Tel: +44(0)77 2000 1326 | Email:


2018/09/20 20:23

Fresh snow on the Cairngorm plateau

Even a cornice forming

More snow over on Braeriach

Cairn Lochan

Cairn Gorm & Sneachda

Sheltered here

Coire an Lochan looking lovely in the sun

Point Five Gully & Fiacaill Buttress

Fingers Ridge

The cliffs of Coire an Lochain

Ben Macdui

Twin Burns

Yesterday saw the first storm of the season. Blowing up to 90mph on the summits in the Highlands. Storm'Ali' came and went overnight. I can't ever recall having to cancel a hill day for clients in mid September because of high winds. At Tarmachan Mountaineering we always try to be flexible, working around people's time and weather. Unfortunately my clients for Ben Nevis yesterday were heading back home to Canada today.  Shame as the winds eased right down by noon on Thursday and it was a beautiful afternoon in the Cairngorms.
This morning it was still blowing up to 60mph but the weather forecasts indicated an easing into the afternoon. I had a leisurely start, setting off at noon. The sun was out and the skies were blue. By the time I had arrived in Coire an lochan it was just a stiff breeze. Up on the plateau and there was hardly any wind really. A lovely and quiet stroll across the Northern Corries. There was some fresh snow above about 1050m and in the NE corries. A cool day on the summits but with the sun it was lovely. Only saw two folk all day after seeing lots of people coming back down to the car park as I was setting off. It's all about the timing! Check the forecasts. They're very accurate nowadays. The Met Office for Cairn Gorm today was just about spot on, hour by hour.
Of course a bit of snow in September IS| NOT the start of winter. No doubt we will have an heatwave in October before winter really starts on 1st November! Until then there are a few more wintry days to come over the weekend. Wrap up warm.



2018/09/19 18:04

Mont Blanc at dawn from Refugio Bonatti
It's the first storms of the Autumn raging outside as I write. Time indoors today and a chance to write my annual end of summer blog. Another wonderful season out in The Alps working on trekking trips. So here's my best images that sum up the summer season out in the most popular mountain area on the planet, probably.

A snowy descent from the Col de la Seigne, TMB, mid June
It had been another good winter season in The Alps, just like here in the Highlands. Of course when we say 'good' this means lots of wonderful snow. Depending on how much snow falls thorough the winter and how warm/cold/wet the Spring is determines how much snow lingers at the beginning of the trekking season in The Alpine regions. Trekking groups on the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) get going around mid June. Before this many of the more remote accommodations are still closed. This is mainly because of the chance of snow high up. Most Tour companies that I work for don't start their season until around 15th June for this reason. Folk who come to trek in 'summer' aren't really wanting to be walking in snow (or ice). The reality is there will be snow above about 2000m

Descending the Col de Fours, TMB June
My first group of the season were a lovely family from Singapore. Not many mountains, never mind snow in their country! My group soon got into the swing of things on the white stuff. Learning how to cope walking on snow with summer boots can take a day or two. By the end of their trip they were experts on kicking steps in snow with summer boots. The weather was kind, in fact it was very hot. So it makes life easier. No frozen snow which can make things much trickier!

Easy walking when there's a trench!
Every year there seems to be more and more folk on the TMB. A victim of it's own success. I guess being in the 'Top 10 treks of the world' is to blame. Social media too! June did used to be a quieter time to come but not anymore. Having said that there are many times you can 'escape' the crowds and have your own piece and quiet on the trail.

Marmot, is it summer yet?
Trumpet Gentian
With such a hot summer this year the snow quickly melted away and summer had arrived by late June in all its glory with only small areas still with snow lying. The marmot's were everywhere, coming out of their 6 month hibernation under ground and the flowers out. Probably the finest time of year for me. If you love the flora then end of June into July offers the most abundance and variety of flowers. The hills are alive with wildlife.

A meadow full of Globeflower on the Col de Balme
Mont Blanc from Lac de Chesrys
The two images above were taken on the same week. Lac de Chesrys is just that bit higher for the snow to stick around longer. Be prepared! The other wonderful reason I love the early season is the light. The clarity in the air is usually beautiful and vibrant colours. A bit of snow adds to the scene.

