keep away from objects that conduct electricity.
    These include water, metal objects like climbing equipment, metal fences, and power lines. Take off any climbing sack with an internal or external metal frame and hang all metal climbing gear well away from you.
  5. Wet ropes can carry current.
    A wet climbing rope also makes a perfect electrical conductor for lightning to strike you. In a bad storm, consider untying any wet rope from you. If lightning strikes above, the current can pass down the rope and zap you.
    1. Spread your group out.
      Spread your group out (a minimum of 15 feet) so that if there is a lightning strike there will be team members available to give first aid assistance.
    2. Don’t hide in small caves or under overhangs.
      Sitting under an overhang or in a small cave is asking for trouble since lightning will jump the gap from top to bottom by passing through you.
    3. Move to either side of cracks.
      If you’re climbing and a lightning storm arrives, move away from vertical crack systems whenever possible. Lightning currents travel down cracks.

    Avoid ABSEILING in lightning storms.
    Rappelling in lightning storms should be avoided if at all possible. Currents from a cliff-top strike can travel down your wet rope, zapping you. Sometimes, however, ABSEILING  might the only answer, it was for us!

  6. Take care!

.

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Sad rescue of Beinn a golden retriever! Maybe you would like to donate to Tayside MRT?

On 21st June 2013, a friends dog Beinn (a very good-natured, seven year old Golden Retriever)  collapsed with heart problems while out walking on the Drumochter hills. Tayside Mountain Rescue Team came to our assistance, evacuating Beinn from the hillside via stretcher, all-terrain-vehicle and land rover.

dog lovers

Sadly, Beinn passed away on 28th June 2013, following a further collapse at home. He will be greatly missed.

As a token of his appreciation, My friend Andy Lawson is fundraising for Tayside Mountain Rescue Team - a team of dedicated volunteers providing a 24Hr service, 365 days a year. Team members do this job without any financial remuneration. It costs circa £30,000 per annum to fund the team over 90% of which is funded through donations.

“On 10th August 2013, I will be travelling to Delhi and then onto Ladakh (India), in an attempt to ascend a peak called Stok Kangri. At 6,183m (20,182 feet), Stok Kangri is the highest peak in the Stok range of the Himalayas. While the peak itself is not technically challenging, the summit is at very-high altitude.

The cost of this trip has been paid in its entirety by myself. Therefore every single penny raised through this Fundraising page will be going to Tayside Mountain Rescue Team.

Please note that any donation made will go to Tayside Mountain Rescue Team regardless of whether I actually make it to the summit. I will make every effort to reach the summit (and back).” Andy Lawson

http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/fundraiser/andylawson/ascent-stok-kangri-india-20182-ft

We all have a soft spot for animals maybe this wee story touched your heart. I still miss my great pal Teallach a lovely Alsatian who loved the mountains as I do. Still miss him, crazy dog!IMG_1447

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Great to read again “The Cuillin by Gordon Stainworth” Some thoughts on the Skye trip.

Cuillin - Gordon Stainworth

Cuillin – Gordon Stainworth

 

It is great to read again a book you enjoyed and love, this book The Cullin by Gordon Stainforth was excellent. There is so much in so many great wee stories and the poetry is incredible. What pictures and even better the author tells you how and at what time he took them. He spent 150 days on the hill and the ridge was clear for 71 of them and that was poor summer. It is now a collector’s item and I think it is out of print but can be found on Amazon. I met Gordon on Skye and Page 102 is of two RAF Kinloss troops, Ian Ned Kelly and another team member. What a great book, I took it to Skye and so enjoyed reading it.  A book is there to be read and enjoyed and not sat on a book shelve gathering dust.   I love some of the quotes.

“As I had no intention of losing either hold or head, there was no risk and I found my confidence was not betrayed when I whispered to the rock “

You stick to me and I will stick to you! Fred Jackson on Clach Glas in 1896.

Early morning on the Dubhs - what memories.

Early morning on the Dubhs Ridge – what memories.

I came back after a long drive really tired the constant heat takes it out of you and found that my BT email has been hacked. It is now back in use after 2 days of trials speaking to India! How great it was too have no mobile phone signal. emails and the joys of modern life and enjoy the peace of Coruisk. Now it is back to the real world and to plan the next trip. It was superb and we all learned a lot.

