Trip Report
Scottish Winter Climbing - the BMC International Winter Meet in the Cairngorms

by BMcC
Wednesday June 25, 2014 5:29pm
Before climbing the Moose's Tooth in May 2013, Steve and I had already discussed going to Scotland to experience real Scottish conditions and climb mixed routes done by the likes of Tom Patey, Hamish MacInnes, Joe Brown, Don Whillans, and others. While in base camp on the Root Canal Glacier below the Moose's Tooth, we talked about other Alaskan routes we wanted to climb the next year and about Scotland. We began making some plans for both.

This is sort of what I hoped Scottish winter climbing would be like: s...
This is sort of what I hoped Scottish winter climbing would be like: steep ice, rock, snow, maybe some frozen turf, and snowy weather (pic on Headless Gully taken by Crag Jones - 2/1/14). Much of the climbing was that and brilliantly fun!
Credit: BMcC

After the Moose's Tooth, over beers talking about Shaken, Not Stirred, Gregory Crouch also shared with me stories of his adventures climbing in the winter in Scotland and generously loaned me a guidebook (Winter Climbs Ben Nevis Glencoe by Ed Grindley) and some topographic maps. I would have to go!

A bit later, the American Alpine Club (AAC) announced a call for applicants to attend the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) International Winter Meet 2014 at the Glenmore Lodge in the heart of the Cairngorms. The 2 nominees from the US would be responsible for their own travel expenses, but the event lodging and meals are highly subsidized by the BMC.

Both Steve and I applied thinking that we could plan our Scottish climbing trip around the BMC International Winter Meet, if either one or both of us had the good fortune to be nominated by the AAC. We could even score some points at home if we invited our wives (one each) to join us afterwards for some touristing in Scotland.

I lucked out. BMcC would be going to the BMC International Winter Meet. Steve and I coordinated our plans to climb in Scotland and for touristing with our wives to follow.

There were 44 guests from 26 countries teamed up with a like number of UK host climbers. As an international guest, I climbed each day with a host and was shown "the full delights of Scottish winter climbing." Since I was going as one of two from the States (Patrick Cooke was the other AAC rep), I volunteered to do an evening presentation about climbing ice on this side of the pond (I showed this video by Ed Hartouni of our climb of the Ames Ice Hose in Colorado http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTcnHIK-xts and a subset of the pics from my Moose's Tooth climbs with Steve http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Mooses-Tooth-Ham-and-Eggs-and-Shaken-Not-Stirred/t11971n.html). Scottish winter climbing was fun, my hosts were great, the weather was Scottish, and the time flew by in a blur.

The following are pics from climbing before, during, and after the International Winter Meet and a few from our touristing in Scotland. Becky McGovern (Meet organizer) sent out my email address to the Meet hosts to let them know that I was coming early and interested in climbing before the Meet. Within minutes of her sending out my address, I was getting offers. I took the 1st (from Susan Jensen), because it seemed too good to pass up. It was. The next person to offer to climb with me was Andy Nisbett (author of Scottish Winter Climbs, other guidebooks, and about 1000 first ascents). Via Andy and others, Steve got an invite to stay and climb with Masa Sakano who would not be a host at the Meet, but was getting out almost regardless of the weather and route conditions.


The Sierra Nevada looking much too dry and snowless (1/22/14).
The Sierra Nevada looking much too dry and snowless (1/22/14).
Credit: BMcC

My stopover and change of planes in Newark, New Jersey, were an uneven...
My stopover and change of planes in Newark, New Jersey, were an uneventful blur (1/22/14).
Credit: BMcC

Control tower at the airport in Edinburgh at daybreak (1/23/14&#41...
Control tower at the airport in Edinburgh at daybreak (1/23/14). Starting my 1st day in Scotland, I de-planed got my bags, went through customs and was greeted by Susan Jensen who had very generously volunteered to be my host and climbing partner prior to
Credit: BMcC

Inverkeithing in the Kingdom of Fife, located along the Firth of Forth...
Inverkeithing in the Kingdom of Fife, located along the Firth of Forth (1/23/14). Heading north to climb.
Credit: BMcC

The Cairngorms.
The Cairngorms.
Credit: BMcC

Map in the Ling Hut (the hut is below the mid-point on the bottom ...
Map in the Ling Hut (the hut is below the mid-point on the bottom of the map; 1/23/14). We were going to climb the next day on Coire Dubh Mor on Liathach (wiki: a coire or cirque, also called a corrie or a cwm, is a terrain feature created by glaciation).
Credit: BMcC

Sunrise (1/24/14).
Sunrise (1/24/14).
Credit: BMcC

Coire Dubh Mor on Liathach (1/24/14).
Coire Dubh Mor on Liathach (1/24/14).
Credit: BMcC

