Note From the Editor

Approaching the summit of Am Bodach at start of Aonach Eagach ridge traverse - Simon Boothroyd photo

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first.

It was a huge shock to hear of the death of Tom Foster at New Year, although not a club member he was known to many of us. Tom was one of the crowd at The Sands Centre wall when I first started climbing in the early 90s. There was always some good banter at the wall and then we would all head for refreshment in The Turf afterwards. Tom was introduced to climbing by his Father John and soon became keen. He was well known around Cumbria in the days of the bouldering league with competitions at Carlisle, Penrith and the old Keswick wall – all pre Kendal and Eden Rock days. He was competitive and often did well earning the nickname “Strong Tom of The North”

Tom used his combined skills of construction and rope work to have a career in rope access which took him all over the world before settling back home in Carlisle.
He had many friends and there was a huge turnout for his funeral and afterwards in the rugby club, including a few club members, I think we managed to give him a good send off.

On to happier news – we appear to have had at least a few days of winter this year amongst the rain. Yad Moss had some reasonable conditions for skiing which sadly I missed for various reasons but Dorine managed to take advantage and had a couple of days there.

Tim Millen and team were out in the Lakes and Scotland doing what looked like pretty scary stuff – hopefully I might eventually persuade Tim to give us some more details.


Tim Millen on 1st ascent of Pisgah Buttress Superdirect in January 2024

The Winter meets have been mixed but you will need to read on to find out more about that. Tony Morley and myself have been regular visitors at Kendal wall on Sundays, sometimes we even have company. There are also teams going to Penrith on Thursday evenings and Eden Rock at various times. We are all looking forward to some good climbing outdoors when the weather improves and some folk are off to Morocco again soon.

CMC Velo at Newtonmore by John Holden

CMC Velo…..well me and Dan…..travelled up to Newtonmore, leaving Carlisle East fire station at about 10.30 and arriving at the hostel some time after 2.00. Unloaded and settled we put on extra layers, lots of extra layers, and set off to Kincraig intending to do a largely off-road loop to the Uath Lochs. Snow was lying, very wet and up to four inches deep and it soon became apparent on leaving the road that progress was going to be difficult on the skinny tyres of my hybrid bike.

John Cycling through snow near  Kincraig Jan 2024
John and Dan relieved to kick the snow covered sufferfest into touch!

The happy selfie was in celebration of the decision to return to the road, where we headed up towards the gliding club, however the light soon started to fade so we turned round and headed back to Kincraig having done about 7 miles, mostly on the road.
Saturday we planned to ride up Glen Tromie, over the col into Glen Feshie, about 25 miles and 1700 feet of climbing, however there was a fair bit of snow left and we decided to kick it in the head, for now.

Determined to make a day of it we headed up to Aviemore, parking on the ski road just before The Coylumbridge Hotel with a plan to take in Nethy Bridge, Carrbridge, Boat of Garten and if possible Loch Garten. After a false start up a very icy minor road we headed back up to Coylumbridge, taking the B road up towards Nethy Bridge, enjoying good views back to The Gorms which assured us that the climbing A team of Graham and Ray would be having a good day.

John Holden on the road near Coylumbridge

Passing the track we had come down last year we soon reached the first minor road into the forest which was covered in ice but luckily the later road towards Loch Garten was clear and we enjoyed a very pleasant diversion, through the forest and to the loch, before continuing to Nethy Bridge.

Dragging ourselves away from the sofas and stove at Nethy Hou se Café, wonderful cakes and good tea and coffee, we continued north up Station Road passing over the unusual wooden Dulnain bridge. Here we picked up a trail parallel to the busy A95, with now manageable snow and up a long hill through Skye of Curr to the village of Dulnain Bridge, followed by a short stretch on the major road before dropping onto a quiet side road all the way to Carrbridge, home of the World Porridge Making Championships and the famous Carr Bridge.

Dropping in to Carrbridge on the CMC velo team's January ride.Heading down the B road from Carrbridge and a short stretch of the A95 we dropped into Boat of Garten before taking Kinchurdy Road, the local Millionaire’s Row, and the superb Speyside Way back into Aviemore and up to the car. 38 miles and 1250 feet of ascent in not unpleasant weather, managed to stay warm and dry all day, so not bad. More to come at Corran and Roy Bridge.

