Sunday, 22 July 2018

Ortovox 3+ Recall for Software Update

Lots of folks will have the Ortovox 3+ Please fill in and send the online form after 25th May. Postage and upgrade free


Dear ORTOVOX Customer

Feedback from our SAFETY ACADEMY PARTNERS has revealed that, in some very rare situations, temporary disruption of the transmission function may occur on our 3+ avalanche transceivers. This can lead to prolongation of the search process. The reason for the disruption is a software error.
There have been no known accidents caused by the software error. As a precautionary measure to ensure our customers are not at risk, we are recalling all 3+ transceivers running software version 2.1. Devices affected by the recall may no longer be used without the required software update.
The following information is confidential and for your internal use only. Should you wish to publish information on your channels, then please use the press release only.
Which devices are affected?
This precautionary recall applies exclusively to ORTOVOX 3+ avalanche transceivers running software version 2.1.
3+ devices running the following software: 1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 2.2 – no matter what color – and all other ORTOVOX avalanche transceivers (S1+, S1, ZOOM) are not affected.
How do I know which software version is running on my ORTOVOX 3+?
Push the search/send switch into the send position. For this to work, the switch has to be pushed in! Now switch on your 3+. This information will be displayed consecutively:
·         10-digit serial number
·         Display test screen
·         Remaining battery capacity
If 1.1, 2.0 or 2.2 is displayed: Your device is NOT affected.
If NO NUMBER is displayed, your device is running software version 1. This device is NOT affected
What is the disruption?
Temporary disruption of the transmission signal’s pulse may occur on rare occasions. If this happens, the breaks between the transmission signals may be prolonged by a few milliseconds. If this happens when the device is searching, confusing messages may be temporarily displayed on the transceiver. This may cause time to be lost in the search.
How much longer might the search time then be?
Searching will still be possible during the disruption, but it will be more difficult. We cannot generalize as to whether the disruption will last just a few seconds or whether it will be longer. This depends upon the type of disruption and the behavior of the person searching.
What is causing the disruption?
It is caused by a software error in version 2.1. A software component that was changed when updating from 2.0 to 2.1 is responsible for the pulse variation. In rare cases, the 2.1 software will transmit to the antenna in varying transmission periods.
Why wasn’t the error discovered beforehand?
Our avalanche transceivers undergo 100% comprehensive quality control and are tested several times for functionality before distribution. Despite our comprehensive quality control measures, we have now discovered a scenario that has never before occurred in our QA processes.
How did we discover the error?
The error was discovered during intensive training sessions by ORTOVOX SAFETY ACADEMY partners. The error was identified and rectified in the following internal tests.

The new software version 2.2 will rectify the error. It will ensure that the transmission pulse will remain constant. Devices can be sent in to our ORTOVOX service point to have the new software version installed free of charge FROM MAY 25 onwards. Devices cannot be sent in any earlier. Please do not use any other form of shipping and do not include other products with the device(s).

All necessary information about the recall can be found on our website: In addition to our website, you can also contact us at and on our hotline: 089- 66674-215.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Glencoe's Low Level Cragging

Stunning Spring weather so I took a run up Glencoe to visit some of the roadside crags. "The Bendy" has many routes. I did routes at either end and one in the middle with Gary Latter back in the 1980's and Gary and Stork did some other ones. The Bendy is a great Spring and Summer morning venue and has a tremendous big swimming pool below it. Midge hell at night though. Sad to see the old Rannoch Club Doss debris after the fire. As a rescuer we were there a few times taking club members out who had broken legs on the wooden ladder climbing down into the gorge to get to the hut. Often on return from Clachaig.

Below this is the really good little "Dry Gorge Crag" an excellent evening crag which catches the sun and has easier less bold routes than the Bendy. Up the dry gorge is "The Squirrels Crack" and opposite a nice but short crack route that I did with Mark Tennant which about HVS 5a/b. Further up is the bold blank crag that Garry Latter did a few routes on.  I think these routes are in the new outcrops guide and some are certainly in Garys selected climbs guide Scottish Rock Vol. 1 South. If you want to study the images closer just click on them and open up a bigger size.