Susan approaching steeper terrain with icy and mixed bits above - on G...
Susan approaching steeper terrain with icy and mixed bits above - on George, a fun little route on Coire Dubh Mor on Liathach (1/24/14).
Credit: BMcC

Somewhat higher on George (Scottish III, 4). We each trailed a...
Somewhat higher on George (Scottish III, 4). We each trailed a rope for the 1st bit and then started belaying in the upper 1/5 of this pic for a pitch each of steeper stuff.
Credit: BMcC

A pleasant view with the sea in the distance (probably the Sea of ...
A pleasant view with the sea in the distance (probably the Sea of the Hebrides - the North Atlantic is beyond the Sea of the Hebrides and the Hebrides Islands).
Credit: BMcC

Susan planning our descent with the wind trying to blow her off the su...
Susan planning our descent with the wind trying to blow her off the summit ridge (1/24/14).
Credit: BMcC

Looking back across the face of Coire Dubh Mor (1/24/14). Turn...
Looking back across the face of Coire Dubh Mor (1/24/14). Turned out that climbing and avi conditions were better here in Torridon than the Cairngorm or Ben Nevis areas, so I was back here for another 4 fun routes.
Credit: BMcC

Torridon trailhead sign. I climbed more in Torridon than I did anywher...
Torridon trailhead sign. I climbed more in Torridon than I did anywhere else in Scotland.
Credit: BMcC

Masa Sakano, Steve Towne, Rob Goodman and Susan in the pub in the Glen...
Masa Sakano, Steve Towne, Rob Goodman and Susan in the pub in the Glen Hotel in Newtonmore. Steve had arrived that morning in Edinburgh, rented a car, and drove hours on the wrong side of the road to get to Masa's.
Credit: BMcC

Haggis neeps and tatties (described on the menu as haggis, clapsho...
Haggis neeps and tatties (described on the menu as haggis, clapshot, and whiskey sauce) in early celebration of Robbie Burns Day (the 25th of January). Tasty.
Credit: BMcC

Weather conditions were forecast to be quite unfavorable for climbing ...
Weather conditions were forecast to be quite unfavorable for climbing at higher elevations, so Susan chauffeured Steve and me to Elgin to visit the Elgin cathedral ruins that date back to the 13th century. Prior to my taking this pic, it really was rainy.
Credit: BMcC

Susan (1/26/14). Before Susan and I checked in with the BMC In...
Susan (1/26/14). Before Susan and I checked in with the BMC International Winter Meet at the Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms, we went with Steve and Rob to Inverness to climb indoors since the weather was uncooperative again (too warm, wet, and windy).
Credit: BMcC

Becky McGovern beginning her overview of our week of daytime climbing ...
Becky McGovern beginning her overview of our week of daytime climbing and evening presentations during the BMC International Winter Meet (1/26/14). Simon Richardson (the evening's presenter) and Nick Colton (event coordinator with Becky) sitting on left.
Credit: BMcC

Socializing in the bar at the Glenmore Lodge with some of the hosts an...
Socializing in the bar at the Glenmore Lodge with some of the hosts and 42 climbers representing 26 countries at the Winter Meet.
Credit: BMcC

Doing the Fiacaill Ridge on Coire An T-Sneachda in the Cairngorms with...
Doing the Fiacaill Ridge on Coire An T-Sneachda in the Cairngorms with Alan Hinkes (the 1st Briton to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000 meter peaks and my climbing partner/host for the 1st 2 days of the Winter Meet; 1/27/14).
Credit: BMcC

Unknown climber topping out on an unknown (to me) route on the...
Unknown climber topping out on an unknown (to me) route on the Fiacaill Buttress in Scottish conditions (1/27/14). Scottish conditions.
Credit: BMcC

Alan posing below our route (1/28/14). We were back to Coire A...
Alan posing below our route (1/28/14). We were back to Coire An T-Sneachda to climb a route called Invernookie on the Fiacaill Buttress. Many of the climbers visible in the picture above Alan are on "our" route.
Credit: BMcC

These guys generously shared their belay with us (1/28/14). Yo...
These guys generously shared their belay with us (1/28/14). You can see 2 pairs of ropes in this pic - 1 pair belongs to the leader in this pic and the other to the leader of the team ahead of these guys (and ahead of us). Crossed ropes, but zero hassles.
Credit: BMcC

Easy fun and almost steepish (1/28/14). 3 pitches. Alan coming up.
Easy fun and almost steepish (1/28/14). 3 pitches. Alan coming up.
Credit: BMcC