Newtonmore – The Climbers’ Tale

The Mess of Pottage January 2024

On Saturday of the Newtonmore bash, Graham and Ray set off into Coire an t Sneachda to have a look. Initially we’d wanted to go and have a look at a route on the Fiacaill Buttress, but the strong south westerlies were heaping fresh snow onto that face. Mess of Pottage seemed like a safer, more enjoyable option. Graham suggested Hidden Chimney Direct to which Ray readily agreed through wheezed breaths.

We plodded (in my case) up to the base of the “mess”. A team were just about finishing the first technical pitch. Graham geared up and set off up the pitch.

Graham nsell leading ther first pitch of Hidden Chimney Direct IV 5 Lots of scratching, scraping and grunting, but with plenty of gear saw him parked up on a belay in good time.

Ray followed with trepidation having never really got to grips with Cairngorm winter granite in over 40 years of winter climbing. it was great! Ray set off up the 2nd pitch and ran out a full 60m before just stretching to a slightly uncomfortable but solid belay.

Apparently Graham had said, in conversation to another pair at the belay, about me on the lead – words to the effect of – that old fart is 69. I was mightily amused to hear that their response was along the lines of “That’s the future!”.

The following day was proper manky! However Graham and Ray hatched a plan to take in one of the Drumochter Munros on the way home. Geal-Charn was the top that looked like it would induce the least suffering, so we both rolled up at the parking area just off the A9 at Balsporran Cottages.

A fairly reasonable – mildly soggy start- led us up into the teeth of a full blizzard. Graham was remarkably patient with Ray’s slow pace, given the stinging spindrift once we got beyond the initial steep pull upwards.

Graham at summit of Geal Charn above Drumochter January 2024.

Note from Clive Barnett – Hut Secretary

The hut is let out to other clubs throughout the year on most weekends. Club members can use the hut at any time but are advised to phone the hut secretary as to it’s use at any time, mid week days are often free of use. There are many club members in the Carlisle area who have hut keys, maybe a list of key holders who are willing to share their key could be made available.

If a member wishes to have their own key it can be supplied from the hut secretary at a cost of £30.00 each this is the full cost of each key to the club. The key can be returned to the hut secretary and a full refund will be made. Members are asked not to take more than two or three none members with them as the hut may already have many guests staying in the hut at any one time .

The club does rely on the income from letting out the club hut. A member who wishes to have the exclusive use of the hut, but does not wish to buy a key can have a key sent to them on a return basis after their stay at the hut. A phone call to the hut secretary can advise on availability of the hut.

Corran ferry Meet, 23rd – 25th February 2024 – Ray Cassidy

With a reasonably promising forecast for Saturday and Sunday, hopes were high for a good weekend this time round. It would need to be special to beat last year’s meet.
Several people headed up the road earlyish Friday to try and get something extra done. However Friday’s weather was a different beast entirely to the rest of the weekend’s forecast. Ray collected Simon Boothroyd for a leisurely trip north and when we rolled into Glencoe, the temperatures were warm but the weather looked reasonably…. spectacular! It didn’t last!

Buchaille Etive Beag before the hoolie!

We set off to grab something close to the road. I’d spotted mention of a scrambly route on the shoulder of Buchaille Etive Beag. North-East Buttress of Creag nan Cabar, Grade 2. It’s the rocky shoulder, leading up above the obvious crag.
Almost as soon as we lost sight of the car, the horizontal sleet started. Unfazed we carried on across to the foot of the route and set off up. The snow was wet slop and by the time we got up through the first rocky band I decided that the appropriate adjective was “shite”!

Simon didn’t disagree so we picked our way down towards the path again. It turned out to be a rare Scottish outing… just two hours car to car! But we were pretty soggy: so the drying room got hammered immediately we got to the bunkhouse.

Shortly afterwards a clearly bedraggled bike team landed. John Holden, Dan Bulman, Steve Bulman, John Wilson, Rob Hunter and Tom Morgan set off from Tyndrum to do the West Highland Way to the Kinghouse but got turned back by the weather….very cold and wet. They’d met the same horizontal sleet as us.

Corran Bunkhouse is a wee belter! More like a posh hostel than a bunkhouse! We got settled in quite early and waited for the rest of the gang to arrive. Sharing the accommodation was a group from Edinburgh Ski Club who were looking to get some touring in. A few beers, grub, wine and craic flowed freely.

