An extract from Artem Bylinskii’s notes of Highland adventures Spring 2016:
See also below for an extract from his report of his visit to Bell’s Bothy and click here for a link to Artem’s slide presentation to VOC September 2016.
Team Bad Idea Takes Some Notes
Back in March, I received the Neil Mackenzie Adventure Grant as provided by the Neil Mackenzie Trust and Varsity Outdoor Club (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada). I took off to Scotland immediately to catch the tail end of Scottish winter climbing season. I want to thank the selection committee and everyone who made this possible for me, in particular Neil’s folks, whose dedication to the cause is heartwarming.
Got picked up by Kenny at dawn and drove to the Cairngorms. Hiked into Coire An T-Shneachda and climbed Finger Ridge. Great route! Led all the difficulties including a dry tooling section. Hiked out down a ski resort. Back to town and chilled.
Picked up by Kenny and drove to Aonach Mor. Took the gondola up and contoured to the bottom of the climbs. Searched for the Western Rib, but all looked desperate. Turf not frozen, so unclimbable. Went up and rambled Golden Oldy. Solid mountaineering route, but easy. Hiked out between two cornices in a whiteout and down another ski resort. Gondola accessed climbing rocks! Stayed at the climber’s hostel Calluna in For William with its own drying room. Spar dinner.
Got picked up by Jo at 4:15. Hiked up to the Ben and went to Point Five gully. Almost fell through the bergschrund. 3 great steep pitches of solid/neve ice! Then ramble to the top and removal of asterisk. Hiked out with bum-slide and bog. Hitched back to Inverness rather quickly and went to dinner with Neil’s folks. Stayed at Kenny’s.
Drove to Glen Coe with Tom and Barbara. Soloed Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etiv Mor. Dry rock and sun! Bum slid down and hitched quickly back to Inverness.
Went to do the An Teallach traverse with Kenny. Super windy and slushy snow. Lost the pink tricam Otherwise spectacular! Really interesting sandstone formations. Slid down a classic II gully. Bog tramp back out. Dinner at home.
Hoped a train to Achnaschellah with a mountain bike. Started the Torridon circuit. Slow going at first with bog and ruts. Changed a tube at a bothy. And then again a km later. Gerried the pump. With no patches, and short on time, was worried wouldn’t make it but pressed on. Great single track down to Torridon. Road plod. Gravel road plod. Made the station!
Picked up early by Brian Shackleton. Drove to Torridon and started out for the Liatach traverse on snow. Stepped in a trench and bashed my knee. Climbed some hard semi frozen gully onto the ridge to Meall Deag. Climbed the North Pinnacles with a slab finish. Continued on Liatach traverse. Half way through Fasarinen Pinnacles, went back to look for a dropped tool to no avail. Back across. Plodding through snowdrifts. Down a steep trail in the dark. Kind lift to the car. Drove two hours to camp at Laggan by 3 am.
For full notes on Artem’s Visit click here
An extract from Artem Bylinskii’s Highland adventures Spring 2016:
Team Bad Idea Visits Bell’s Bothy
Back in March, I received the Neil Mackenzie Adventure Grant as provided by the Neil Mackenzie Trust and Varsity Outdoor Club (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada). I took off to Scotland immediately to catch the tail end of Scottish winter climbing season. I want to thank the selection committee and everyone who made this possible for me, in particular Neil’s folks, whose dedication to the cause is heartwarming. This is one of my many adventures.
Throwing a thumb up at the side of a road with no traffic in a complete downpour did not bode well. If only renting a car in the UK wasn’t such a royal pain… Having ditched some of my possessions at the Broadford hostel, I naively carried much of my climbing kit hoping to encounter many of Neil’s climbing buddies at the work party. Surely there would be many of them there, so I wanted to get there that night to scheme and drink whisky!
With perseverance, or rather no particular action on my part, I finally got picked up by a local household appliance refurbisher, who agreed to drive me all the way to the trailhead. In fact, he recommended a scenic “shortcut” to get to Camasunary bay. A cliff-top seaside trail did sound more appealing than a 4×4 track, but in retrospect not in a raging Skye storm.
I set out and biffed it a half-dozen times in the first hundred meters. The mud was of the highest quality and at a delightful gradient. The whole hillside had seemingly standing water on it, despite it being, well, a hill side. I briefly even considered donning my crampons. But plodded on regardless.
Human psychology is a funny thing. Walk along the very cliff edge, and you are terrified and ultra-careful. Walk 30 meters away from the same edge and you don’t have a care in the world. But if those 30 m are steep slick mud, or a say a sheet of Teflon, the separation is illusionary, as you have no chance of stopping yourself. But somehow danger of sliding off the cliff top, versus falling off it immediately doesn’t register or affect you in the same way.
Much danger averted (or ignored), the trail descended off the cliffs into a glen. On an average day, there would be but a trickle of water to rock-hop across, but on that day there was a raging river. After an hour of tramping up and down the bog bank, my feet got wet enough that it seemed reasonable to ford it. And it was going well up until the last step before the other side, where the water suddenly went from knee to waist deep. Plop!
Now fully saturated rather than simply drenched, I carried on over more cliffs to Camasunary bay. Unfortunately, my first impression of it was that it is incredibly littered. Junk from fishing buoys, to oil drums, to plastic crates, seems to wash ashore particularly in this bay due to some tidal phenomena, and is then whipped up all over the place by the infamous winds. A sad sight. Thanks Britain.
But regardless, I made it and was excited to meet the folk! Only the folk weren’t there. The only friend to turn up for the final work party and opening weekend… was me. And I only traveled half-way around the world to get there. There were three other lovely volunteers from the Mountain Bothies Association, but they had no association to Neil and barely knew of the tragedy. To them and the MBA, the bothy would remain Camasunary.
To their due, they’d been on site for over a week and would stay as long as it took to finish the project. They also fed and lodged me in the estate owner’s private residence for my entire stay. Though unheated – my everything remained wet for that same duration.
The next day started with some work on the new bothy. Built as an exercise by the army, donated to the MBA, and sponsored by the Neil Mackenzie Trust, the building was ready to go and only needed some finishing touches. I varnished the sleeping platforms and painted the foyer. I appreciated the plaque in Neil’s memory and signed a long page in the visitors’ book.
I urge you all to visit Bell’s Bothy- it is a magical and emotional place. “His friends and family hope that this place of shelter will be filled with good stories, laughter, and a few drams, all of which he would have shared aplenty. Enter as strangers, leave as friends.”
For Artem’s full report: click here .
For Artem’s slide presentation to VOC Click here