Having fun (1/28/14). Great attitudes.
Having fun (1/28/14). Great attitudes.
Credit: BMcC

The Triple Buttresses on Coire Mhic Fhearchair on Beinn Eighe - back i...
The Triple Buttresses on Coire Mhic Fhearchair on Beinn Eighe - back in Torridon (1/29/14). My host for the day Gwilym Lynn and I climbed the West Buttress (just right of the middle of this pic).
Credit: BMcC

Gwilym heading up Fuselage Gully to access our route (1/29/14)...
Gwilym heading up Fuselage Gully to access our route (1/29/14). Parts of an American plane which crashed much higher in gully during World War II serve as rap anchors for climbers descending the gully. Other parts have been avalanched down to lake level.
Credit: BMcC

Gwilym starting up (1/29/14).
Gwilym starting up (1/29/14).
Credit: BMcC

Gwilym coming up (1/29/14)
Gwilym coming up (1/29/14)
Credit: BMcC

Gwilym at the belay below the last pitch (1/29/14).
Gwilym at the belay below the last pitch (1/29/14).
Credit: BMcC

Gwilym on an airy belay stance (1/29/14).
Gwilym on an airy belay stance (1/29/14).
Credit: BMcC

Nice views below through the clouds and blowing snow (1/29/14).
Nice views below through the clouds and blowing snow (1/29/14).
Credit: BMcC

Great T-shirt at the evening talk - meanwhile, down in front Nick Bull...
Great T-shirt at the evening talk - meanwhile, down in front Nick Bullock gave a hilariously entertaining and dynamic presentation (1/29/14).
Credit: BMcC

Since avi and route conditions were not great in the nearby Cairngorms...
Since avi and route conditions were not great in the nearby Cairngorms, early starts with drives of several hours and approach hikes of hours became the rule. The early breakfast sign out sheets were fair predictors of the late-to-dinner people.
Credit: BMcC

A line of climbers heading for our route - Scabbard Chimney on Stob Co...
A line of climbers heading for our route - Scabbard Chimney on Stob Coire Nan Lochan left on Glen Coe near Fort William (1/30/14). Time to re-think our choice of routes.
Credit: BMcC

New plan. Crag Jones, my host, heading for Raeburn's Route on Stob Coi...
New plan. Crag Jones, my host, heading for Raeburn's Route on Stob Coire Nan Lochan right on Glen Coe (1/30/14).
Credit: BMcC

Knifeblade (called a peg over there) placed and about to head ...
Knifeblade (called a peg over there) placed and about to head up (1/30/14). Among Crag's many climbing accomplishments, he was the 1st Welshman to summit Everest. So unassuming.
Credit: BMcC

View from the 2nd belay. Where the rope drops over the edge below, the...
View from the 2nd belay. Where the rope drops over the edge below, the snow was wonderfully steep and firm (neve).
Credit: BMcC

Somewhat steep getting to the summit.
Somewhat steep getting to the summit.
Credit: BMcC

Ft. William from the summit (1/30/14). Ft. William makes a gre...
Ft. William from the summit (1/30/14). Ft. William makes a great base from which to climb routes on Ben Nevis (the tallest in Scotland at 4,409' or 1,344 m) and Glen Coe.

Credit: BMcC

The weather forecast for the 5th day of the Winter Meet convinced our ...
The weather forecast for the 5th day of the Winter Meet convinced our expert readers and interpreters of Scottish weather and mountain conditions that we should go somewhere other than "high" - solution? dry-tooling in the rain (1/31/14).
Credit: BMcC

Nice views of the loch from where we parked (1/31/14). Not lon...
Nice views of the loch from where we parked (1/31/14). Not long after our driver fired up the van, I was sound asleep and then suddenly awake back at the Glenmore Lodge.
Credit: BMcC

Nice sunrise from the trail on the last day of the BMC International W...
Nice sunrise from the trail on the last day of the BMC International Winter Meet as Crag Jones and I headed for the Headless Gully on Coire Dubh Beag on Liathach in the Torridon Estate (2/1/14).
Credit: BMcC

Wonderful Scottish scenery and (yay!) not raining or snowing o...
Wonderful Scottish scenery and (yay!) not raining or snowing on this approach.
Credit: BMcC

Our Headless Gully is just left of center (2/1/14).
Our Headless Gully is just left of center (2/1/14).
Credit: BMcC

That's the backside (descent side) of Beinn Eighe in the dista...
That's the backside (descent side) of Beinn Eighe in the distance (2/1/14). The views wouldn't quit.
Credit: BMcC

Headless Gully on Coire Dubh Beag on Liathach in the Torridon Estate f...
Headless Gully on Coire Dubh Beag on Liathach in the Torridon Estate from closer in (pic courtesy of Crag Jones; 2/1/14).
Credit: BMcC

