"A word on the spot is worth a cartload of recollections"
James Maggs, Southwold diarist 1797-1890

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Whistle Stop Cafe, Kinlochewe

Pavarotti is playing in this fine cafe. We're sitting by a woodburning stove
while the large, cheerful proprietress brews a big pot of tea and
makes us a goats cheese salad.

The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool

This is one of my favourite places. We are sitting next to a log fire
after a breakfast of sausages in a roll and excellent strong black
coffee. Kieran Goss (who we saw live here on Friday night) is playng
quietly on the PA.

The Ceilidh Place also a fine bookshop, a restaurant/bar serving good Scottish
food, beer and whiskies. What more could you ask for?

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Day 3: The Buchaille

The next day dawned clear and sunny yet again. Three days of good weather in a row - unheard of in Scotland! After much um-ing and ah-ing we opted to do a route on Buchaille Etive Mhor, the fine mountain dominating the entrance to Glen Coe.

We set out to climb Crowberry Gully (IV) but struggled to find it and, in the end, decided to climb Curved Ridge (II) instead. We weren't disappointed as the climb offered outstanding views over Rannoch Moor.

Here's Nick on the top. The visibility was outstanding, and we could see as far as Jura in the Southeast, Ben Nevis to the North, and the Cairngorms to the East.

Today we were shocked to learn that two climbers died in an avalanche on the mountain, the day after our ascent.

Days 1 & 2: ice cragging

On Sunday we walked up to Ben Dolaidh, east of Bridge of Orchy. Nick led the first pitch of Farenheit 435 (IV) but the steep slabs on the second pitch were barely covered with a thin layer of ice, so after giving it much more of a try than I'd have done, he came back down to the belay and we abseiled off.

An icefall to the left, Salamander Gully (IV) was in much better condition. It was my first winter lead since Canada last year, and felt pretty good.
The next morning we drove to Bridge of Orchy again but this time turned right (west) up a glen, and walked in to Ben Udlaidh. This north-facing crag had seen less sun and there was plenty of good ice to go at.

Here's Nick starting the first pitch of Peter Pan Direct (V).

I then led Quartzvein Scoop (IV).

On the top I spotted a small brown animal zigzagging about on the snow. It darted over to us and we saw it was some kind of shrew. ""Don't let it climb up your leg" a nearby climber shouted. It was so bizarre to see such an animal on a snowbound mountain top, that Nick took a while to get over his surprise and get his camera out.

Saturday, 20 February 2010