Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Ski Mountaineering Skills Course. Day 1.

Today I was working with Richard in Glencoe, on the Glencoe Ski Resort slopes running an intro to ski mountaineering course. Concentrating on learning to ascend on ski touring equipment, not teaching skiing as Richard skis well. The weather forecast was not inspiring however I have started using the new Met Office Mountain Forecast and it was amazingly accurate today. It was very windy but remained dry until late afternoon as predicted. The conditions were good for our aims today. We were looking at putting climbing skins on, skinning up using 'high lifts' on the ski bindings, traversing, skiing with skins on for short distances, climbing steeper terrain and we also looked at using crampons and ice axes. We had some great skiing from near to the summit back to the top of the chair lift. The chair wasn't running due to the high winds so we had  the added bonus of walking up and down which was welcomed to stretch the legs after recent mince pie consumption. A great way to finish the season and what a year it has been. We also have new two new web sites and We look forward to the 2013 season and being back outside in Scotland very soon. Happy Christmas everyone.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Courses for 2013 coming soon.

It has been a brilliant year, thanks to all our clients and staff for making it such an inspiring and adventurous season. Hebridean Pursuits Ltd will be launching their new website in the near future. A variety of courses such as winter walking and winter mountaineering courses, sea kayaking, surf kayaking and coasteering skills courses will be listed on the 'what's on' page. Our winter courses program is booking up and we are looking forward to next years Roses Project residential courses at Tavool House. We are running Coasteering Skills Training courses again so here are a few photos to wet the appetite.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Ice, Ice and more ice. A cold day on Dun Crutagian.

A change of pace today in lower hills of Argyll. I was working with the young people form the North Argyll Young Carers Adventure Project that we [Hebridean Pursuits ltd] formed two years ago. This was day three of their ten days with us and will carry on until the spring 2013. Today's theme was map work but ended up being smash every ice puddle on route! We went walking above Seil Sound on Dun Crutagain, which is above Ardmaddy. It is a wonderful wee walking route and takes in some fine landscapes over to Mull. A cracking day out with sunny and extremely cold weather  This freeze certainly has created some fine hoar frost and ice patterns. Yet again being outside in Scotland is wonderful and it illustrates how varied the choices we have are when working in the outdoor industry. It is easy to get caught up in grades or known adventures, but the quiet and less challenging days out often are the most memorable, today was just charming on all levels.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Guiding in the mountains of Knoydart. Fantastic Conditions.

Beinn na Caillich 785m

Early morning on Sgurr Coire Chionnnichean, Inverie Bay behind.

Sgurr Coire Chionnichean 796m

The long thrutch! 

Dusk on Knoydart at 600m

It is ten years since I worked over in Knoydart and to be back was fantastic. Being in Knoydart is extremely special as the hill walking is just so good and the landscape so dramatic. I was over working with the students from the School of Adventure Studies, West Highland College on their two day expedition, thus finishing off the first part of their mountain module. We were blessed with absolutely  incredible weather and conditions under foot. We arrived mid morning on Monday and walked over to Beinn  na Caillich 785m, a remote Corbett approx eleven kilometers from the ferry drop off. Being in the north of the Knoydart massif it feels very remote indeed. After ascending it's long plateau and descending the long snow covered slopes it was time to navigate in the dark. The night navigation was ideal to concentrate the students minds on all the other training they have had whilst out on the hills this term. Three hours later we reached our campsite for the night in Gleann Meadail. A cold night followed and an early start saw us ascending Sgurr Coire Choinnichean 796m. This hill gives a very steep thrutch to it's sharp ridge to a perfectly placed summit overlooking Skye, Rum and the larger hills surrounding it in Knoydart and up to Torridon. The hills are looking very fine with snow highlighting the ridges and gully lines. Skye looks like ice burgs rising from the ocean and Ben Nevis was pristine white as we drove back to Fort William. These two days have been some of the finest days I have had in the Scottish hills in over 24 years of working in the mountains, the weather is set to stay good for a few days, so if you can get out, do so and enjoy Scotland Outside! Knoydart offers hill walking for all abilities and interesting private bothy and self catering accommodation to base your explorations from, get in touch if you would like to know more about this fabulous environment which offers so much to the outdoor enthusiast be it sea kayaking or hill walking or both!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The difference a day makes in the outdoors!

Loch Loyne.

The long thrutch!

Yesterday was very cold and really clear in the hills. It was one of those days that makes Scotland the finest hill walking country in the world. I was out in the hills above Loch Loyne. The relatively short and straight forward ascent of Meall Dubh 788m turned out to be anything but. It was tough going through the knee deep heather and fresh snow. A battle of wills ensued to get us to this obscure wee hill's summit. Today was another world all together. The early morning drive to Fort William was grim. I was expecting new snow at least but to no avail, it just lashed down! A brief morning at West Highland College expedition planing and then the afternoon at the crag teaching group abseiling techniques and a detailed look at the pros and cons of such a session. For once I didn't take a photo apart from one of my hand.
Snow is falling high up, which is brilliant for the ski season in Glencoe and at Nevis Range and of course for HPL's winter courses, as the base will be forming nicely, filling the gully's and plastering the crags.  What a difference a day makes!

Monday, 3 December 2012

A varied few days.

I have been working and learning in a variety of places since last Thursday. Outside in Scotland has been a massive contrast too, from warm sunshine in the central highlands to sub zero Arctic conditions in The Cairngorms and heavy hail storms, rain and snow on the west coast and of course all in the same day today!

The girls leading at Ratho Climbing wall on Thursday.

Liam Irving in Hidden Chimney on Friday.

Scrambling skills on the West Coast, today.

Eigg from Ardnish Point today.

On Thursday I was teaching leading at Ratho Climbing wall. On Friday I climbed the fantastic winter route Hidden Chimney grade III in The Cairngorms. On Saturday and Sunday I was at Glenmore Lodge up dating my BASP first aid qualifications and today I was over on the west coast teaching summer hill walking skills to my college students form West Highland College. A variety of work and play is the spice of life, but it is great to be home seeing my kids and my lovely wife! 
Hebridean Pursuits are gearing up for running winter courses and we still have availability on Winter Skills and Mountaineering courses, for more details or to book a date of your choice contact us on It is looking like a good winter is on the way!