My 1st Headless lead (huh?).( Pic courtesy of Crag Jones - 2/1/14).
My 1st Headless lead (huh?).( Pic courtesy of Crag Jones - 2/1/14).
Credit: Crag Jones

The ice was quite nice.
The ice was quite nice.
Credit: BMcC

Crag's lead (2/1/14).
Crag's lead (2/1/14).
Credit: BMcC

Self - yes, I was having a very good time! (2/1/14)
Self - yes, I was having a very good time! (2/1/14)
Credit: BMcC

After our last climb (Headless on Liathach on the Torridon Estate&...
After our last climb (Headless on Liathach on the Torridon Estate), the Meet events included a closeout reading of the names of routes climbed (a bunch new) and areas visited, and a very fun, loud party in the bar that lasted many hours longer than I did.
Credit: BMcC

Parting shot of the Glenmore Lodge as Steve and I moved onward for mor...
Parting shot of the Glenmore Lodge as Steve and I moved onward for more Scottish winter climbing (2/2/14). The previous week had flown by with iffy weather, rotten weather, beautiful weather, changeable weather, long drives, and some fun routes.
Credit: BMcC

From the Glenmore Lodge (they had no post-Meet space), did err...
From the Glenmore Lodge (they had no post-Meet space), did errands, sight seeing and moved into Steve's and my home-away-from-home (2/2/14). Nice facilities, kitchen and dining area, each had our own bunkroom, and some weak wifii for emails and weather.
Credit: BMcC

Services were available next door (2/2/14). The Suie Bar was a...
Services were available next door (2/2/14). The Suie Bar was a couple of steps farther away, as we discovered later, and worth the extra steps...
Credit: BMcC

Sunrise on our drive out west to the Cobalt Buttress on Meall Gorm &#4...
Sunrise on our drive out west to the Cobalt Buttress on Meall Gorm (2/3/14). Several parties from the Winter Meet had climbed there 2 days earlier and found good conditions.
Credit: BMcC

What a beautiful place to live (2/3/14).  Almost no traffic on...
What a beautiful place to live (2/3/14). Almost no traffic on the main roads on our drive to Lochcarron and only sheep on the single track roads.
Credit: BMcC

After hours of driving with high winds and discouraging air temps of 6...
After hours of driving with high winds and discouraging air temps of 6-10 degrees Celsius (that's 43-50 Fahrenheit), we got to see our destination - the big snow-free buttress in the right foreground (2/3/14).

Credit: BMcC

The Cobalt Buttress on Meall Gorm goes generally up the right edge of ...
The Cobalt Buttress on Meall Gorm goes generally up the right edge of the tallest buttress trending up leftwards from the scree gully (2/3/14). Andy Nisbet defines "Winter Conditions" basically as white (snow or ice covered) and frozen. This wasn't.
Credit: BMcC

Highland cow near Balnacra, Scotland.
Highland cow near Balnacra, Scotland.
Credit: BMcC

After our Cobalt Buttress drive, Steve and I met Andy for dinner at th...
After our Cobalt Buttress drive, Steve and I met Andy for dinner at the Old Bridge Inn and discussed options. Andy invited us to join Sandy Allan and him on a new route in the Northern Highlands. Dave MacLeod was coming along to film them.
Credit: BMcC

Approaching Andy's secret Peak "X" - somewhere near Glen Shiel (2/...
Approaching Andy's secret Peak "X" - somewhere near Glen Shiel (2/4/14).
Credit: BMcC

Steve, Sandy, and Andy climbing to our 1st belay stance (2/4/14&#4...
Steve, Sandy, and Andy climbing to our 1st belay stance (2/4/14). Andy disappeared up and away. Unconsolidated snow over steep rock with too little turf, gave way resulting in a leader fall. Mostly uninjured, he invited Steve to give it a go.
Credit: BMcC

Steve went up, pushed the route a bit higher, and sprained an ankle on...
Steve went up, pushed the route a bit higher, and sprained an ankle on his 4th fall (2/4/14). Dave had rappelled down from the top of the cliff and got some video of Steve's falls. With Steve injured, it was time to go.
Credit: BMcC

Here's a link to the video which Dave MacLeod made for the Fort William festival honoring Andy Nisbet and capturing Steve's falls on video... http://vimeo.com/87197149 - you can copy and paste it into your browser window to watch it. Quite well done!