All that remains of  "The Rannoch Doss" a once well used and secretive hut below Allt na Reigh
Bang in the pic centre at the top of the wall is the final groove (with a peg runner) of "Simmering Psycho" E3 6a Davy Gunn lead and Chris Ducker (Fionas Brother) 1998
The left side has a cracking E2 5b that I did with Mark Waugh as second. In the middle wall are the E4 6a's that need RP's and have exploding crimps!  I did a FA of one with Gary and the others I think he did with Stork. There is a dry platform below so no need for wet feet. Quite a pool and roaring waterfall across from you.
The Dry Gorge Crag. A great little micro crag. Maybe 10m in height. Right to left. The grey wall on the right with a very thin crack is "Crimp" needing a couple of RP's is E2 6a and crimpy. Left again is the very well protected "Sin Nombre" E1 5b a bomber crack for cams and mid sized stoppers. Left again across the black streak is "Ascolatre" E1 5c again good pro but a bit thuggy. Then left is an alternative direct start to the same finish which is maybe 5b/c. FA's Davy Gunn with Chris Ducker and others.
Slightly further up on the same side as the dry gorge crag is"Crack Route" HVS 5b FA Davy Gunn and Mark Tennant. A damp little number but well protected with cams and nuts.
Even further up on the left side is "The Squirrels Crack" by - you guessed it, the Edinburgh Squirrel climbing club.  No give away at HVS 5a/b it used to have a peg runner at the overhang and is fairly well protected but no belay at the top so its a sit and squat job or leave a rope far back. You can get to this route from the top of the dry gorge by scrambling in from the high point.
Garys Crag has a few hard routes but no gear. Multiple bouldering matts might suffice as they are "highballs"
Looking up into the bowels of Beinn Fhada in the middle is a slot. The right side has a detached pillar with a route called "Triple C Special" HVS 5a. You can take it that it's pretty much ungradable much like KAK it's V-Diff neighbour lower down which in the old english would be XS. Both would be nice for those liking a JH Bell style such as Chimney Route - Severe Aonach Dubh "where the last 20 feet are on rock"!!
Looking across from the top of "The Squirrles Crack" to Allt na Reigh home of  Downie's Barn (on the right of the cottage) which is often mentioned in Alastair Borthwicks book "Always a Little Further". This later became Hamish MacInnes's workshop when he started making ice axes and stretchers so is a bit of Glencoe's history. Under the old road bridge (this is a new one) used to be another doss which in my day the donkey jacket clad "Black Frank" lived in. He was a dirtbag climber who lived rough and climbed hard in the 1970's and who's favourite ice tool was shortened wooden grivel axe with a bent pick he had shaped over a gas stove.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Dallens Boulder Topo

Some of us have mucked about on small local rocks for a bit of fun since starting climbing and not recorded them. This rock isn't one of them, although driven past for years until buried in the vegetation just recently cleared. A lot of folk have asked if the boulder is any good so Fiona and I looked and did something about it. She cleared tons of debris with a garden hoe and cleared as high as possible from a ladder which included a lot of loose rock.

Some easy routes and scope for 3 or 4 harder ones if someone wants to clean them up. It's a far cry from Torridon quality, but a bit of fun before tea and cake along the road so don't have high expectations except from the tea and cake. Having said that with traffic it will improve, and with a rope over the top might be quite good for an intro to beginners rock climbing on the slabby routes.

700 meters before Stalker View Cafe when coming from from Fort William/Glencoe. The boulder has 4 aspects. West  facing the road, North facing the road and the obvious overhanging prow between N/NE. The NE aspect has a fairly blank steep wall of quartzite, and the easier slabby SW aspect has most of the easy routes and the way down. The North aspect is highest at maybe 4/5 meters so the more matts the better for unplanned landings. 

Be aware that due to the nature of the rock some holds may creak a little, but we have tried as best as possible to take off the worst, and the recorded routes should be ok. Some sharp flaky/crimpy holds and jugs. The top is peat and dead vegetation making the finish of The Prow and Fast Blood require a pull on some dead stumps which seem to hold fine - so far. This peat soaks the finishing holds when wet so be aware. The route grades are a starting point as its been hard to grade them as I am not a regular boulderer and found them technically easy but on the two harder routes the finish is quite high and its a stiff pull hence the grades, so any comments welcome or grade them on UKC for a consensus.