Saturday morning saw Andy Howis and Graham Ansell kicking off early. They were heading for North East Buttress on the Ben. Simon and myself headed for my long overdue return to the Aonach Eagach Ridge and a first time for Simon.

The biking team of Johns H and B, Dan and Steve B, headed for the Corran ferry and once across the water, rode up the loch to opposite Fort Bill where they caught the passenger ferry to Fort Bill, then the West Highland Way to Kinlochleven, via Glen Nevis Forest. This gave an easy climb, then single track, with steps etc to the old military road. They followed this to Mamore Lodge before the steep and exciting tarmac road to Kinlochleven.Dan on the Saturday round of Nevis Forest , Kinlochleven and Mamore Lodge.

Having done a transport shuttle first thing, they rode the Bulman van back to Corran. Rob and Tom, foiled by the lack of parking at The North Face carpark, did a similar round from Fort Bill, turning right at the old military road back to Fort Bill.

Happy chappies on their ride on the West Highland Way section.

The Aonach Eagach was amazing with several parties up for the traverse. Simon was on his game, whereas this old fart was barely keeping moving. From Am Bodach we were the last ones setting off on the ridge proper.

View across Glencoe from Am Bodach to Stob Coire nan Lochan.

The abseil down the first steep step was interesting. I tried to straighten Simon’s descent out but pulled a couple of rocks out of the unconsolidated snow. A couple of painful leg whacks followed.

1st abseil heading north along Aonach Eagach from Am Bodach.

Just as I started coiling the rope (Simon’s big fat single rope as I’d forgotten both of my half ropes), Simon shouted from round a corner… did I want a crampon? He’d stepped in a footstep from the preceding parties and felt something odd underfoot… a crampon sitting neatly in the bottom of the footstep.

We continued along the superb wintery ridge and eventually caught up with some of the others at a second abseil. On asking whether anybody had lost a crampon, an Australian voice – with a huge grin piped up. “You dancer!” It was his. It was one of those days when it was a toss up whether to use crampons or not. He had traversed back along the ridge for quite a way once he noticed it was missing: without success. The bonus was that the team let us use their rope to ab down the step. A bigger bonus was that they even offered us a lift back up the valley to get the car when we got down.

Lucky winner of the lost crampon at 2nd abseil.Simon seemed to be in his element as we negotiated the pinnacles, climbs, descents and exposed traverses of this classic. I was slow, but what an atmospheric day we were privileged to enjoy. And the bonus of a lift back up to the start.

Meanwhile on the Ben, Andy and Graham were enjoying their classic. They arrived at the Mantrap. Graham took the full frontal approach and when his one good hook slipped took a flyer. No harm done he soon dispatched the notorious problem. They topped out around 7pm with a clear sky and a full moon to witness an extraordinary scene as any of you who have seem Graham’s photo will recall.

Moonlit summit shot as Andy and Graham top out from north East Buttress on ben nevis.

Saturday evening’s craic was even better than the night before.

Sunday saw the bikers heading down to Aberfoyle for a gravel day. Andy, Graham, Simon and Ray headed for Curved Ridge on the Buchaille. It was another absolutely stunning day! Plenty of teams out on this classic which I hadn’t visited for perhaps 40 years! It was all looking fab until I realised that when I had picked up the rack… I’d put it back in the tackle box instead of my rucksack! Senility gets more marvellous by the day!

Graham leading the crux section in thin conditions on Curved Ridge, Buchaille Etive Mor

Graham and Andy very generously split their rack and we set off up – parasite fashion, with Graham really looking out for the old-fart! Cheers fellah – that was above and beyond.

Topping out late afternoon was fabulous. Clear views to infinity.

Summit of Buchaille Etive Mor - beginning the descent.

A long bum slide down Coire na Tulaich gave a some relief from the effort of a decent Scottish winter day. Simon piled in with Andy and Graham for the trek back to Carlisle and I headed for Glasgow to curl up with Marion. All in all it was a brilliant weekend!

Evening light after a fabulous day out on the Buchaille.