Dave snapped this pic of Sandy, Andy, Steve, and me outside the Cluani...
Dave snapped this pic of Sandy, Andy, Steve, and me outside the Cluanie Inn's Public Bar where he'd just conducted his interviews (2/4/14). Great people.
Credit: BMcC

Stopped by the Aviemore Health Center a few miles N of the CCC to get ...
Stopped by the Aviemore Health Center a few miles N of the CCC to get Steve's ankle examined (2/5/14). The receptionist asked Steve a few questions and filled in a few lines on a form. Saw med specialist. No signature or fee. Total time 17 min.
Credit: BMcC

Availed ourselves of the services of the Suie Bar (just around the...
Availed ourselves of the services of the Suie Bar (just around the corner) after a slide show at the CCC on the experiences of an English teacher in India and Nepal, along with some trekking and adventuresome train travel (2/5/14).
Credit: BMcC

Back to Coire Dubh Mor on Liathach in the Torridon area in the Norther...
Back to Coire Dubh Mor on Liathach in the Torridon area in the Northern Highlands with Susan (2/7/14). Steve was unable to climb due to his sprained ankle, but was able to meet his wife and mine in Edinburgh a bit earlier than we had planned.
Credit: BMcC

Looked like a crowd on Poacher's Fall (FA by Andy Nisbet, 1978&#41...
Looked like a crowd on Poacher's Fall (FA by Andy Nisbet, 1978)- 2 other parties of 2 were there ahead of us (2/7/14)
Credit: BMcC

Small world - the climbers were Swedes and included my friend Per whom...
Small world - the climbers were Swedes and included my friend Per whom I had not seen since a shared ice climbing trip in Laerdal, Norway, 8 years ago (2/7/14).
Credit: BMcC

Some fun steep ice climbing (2/7/14). The route had more ice &...
Some fun steep ice climbing (2/7/14). The route had more ice (and far less rock and turf climbing) than any of the other climbs I had done in Scotland. Susan on the right. Per on lead just below her.
Credit: BMcC

One of the Swedes nearing the top of the steep fun (2/7/14). A...
One of the Swedes nearing the top of the steep fun (2/7/14). Another pitch to go and only a short wait for my turn to continue. Taking care to not knock stuff off, there was plenty of room for our 3 parties of 2 and fun for all.
Credit: BMcC

Susan catching up with me while I snapped pics of the beautiful views ...
Susan catching up with me while I snapped pics of the beautiful views (2/7/14)
Credit: BMcC

View and even some blue sky (2/7/14).
View and even some blue sky (2/7/14).
Credit: BMcC

Almost down (2//7/14). The peak dominating the right quarter o...
Almost down (2//7/14). The peak dominating the right quarter of this pic is Beinn Eighe - the East Butress of which we would be on the next day.
Credit: BMcC

The back side (descent side) of Beinn Eighe on the Torridon Es...
The back side (descent side) of Beinn Eighe on the Torridon Estate in the Northern Highlands (2/8/14).
Credit: BMcC

Plan: climb the East Buttress of the Triple Buttresses of Beinn Eighe ...
Plan: climb the East Buttress of the Triple Buttresses of Beinn Eighe before the weather tanked (2/8/14).
Credit: BMcC

The traverse to the start of the East Buttress (2/8/14).
The traverse to the start of the East Buttress (2/8/14).
Credit: BMcC

Arrived to find a crowd already lined-up to climb "our" route (2/8...
Arrived to find a crowd already lined-up to climb "our" route (2/8/14).
Credit: BMcC

Susan cruised this steep corner rather wait behind the others for the ...
Susan cruised this steep corner rather wait behind the others for the easier 1st pitch (2/8/14).
Credit: BMcC

Lower angled, easier terrain, but party ahead was still moving slowly,...
Lower angled, easier terrain, but party ahead was still moving slowly, so we decided to leave rather than finish late in bad weather...
Credit: BMcC

Eilean Doran Castle (2/9/14). Raining pretty heavily, so we dr...
Eilean Doran Castle (2/9/14). Raining pretty heavily, so we drove to Fort William to visit Per before we relocated to the CCC to climb in the Cairngorms again.
Credit: BMcC

Back to the Cairngorms with Susan (2/10/14). My last day of Sc...
Back to the Cairngorms with Susan (2/10/14). My last day of Scottish winter climbing on this trip. Very windy on the plateau well above the ski resort. Goggles and mittens.
Credit: BMcC

Out of the wind, getting our climbing gear on (2/10/14).
Out of the wind, getting our climbing gear on (2/10/14).
Credit: BMcC

Susan heading up our route - the Sermon - steep ice and snow to the le...
Susan heading up our route - the Sermon - steep ice and snow to the left facing corner in the center of this pic (2/10/14). I think Andy said ours was likely the 3rd ascent of this route.
Credit: BMcC