Scope with cleaning to the left
The easy side

Scope with cleaning for harder routes to the right
Feet up and slap out left

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Roadside Routes near Glencoe

I surfed through the UKC crag data base. Its pretty extensive and includes most of the crags around Glencoe, many of which are overlooked by their grander big brothers up the hills. I was quite surprised they were listed, but also a bit disappointed that most had seen little traffic over the years and were now getting overgrown and neglected. For an area full of climbers the local ones seem reluctant to  climb or maintain these crags. I guess there is just too much choice now or folk maybe just don't climb as much as we did. I don't think there was a weekend or evening if it was dry that we were not out or away somewhere climbing. Until kids came along and it was reduced but never stopped and then they climbed as well.
All our kids can climb. Some thought required on keeping them safe when little and "the leader must not fall" were all part of the parental equation. Fiona climbed and skied with all our kids as well but we always discussed and put some thought into it treating it as a life skill even if they might decide it wasn't for them. Duncan belaying me on "Flying Dutchman". Now he leads F7b and it's me who's struggling.
Some crags like "Banana Buttress" has first ascents listed on UKC. The folk doing this wouldn't have been aware that there isn't a square foot of that crag that hadn't been climbed many times over by bar staff going back to the 1960's. Even the crag above this had an aid route on it and the Quarry was full of boulder problems (and often poo from campers). One challenge was the complete traverse without stepping onto the boulder (V3).

At the end of the road where it joins the A82 a stream gully come of the Aonach Eagach. A ten minute walk up and there is a crag with a crack line full of pegs and an overhang which was used for aid practise by Glencoe Climbing school in the 60's/70's. I free climbed it at about E2/5c and there is a stiff pull over the overhang. It's a bit of fun  although short. I wouldn't trust the pegs.

Going up the Glen, at the Gorge/meeting of three waters the obvious crack up the crag just across the river is a really good fun at HVS and has very good gear. It had wooden wedges in it at one time which have rotted out. Next to it on the left is an E2 taking a thin crack which is nippy with a move across requiring a bold move right and some heather pulling to join the same route. The HVS is good and a lot better than it looks so well worth it when dry. Behind there is a dry river gorge running all the way down to the stream from the Lost Valley. Out across from this is a band of promising looking crags which are actually not that good but there is a severe on the left "Alans Arete" which is a bit of fun on clean rock in a couple of pitches and has a nice outlook.
The Drey Crag
The Drey Crag" above the road with the hut set into it. This was the Edinburgh "Squirrels" hut. They are no longer, but luminaries included Dougal Haston and Jimmy Marshall. There used to be guide to the crag on the inside of the hut door.  It's a bit scrappy but a few routes, and the best is the obvious rock dyke with a small bulge to get around, no gear though from that point and its about severe. There is a harder crack and smooth bulge to the right of this (bold at the top) and to the left of the dyke there was a VS and on the extreme left a short V Diff chimney.

Above the Drey and to the West there are "The Red Walls" and slabs with boulder problems that catch the evening sun and are a lot of fun. You can make it easy or hard as the rock is excellent and the landings ok.
Mike Hall and I playing on "The Red Walls" above the Drey sometime early 1980's. Some good easy bouldering up there
Back in the dry gorge. Halfway down on the north side there is a clean crag with a crack exiting from a small overhang with a peg which is a good HVS. Used to be called "The Squirrels Crack" I think as it was Kenny Spence who did it but it may now have another name.  Further down still is a short "leaning wall" which gets the evening sun and has about six routes by me from E15b to an E2 5c/6a (Crimp) on the right that had very small wires as pro.

Back up the gorge leading to Allt na Righ coming down from the A82 is "The Bendy" with routes from the E1b Jim l' Fix It by me on the lower left, to an E4 by Murray Hamilton and an E4 by Gary Latter and I. I did Simmering Psycho which had a peg runner at the top as the cracks were blind and micro wires wouldn't fit. E3/5c and good natural pro to that point then finishing up a groove rather more natural than the blanker walls of the harder routes and their exploding crimpy holds and RP pro. These crags were clean and well climbed at one time, so its shame folk don't re-clean and climb them now. Its a bit like the mountain bike trails I guess, folk wait for other folk to put the work in then they get to climb/ride. 