Aiguille du Glacier
A windy day up high on Mont Maudit
In between trip this year I had a few days off and a chance for Karen to come out for a visit. The excellent weather just kept on coming.Good conditions for swimming, too hot for walking! Getting out early was a good idea before the heat.

Plenty of wonderful sunsets from Les Houches
Les Drus loking fine
Swimming Lac Combal
Swimming Lac de Chesrys
 One of the main tourist attractions in Chamonix is the fabulous cablecar ride up to the Aiguille du Midi on the Mont Blanc massif. At an altitude of over 3800m it gives stunning views in all directions. A world of rock and ice that can be viewed with hardly any effort apart from queueing up and going up and down a few steps to get your best view. Unfortunately this marvel of engineering had been closed early season for maintenance. It was eventually open and running  again by 7th July.

Sunset on a silent Aiguille du Midi

Climbers heading out from the Midi
Cosmiques Arete, Mont Blanc

Back to work and the first of 4 Haute Route treks this year. My favourite walk in The Alps. A brilliant 10 days of hiking  from Chamonix to Zermatt. En route some of the finest and biggest mountain scenery in The Alps. It's now my 29th ( I think) Haute Route and every day is superb. My first trip was for a private group from USA. Initially they were going to trek it themselves but on closer inspection of the route and possible difficulties they decided to hire a guide! Good choice!

On the Senier de Chamois, Grand Combin on full show
Trient Glacier on the Fenetre Arpette
The Haute Route is a big step up in  the fitness and skill level compared to the TMB. Longer days, steeper terrain, higher cols, more exposed and technical ground. Despite this it is still achievable for anyone with some Alpine trekking experience. Another big draw is the quietness compared to the Tour of Mont Blanc. I would guess there is probably only 10% of  folk who do the HR compared to the more popular TMB. More chance of spotting the wonderful wildlife here too. If you don't see Ibex or Chamois on this trek then you are very unlucky.

Male Ibex, HR July
Chamois, HR July
Young male Ibex
This summer was a brilliant season for butterflies too. Whether this was to do with it being so hot and dry I do not know. A fabulous display of many species and large numbers. Constant companions along all these treks are the wildlife. Looking at other groups wandering around the trails it looks like time is their biggest motivation. Or is it the latest in GPS and 'smart' watches. Making graphs with spike charts at the end of every day. Don't forget the 'floors' and 'steps',  km's and metres just don't hack it in today's world. I wonder when there will be a smart watch that will calculate the 'Enjoyment Value' at the end of every day?
Small Copper
Swallow Tail

On the Haute Route you will see some of the Alps biggest mountains. You may not see all 86 4000m peaks but you'll certainly get to view the finest ones.

Weisshorn and Zinal Rothorn from Carne de Sorbois
Looking down to the Val d'Herens
August is always the busiest time of the summer season. Everyone is on holiday. The whole world it seems! Accommodation is scarce to find if you've not booked anything in advance. The trails are busy but the Haute Route is still relatively quiet. Mid August it gets crazy. Back on the Tour du Mont Blanc and I had another lovely group out with me. Some fine weather once again.

High summer and you can still have some peace. Aiguille de Bionassay
Peace and quiet, Monte de la Saxe, August
Last of the snow, Lac Blanc
Alpine Pansey
Time off between trips is always a bit limited. I had a day off in Zermatt before my next  Haute Route. So many places to walk out from this famous Alpine town nestled below The Matterhorn. Spoilt for choice really. The views from the Gornergrat are stunning. This amazing journey from Zermatt by a cog railway takes around 40 minutes. Some fantastic scenery en route to the 3400m high point overlooking the Monte Rosa massif. Of course you can actually walk up!

Liskamm & Breithorn from near the Gornergrat
The Matterhorn at Riflesee
Some more images from the TMB in August. For me the best days on this classic hike are on the Italian side. The days between Lac Combal and the Grand Col Ferret offer some of the finest views of the Mont Blanc Range. Do make sure you walk the high level routes as these are definitely the best days you will have.

