Espolón Central

It isn’t often that a long easy rock route is quite as striking as the like of Espolón Central on Puig Campana. From the valley the climb follows the obvious ridge of rock up the centre of the rock face, which looks improbable at the grade of Hard Severe from the valley.

We set off on a beautiful misty morning which gave us a beautiful inversion at the start of the walk. We had a bit of a navigational error at the start which meant that we had an unnecessarily hard time getting up onto the plateau, however we made good time up to the crag and found other teams in front of us on the route.

By the time we had geared up the first pitch was free, and we didn’t need to queue again for the entire day. The climb started as it meant to carry on, with excellent well protected climbing which was interesting but not too difficult. The first five pitches gain the rocky spur at the base of the main ridge, then the next nine pitches headed straight up the main ridge. This section was the highlight with every pitch having interesting climbing with fantastic exposure, which is rare for easy multi pitch routes as they are often fairly broken with short sections of good climbing.

It was a very sunny day and we slightly underestimated our water requirements, it turns out that unsurprisingly 2l of water between us was not enough! It was hot enough that even the Spanish climbers were complaining about the heat.

The descent was quite exciting with a long and exposed traverse which was sometime protected by a fixed wire all the way across the top of the crag to get to the walkers path, which descended directly down an unpleasant scree slope. By the time we eventually got back to the car we were both very dehydrated and glad for the extra water that we had left in the car, although maybe it would have been better to carry it!

Morning mist inversion

Looking up at the route

Hot walk into the crag

Becky at the top of P3

Superb climbing on P5

Amazing exposure

At the top of another brilliant pitch

A long way back down

Looking up at the route in the evening light

Becky in front of the route

Beautiful Sunset

Clogwyn y Person Arete & Crib Goch

We had an excellent weekend in North Wales in Snowdonia prior to Lou and Mango leaving for Munich. The first day was meant to be fairly damp, but we enjoyed a surprisingly dry day on the classic north ridge of Tryfan. Instead of heading straight down we stayed high and headed over to Y Foel Goch which was an enjoyable end to the day and it was great to see a different perspective of Snowdonia.

The second day had an excellent forecast so we decided to head for the classic scramble of Clogwyn y Person Arete which climbs a ridge up towards Crib y Ddysgl. The scramble was excellent, with sustained scrambling for numerous pitches before the ridge eased and we were able to walk up to the top. It was just a shame that the route was in the shade!

Unfortunately by the time we got to the top, Snowdon had started to form it’s own weather system which meant that we were still not in the promised sunshine. Thankfully we were still well below the cloud which meant that the traverse of Crib Goch was as stunning as ever. The descent of the North Ridge of Crib Goch was stunning with further airy scrambling and excellent views out towards Anglesey into the setting sun.

On the easy ground at the top of Clogwyn y Person Arete

Scrambling on Crib Goch

Exposure on Crib Goch

Exposure on Crib Goch

Descending the north ridge of Crib Goch

Descending the north ridge of Crib Goch

Descending the north ridge of Crib Goch

Munro Bagging in the Cairngorms

With the forecast far to warm to consider doing any winter climbing, it was back to Munro bagging for the last three days of our Scotland trip.

On the first day we headed up to the Drumochter Pass to climb Beinn Udlamain and Sgairneach Mhor. The weather was beautiful, if not a little windy and throughout the day we were treated to fantastic views in every direction.

On the second day the forecast was particularly uninspiring with extensive hill fog, lots of wind, warm temperatures and some drizzle. Due to this we elected to complete the second munro out of a pair which Becky had climbed one of previously. We made very quick progress up to 900m due to the high snow line, and there being a stalkers track most of the way up. Unfortunately once we left the first col the snow cover made for hard walking and the thick hill fog meant we were walking on a bearing and pacing to navigate. After an age of seeing only the red needle on the compass and trying to work out if I was going up or down we eventually made it to the summit, where the views were unspectacular… The walk back wasn’t much better, but we eventually made it below the cloud line and back to the car before the rain set in.

On the final day we drove around the Cairngorms in the hunt for the better conditions, we headed up Mount Keen which has to be just about the most boring munro that exists. After a 6km walk along a stalkers track up a flat valley, a short but steep stalkers track lead up to the plateau, before a short path led to the summit. After yet more unspectacular views of cloud from the summit, we made a quick descent back to the car and headed back to Bristol.

Walking up to Sgairneach Mhor

Looking south on the walk up to Sgairneach Mhor

Summit selfie on Sgairneach Mhor

Becky and Dave on Sgairneach Mhor

Dave walking into the distance on Sgairneach Mhor

Becky walking up to Beinn Udlamain

Summit selfie on Beinn Udlamain

Full on white out on A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag

Summit selfie on A’ Bhuidheanach Bheag

Quiet valley on the walk in to Mount Keen

Stunning scenery on the walk up to Mount Keen

Summit selfie on Mount Keen

Descending from Mount Keen

Descending from Mount Keen

Cairngorm Ski Touring

Today was an introduction to ski touring for Becky, as it was her first day out touring we skinned up one of the closed pistes on the Cairngorm ski resort, before heading off into the backcountry and up to the summit. We had planned to traverse around the northern corries and then descent down Lurchers gully, however we were running a bit later than planned having had to hire kit in the morning and the weather was closing in. Due to this we decided just to head back to the ski centre and then head down the pistes back to the car.

Skinning up a closed piste

Approaching the summit of Cairngorm

Summit selfie

Another ski tourer heading off

Becky heading back to the ski area

Becky heading back to the ski area