Thursday, 30 December 2010

Fluted Buttress Coire an -t Sneachda

Andy leading the first pitch.

Sandy on the top pitch
We have been so fortunate, Andy and I climbed a new four pitch route in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms today.
It an interesting technical line squeezed in between Spiral Gully, and Wave Length
and nearing the top it shares some of a line named Lambda. Graded IV,6 its an interesting climb which we named Facet Hunters!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Cairngorm climbing and skiing

Stob Corie an-t Sneachda from the Fiacaill Chorie Chais, sheets of glazed ice predominate on wind scoured slopes!
Great cover for good on piste skiing at Cairngorm Mountain, meanwhile while there are some nice patches off snow off-piste there are also many hard icy patches, so if you are venturing off- piste, you have been warned!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


We were doing navigation practice on Bynak More {1090m} today. The strong winds at 50 mph winds prevented us from reaching the summit but a great day was had never the less!

Ski Touring, Cairngorm

Well, seem to have misplaced my camera so no blog photos, never the less we had a good days ski touring with Will yesterday at Cairngorm Mountain. Had to navigate around the summits thought and snow conditions are very variable and high up on corrie rims etc one has to be incredibly sensitive to the terrain as its quite unstable. At lower altitudes, below 750m conditions are great although there are large patches of exposed ice on wind blown slopes which are quite treacherous! On piste, and where the piste machine drivers have been, the skiing is magnificent!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Wishing you all a merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Rutschblock or Glide-Block test

Old tricks being taught to new dog!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Carn an Tuirc

Enjoyed a good ski traverse today! Here we are on the way up to the summit of Carn an Tuirc.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Glen Feshie, Cairngorm, Scotland

Well, this morning I was determined to have a day in the office, but sneaked a look at Face Book and my pal Andy was on line and one thing led to another and we went climbing!
Interesting photo above, the answer is blowing in the wind of course, transported snow is what snow nerds call it, interestingly right now high on our hills a lot of this transported snow is sitting on a melt freeze or rain crust with solid layers below which are ace for climbing. The trick is to watch it all very carefully, if the rain crust is still wet when the snow falls then the new snow will bond to it, if its frozen, the new snow will probably bond poorly.... also as we walked in to our climb today lots of graupel crystals were visible on my Scarpa Phanthom guide boots. The orange gaiter is perfect for showing up crystals!.....better check the SAIS web site, all the areas were issuing their reports today!

Part way up our climb

Andy and I soloed for a while and then roped up for the technical sections, and ace day out!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Avalanche awareness

An interesting training day on Cairngorm.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Cairngorm Mountain

An amazing day on Cairngorm today, the snow cover is good and the piste skiers were enjoying the conditions. For touring its pretty good!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Glencoe days

Andy on the top pitch of Oz, ours is the first winter ascent {FWA} at VII/ 7. The climb is a summer VS and the first summer ascent was by B W Robertson and G Anderson.
Andy leading the first pitch of Oz, which was also very interesting!

Yesterday, John belaying on the second pitch of the FWA of Rose Late. This was first climbed as a rock climb in 1953 by L S Lovat and and JM Johnstone.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Wonderful day in Glencoe

Great views from Aonach Dubh today.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Torridon last week

My pal Andy just emailed me this photo from our climb last week.

A hectic but enjoyable long weekend!

We got a climb done near Rio De Janeiro on Monday with Adriano and Manu, the climbing area is near Petropolis on a crag named Pedra do Pastor!

Cara graduated from the University of Stirling on Friday afternoon and the celebrating was fun. From left to right, its Hannah, Cara and Janis....
the thorn among the roses is yours truly!

With my pals Andy and Jon we climbed a new line on the far west buttress of Ben Eighe, before the snow started we enjoyed some good views during the approach.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Baruntse and thanks to Mountain Equipment

Sun set on Baruntse, from Base Camp!
Becky at camp 2, Mountain Equipment , thanks for the fantastic down clothing and sleeping bags!

Below; Becky climbing up Baruntse, at one point there is a bit of down climbing to surmount an awkward cornice on the ridge. The pointy mountian behind is Ama Dablam!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Mera peak summit 6461M on the 24th October 2010

Becky on the summit of Mera Peak Central summit, 6461m
Behind from Left to right is Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse Geoff abseilng from the awkward little summit!