Roy Bridge. March 8th – 10th March 2024 – John Holden

Following so soon after the Corran Hostel meet, bookings for the Little Houses had been fairly light and sadly Dan, who had been booked, could not make it this time. Late bookings from Alastair and John Wilson took us up to eight with the climbers, Ray, Graham, Andy and Alastair in one cabin and CMC Velo, John, John, Dorine and Mike, in the other….so we all had plenty of space and the cycling team would not be woken early by the “alpine start” necessary for a day out on Meggy.

The 2 Johns at the Commando memorial above Spean Bridge.The two Johns arrived first having visited the Commando Memorial on the way and Mike and Dorine followed, having had a good day out in “Gravelfoyle”.

Andy, Graham and Alastair arrived together, followed by Ray…..just a little later.


Graham and Alastair were first off in the morning, this from Graham is a succinct description of their day;

Graham at start of Pumpkin“With an early start made Alastair and I were the first team into Creag Meagaidh’s Upper Corrie. The ice route – The Pumpkin was the day’s objective and we could see that it was just about in condition. Al set off up the poorly protected and committing first pitch which contained some ice and good Neve. A tied off icicle and a good ice screw protected the crux which led to the belay.

Alastair's tied off icicle protecting crux section of Pumpkin first pitch.

Thereafter another ice pitch with better protection and an easier than expected chimney led to a brief section of mixed climbing, further snow fields and the top at 2pm. A great day out.


And this from Andy, with details of his and Ray’s somewhat epic day on the mountain;

Looking up to Alastair leading 1st pitch of PumpkinRay and Andy set off early and headed up to Coire Ardair just behind Graham and Alastair who were going to have a look at the Pumpkin. (Alastair on 1st pitch – above)  We were unsure with the conditions, but decided to stick to plan and head up to look at South Pipe Direct as we could see some good ice at the bottom, so it looked promising for the main pitches high up.

Ray led off from the belay and got the first icy steps in and belayed below the first steep step on some good rock gear. Good choice as Andy set off up the long runnel leading up to the base of the South Pipe and gear was almost non-existent, a wart hog and bulldog hammered into the bomber turf. At the end of the rope, belayed on the first decent ice screw that went in and a traditional Scottish ‘cold person stood on an icy ledge belay as back up’.

Ray didn’t look too closely at the belay and set off quickly over some steep steps up to the base of the pipe.

Ray belaying below the South Pipe before the excitement.

It looked steep and scary. Wind was picking up by now and belay jackets came out. It was Baltic.

Andy Arriving at the belay in a bitter wind

Andy set off up the steep groove, and as usual, it was much steeper and longer than it looked, and in keeping with the early part of the route gear was sparse. Andy teetered up on poor snow and poor ice, weaving steeply between the patches of bomber turf to make progress. But manged to get a good nut and screw in below the final steep step up onto a snowy ledge. Last of the difficulties then high fives and a jog down for an early pint … or so we thought.

I pulled over onto the snowy ledge and the howling wind which immediately covering my glasses in spindrift. I took them off to reveal a daunting looking steep ice pitch, hanging over a large cave. Oh dear. Stopped at the first decent rock belay about 30ft below the ice. Given the nature of the route you had to take belays when you found, could not trust what was going to be higher up.

Ray’s pitch loomed ahead. Up he came chirpy and chipper as usual then he looked up. I was knackered after the long nerve wracked pitch below. Ray just
gathered his thoughts, then said, “well lets go and see how it looks Andy” and off he headed. He teetered and waded up the awkward gully with unstable snow up to the base of the ice and managed to get a sling round the icicle and a good screw at the base. He then disappeared into the cave for a look. We were to get to know it better …… Out he popped and set off up the steep ice making good progress but getting slower as his arms got tired.

I watched Ray throw his axe round the final steep overhanging ice for the last move onto easier ground. Go Ray! I shouted. Just as his arms gave out and he gently peeled off backwards and headed down at speed. Christ! Took in as much rope as I could as Ray hit the snow and bounced down to come to a halt upside down and 15ft below his gear. That was spectacular.

All went quiet. I called and called but no response. I was just planning to tie off and get up to Ray to look at him and make safe when he started to stir and slowly got himself upright. “I’m alright Andy!” he shouted heroically, then. “Did you see one of the lenses from my glasses go flying past??” No! He was down to single vision!!

I lowered Ray back to the belay and took some time to check he was ok and sort out the ropes. We considered our options, but with the state of the gear lower down abseiling out was not a safe option. We had to go up.

