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Monday, 21 April 2014

Glen Lethnot & Anstruther kayak

The East of Scotland has been sunny over the Easter period. First, more exploration of the Angus glens. This time I went to run in Glen Lethnot which can be accessed easily from Brechin. Glen Lethnot is not visited often as the hills are smaller than in Glen Clova but it is just as beautiful as the other glens especially on a sunny day. Here I am on the approach. 
Recently I have started to run or walk the routes which are in the James Carron's walking guide for the Angus glens:
I parked near Craigendowie and from there a landrover track goes up all the way to Tamhilt at 537 m. Generally there are many landrover tracks in this glen which are good for easy running but it takes away from the wildernes. Here is the view all the way down to the North Sea. The lighthouse near Montrose is a whitish dot on the image. 
 I then carried out, again on a landrover track, to the hill of Mondurran which is 602 m and the highest point of the route. To the North is the continuation of the glen and Hunthill lodge. 
 Here a look back again with the lodge. 
 There is a lot of wildlife in the area especially hares and grouse. I then ran southwards and saw a golden Eagle, I think. After that down with sheeps on the opposite slopes. 
 On Easter Sunday we met at Anstruther harbour for a kayak trip to Fife ness. 
 Here is our group with the houses of Anstruther behind. Apparently the orange tiles are from Holland and were obtained in exchange for some goods. 
 We paddled to Crail and saw a miniglider.
 Here are our kayaks in Crail harbour...
 ... and here is a view of the narbour. 
 In the area there are several fossils including fossilised trees. Here is our inspection team...
 We went to the tip of Fife, saw the now abandoned coastguard station and returned. Some dolphins passed in the opposite direction. Here we are back in Anstruther...
 ... and here we reach the harbour. 
Few countries are better than Scotland when the weather is right!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Angus glen runs, Kirrie and Ben Lui

Spring 2014 has arrived and with it a book covering hill walks in the local Angus glens:
I was quite excited about it as I love the Angus glens and any literature related to it is very welcome. There is no conflict of interest as none of my photos are in the guide nor do I know the author nor do I get any royalty for praising the book! Anyway, the guide is perfect for walks and hill runs in my backyard. My favourite so far is Cat Law which can be seen from the coast. Here I am on the ascent via Long Goat.

Here a bit higher up with he North sea coast in the far distance.

The following weekend Robbie and I went to Kirrie. It was 7 degrees Celsius according to the thermometer but Kirrie is surely the warmest place in Scotland. Here is Al 'tops off' working the 7a next to us.

And here is the crag in glorious mid march sunshine.

Robbie and I needed some fitness after a poor winter so afterwards we ran up Cat Law from Glen Uig. Great views of snow capped hills.

A return over lush meadows...

... and past character trees...

... and some daffodils.

The following weekend Mike and Nic from Oxford came to do Ben Lui and some of the Knoydart Murnos from Inverie. I met them for Ben Lui. Here they are on the long approach...

... and here on the grassy slopes...

... and then on the not so grassy slopes. We had followed the snow slope in the clag in the hope that we would reach the Northern ridge but instead ended up below the crags to the right of Central gully.

Thus some good crampon skill training...

... and we managed to find an easier gully towards the easier snow slopes near the top...

... which are actually not that easy if you are the first time on crampons.

After  plenty of action we finally reached the summit.

Here is Nic reaching his first gully in winter conditions.

We worked on our bum glissading skills and saved the old knees...

... did the adjacent Munro and then a long traverse to the bealach between Ben Lui and Ben Oss followed by a long walkout.

My rat is not as hungry as the rat of other people but it has been fed once again.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Freebird V,5

On Saturday the 8th of February Tim and I cycled down Glen Prosen. It had snowed during the night and the forecast south-easterly gales would bring South Craig into winter condition. Here is Tim cycling ...
...and here he is approaching the corrie.

It was all in the clag but at the last minute South Craig appeared in front of us. Icicles were everywhere, shaped like horns of wild animals by recent gales. It is a steep crag, often overhanging with few opportunities to climb routes at a manageable grade. The main line on the right of a crag is a gully line starting in the triangular niche just above Tim. To the right is 'Brian's or Southern ramp', a IV,4 which Forrest, Polish Pete and I had climbed last year. I had walked in 4 times to look at the gully line and finally there seemed sufficient ice in it to climb the two step crux corner.   

Here is Tim just below the route that we wished to attempt. I did not bring ice screws and tried for 5 min at the bottom of the crag to screw one of Tim's 80s Ebay screws into the ice but to no avail. At least we had a Black Diamond Ice hook and the ice section was not that long. 

Due to the lack of ice protection and remoteness I did not climb the initial 8 m of steep ice (Tim climbed it on second) but instead ascended the neve ramp to the right. I ended up in a niche with a 3 m high rock blade in the middle. In contrast to a previous attempt there was a tree trunk sized ice column coming down from the rock blade and the back wall was encased in ice. I used a sling around the column as protection and then gently back and footed upwards, carefully picking my front points into the column. Soon I reached good snow ice on top of the rock blade and to the right there was a flake behind which I fixed a nut and peg. The crux was above: 5 m of steep ice with many daggers pointing my way. I spent probably half an hour hacking the daggers off, fixed the ice hook and went for it. It was steep but needed a delicate approach. It reminded me of the ice crux on Sticil face. Finally I reached the roof, got two good placements and bridged out of the niche into an easy gully. Here is a photo down the niche showing Tim belaying.

Here is Tim escaping the niche s.c. & s.h. (for insiders).

Here he is approaching the belay, happy, as we knew that the route was in he bag. 

We were stopped by a cave and as there was no gear and as it was easily avoidable we climbed out of the gully and back in above.

Here I am starting the ice cave section. 

We climbed the last bit together and arrived on a stormy, white out plateau, packed our gear and carefully walked eastwards and then carefully descended on good neve to the bottom of the cliff. Here is Tim packing our gear on the plateau...

... and here we view our route from belown. The crux steep ice is visible above the triangular niche. Brian's ramp is to the right where the icicles hang over the edge.

Here is Tim standing below the optional initial icefall. However, bring screws or skill when attempting it.

We named the route Freebird and graded it V,5*. Many in Aberdeen will know the background for the route name.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Winter climbing on Saturday, sea kayaking on Sunday

Saturday and two Spanish dinners came and went and Sunday arrived. The weather forecast has predicted a lull before another Atlantic weather system and Ian had suggested a paddle on the Tay. We arrived at the boat shed at 10 am whilst the sun was shining but when we launched the kayaks clouds already moved in from the West. 
 We crossed the Tay to Tentsmuir Forest. Here are Amy and Katie...
 ... and here is one of the many Eider ducks on the sandbanks that are flooded at high tide. 
 Here Ana arrives for our lunch break... 
 ... and here we are with Dundee in the far distance. 
 We crossed over to the Monifieth shooting range (no flags and no shots) for a comfy break and launched into some moderate waves. Here are Ian and Katie. 
 The incoming tide carried us towards the Ferry at 8 km/h. Here are Ana and Amy...
 ... and here Ana arrives after our 18 km paddle. 
Winter climbing on Saturday, sea kayaking on Sunday. Could be worse!