Our climbing sherpas enjoying the last of the sun at Mera peak High Camp.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Back in Scotland

Arriving on the West Col, 6143m on the 3rd November. Splendid Makalu ahead!

Pasang, an important member of our kitchen team drawing water from the lake by base camp.

At base camp on the 7th Nov . From left to right, back row~ Geoff, Pasang, Sandy, Becky and Lhapka J and kneeling in front is Lhakpa R our Sirdar.Our climbing sherpas including the Sirdar were outstanding, grateful thanks to them all.

Hi, got back yesterday afternoon to this small village in the Highlands of Scotland. There is fresh snow on the hills and a few of my friends have been out winter climbing.One big avalanche reported on the head wall of the Cas and Cairngorm Mountain has been open for piste skiing! Its been an interesting time in Nepal but its always so great to get back home. As my sister Eunice reported we got delayed at Lukla for five days which has knocked a bit of a hole in all our plans, so my apologies to all, especially to those waiting for me to reply to your emails. Many thanks for the many congratulations and good wishes.
Eventually Geoff got an expensive seat in a chopper back to Kathmandu and managed to catch up with his parents who had flown in for a few days to meet up. Becky and I got out on the 16th Nov, and after one night in Kathmandu where we managed to catch up with Geoff and his parents over dinner, we then flew back to the UK the following day. Our international flights also suffered some long delays . Our flight from Lukla was pretty exciting as it was a last minute call and Becky and I were rushed to the airport, lead quickly through security and found ourselves sitting on board with the engines revving. The flight was then held for over an hour and we sat patiently in the plane watching the mist and fog swirl around as we waited for air traffic control to let us fly.Lukal is an exciting place to fly from on a calm sunny day, so the conditions added to the anticipation. Eventually we took off and spent a long time circling over Kathmandu before we could land.
Its been a good but tough trip with Mera peak and Baruntse both climbed. Sadly we had to say an early good bye to two of our team as they had to be medi-vaced on the 30th October.The whispy high cloud gave me a clue that a weather change was on its way and true to form we then got a huge snow fall and woke up to 10 inches of fresh snow so we were so lucky to get the hellicopter in. There after Sandy was asked to assist a Chec team, one of whom had soloed to the Brauntse summit and the other had severe frost damage to his foot. We had to advise them on care and drug doses then assisted getting another helicopter for them. A day later another chopper came to evacuate a member of the international team. So, as it has done in the past, high altitude climbing take its toll on mountain climbers but fortunately as far as we know everyone has recovered well at lower altitudes. These days the helicopter services are amazingly efficient and of course a sat phone invaluable. Just over the past couple of weeks it has been reported that the Nepalese have erected another mobile phone mast near Everest base camp so now it should be possible to use your mobile all the way up the Khumbu which is great news for all although the sight of Yak herder texting for his next transport contract takes a bit of getting used to!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Still There!!

Misty again!!

Geoff has flown out by helicopter.

Becky and Sandy sitting it out - international flights are soon, so lets hope the fog clears soon!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Still in Lukla

Have just received a text from Sandy (2pm UK time). Everyone still in Lukla, but there are stars in the night sky - so no fog!!! Keep you fingers crossed!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Stuck in Lukla

Text message from Sandy (5.30pm Nepal time) - well several text messages..none complete, each text delivering another few words. However:

Becky, Geoff and Sandy have now been in Lukla for two days and unfortunately cannot fly out as there is rain and mist. ..unsuitable weather for fixed wing aircraft. This is especially so in Lukla whose airport is surrounded by steep sided mountains. The group are now booked on a flight that is due to leave tomorrow morning but the fog shows no sign of lifting. Fortunately their international flights are still some time away. Apparently the economic rules of supply and demand are operating to excellent effect for chartered helicopter flights with extortionate fares, which rise alongside the increasing backlog of people. On the good side, there are many bakeries and a "cafe society" is being enjoyed by all as they meet new people and share mountaineering experiences!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Summit success

Baruntse from Base Camp

A fragile edge! Descending the ridge from the summit!

