Sunday, 17 February 2013

Smashing Times!

It's been a life changing couple of weeks! I was up in Coire Leis with Wilderness Scotland when I got the call from Glenda that she'd gone into labour! A speedy walk back, a trip up to Raigmore and  a LOT of hard work from Glenda finally delivered our son Robin on 1st of February! Absolutely over the moon, he's a wee belter! Looking forward to having many adventures with him in the mountains (but not quite yet!)
A good strong climbers grip already!

This week I had James from James Grant Photography up for a couple of days. He was keen to learn some of the basic skills to allow him to head into the mountains in Winter as well as getting a couple of days out too. Our first plan was to head up Aonach Mor for some skills practice but high winds saw us heading up into Coire na Ciste on the Ben instead. We got a lot covered including ice axe arrest, cramponing and some avalanche awareness too. There were loads of teams out climbing lots of the mid level ice routes including the Curtain, Waterfall Gully, the CIC Cascades as well as teams on Tower Ridge and Ledge Route. Day two had a better looking forecast so we headed to Glencoe. As well as looking at step cutting on the way up, we took various skills from the day before and looked how we put them into practice on the mountains for real. We then saw James claiming his first Winter Munro too, which was Stob Coire Raineach (925m) on Buachaille Etive Beag, a great end to the couple of days.

James on the summit!

Wednesday was my day off and thankfully, the weather was pretty rubbish as I was feeling dreadful and full of the cold!

On Thursday it was a similar start again and Gerry and I headed onto the Ben again for some more skills. The weather was fairly kind to us despite the forecast and again we managed to cover lots. We found some great ice on some of the slabs in the gulch which was fantastic for practicing crampon technique.

Gerry hadn't done any walking in Glencoe, and again, with a good forecast we headed back up Buachaille Etive Beag. The day was aimed at letting Gerry make the decisions that we need to make on a trip to the Winter mountains and we looked at navigation, route choice as well as a fair bit of avalanche awareness. We found a very easy shear test on a NE aspect about 850m which was a great reminder of staying alert when avalanche is concerned.

The Hilary pose- had to be done Gerry!

Some sad news again this week about the avalanche in the Cairngorms.
Without wanting to get too involved in the media debate, its true that the mountains can be dangerous but for nearly all climbers, walkers and mountaineers, the enjoyment they give us always outweighs this risk. For those who don't understand that, its almost impossible for us to try and make you understand.

This week looks fairly warm to start with but cooling down on Wednesday, hopefully bringing some of the gullies into condition.