Susan belaying me from below the crux corner on the Sermon (2/10/14).
Susan belaying me from below the crux corner on the Sermon (2/10/14).
Credit: BMcC

Susan cruising the crux (2/10/14). While following Susan's lea...
Susan cruising the crux (2/10/14). While following Susan's lead, I noticed that my right crampon wasn't behaving as I expected. Turns out I had lost my right front point.
Credit: BMcC

Susan on our 2nd route of the day (2/10/14). Ramps and steep p...
Susan on our 2nd route of the day (2/10/14). Ramps and steep pillars of ice. Cruiser fun ice even with one limping crampon.
Credit: BMcC

Take away dinner (take out) after a splendid day of climbing &...
Take away dinner (take out) after a splendid day of climbing (2/10/14). Where I had fish and chips (fried breaded fish and giant french fries), Susan had the fish and the ever-popular mashed green peas.
Credit: BMcC

The World's End pub a the edge of the old city of Edinburgh (2/11/...
The World's End pub a the edge of the old city of Edinburgh (2/11/14). Ann and I had lunch there several times as it was close to our apartment.
Credit: BMcC

The Royal Over-Seas League Private Members Club (2/11/14). We ...
The Royal Over-Seas League Private Members Club (2/11/14). We were Susan's invited guests to a Scottish Mountaineering Club meeting and presentation on the adventures of 4 UK climbers who sailed 4 weeks from Canada to Greenland, to climb in the fjords.
Credit: BMcC

Evening moon over Edinburgh (2/11/14).
Evening moon over Edinburgh (2/11/14).
Credit: BMcC

Stopped off for a brief a distillery tour reserved for our foursome by...
Stopped off for a brief a distillery tour reserved for our foursome by Steve and Lynn (2/12/14). It's located in the Grampian Mountains at an elevation of about 1073'. It was storming (blowing and snowing) as we headed north on our couples tour.
Credit: BMcC

Bagpiper on the Royal Mile en route to the Edinburgh Castle.
Bagpiper on the Royal Mile en route to the Edinburgh Castle.
Credit: BMcC

Invisible man sighting (2/14/14).
Invisible man sighting (2/14/14).
Credit: BMcC

Edinburgh Castle (2/14/14). In the 1st Century AD, local peopl...
Edinburgh Castle (2/14/14). In the 1st Century AD, local people built a fort here. Additions, renovations, razings, and rebuilding followed.
Credit: BMcC

The remains of St. Anthony's Chapel on the flank of the Salisbury Crai...
The remains of St. Anthony's Chapel on the flank of the Salisbury Craigs above Edinburgh (2/15/14). Built sometime prior to 1426.
Credit: BMcC

Castle view over the rooftops of the Waverly Station (2/15/14).
Castle view over the rooftops of the Waverly Station (2/15/14).
Credit: BMcC

Borderlands from the tour bus en roiute to the Glenkinchie Distillery ...
Borderlands from the tour bus en roiute to the Glenkinchie Distillery (2/16/14). Very smooth but I think I prefer the Dalwhinnie scotch.
Credit: BMcC

View from one of the many closes (an alleyways) along the main...
View from one of the many closes (an alleyways) along the main street of Old Town Edinburgh, now known as the Royal Mile (2/17/14). Some interesting historical info on closes on wikipedia (search for: "List of Closes on the Royal Mile").
Credit: BMcC

And this brings me to the close of my trip.

My trip to Scotland was quite fantastic due to the wonderful Scots and others we met, who hosted us, climbed with us, made touristing suggestions, etc.

I wish to thank: The American Alpine Club and John Bragg for nominating me to attend the BMC International Winter Meet; Becky McGovern (Meet organizer) for sending my email address out to the Meet hosts letting them know I would arrive days prior to the Meet and was anxious to climb; the hosts (many) who generously offered to host and climb with me prior to the Meet -- especially Susan Jensen whose offer I accepted and with whom I had the pleasure of climbing before and after the Meet, Andy Nisbet who also offered to host me (mere minutes after I had received and accepted Susan's offer) and who put Steve (my climbing partner and friend from Colorado) in touch with Masa with whom Steve climbed while I was pre-occupied with the Meet, and Sandy Allan (Piolet D'Or winner) with whom Steve and I did part of a climb and in whose converted police station I was housed for a couple of stormy nights; and Lynn's friend Beatta who gave us suggestions for our touristing days; Greg Crouch for loaning me topo maps and a guidebook for winter climbing in Scotland; and, of course, Steve for coming to Scotland to climb with others during the Meet and with me after the Meet, and Lynn and Ann for coming over to tourist with us. Thanks, also, to others whom I have not named. Good memories of good times in Scotland!