Grand Jorasses above Val Ferret

Lac Blanc

Mont Blanc and Val Veny
 And so back to the Haute Route for a final time. September offers some beautiful light. Autumn is just around the corner. The nights are colder, the mornings are crisper. The light can be magical. The thunderstorms aren't as many with the day time temperatures not so hot. One of my favourite months! The trails a wee bit quieter and that was certainly the case for some of the days on the final trek this year.

Moon above the Brunegghorn and Weisshorn
The Col de Reidmatten
Cloud swirling in the Mattertal
The Europawg above the Mattertal
Bishorn and N. ridge of the Weisshorn from Meidpass
The finest sections of the WHR are from Cabane du Mont Fort through to Arolla. It's wild, high, remote and full of wildlife. This year there seemed to be plenty of ibex and Griffen Vultures. Golden Eagle seen on every visit between the Col de Termin and Col de Louvie. It's the Ibex that is the King of the Alps. What a beautiful and majestic animal superbly adapted to the high mountains.

Male Ibex
Griffen Vulture
Female Ibex and her young
Getting out early in the day gets some wonderful light. Staying in the refuges on this high level section definitely gets everyone up early! A quick basic breakfast and folk are keen to get out. Especially as big 10 hour days are ahead of us so an early start essential.

Early morning, Lac Dix from Col de Roux
Mont Collon above Arolla
Mont Blanc de Chillion with a dusting of fresh snow
The days get slightly easier after Arolla. Still as stunning! This last trip was filled with fabulous clear days.

Pigne d'Arolla
Dent Blanche (the most beautiful peak in the Alps)
Zinal Rothorn
Mattertal from the Europawg above Zermatt
Weisshorn, North Ridge

No guesses
So that was my Alpine summer 2018. Thanks to all those wonderful folk I guided across The Alps this year. Some great times, good laughs and a few tears and blisters along the way!

This year I have been guiding for some great companies again.

Mont Blanc Treks
Alpine Treks
Cloud 9 Adventure
Tracks & Trails

Mont Blanc from near Brevent



2018/09/13 09:22

The cloud clears on The Matterhorn 




Europaweg Bridge 

Late afternoon Matterhorn clears 


Mattertal and Tash 

Weisshorn and Tasch 
Quiet trail on the Europaweg 

Tunnels on the Europaweg 
A bridge too far
Final day on the final Walkers Haute Route this summer. What better way to finish than a stroll across the longest footbridge in the world and an exciting traverse path above the Mattertal. At the end, The Matterhorn in full view. The weather forecast had improved since yesterday and we were so lucky to get a sunny morning and no rain in the afternoon. The group all had various options of how to finish the trek.3 travelled by train into Zermatt,  2 walked along the valley and 4 just walked the Europaweg Bridge. That left just me and Lee finishing on the longest route high above the Mattertal. We timed it perfectly with the clouds clearing the Matterhorn as we approached the high point on the Europaweg above Tufteren.
I certainly had diverse a full range of fitness levels on my final group in 2018. There was a 41 year old who had never trekked in their life and a smoker all the way up to a 77 years young gentleman who had completed their third Walkers Haute Route and was up in front for most of the 10 days!
That's it. My summer Alpine season is over. It was a blast and some brilliant days with some wonderful folk. Where did the summer go?
Another great season working for Mont Blanc Treks.



2018/09/12 19:17

The Mattertal 

Augstboard Pass 

Dom & Tashorn 

Sunrise over the Augstboard Pass 


Michabel peaks from Augstboard 

Fabulous traverse path 

Ian & Petra admiring the Weisshorn views

Descending the Augstboard Pass 

Sunrise above the Turtmantal 
Penultimate day on this final Haute Route of 2018.  From Gruben there is just one Col to get over into the Mattertal, the Matterhorn Valley. The Augstboard Pass isn't the finest of the days views though. That accolade is reserved for later in the day as a rocky traverse path swings over towards the deep trench of the Mattertal. From this Eagle  eye's viewpoint you get to see many of the big 4000m peaks. The Dom, Tashorn,  Monte Rosa, Breithorn,  Weisshorn and The Bishorn.  But no sign of the Matterhorn, that's tomorrow!  Another glorious sunny day. Cold morning s we set off at 0700. We saw no one until after the Pass. Fabulous.