Lhakpa Jarok, Becky Bellworthy and myself on the summit of Baruntse 7129m. 5th November 2010

We are back in Namche, the sherpa capital, and oh it is so ace to be back. First of all I wish to thank my sister Eunice and my daughters Hannah and Cara for being on standby for updating my blog. We have had a really good and very lucky trip. Mera peak was summited by all our group and then Geoff, Becky, our three wonderful climbing sherpas Lhakpa Sirdar, Lhakpa Jarok, Pasang and myself all reached the summit of Baruntse. Geoff and Pasang arrived on the summit at around 8.30 am and Becky with the three of us arrived at around 9.30 am. That's why you will not see any photos of Geoff here as it was too cold for him to hang around for us on the summit.
Becky is a world record holder now as she is the youngest lady to have climbed Baruntse! At 18 years of age its quite an achievement and Team Ascent are delighted to share this with her!

Unfortunately I have some sad news to report as on the 23rd October a famous sherpa and good friend died fixing ropes on Baruntse. Chewang Sherpa, 43 years of old and has climbed Everest 19 times fell while fixing ropes on Baruntse. Chewang was working for another expedition , an American team, but he had been my sirdar on Shishapagma and our tracks have passed in the snow so very very often!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

More news!

Phone call from Sandy.

Becky, Geoff, Sandy and three Sherpas moved from Base Camp to Camp 1 on the 3rd Nov, from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on the 4th. They woke early on the 5th November and left Camp 3 at 2a.m. reaching the summit of Baruntse at 9.30 am. They then started their descent. Since everyone was well, they decided to go all the way back to Base Camp on the same day. At each camp they cleared all their equipment and took away any rubbish etc. They were the last team on the mountain and today, are the only people remaining at Base Camp.

Today they are awaiting their porters who will take out their kit etc. In the meantime they will spent some time packing, relaxing and getting ready for their walk-out. Their first night of the walk-out will be spent at the "High Camp" on the Amphulapthcha Pass, the following day they will walk over the col into the Khumbu Valley were they will start descending to below 5000m. They plan to be in Lukla for the 11th November and on the 12th fly from Lukla to Kathmandhu.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Summit Reached

AND everyone back safe at Base Camp.

Had a voice message from Beckys family to say that Geoff, Becky and Sandy reached the summit of Baruntse at 9.13am Nepalese time today.

Congratualions to all!

Some celebratory fireworks tonight (if the rain stops lashing!).

Monday, 1 November 2010


Phone call from Sandy this morning (8.30am UK time). Base Camp has about 10 inches of snow. Another group, who were at Camp 1 yesterday, reported snow up to their waists and there is also a lot of spindrift on the mountain. The weather however is now good with clear skies. Fortunately there is time in the schedule. The plan now is to wait at Base Camp, probably for two days so that the snow on the mountain can consolidate. The situation will then be re-assessed.

Email from Paul from Kathmandu. Kerry and he were evacuated from Base Camp due to altitude sickness. They are both now fully recovered and will make their way home.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Resting at Base Camp

Phone call from Sandy a couple of minutes ago!

Geoff and Becky, along with two Sherpas, reached Camp 1 at an altitude of 6143 m on 29th Oct The following day they went to Camp 2 at 6450m. They are now back at Base Camp resting.
Kerry and Paul have left the expedition and flew out to Kathmandhu by helicopter on the 30th.

Becky and Geoff will stay at Base Camp today and tomorrow. They plan to make their summit attempt over the next few days. So, 2nd November they will go to Camp 1, on the 3rd to Camp 2, on the 4th to the summit and back down to Camp 1 or 2. They would aim to be back at Base Camp on the 5th November.

The weather broke yesterday and there is about an inch of snow at Base Camp. However, the forecast is good so good luck to all.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Baruntse Base Camp

Phone call relayed through Beckys family, thank you!!!

Team arrived at Baruntse Base Camp on 26th October and have received their Puja blessing. Apparently the camp is strewn with flour and rice and some alcoholic drinks were imbibed before breakfast which helped make the day very jolly!!

Base camp is now well established with luxuries including separate shower and toilet tents!!! There is quite a lot of snow clinging to Baruntse but weather is currently OK.

Today and tomorrow are planned as rest days (except for Sandy and some Sherpas who will aim to establish Camp 1).

The plan...

29th Oct..go to Camp 1
3oth Oct..go to Camp 2
31st Oct/1st Nov..return to Base Camp
2nd Nov..back up to Camp 1
3rd Nov...up to Camp 2
4th Nov..Summit attempt
5th Nov...return to Base Camp
7th Nov...start walk-out to Lukla all looks so easy!!! Best wishes to all!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Mera Summited!