Wearing a helmet is a “no brainer” in Skye yet we were fooled into it by the heat, the dry rock and I suppose our cockiness. We are all getting older and still think like youths but the reactions slow down and we forget that age is taking its toll. Hard days are now really hard and the body needs time to recover. Yet we can still enjoy these great hills at a slower pace and see more. A scare sharpens the wits but too many and something is wrong, the situation and weather fooled us. These mountains can bite no matter how experienced you are, I must keep that in mind at all times. I look at every years accidents in the mountains and our age group stands out.

The Coruisk Hut what a place to be.

The Coruisk Hut what a place to be. My wee tent£12.50 from Tesco’s! did the job!

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Skye

Cooling off in Skye -what a heat.

Cooling off in Skye what a heat.

All things must come to an end in Skye and I forgot to say that the boys Raz and Scouse managed to finish there last Munro. They had a huge day and ran out of water on Sgurr Nan Eag, they were both really tired as they struggled off Garbh Beinn and back to Coruisk.   The last bit was torturous as they tried to find water on the parched ridge, after a quick drink we headed for the river and sat enjoying the sun until late when the midges came out. A few kids had come off the boats in the bay and were enjoying the river, using the wee waterfalls as a flume. They had driven parents daft wanting one more shot before bed. All day the river had been full with kids and adults enjoying the water as the ferries dropped of the tourists for the day.  I cannot deny I was with them it was fantastic. What a way for kids to enjoy the wild, in wet suits having fun outside and fearless as they laughed and enjoyed the river. Poor Raz had one go on the river but his feet were so painful once was enough. What memories we all will have and we sat in the peace and quite savoring the day. 

Raz - the new Munroists on Sgurr Nan Eag.

Raz – the new Munroists on Sgurr Nan Eag.

It was the end of a great trip and we had a few drinks to re hydrate, every one was tired and Donna had cleaned the hut and it was immaculate. It was still so warm at night it was incredible and I went of to my tent which was a bit cooler, watching the moonbeams on Loch Scavaig, it was surreal with the light hitting the loch like huge spotlights. Then a few midges arrived and I was soon asleep and slept well. Next day was a tidy up and get ready for our boat the Bella Jane to collect us at midday. The weather was still incredible and we were back to the river for breakfast. All the gear was taken the to the jetty along with all the rubbish that we had found in the hut. The views were outstanding as the boats in the bay all went off to another adventure in this wonderful West Coast.

Boats in the bay at Coruisk

Boats in the bay at Coruisk, the summit of Sgurr Dubh Mor in the background,

It was the usual welcome as we loaded the Bella Jane with all our kit and rubbish collected and we loaded the ferry up much to the amusement of the skipper and passengers. We were soon away passing all the wild life and great views of this incredible place. I had a chat with the skipper and enjoyed the views. We were soon back at the jetty which was mobbed with visitors all going out on trips, many would never have seen anything like it or ever will. This was truly the magic of Skye and all that was left was along tiring drive home. A scorched Scotland, what a trip worth all the effort and a reminder that these wild places must be treated with respect, love and care.

The Bella Jane

The Bella Jane. Full of visitors ready to have the trip of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

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The Dubhs Ridge Skye – Always wear a helmet on the Scrambles and ridges!

The Dubhs Continued

We had another break we had about another 600 feet to go to the top of Sgurr Dubh Beag. The climbing is lovely on easy angled slabs tilted at about 30 degrees and rough dry granite and a baking sun. We sat on a bit of grass and grabbed the much-needed shade and had a break I had some water and pills for my back which was getting very sore. I would see how I felt at the abseil and descend into  the An Garbh Coire a rough and wild place. l thought it was a long, day ahead in this heat and did not want to hold anyone back, though I was going okay! A couple of us were feeling the heat, it was the hottest day I have ever been out on.

The beautiful gabbro of Skye

Cooling Off

It is easy to sit and admire the views especially when it is so hot, my water was down to 1 litre and we had a long way to go. I grabbed a drink and headed up. The two  boys ahead were about 40 feet above us when I heard a shout of below and a rock flashed by me and hit another of the party on the head, it was a scary moment. Within seconds he had a huge bump like an egg on his head and was shaken but fully conscious. I got down and was very worried when I saw the damage. There was no other option but to get down as quickly as possible and luckily there was a steep grass ramp taking us into the Corrie. I had been done it before so in good weather it was fine. The other two wanted to come down with us but we thought that we three could cope.  We were in a remote area and no communications were possible apart from the emergency text service (see below) We were pretty experienced so managed the situation, you can take little chance with a head injury. We monitored him all the way down and stopped at the streams to keep the bandage wet and the swelling down. It took 3 hours to get off and we were glad to see the Loch Coruisk. Our patient was feeling okay (as hard as nails) and soon was down in the river cooling off.  He went for a check up later and was a bit of a celebrity on the boat back.