I figured we had to get a rest out of the wind and let Ray recover and have something to eat and drink, so I got us up to the cave which felt like the Paris Hilton at that time. It was big and warm and spacious compared to the belay below. We talked and had food and drink and Ray was determined to get to the top. I looked at the time: already 5:15 so we had to get a shift on. Out came the head torches.

I got an arm round a higher icicle and got in a couple of high bomber screws. Then Ray took in the ropes and I took a rest on those and got a higher screw in. I could not afford anything to go wrong. Anxiously I set off. Boy that was steep… but I kept going with plenty of words with myself quite vocally – to Ray’s amusement. I got a good rock belay in and pulled the ropes tight ……… Slowly Ray edged up and just kept going.

That was an awesome piece of climbing not many people would have got up that with the anxiety and battered body and only one lens that Ray had! He’s made of steel is Ray. I managed to make a call to Graham to let him know all was OK. Then looked up and it looked like the cornice not far above. Bravely Ray set off so we didn’t have to swap on the awkward belay. And over the top I thought… but the ropes just kept going out! It was 2 long rope lengths up snow to eventually get on the plateau – it seemed like forever!!

We both felt battered and slowly got the ropes put away, then followed the GPS down to safety at the top of the window. Not wanting Ray to feel all alone I manfully tripped over my own feet and burst my lip open on my ice axe. Bit of blood to finish the day! Then it was the death march out. Both of us slow and battered it went on for ever … but eventually we got to the car and back for beer and toast !!

…apparently at 11.45pm, just before Al’s alarm which would have had him on the road to start a search for the “missing” pair.

John’s comment: “Earlier we had received a text message that they were battered but topped out, at about 7, but this turned out to be a false top. A short reply to a questing text at around 10.30 gave us enough comfort to crash out. We all hope Ray is recovering well and that the bruises are finally fading…..a well managed escape Andy.”


CMC Velo. Corrour Station

Start of the ride to Corrour - Laggan.Meanwhile the cyclists after a somewhat later rise set off for a gravel ride from Loch Laggan to Corrour Station and back, which proved to be a much better choice than my original plan of 8.04 train to Corrour and ride back to Roy Bridge, which would have include a 6 mile stretch down the A86, plus an “early rise”.

Loch Ghuilbinn en route to Corrour Station.Leaving the layby at Laggan there is a short stretch over the river, closely followed by the start of a nearly 5 mile climb up to the electricity substation, just outside the forest.

When we had all arrived here, rested and with the sugar hit of Jelly Babies set off into the wildness beyond, soon coming into sight of Loch Ghuilbinn on our left, backed by some serious hills, then a long downhill section past Strathossian House and on to the junction at the end of Loch Ossian and Corrour House.

Climbing up to CorrourThere followed a very pleasant, rolling three miles to the other end of the loch before a short climb up towards the remote, but very busy, Corrour Station.



Corrour Station - the destination.Lunch was punctuated by a chat with a lovely, but very loud lady from Texas who was on a train tour of the highlands following a conference in Newcastle and who had just walked up Leum Uilleim (909m) behind the station……in her winter coat and trainers.


Looking up the lake from Corrour House.Refreshed we set off back the way we had come, sadly into a slight headwind, which made it a bit harder for our analogue heroes John and Mike. A quick look at the brutalist architecture of Corrour House and the view up the loch punctuated the start of the long, gentle climb back up to the forest, a couple of enjoyable descents and a final, steep climb into a now quite strong wind which seriously slowed Analogue John, but like the hero he is he kept his head down and just went for it.

Twenty five miles, all on gravel and 1400 feet of climbing, not a bad day.

Poor Ray was a bit battered and bruised this morning so plumped for a slow start before a drive back to Glasgow to see Marion. The rest of the climbers set off home
with a plan to sneak in a bit of rock on the way home, I hope they succeeded, but have not heard. (Graham and Alastair got a route in while Andy watched and sought out some pie therapy  – Ray) 

Mike went off to visit his son and family and the rest of the cyclists set off for home, stopping at Signal Rock at the bottom of Glencoe….often passed but never stopped, before…..for a gentle walk before the long drive home.

Final note From the Editor – Rae McNab

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the newsletter it’s good to have some interesting tales. Please keep them coming for the future.