Winter up North

From the ridiculous to the sublime…I think that fairly well sums up the couple of months I spent in Scotland this winter. When I arrived at the start of January it felt like going back to the previous March when everything was warm, wet and melting. I left at the end of February after a couple of weeks of stunning alpine like weather that left me wanting more. Quite different to how I felt after last winter when I couldn’t wait to see the back of Scotland!

This winter has been a good mix and balance of work and getting out on the hill for myself. It’s always a tricky one as a freelancer as it’s hard to turn down work yet the main point of freelancing, for me, is to have the time to get out for myself. I’ve been based in Fort William for the past few seasons now and this was no different. It was great this year staying with a few guys from North Wales so there was always plenty of people to go climbing with along with plenty of beta for work or climbing. Fort William is an odd place in winter as its usually completely deserted and definitely feels like the back of beyond at times. Yet somehow there manages to be a good social scene as everyone migrates to the same area for a period of a couple of months!

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First day out of the season…bouldering at Ruthven!

It has been great this winter climbing in places that I’ve never been to before such as Beinn Eighe, Lochnagar and Carn Etchachan. I’ve been wanting to get to these places since I first started climbing in Scotland but somehow hadn’t managed until this year.

Beinn Eighe...Big and intimidating!

Beinn Eighe…big and intimidating

Eilde Canyon...It was cool to check out this oft talked about ice venue in Glencoe. Not much in condition when we were there but certainly a more continental style of climbing...minus the sun and blue skies!

Eilde Canyon…It was cool to check out this oft talked about ice venue in Glencoe. Not much in condition when we were there but certainly a more continental style of climbing…minus the sun and blue skies!

Organ Pipe Walls, Beinn Udlaidh. Chris Thorne storming up the main pitch.

Organ Pipe Walls, Beinn Udlaidh. Chris Thorne storming up the main pitch.

Rob Spencer and the Godfrey Jackson Memorial team on a PYB Winter Mountaineering course.

Rob Spencer and the Godfrey Jackson Memorial team on a PYB Winter Mountaineering course.

Some of the QUBMC guys on their yearly trip to Scotland...somehow they always manage to get good conditions!

Some of the QUBMC guys on their yearly trip to Scotland…somehow they always manage to get good conditions!

A grand day out with Guy and Murdo! Guy engaged in the crux on Auricle, Coire an Lochain.

A grand day out with Guy and Murdo! Guy engaged in the crux on Auricle, Coire an Lochain.

Matt and Scott enjoying good conditions on Taxus, Beinn an Dothaidh.

Matt and Scott enjoying good conditions on Taxus, Beinn an Dothaidh.

Ronnie engaged on the top corner of Compression Cracks. Unfortunately it wasn't to be from here as the snow turned to mush. One of the highlights of the day was coming down Castle Gully..very atmospheric!

Ronnie engaged on the top corner of Compression Cracks. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be from here as the snow turned to mush. Highlight of the day was coming down Castle Gully..very atmospheric!

Lou on second pitch of Smiths Gully on Creag Meaghaidh. This is a route that I had been wanting to do for a while and it didnt disappoint!

Smiths Gully on Creag Meaghaidh…a route that I had been wanting to do for a while and it didn’t disappoint!

Lochnagar is one of those places that always seems so far away when living on the West Coast. With stellar weather and reports of good conditions we made the trek over and were rewarded with a magic day!

Lochnagar is one of those places that always seems so far away when living on the West Coast. However with stellar weather and reports of good conditions the trek over and were rewarded with a magic day!

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