Cooling Off

Cooling Off

It was a lucky escape, we were a big group very experienced, it was very hot and some of us did not wear helmets, that was daft, I was one of them. An inch more and it could have been a tragic story all so different. It was another great adventure but a bit too close to call for me. The more you go out the more you learn, yet we all still make daft mistakes, the secret is to learn from them.

Look well to each step out there!

Oh the boy got his Munros done on along hot day where they both wished they were 20 years younger.

The details of the Emergency text service are on the Mountaineering Council Of Scotland Website. It is free and a must for those who venture into the wilds.

999 Emergency Text Service
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) is urging everyone who walks climbs and skis in the Scottish mountains to register with the 999 emergency text service. This service has been set up to allow people to text 999 when mobile phone reception is intermittent.
However, you will only be able to use this service if you have registered with emergency SMS first. The MCofS is promoting the service to mountaineers and suggesting that we register now rather than wait for an emergency. To register, text ‘Register’ to 999. You will get a reply and will then need to follow the instructions you are sent. The text system is meant to be used only when voice calls cannot be made and the system does not guarantee that texts will be delivered, so users should wait until they receive a reply from the emergency services before assuming help has been summoned. Further details, including guidelines on how to register, can be found at www.emergencysms.org.uk.

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The Dubhs Ridge! Hot ! Hot! Rock

Early morning light on the fantastic Dubhs ridge at 0600 it was about 25 degrees with no wind.

Early morning light on the fantastic Dubhs ridge at 0600 it was about 25 degrees with no wind. 3000 feet of climbing from  sea level.

I had wanted to go a bit earlier than the rest to see how my back held up and also to give Stephen a bit of an start form the rest. It would also mean that we would be above the rest and away from any loose rocks falling on us , always worth thinking about in the big mountains. We were a very experienced group, with most of of from 20 – 45 years of hill days, 4 of us were all ex RAF Mountain Rescue. In the end we all left at 0600 and it was warm even then, I was soon at the back taking photos with Ray and enthusing over the views. There was  no wind and the walk along the Loch Coruisk was beautiful but so hot.

The ridge starts nearly at sea level and in the words of W.H. Murray in 1947

“Apart from the initial trouble in climbing on to the ridge, one may proceed unroped up broad acres of boiler plated slabs, whose rock is the roughest gabbro in all the Cuilins. In other words , it is so rough and reliable that only the grossest negligence could bring a man to harm.”

Ray a rare photo on the ridge in the lovely early morning light, Coruisk in distance.

Ray a rare photo on the ridge in the lovely early morning light, Coruisk in distance.

The early start certainly wakes you up but you soon get into a rhythm and off you go. I was aware of my back and tried to travel light but the weight of the water and some kit is still ard going. Most of the climbing is straightforward but the odd tricky bit in the oppressive heat made it hard work for us all. We had put on our climbing harnesses and a most had helmets on but they made the head so sweaty that a few took them off. I wanted to get ahead but was now due to age and fitness trying to find a different way up and get some photos. We had plenty of breaks and drank in the view, we were going through our water very quickly and still no wind at all. The heat off the slabs did not help and the rock was warm to touch. I covered my neck with a bandanna and had a big floppy hat on, long sleeved shirts and had drunk lots of water before I went in the morning. 

The great views down the ridge.

The great views down the ridge. Impressive and wonderful, Ray in action.

I have been so lucky to have climbed the Dubhs on many occasions usually after a day on the ridge a swim in the loch then back up over the Dubhs! These were done when I was young and knew I had to take it easy as the heat was taking its toll, a few of us were feeling it. The climbing was great and we were all getting warmed up and starting to enjoy it, the views outstanding, we were all in our own worlds stopping for the heat it was like being at altitude. We were going well but rapidly running out of water and about two thirds up the route we had a break and I took some tablets for my back. I was thinking that the lack of water and heat I would complete the abseil then drop into the coire via the main ridge, Stephen and Ray felt the same. This would leave the boys to continue a bit faster  and we would still have had a great day out. I had a look at my pee as you must do in the hot days and despite my loading with water it was orange a sign of dehydration. I had about 2 litres left plus a few bottles of drinks but had to watch what I was doing. A tour in desert rescue in the Persian Gulf makes you very aware of the effects of dehydration.

Great views of the ridge.

Great views of the ridge.

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