I hope you enjoyed the pics!

  Trip Report Views: 1,657
BMcC
About the Author
BMcC is a trad climber from Livermore.

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Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
  Jun 25, 2014 - 05:38pm PT
Just awesome!! Thnx.
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
  Jun 25, 2014 - 05:56pm PT
Awesome report....climbing and culture! Thanks for taking us along.
sandstone conglomerate

climber
sharon conglomerate central
  Jun 25, 2014 - 05:58pm PT
Great TR. Thanks for sharing.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Jun 25, 2014 - 05:58pm PT
Wow, all I can say is wow. And some other stuff. Scotland looks so craggy and the frost on the rocks looks so cool. Those are some awesome small peaks. Thanks for sharing.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
Terence Wilson greeneck alleghenys,ny,
  Jun 25, 2014 - 07:36pm PT
Always wondered what it looked like,thanks and cheers .
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Jun 25, 2014 - 07:53pm PT
nice, but nary a dram to be seen!

so what's the deal -- is Feb "the time to go"?
tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
  Jun 25, 2014 - 10:05pm PT
Man that looks cold.

Did you have a spare front point on the Sermon ?

Susan appears to be a hardy lass.

Great TR Bill. TFPU

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Jun 25, 2014 - 11:15pm PT
the ever stokeful TR from BMcC!

thanks for posting it...
wonderful trip.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jun 26, 2014 - 12:58am PT
Thanks, all.

miike m, I think it was Simon Yearsley who said that in climbing in Scotland in the winter, you get "big adventures on little mountains."

wilbeer, the weather was especially squirrelly this year, but I would guess that late February and March would generally be better than late January. I've heard that some routes on Ben Nevis can be in good condition late into April and beyond.

tuolumne_tradster, I had spare front points in my kit back at Susan's car (we had moved out of the Cairngorm Christian Center well before sunrise) but no spare bolts. I learned that a person can climb some pretty steep ice using the side-points. Silly thing is that I had re-sharpened my crampons the evening before, but forgot to check to make certain the nut and bolt were tight on each crampon. So you ice climbers out there - let this serve as a reminder to you to check your nuts periodically to ensure they're tight.

t_tradster, Susan was an excellent host and partner. Strong, knowledgeable, and super go-for-it attitude.

Susan, Andy Nisbet, and Simon Richardson were the resident experts for the Meet suggesting to others where and what routes we might climb when the weather was crap (most of the time) and avalanche conditions were very high (also, most of the time - especially in the Cairngorms and Ben Nevis areas). Less climbing was done in the Cairngorms near the Glenmore Lodge at this Winter Meet compared to other years - driving greater distances and hiking longer approaches became the norm. And that was all right with me, since that meant we were still getting out climbing.

Cheers!
gnarlydog

Mountain climber
Concord,Ca
  Jun 26, 2014 - 08:09am PT
Great TR as always. Looks like an excellent place to be and climb.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jun 30, 2014 - 07:03pm PT
For those of you who may be interested, Patrick Cooke had different hosts, climbed other routes, and did this write-up on the 2014 Winter Meet for NE Ice:

http://neice.com/2014/02/scottish-winter/
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Jun 30, 2014 - 07:40pm PT
hey there say, BMcC... say, i reallyyyyyyyyy enjoyed this... so much to see, and all that ice-cold stuff, :) and happy friends... :)


loved the whole trip report... thanks for sharing...

BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jun 30, 2014 - 08:05pm PT
And here's a link to Steve Towne's splendid and somewhat whimsical report on the Scottish winter climbing he was doing while and after the Winter Meet was underway: http://theicefall.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2014-06-26T08:25:00-07:00&max-results=7

Cheers!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Jun 30, 2014 - 08:30pm PT
from Steve Towne's blog



old footage...
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Jun 30, 2014 - 09:37pm PT
Wait, it's still bloody winter there? What about global warming?
I loved climbing there because the days were so short you could husband yer energy
for a full night's drinking. Then the hangover was mitigated by the lashing rain of the
next morning's approach.
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Jul 1, 2014 - 12:22am PT
Wowza, I had no idea!
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jul 1, 2014 - 09:55am PT
Wow, froze my butt just going through your great TR. Downright Alaskan type adventure. TFPU
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 1, 2014 - 04:06pm PT
Kool!!!!
Thank you!
Plaidman

Trad climber
South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
  Jul 1, 2014 - 04:48pm PT
Great job! Pics, writing and climbing.
Got me stoked for my trip this Dec. to Hyalite Canyon Montana and it is just now July.
Thx for posting.

