Saturday, 25 December 2010

Sgurr an Tuill Bhàin, Rock of the White Flood.

Walking on the summit ridge, descending Slioch, looking towards Sgurr an Tuill Bhan, Dec 2008

Monday, 13 December 2010

gemenids 2010

Tonight is the annual peak of the Gemenid meteor shower, a real rival to August's Perseid shower and predicted to be the best display of "shooting stars" this year. A crescent moon will dull the intensity only until it sets after midnight, so it's best to view them after then. Look towards the constellation Gemini (hence the name Gemenids) to see these relatively slowly moving meteors. The radiant - the point from which the meteors appear to originate, is close to the bright star Castor in Gemini. Here in Scotland, the sky's currently clear so it could be an amazing night to view them.

This time last year, I posted from a freezing (-7 degree) wild camping trip, having climbed Gulvain, and remember watching this great shower in a remote spot in the Highlands away from the light pollution of the city.

cold camping last year...

There's also a lunar eclipse due just before dawn on the 21st December, though the conditions in the UK aren't optimal for viewing it as, at mid-eclipse at 8.16am, the moon will have virtually set and the sky brightening as the sun rises. The moon begins to enter the shadow of the earth at 5.29am when the moon is just under 30 degrees above the horizon. Slowly, the left hand side of the moon will darken until at 7.41am it will be within the umbral shadow.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

mer de glace

L Punton, approaching storm, Mer de Glace, July 2007
..without knowing where to spot them, one perhaps would not realise that there is actually a group of people out on the ice in the middle of the picture who are on an alpine skills course to learn how to traverse glaciers and to get out of crevasses. The sense of scale is entirely deceptive.

detail of above showing location of walkers.
A few minutes later, the entire valley would be filled with cloud hugging the glacier, heavy rain and powerful winds.

See also my previous post on Ruskin's photographs of the mer de glace to see how much the great sea of ice has shrunk.

Friday, 10 December 2010

waxwing winter

Seen from my kitchen window, the same tree as in the last post, a few days later, and now host to a flock of waxwings. These unusual birds have been sighted often this winter with the berry crop in Scandinavia failing, forcing them to travel further afield.

postscript: thanks to Celine for pointing me towards this great piece of HD video footage.

Monday, 6 December 2010


servings: 6
2 cups beef jerky, shredded
1 cup dried berries
6 tbsp tallow (beef fat), melted
combine all ingredients and form into 6 patties.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

born mountaineers

Research by Geoffrey King and Geoff Bailey in the new scientist suggests that humans are ideally suited to mountainous terrain. As a species we're unable to run fast, so wide open plains are not conducive to the survival of humans. But by inhabiting irregular terrain such as mountains and valleys with our ability to scramble and clamber, human beings holds a definite advantage. "Humans are adapted for complex topography" says King. Research also holds that we have tended to cluster around rougher tectonically active landscapes. When Bailey and King superimposed the locations of human fossil sites throughout Africa with satellite images that show the roughness of the land, they found that they lined up neatly.

Friday, 3 December 2010


An amazing satellite image of the UK just now, with snow covering the country.