Some advice on when to climb these routes, if you want to try them.  The Bendy is a morning crag  it gets the sun early. The leaning wall at the bottom of the dry gorge is a spring crag or early evening summer as it catches the late afternoon sun and as its got a really nice outlook and grassy bottom so its a lovely spot with a cracking pool for a swim on the way back.

It would be nice to see folk enjoying these routes and although the main loose rock work was done years ago, they will require a brush up to clean them.  Or just go for it!

Stac an Eich or Creagallan as we new it, is the granite crag reached via the road to the memorial cairn past the golf course. It had a few easier routes on its west end facing the evening sun. Slabs such as Appin groove, or the rib to its left were soloed by me and are good fun at about VS. Right of Appin groove there were a couple of stiff boulder problem slab routes, and to the right of what we used as a descent gully a steep well protected wall route of HVS with lower from a tree.

The main crag routes are all in the outcrops guide and a bit like grit routes being quite pumpy. Shuttlecock on the east (far left) up the obvious corner is a cracker with good pro, and the original finish (pitch 2) went up a leaning block and had a step across and then up. Great situation and views from that belay. The top block of pitch 2 was pretty hollow but if its still there since 1983 could be ok. An alternative is to belay at the top of the corner and then move right and up to where the central corner exits where there was some fixed gear I left 35 years ago! There is also a direct start from lower down leading into the lower pitch which is about 5b/c. We tended to ab off which was a free abseil and part of the fun. Have an auto block as back up!
George Reid gets off the ground on Shuttlecock pitch 1 1982
Left of Shuttlecock there were another two routes including "Autan" which took the big area of granite above. Probably all covered in veg now. A team with bow saws could really open up what was a great evening crag that often had a sea breeze in the sun, and was a popular often noisy venue as folk cursed up the routes which although a bit fierce are well protected if you can hang on. A pint in the Ferry bar often followed!
Me finishing Shuttlecock about to step left from the block pitch 2 original finish
Across the the Loch at Onich the obvious white wall above the A82 to Fort William has three routes. The faint crack on the left side by Kenny Spence/Fyffe is about E1/5b and I put a direct 5b finish on if you continue straight up and over the bulge. The three star route is the obvious crack system on the right which is as good a crag route as anywhere in Lochaber. Well protected by nuts and cams it's a steady E2/5b with the techiest bit just as you get established and get some gear in. This bit is where most folk back off as it can seem damp but as this bit of crag overhangs the drips are in space. Then its steady but pumpy on good holds to the top of what feels like a long pitch. It does lean over a bit! I think this was also Spence/Fyffe route and had an aid peg although we never found one and we free climbed it many times over the years. There is an eliminate 6a between the two crack lines but its a bit contrived. The "Right Hand" route is three star and don't be put off by the start up through the trees and bushes and stepping off the ledge. The gear comes and the climbing is good. Makes a nice evening doing both routes.

Further down and obvious above Kentallen bay is a Limestone crag. Best reached from an easy walk across the hill from Duror hall or a straight bushwhack up the sheep tracks from the parking at the old pier or cycle track. All the routes have steep boulder starts and then nice slabs and grooves with gear to finish. Belays were a bit scarce at the top but maybe the birch trees have grown and will be stronger. "Prawn" was a nice VS and Ed Grindly had "up periscope" 6a. I think Gary Latter did a route and rumour had it Dave MacLeod. On the left edge there is a rock recess and there were was good route by Bob Hamilton up the corner at HVS and I had two HVS's on the right and an E4/6a on the left of it which was never topped out due to water. The evening views from this crag are stunning and due to sea breeze its usually midge free.
Kentallen Bay Crag
The Lettershuna crag in Appin is more open now and has 3 excellent sport routes at about f6a. There are a few routes in the Ballachulish Quarry also. A red slab and edge on the tier above the first stakes, the rib left of the polished slab, also the slab tucked away further in with the diagonal crack traverse line and three slabby routes up tiny quartz wrinkles that I soloed some 30 years ago. A few bolts would maybe make them safer! A lot has been done in the quarry but just not recorded.

There isn't much new folks, but if you take care of what there is, and look around I bet there is a lot more roadside cragging to be had locally. Personally I would love to see some sports routes on a previously written off non trad crag somewhere. I dunno, maybe port Appin or near bye. Its nice to have variety and fun without the big walks.