2018/09/11 20:23

Meidpass in afternoon light

North ridge of the Weisshorn 

Dent Blanche & Matterhorn just peeping out

Onwards to the Meidpass 

Fine ridge walk on another day!

Meidpass silhouette 

Hotel Weisshorn for lunch 

Fine high level traverse above Val d'anniveres 

Dent Blanche, most beautiful peak in The Alps 
The Walkers Haute Route has a few variants along its 170km route. One of these choices is the section from Zinal to Gruben. Either the Forcletta Col of the Meidpass. I much prefer the latter. The trail runs high above the Val d'anniveres in a Northerly direction and offers fantastic views of the big mountains in to the South. The Dent Blanche,  Point de Zinal,  Zinal Rothorn and a distant Matterhorn rears it's summit cone.  For some it's also the lure of the legendary Weisshorn Hotel for lunch! It's from this Victorian accommodation that the route eventually starts climbing up to the Meidpass.  Once you leave the hoards of day trippers you journey through a beautiful and rugged landscape , almost Scottish Highlands in appearance . Finally the trail steepens to the col and from here is seen the highlight of the day, the stunning North ridge of the Weisshorn in beautiful afternoon light. Of course it's usually covered in afternoon cumulus cloud, but not today. Wall to wall beautiful clear skies. An early evening descent down through lovely meadows to finish off a fabulous day.



2018/09/10 21:04

Zinal Rothorn from Sorbois 

Looking down to the Val d'Herens 

Lac Autannes 

Lac du Moiry 

Ascending Col de Torrent 

Descending to Zinal, Weisshorn 

Weisshorn from Sorbois 

Lac Autannes 

High above Val d'Herens 

View from Col de Torrent 

Meadows below Zinal ski area 

Afternoon light on Zinalrothorn 

Col de Sorbois & Lac de Moraiy 
Another big day on the Walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Today's jaunt from La Sage in the Val d'Herens to Zinal in the Val d'anniveres involves 2000 metres of ascent and over 1600 metres descent. Some fantastic high Alpine summits are seen on this section.  The Weisshorn,  Zinal Rothorn,  Dent Blanche & Dent d'Herens amongst many other 4000m mountains. The sun shone and it was very warm again after the usual cold early morning. Another brilliant day and great efforts by the team. This trip I am guiding for Mont Blanc Treks.  Always a pleasure.



2018/09/09 17:03

Pigne de Arolla 

Chilly Lac Bleau dip

Morning stroll


Lac Bleau 
Easy stroll into Les Hauderes 

Colourful chalets

Dent Blanche above Les Hauderes 

Early morning light,  Mont Collon 

La Sage 
Lac Bleau 

Mont Collon & Pigne d'Arolla 

The easiest section of the Haute Route is from Arolla to La Sage. Virtually all down hill and good paths. So easy I call it an ' rest day'
The trail hugs the hillside above the Upper Val d'Herens with stunning views back towards Mont Collon and Pigne d'Arolla. After a couple of hours the path comes to a clearing in the trees and the popular beauty spot of Lac Bleau. For the first time ever 3 of my group went for a dip in the cold lake.  After Elevenses we headed lower down the valley and the old town of Les Hauderes. After lunch it's another easy stroll uphill to the beautiful village of La Sage.



2018/09/08 22:21

Mont Blanc de Chiellon 

The team down to 4 today 

Col de Reidmatten 

Early morning light,  Lac Dix 

Col de Reidmatten 

The view East from the col

Col de Chevrys & Mont Blanc de Chiellon 

Stewart admiring the light

Beautiful descent into Arolla and Mont Collon 


They want to come with us

Marmott country 


Mont Blanc de Chiellon 

The stiff pull to the Reidmatten 
Clear skies overnight and a stunning morning,  well stunning all day really. Sadly the team were down to just 4 today. The others opting for the bus round from Lac Dix to Arolla .The Haute Route is a tough trek but worth it. From the Col de Choux you get a fabulous views of the day ahead. Once above Lac Dix you enter a world of 'raw' mountain scenery.  No green meadows here just bare rock, moraine and glaciated high mountain.  Love it. Clarity of light superb. The bigger Col later in the day is probably the toughest on the entire trek. Some loose rock and steep incline are tackled to gained the spectacular Col de Reidmatten. The alternative Col de Chevrys is adjacent.  Most folk head for this Col which is festooned with Ladders and walkways. For me the Reidmatten is superior. An easy stroll down to Arolla and back to civilisation after the wildest section on the Walkers Haute Route.  #montblanctreks



