The 12th week in a row to climb in the north west Highlands. Once again, feathered wisps of cloud scatter above the green stands and the sky is ablaze. A subtle and unobtrusive cold persists. Scotland has had an alpine spring, of sorts. This time last year Rory and I were climbing topless on Sgurr an Fhidleir. This year it's an icefall in Glen Carron. Having had a brilliant run of ice and mixed adventures in remote, often deserted hills, we decide to spend most of the trip sampling the roadside delights of Gairloch, Applecross and Torridon. The hills are still brown and matte white but the days are long and we've climbed until 8.30 in the evening. There are miniature glaciers among the Fisherfield Forest, flitting birds overhead, pink sandstone and no midges. This has been a brilliant winter. I am truly immersed in Scottish climbing.
The best single pitch of climbing I've done yet. Buena Vista - Loch Tollaidh. Photo by Rory Brown
Mid week, I met up with Rob in Glen Carron and we headed up to Sgurr na Feartaig to have a look at some frozen waterfalls. A few hours later we trotted down a grassy ridge, topless, with the sun on our backs. We topped the day off with a dip in the river.
Photo by Rory Brown
Photo by Rob B
Me getting stuck into my snickers. Photo by Rob B
Rob, and the Coulin hills beyond.
The van at Gruinard Bay - Gairloch. Italian for dinner, a cup of Guinness and a cheese buttie - can't complain.
Sinclair climbing on another stunning roadside crag.
I left Rory and Sinclair in Inverness and a few days later, met Callum, Andrew, Malin and Liam. We drove over the Bealach na Ba, camped on the Applecross beach and drove around the coast toward Torridon. This is the view after emerging with a cup of tea.
Callum leading at Ardheaslaig - Applecross. (Click on the pictures to reveal facial expressions..) 50metres from the road and some first lead climbs done. I soloed 450m of lovely slabby gneiss that morning.
Seanna Mheallain, once again in the sunshine and offering stacks of utterly brilliant climbing. I lead my first E3's, including the cool arete to the left of this corner.
Me below the full on crux of Mechanical Sheep. Ace route!
My pal Robby, who visited my tent for cheese in the mornings.
Me on 'a touch too much' - Seanna Mheallain. 40 metres of brilliant sandstone with an abb station at the top!
On our last morning, Liam, Andrew and I went for a morning's traverse of Beinn Alligin
'Try your best to look cool, guys'