Everyone is well! Just spoke to Sandy on his satellite phone. Mera was summitted on the 24th Oct by everyone except Kerry who made it to within 50 m of the summit but decided not to attempt the last 50 m which involved a very technical climb.

Tonight they are camping at at Honuahola River, beside a lake, Sito Pokhari (I hope these spellings are OK!!) at an altitude of 5080 m.

Tomorrow (26th Oct) they will arrive at Baruntse, presumably base camp, at an altitiude of 5400m. On the 27th they will have a Puja. This is a blessing ceremony. It has been arranged that a Lama will come to the camp and will bless the climbers and the mountain. Prayer flags will be set-up around the camp so that as they blow in the wind the blessings will continually be delivered. Each climber is usually also given a blessed prayer scarf which they will probably wear for the duration of the trip, and in some cases for months!!!

The team will have a rest day on the 28th while Sandy and some Sherpas hope to climb too the West Col (6143m) where they will begin to set-up a camp. They will then descend, perhaps rest and then, the climbing will begin!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Safe and Sound and Base Camp

An answering machine message from Sandy today. Everything going to plan, and all is well!!

The team are back at Mera Peak Base Camp (5395m). They will stay there today and tonight. Tomorrow they start their summit attempt by going up to the High Camp (5800m) where they will stay the night in tents which I assume have been pitched over the last two days and will have some supplies. The following day they hope to make the summit (6476m) and then descend to Tongmagigma (4900 m) where they will camp and have a well deserved rest. This may seem like a lot (and it is!!!) but they will leave very early in the morning and do most of the climbing by the light of the moon, the colder/frozen conditions makes for better (safer) climbing!!! They would hope to summit in the early morning giving ample time to appreciate their situation and descend to the much lower altitude for rest.

Everyone is still doing well though there are a few, I quote "sore heads and coughs". These are obviously minor and typical of the effects of high altitude climbing! Sandy is extremely and extra cautious about altitude sickness. He takes no risks, if any symptoms are seen they would move down to lower altitudes immediately.

The weather has not been good over the last two days but it has cleared today and at the time of the phone call it was very clear and good prospects for the next few days.

Best wishes to all.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Good Progress

Message left on the answering machine today, 19th Oct.

Everyone is healthy and doing really well!!!

The team arrived at Tagmat (at an altitude of 4356m) yesterday so the emphasis is now very much focussed on acclimatisation before they tackle the mountain. Today they walked up to an altitude of 5050 m and are camping again tonight at Tagmat .

Tomorrow they plan to walk up to 5035 m (?Tarek) where they will have a rest day (hopefully their bodies will be working hard making extra red blood cells!). On the 21st they will go up to Mera La and then back to a camp at Kharka, to have a good rest at a lower height. The following day, they will move up to Mera Peak base camp and on the 23rd will aim to go to the high camp which is at 5800 m. If all is well (weather being a major factor!) they hope to make a summit bid on the 24th making their descent towards Baruntse and their next challenge.

Note, there was no comments about the weather so I make the assumption that its good!!!

Another wee note! I would not expect to hear any news until the 25th. As Sandy always says, remember that no news is good news!!!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday 15th October

An unexpected text this morning - so group are still within the mobile phone network!!!!

A big and memorable day due!! The group are in a Sherpa village called Pangoma which in itself must be a fantastic experience. They will visit a local monastry where they hope to receive a blessing from the lama. I imagine the lama will bless the mountains that they hope to climb to request a safe passage and will offer prayers to everyone. Everyone also usually receives a prayer scarf that has been blessed which they will wear throughout their time on the expedition. They will continue their journey into the snowy mountains today.

14th October

A text this morning. Now on Day 2 of the walk-in, all well. Group are at Thamdada, enjoying the great scenery.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Wednesday 13th October

Hi, this blog is being writtten from Scotland. Its now likely that the "team" will be communicating via satellite phone and blogs will be posted as quickly as possible after any news is received (any times and dates will be based on UK time!!) Have received this group photo emailed via Paul. From Left to right, Sandy, Kerry, Becky, Geoff and Paul.


