Early Spring, around late March/early April, is often the best time of year in Fort William. Long days, settled weather, good skiing and/or ice climbing in the hills, and dry midge free rock in Glen Nevis. That is what I had hoped for this year, but it didn’t quite work like that.
Aonach Mor on the 7th April 2010; Blue skies, light winds, great snow.
Aonach Mor on the 6th of April 2011; High winds, heavy and persistent rain and +7°C on the tops. Not quite as nice as this time last year.
Until about the 20th of March, winter was very much in charge. Although the snow cover was good, it was pretty windy, not what you could call settled weather. Then it all changed, bit not in a good way. Conditions returned to November style weather, windy with persistent rain. These seemed to last for weeks, well until a few days day, when suddenly summer arrived.
With the rapid demise of snow and ice in the mild conditions I rapidly lost interest in winter activities, and turned my attention to rock climbing. This year I have been putting a bit of effort into getting strong for the summer, and was interested to see how I would be feeling when I got out on the rock. The answer was quite positive. I had a couple of days up at Sky Pilot, trying the classic traverse Beetle Back. It still feels a long way off, but my attempts this year were certainly more positive than those of previous years. I then had a day at the Ruthven Boulder, and was pleased to repeat a problem that I had climbed there last year, and felt that a big traverse that I would like to do there would certainly be possible if I was able to put in the hours to get all the moves slick.
Enjoying the outlook from Sky Pilot bouldering area on a rare dry day.
Another great out look, this time from Goat crag. Gaz Marshal can just be seen in yellow below the classic 7a+ Mactalla.
Finally I had a day at Goat Crag. It was baking hot, and I didn’t really do anything I hadn’t done before, but enjoyed the atmosphere of the place.
However, that is likely to be it for my Scottish rock climbing this year. The reason for this is that I yesterday I moved South to Llanberis in North Wales. I will miss the space there is in Scotland, and the outlook you get form many of the crags. However, living down here will be great for my climbing, and I certainly won't miss the Scottish midges (they like to pretend they have a midgy problem down here, but compared to the West of Scotland they don't really).