Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Back to the 'Mac'! Sunshine and surf, what more can you ask for?

Today Andy and Mike went south in search of waves and they scored, not big, but sweet all the same!
5.5 foot on the Wave buoy and chest high at the beach! very slight breeze and warm sunny conditions!
We were the only ones out all day.

No more to say really, apart from summer in Scotland is amazing the landscape on the drive home was beautiful, Islay, Jura, Gigha all just looked wonderful against the pale blue horizon.
Back home in Oban, i enjoyed the evening sunset over Mull.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Surf kayaking at Machrinhanish Sunday 29th March 09. the first day of summer!

As seen from the boat just before take off! and white sand is not rare in Scotland by the way!

Andy going for the bottom turn on a small but well formed wave.

Summer is here!

Well the blow continued and continues, the low pressure has dominated us up here now for 7 days, the sublime to the ridiculous, flat to huge and back again!

Not complaining though, we had a great few hours on Sunday.

Drhue and I went down to Machrinhanish for some waves and we found them!

Only about 2 foot but really sweet during a wee lull that settled mid morning.

The waves had a nice end to them and we had time to use the green water before they closed out on the beach!

The village end of the beach can be sheltered in a southerly and the rock Barr's that have been exposed over the winter are creating fine little lefts.

The surf kayaks were ideal for the 'slightly' windy conditions, however being a 'cross off' wind the Wave was sculptured nicely, allowing us time to be on the wave.

The first day of summer was cracking!

Lines and more lines! its a good start to the season.....

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Canyoning Adventures! March 24th

Drhue Forbes in The upper Sutherlands Grove Canyon near Oban during its first full descent!

Andy In the Cruachan Canyon after the third long Abseil.

Andy enjoying the mud! even before the Canyon trip.

Liam in The Ben More Canyon on Mull. During the first descent by Andy Spink & Liam Irvin in March 08.

Ben Starkie heading for the edge!

March 24th started cold and crisp with a dusting of new snow on the hills.

We http://www.hebrideanpursuits.com/took some pupils from Oban Hi School down the amazing canyon at Inchree Falls. The pictures speak volumes! It was cold, but a perfect level for this trip. The kids loved it!

Scotland offers fabulous canyon adventures from simple gorge scrambles to huge long journeys with high jumps, abseiling and big swims and slides.

These adventure trips are found in quiet and dramatic locations on the islands and in the highlands.
Only a couple of companies really offer specialist canyoning for real, one is Vertical Descents.
Like coasteering, canyoning offers true adventure but should only be undertaken with guides and with the correct equipment.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

In search of spring surf at West Port and St.Andrews.

Scotland offers quiet surfing all year round. Jamie www.clanskates.co.uk.
The snow is hanging in there up at 990m plus!

Collin at St.Andrews west sands, waiting is part of the game!

Sometimes small is enough, especially at the beginning of the season.
Ben Spink at home getting to grips with a foamie before i head to the beach.

With the winter mountaineering conditions continuing to give great climbing and walking, it has been hard to drag myself away from the highlands and return to the beaches and the search for spring swell and the surf lines that wrap in along Scotland's world class coast line.

The search has not been favorable, unfortunately a high pressure has dominated the UK for the last week and since i got back from the Alps it has been really warm and sunny, not complaining though. The sea is warming up already, much faster than last year which is pleasing.

The difficulty is finding rideable waves and hitting the breaks at the right time of day, early morning gives light winds that are slightly off shore but by lunch time it has picked up and will flatten the small wave faces off, by evening the sea breezes have lessened and the time to hit the peak again, problem is the lack of light at this time of year!

On Thursday the forecast was for westerly swell, so i headed to Machrihinish on the Mull of Kyntyre. I was lucky getting an hour and half of really sweet waves and all to myself. The sun shone all day and but as expected the wind ended my session so sun bathing was the order of the day.

On Saturday and Sunday I headed with Colin to St.Andrews as http://www.magicseaweed.com/ had posted a Small but possible potentail for this fickle break. Travel is part of the search, the anticipation of surfing is almost more exciting than the actual surfing! Never loose heart as the next session will be epic, or " you should have been here yesterday!"
Until next time..............................

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Spring snow and sun on Ben Cruachan, March 17th

Andy in the Cruachan gorge, on the first descent, it's a cracker of a canyon, loads of abseils and interesting down climbing!
Ben Cruachan from my bed room window this morning, time to go and do it!