Plaid
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Jul 1, 2014 - 05:17pm PT
Highly entertaining! Thanks for posting.
lars
moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Jul 1, 2014 - 06:25pm PT
How the hell did I miss this one....Well done and thanx for sharing......

Stevo
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Jul 3, 2014 - 08:54am PT
What a great time! Very jealous.

I hope to still visit Scotland, but it will have to be the summer, and I won't even let that nasty ice get near my whiskey.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Jul 3, 2014 - 06:58pm PT
Full on Scottish conditions are fun?
Bruce, you're weird!

serious envy here. What a grand outing.

EDIT:
whoops.....Bill it is.
But of course full on Scottish conditions are fun. Seriously. I suppose we're fellow masochists. Great TR and pics, thanks for sharing.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jul 3, 2014 - 05:07pm PT
Thanks everyone for your comments.

Scotland is a beautiful country and the hospitality I was shown was tremendous.

In answer to High Traverse's question: "Full on Scottish conditions are fun?" It's a matter of perspective with some avoidance and selectivity added ahead of time, and a deal-with-it attitude, if and as the weather changes for the worse.

Also, the Scottish conditions made the glimpses of blue sky all the more precious and memorable.

I was fortunate and was connected with some of the best of the best in understanding and interpreting weather (what, when, and how severe) and mountain/route conditions (both climbing and avalanche conditions). I was also fortunate in that I was there climbing before and after the International Winter Meet - I wasn't limited to the event's 6 climbing days.

cheers, Bill

Scottish conditions in the Cairgroms (1/28/14).
Scottish conditions in the Cairgroms (1/28/14).
Credit: BMcC

What's not to like? (1/28/14)
What's not to like? (1/28/14)
Credit: BMcC

Fun (1/28/14).
Fun (1/28/14).
Credit: BMcC
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Jul 3, 2014 - 08:08pm PT
what kind of rack do the locals carry? I'm guessing they're unfazed by hexes ... are they hip to tri-cams? do they bring any pegs these days?
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jul 4, 2014 - 12:51am PT
ms55401 - seemed to me that, depending on the person and the route, a rack might consist of 4-6 pins (pegs), lots of wired stoppers, a set of hexes, a few cams, and a wart hog or 2 for driving into frozen turf. Sometimes a spectre ice pin or 2.

My hosts did not have tricams on their racks, but other host climbers did.

For a couple of routes, we brought only a screw or 2, and placed none, using only stoppers and hexes. I used some cams on lead and for some belays, but had to be careful to clean the ice out of the placements to be sure that the cams would hold. My hosts/partners tended to not use cams even though we carried some.

Tapping (or pounding) on hexes and stoppers was sometimes done to ensure that they were firmly placed.

Both Headless Gully on Liathach Coire Dubh Beag and Poachers Fall on Liathach Coire Dubh Mor had enough ice that getting good pro was easy: ice screws. Neither required extensive searching and excavation to uncover cracks in the rock that would take pins, stoppers, hexes, or cams. Excavation was the rule for most other routes.

Since getting good pro often required excavation, an adze is handy to have on one of your tools. I had hammer heads on both of my Cobras (have had for years on mostly ice routes and been very happy with them) and that made finding good gear harder. Before heading to Alaska this recent May, I got an adze for 1 of my Cobras. It turned to be very handy for uncovering cracks for gear and and almost essential for digging through and past the surface crud of snowy and rotten ice to firmer ice for v-threading to rap Peak 11,300.

For new routes in Scotland, more pins (pegs) and more other gear, but it depends on the intended route.

No bolts!

Here's Gwilym Lynn on the West Buttress of Coire Mhic Fhearchair on Be...
Here's Gwilym Lynn on the West Buttress of Coire Mhic Fhearchair on Beinn Eighe, with hexes and stoppers hanging from his harness on the left, 5 pins in the middle, and stoppers, hexes, cams, and a spectre ice pin on the right (1/29//14).
Credit: BMcC

Here's Crag Jones with 5 os so screws and a bunch of stoppers and hexe...
Here's Crag Jones with 5 os so screws and a bunch of stoppers and hexes for Raeburns Route on Stob Coire Nan Lochan on Glen Coe (1/30/14). I carried some cams and used them on my leads.
Credit: BMcC
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jul 4, 2014 - 01:50am PT
ms55401 - some excellent pin (peg) recommendations I received from Susan before the Meet: "Short and long knifeblade (or bugaboo), maybe a mediumish lost arrow, and a mid to larger sized angle. Leepers can be handy. I usually have about 4 (some assortment of the above) but rarely use them. In the Northern Corries above Glenmore Lodge, the routes are so heavily trafficked that if you need a peg there will likely be one in situ. But you may want them for esoteric climbing before and/or after the meet."

Cheers!
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