2018/09/07 21:29

A misty Col Termin

Over 40 ibex seen today

Atmospheric scenery 

Grand Combin there somewhere 

Big day, big butties 

Last snowpatches in Col de Louvie 

Sun breaking through above Rosa Blanche 


Col Prafleuri 
The finest section on the Walkers Haute Route for me is the traverse of Col Termin,  Col de Louvie & Col Prafleuri from Cabane du Montfort. Unfortunately there was a wee cold weather front  passing through last night and into today. Lower temperatures and drizzle had us with waterproofs, hats,  gloves and fleeces this morning.  Some low cloud soon lifting through the morning so we had some views. We had the route to ourselves.  Most folk at the Cabane du Montfort seemed to think there was going to be two foot of snow judging by what naff weather apps they were glued into. So with a clear trail and some cloud we got to see so many ibex and Chamois. I counted at least 40 ibex and 6 chamois. The sun came out early afternoon and we got some nice views and warmth from the Grand Desert to Prafleuri .



2018/09/05 22:33

Fenetre Arppette 

Trient Glacier 

Arppette descent 

'The Boulder field '

Lee looking for ibex 

Steep ground 

The repaired landslide area

A beautiful morning 

Croix de Ferr 

The gorgeous woodland, Arppette Valley 

View from Fenetre Arppette 

The steep descent on the Arppette side

Another Fenetre Arppette view
The Haute Route, Day 2. Today sees a big Col with steep terrain and rocks steps up to the Fenetre Arppette.  The terrain for 90%  of the day is much harder but the views are outstanding. For much of the ascent The Trient Glacier is close by and became more impressive as you get higher. Another glorious day with wall to wall sun. A cold night giving another exceptional air clarity. This day sets the tonight for the big days to come.



2018/09/04 19:34

The team on the Aiguillete de Posettes 


Aiguille Rouge 

Aiguille Rouge 

Mont Blanc & Aiguille Rouge 

Autumn colours 

Twin peaks 

The quite side of Col de Balme 

Aiguille Rouge 

Aiguillete de Posettes 

Last Mont Blanc view 2018

Tseppes Alp


Carline Thistles
My final guiding in the Alps for 2018.  Where has the summer gone? It seems like only yesterday I was out guiding my first trip which was in mid June. Today the first day of the Haute Route.  It has been a bit unsettled last week in The Alps with a few cold days which dumbed snow above 2500m. This morning we set off from Mont Roc in beautiful clear skies and a chill in the air. With the colder air comes beautiful clarity of light of course.  A photographers dream.
This 10 day trek I am guiding for Mont Blanc Treks again. 10 smashing folk from Australia,  South Arrival, USA and Britain.  A lovely walk in cooler conditions,  perfect temperatures in fact and a relief from the blistering heat we've had for most of the summer.



2018/08/31 18:31

The impressive Barns of Bynack

Brenda & Robert's first Munro

More Barns

Excellent trail to Bynack Mor
The Glenmore residents in beautiful morning light

Ptarmigan well camouflaged
Beautiful day for it
Wife and husband team, Brenda & Robert were out with me today on their very first Munro. This guided day out with Tarmachan Mountaineering was a Christmas present from their son, Calum. It was worth the 9 month wait for a stunning day that we had on Bynack Mor. This isolated summit is a terrific viewpoint and not as busy as many of the other main Cairngorm Munro mountains. In fact we saw no one until the top. The crowning glory and best feature of Bynack Mor is the monolithic granite tors to the east of the main top, The Barns of Bynack. These amazing rock outcrops are rarely visited despite just a 10 minute stroll from the top. Or maybe folk can't find them? It was a wall to wall sunny day, warm but a stiff breeze. This morning it was quite foggy down in Aviemore and even a frost in places. Autumn is definitely just around the corner.



