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Raeburn’s Arete and North East Buttress

I was back out on Ben Nevis today, this time with Andy and his brother Dave. Both have many years of winter climbing under their belts, but as yet no summer rock climbing experience. Today we changed that by climbing the brilliant Raeburn’s Arete (AKA the sit down start to North East Buttress) on Ben Nevis. This fine route gives five long pitches of good quality climbing on rough rock, before reaching the First Platform. Both Andy and Dave adapted well to smearing and using their fingers. Whilst on the route, we were in and out of the sun, but even in the shade, it felt very pleasant, and probably quite a contrast to what Andy and Dave normally experience when winter climbing up here!

From the First Platform, we swapped rock shoes for big boots and continued up North East Buttress, which was largely snow free, aside from a small patch at the foot of the 40 Foot Corner and just before the final exit groove.

It was amazingly quiet on the north side of the mountain today. We saw one team climbing on Tower Ridge, and a few folk hanging outside the CIC Hut, but I’m not sure what they ended up doing.

's Arete and North East Buttress

's Arete and North East Buttress

's Arete and North East Buttress

's Arete and North East Buttress

's Arete and North East Buttress

's Arete and North East Buttress

's Arete and North East Buttress

's Arete and North East Buttress

Guiding on Skye

Finally, it feels like summer has arrived!  On the Isle of Skye, it only really materialised this afternoon, but that was enough to get excited about!  I’ve been guiding on Skye this past week, the first half of the week for Moran Mountain, and today a day of private guiding with Les.  Actually, thinking back to Monday, we didn’t visit Skye at all, with a fairly cold and wild day, Mark, Sinclair, Nathan, Martin and myself decided to stay on the mainland and visit the brilliant Raven’s Crag, near Gairloch.

In amongst the squalls and fresh winds, we managed to get a couple of routes climbed and looked at personal abseiling and belays in preparation for the following day, where we ventured to Skye, and battled our way up through hail showers to the Inn Pinn, which was pleasantly sheltered from the worst of the SW winds, and despite there still being plenty of snow lying on the ridge, the East Ridge of the Inn Pinn was ok, I just had to clear a bit of graupel from some of the hand holds.

Wednesday saw us returning to Skye (from Lochcarron).  With another wild forecast and tired legs from the previous day, we decided to stay low, and climbed the easy, but sustained Spur on Sgurr an Fheadian.  This route finishes on the summit of Sgurr an Fheadian, and coupled with a quick descent down scree slopes into Coir a’Mheadaidh makes it a great choice for windy/wet/short days.  We finished the day off with a quick drink in the Sligachan Hotel, a must for any mountaineering trip to Skye!  Unsurprisingly, it was quite busy in there, with plenty of folk taking shelter from the rain.

I was back on Skye today, this time with Les, who has had the Inn Pinn on his radar for the past ten years.  We set off in amongst a few showers, but restrained from donning waterproofs, and sure enough, it paid off, as the rain soon cleared.  Quite a bit of snow had been washed away since Tuesday, and we were able to make our way to the Inn Pinn without the need for an axe.  The rock on the East Ridge was dry, and Les made quick work of the two pitches of moderate climbing, and we soon found ourselves back down again.  Another team were also enjoying the dry rock whilst making an ascent of South Crack.  The skies cleared on our descent to remind us both that Skye really is one of the best spots in the world.

I’m back in Lochaber this weekend for a couple of days of mountaineering, before heading back to Skye next week to run a Munros course.  The weather forecast is looking very promising!

 

 

 

Climbing in the Valle d’Aosta, Italy

For the second half of my trip to the Alps, Tom and I found ourselves on the other side of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, in the stunning sun trap that is the Valle d’Aosta.  Whilst it is a beautiful valley, it wasn’t quite our intended plan from the outset… Having met up with Tom, who […]