Nick heading up from the Loch side.

Nick on the summit of Cruachan, Corrie Chat behind.

After arriving back into Scotland from Geneva [ more of this soon] my heart sank, as heavy rain and warm air flow and low cloud dominated Oban. But luckily only on Monday and as normal it only lasts a day or so!

Tuesday saw fabulous conditions on the hills and Andy and Nick ascended Ben Cruachan 1126m in near perfect spring conditions. The snow under foot was firm in the gullies and after a nights frost it was perfect for step cutting, whats more the sun shone all day! the views to Rum and Mull were just amazing. The North face still holds vast quantities of snow in Corrie Chat and the rock was bone dry!

Loch Awe and the southern highlands stretched out beyond the horizon, the deer were high up on the west flanks and we sunbathed next to the excellent Cruachan gorge before heading down.
Another classic Scottish day! The alps are beautiful but its hard to beat a day like today!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Snow! and more snow in Scotland! Thursday 5th Febuary.

At the mo its just driving in, snow shoes or skis are needed out there.

The Black Mount, just a perfect touring day last year.

Snow Hole on Ben Cruachan, a rare occasion but its all, location, location!

Ski touring in Glen Feshie, before skiing Tom and Harry.

Its snowing again and its snowing hard!

Some images of more snow conditions from my photo collection [unless stated otherwise], some days are office days, but it doesn't stop me dreaming of the white stuff! its not helped when mates keep calling to ask to go and play in the stuff!
Can't complain off to Morzine in morning for more white stuff, can't wait to get back on my board and apparently there is more of it than they know what to do with out there, happy hill going.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Oban Hi School Pupils Visit Tavool House on Mull.

Tavool House catches what ever sun is going!

Starting the Canyon and breaking the ice.

Over the last few days I have been over on Mull with the 'excite' project pupils from Oban Hi School. A short residential but allot of fun for everyone. Tavool House, http://www.hebrideanpursuits.com/ is a marvellous outdoor centre on the Ardmenach Peninsula above Loch Scridain. It has to be one of the best situated outdoor centres in The UK. Its ideal for residential, parties, special interest groups, wildlife enthusiasts and out door groups.

Day one, saw us Orienteering on 'the Burg', climbing trees and generally chasing around the moors. That night we sent the pupils off on the night line, a muddy and challenging experience in the pitch black and new snow that was falling fast down the sea level.

Day two, saw us canyoning with new snow down to the loch side. A cold experience but everyone really pushed themselves! The burn is only five Min's from the House and offers wonderful yet, easy adventure from hill to sea.

Driving back for the ferry the snow had covered the Hills down to 200m, Ben Buie was covered and the Triple Lochs looked calm hi above Loch Buie.

The next time we meet up with the excite group we will snow boarding!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Mountaineering course for Sheffield University.

The weekend was spent in the Northern Corries with the Hi Peak Club. The students were concentrating on the skills for climbing grade one gullies and in particular snow craft and belays. On Saturday we looked at the use of ice axes, crampons and the art of step cutting. We found some old flat ice below .5 gully and the snow was surprisingly firm considering the freezing level was way above the summit. .5 gave excellent terrain for short roping and descent skills.
On Sunday we continued onto steeper ground and looked at belaying on rock and snow around the Mess of Pottage area and Jacobs Ladder area. Finishing our day with an explore and climb up through the steeper mixed ground on the buttress right hand side. After walking off down the Cas Ridge we spent time building emergency shelters, the newly frozen snow pack was ideal for block creation.
Driving home to Oban the weather had turned and a dusting if new snow was evident on the Laggan hills. the forecast is for allot of snow mid week, roll on! I am off to Mull to run a course, can't wait!

Glenfeshie Hills.

On Friday I was exploring the hill tracks in upper Glen Feshie on a Reece for the weekend ahead and bagged a Corbet to boot!

Carn Dearg Mor, was great to get finally summit, the weather was kind with excellent views looking back over to the Cairngorms. I had never walked this far into this long Glen which would be ideal for mountain biking into as the hill tracks are excellent. The estate here are clearing alot of trees and leaving the Scott's Pines the whole landscape is looking well managed. After 25 k and back at the van i catch a glimpse of the evening sun glinting on the river and a Golden Eagle caught a thermal just above the feshie burn, just wonderful.