2018/08/30 20:28

Feith Buidhe Slabs

Feith Buidhe

Loch Avon

Fiacaill Coire Sneachda

Ridge again

Usually more water here

Hells's Lum and Loch Avon
Remote and wild scrambling

Beside the waterfalls

Time to soak in the views

Some view

Easy second time round

More confidence

Autumn light

A great place to learn
Day 2 of Elissa's Intro to Scrambling Course here in the Cairngorms. Today we did a recap of the skills and revisited the Fiacaill Sneachda ridge. More confidence today and we cruised along the sun soaked rocks this morning. Light winds and more sun today. We headed over the plateau and down to the slabs at Feith Buidhe in the afternoon. A fabulous area, wild, remote and spectacular views. A bit less intimidating around here, less exposure but some wet and mossy areas to be careful on. With such a dry summer we have enjoyed the waterfalls over the slabs are very low. Beautiful afternoon light and Autumn colours starting to make an appearance. We went up, down and across the slabs and crags. All the while Elissa gaining more confidence. A brilliant couple of days.



2018/08/29 17:36

Sunshine and scrambling

This is fun
Cold hands and cold rock

The ridge to ourselves

Fiacaill a Coire Sneachda in profile

Autumn colours and fab light

All smiles on the top!

Sneachda crags from The Goat Track

Good holds

The pathless and wild way up to the ridge

Loch Morlich bathed in sun

Cairn Gorm and Sneachda
Elissa is out with me on a 2 Day Intro to Scambling Course in The Cairngorms. With 65 Munros completed she is looking to gain more confidence in tackling some scrambling on the more fun rdges and corries that the Scottish mountains has in abundance. As well as plenty of summer and winter hillwalking experience she also has discovered indoor bouldering and climbing walls. For our first day we headed onto the Fiacaill a Coire Sneacda ridge from the lochan's in Sneachda. A good way to gain the ridge, pathless and scenic and guaranteed to meet no one here except the odd ptarmigan. This is a brilliant place to learn the art of scrambling and many of the harder or scarier sections can be bypassed on a traverse path. Perfect for beginners. We had the whole place to ourselves, apart from a team of 3 who passed us by. It was a beautiful day for most of the time. It did go much cooler when the clouds did roll in and a pair of gloves was needed at times. Elissa did brilliantly for her first taste of scrambling and was pleased as punch on the top. We descended via the Goat Track and once again Coire Sneachda was very quiet.



2018/08/28 17:54

Feithe BuidheWaterfalls

Loch Avon Slabs


Hell's Lum

Last nights full moon
Starry Saxifrage

Slabs & Shelterstone
Carn Etchacan & Shelterstone

Billberry & Crowberry garden

Camp up at Feithe Buidhe, nippy morning

Loch Avon
Nice to be back home amongst the Cairngorm mountains today. It's a complete contrast to walking the crowded Alpine trekking trails of the last few weeks.
Early evening yesterday Karen and I camped up high, over 1000m  above sea level in the heart of the Cairngorm Mountains. One of the finest viewpoints is of the Loch Avon basin, near the Feithe Buidhe. We set off early evening to gain the plateau just before dark. It was a dull, drizzly and windy ascent but it did dry off later. The skies cleared by 10pm and we enjoyed a beautiful full moon. This morning we headed down to Loch Avon via the slabs near to the Feithe Buidhe waterfalls. This area is grand, raw mountain scenery. The gentle flowing Feithe Buidhe burn that trickles across the Cairngorm plateau suddenly drops into steeper terrain as it flows down to Loch Avon, 300m below. Silvery slivers of water rush over smooth granite slabs and crags as the water finally flows into the loch. A wonderful walk down amongst these slabs to the loch and a swim for Karen in the gem of The Cairngorms. We walked and scrambled amongst the crags back up to collect the tent before heading home. Solitude, wildness and grand scenery await those who have adventure and walk off well beaten trails.

Colourful mosses amongst the slabs
Swimming time

Loch Avon


1 / 2  >  >> 

Copyright © 2018 Tarmachan Mountaineering. All rights reserved
Website by Coire Creative