Here we are at Kathmandu airport yesterday, before we flew to Lukla.
From L to R are Geoff, Kerry, Paul and Becky
I did try to upload other photos but the connection is slooooooooow!. Our baggage arrived early this morning on the first flight so Geof has now got his equipment! We are still waiting for a few bits and bobs, but generally all is good and we are ready to go!
Departing today to for our approach walk, we will loose all mobile phone and Internet connections for a few weeks, so will be updating via Sat phone.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Arrived in Lukla

We have been so lucky today as after three days of no flights getting into Lukla, the weather cleared and we got here. It was an exciting journey with the poilet of our Tara Air Twin Otter dodging clouds and eventually landing us safely at Lukla airstrip. Our original plan was to commence our walk in today, but as we had to spread our luggage and cargo between planes some of our bags are still in Kathmandu. The weather closed in and the later planes had to turn back. So, we are staying overnight here in a nice lodge and will start our approach walk tomorrow. Normally the skys are clear in the morning and our delayed cargo will arrive here tomorrow morning.
I am trying to up load a couple of photos but the internet connection is very slow here so I am waiting patiently to see if I get a result.
But anyway, we are here in Lukla with our Sherpas and porters and everyone is feeling fine and keen to go!
Almost forgot to say, the first plane that landed at Lukla this morning had a slight incident. As it landed on the runway and coasted up the steep runway, it struck a wall with its nose cone, but fortunately nobody was hurt. This led to quite a delay to other flights, but thankfully no one was injured and that we were not onboard!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Baruntse climbing permit has been granted

Two days of meetings in Kathmandu with the officials in Kathmandu and eventually I get the climbing permit.... so our plans are to fly from Kathmandu to Lukla tomorrow. From there we will load up our porters and start our walk towards base camp. We are planing to acclimatise very carefully and then climb Mear Peak which is a relatively easy and non technical peak at 6476m. After that we will go to Baruntse base camp. I had arranged a guided city tour for Becky, Kerry, Paul and Geoff so they enjoyed that and found it all really interesting, meanwhile I have been finalising our arrangements to climb. Our main climbing supplies were flown to Lukla several weeks ago so its only our own luggage, some last minute supplies and ourselves who will hopefully fly tomorrow. The bad news is that due to lots of fog and mist in the mountains the Lukla flights have been cancelled for three days now but today a helicopter got through, so we are hoping that we will get a clear run tomorrow.
We will only be staying in Lukla for a few hours so may not get time to update the blog.After that the villages are all remote and there is no Internet access, but I will be phoning in a Sat. phone report every few days!
All fine this end and no news is good news!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

We are here in Kathmnadu

Well, we are here and it's been a busy day for Sandy, meeting the Ministry to finalise details for our climbing permits for both peaks. Becky has had sleep and I met her out shopping just a few minutes ago! Kerry and Paul arrived later this afternoon off their international flights too and our Sirdar Lhakpa and a driver took them from the airport to their hotel. We all plan to meet up later for a meal together..... may find the energy to get some photos on here tomorrow, long distance flights are exhausting!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Bound for Nepal

Semi excited, heading for Nepal soon, mountain guiding on Mera Peak and Baruntse!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Sadly have to say.. Goodbye, Kurt Albert

Well, I just got back home to Scotland last night and even with all the rain I was in a happy mood. Today, I have been told that Kurt has fallen to his death in the Frankenjura. He sustained serious head injuries and was being cared for at Erlangen hospital where he has now passed away. He was a great man, so nice, an amazing climber and had climbed all over the world from Patagonia to Pakistan and many wonderful climbs in between. In 1989 with Wolfgang Gullich he climbed an outstanding route on Trango Tower named "Eternal Flame" and Kurt's "Fight for Gravity" was and still is a big event.
I have not visited Erlangen or climbed in the Frakenjura for a long long time! Now I realise just how long ago it all was and so many absent friends....Struggling right now to turn a negative into a positive... oh la la, the faster we live the faster the clock seems to tick! We were all so young once, oh to hec with this, we still are and will be!
The above photo is not mine... dig out the slide boxes, scan, drift and re-live the past! Not yet, not yet, not yet!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Rope access training in Aberdeen, Scotland

Guys demonstrating their skills at Talon NDT training school today in Aberdeen!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Breithorn, Cara's first 4000 meter peak

Daughter and Dad on the summit today!
Whats all the fuss about! Mont Blanc in the distance, a perfect day!"

The Breithorn

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Alpiniste in training.

Cara's first technical climb with crampons on, all was ace at 3500 meters!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Skills day on the rock.

Cara climbing on some slabs

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Traverse from Aig du Midi to Hellbroner

Cara descending the arete du midi

Route finding through some crevasses