Monday, 1 April 2013

Winter continues...

I've had few busy weekends with work recently. I was working for Maximum Adventure first with Chris and Gavin. We headed up to Coire na Ciste on day 1 to cover winter skills. We went over the usual ice axe arrest, self belay and walking on snow using boots as a tool, kicking and cutting steps and finished with some cramponing. I find the North Face of the Ben a really inspiring place to work on some skills as we are constantly reminded by the imposing cliffs of why its so important to get our basic skills just right.

The guys getting ready to show some skills!
Day 2 we headed up the Ben from Achintee. Fairly soon we heard the sound of the Coastguard helicopter hovering around the Red Burn area and later found out that there were 3 chaps who had spent a cold night on Tower Ridge who were getting rescued. We carried on in fairly nice conditions until about the 5th zig zag where the path disappeared, the cloud came down and we were in full on whiteout. Most of the cairns were covered in snow too so I had to be sharp with the navigation. We bumped into some guys who were lost at the top of Gardyloo Gully(!). They thankfully followed us to the summit and back down though did take a few wrong turns on the descent. Well done to Chris and Gavin who put in a sterling performance!

Cloud beginning to lift

At the Red Burn on the way down

The next day I took John and Raymond for a walk up to the CIC hut. Fairly windy conditions and a lot of slab building up but the cloud was clear and we got some great views of the stunning North face. On the way down were met by a group of large stags just off of the path, a nice end to the mornings walk.

Last weekend I took Anne-Sophie and Alexis for some skills. Our plan had been to head up to Coire Na Ciste for some skills but the weather just wasn't playing fair! We tried driving up the Forestry track at Torlundy but several fallen trees put a quick stop to that. After walking up to the top car park we just got beyond the 10 minute tree before calling it a day. Waves of spindrift and severe wind chill meant getting to the hut would have been challenging enough let alone having a productive learning day. We opted for plan B and covered some basic skills in the Ice factor was well as bit of climbing in the ice wall. 
Me having a brief play on the wall!

After the skills day the guys headed up to the Ben on their own and sensibly turned around when things started to feel a bit hairy. Good to see people making good decisions in the hills.

Anne-Sophie and Alexis above the Half Way Lochan
On Tuesday Davie, Andy and myself headed up the Ben to do Vanishing gully. Despite having to walk up from the bottom car park we were treated to a bit of luxury when Andy treated us to tea and cake in the CIC hut! 
Tea, pastry and climbing. Can life get any better?
 The climbing was great too, with a nice first pitch that I lead up to an in situ peg belay. Davie lead the steep icy crux which was added too by a lot of spindrift blowing up and down the gully! Good lead Davie! We abbed down 1934 route and headed back to the hut for round two of tea and Eccles cakes! Thanks Andy!

This weekend I was working for Maximum Adventure again, whilst Davie was working for me. I took Russell and Lance to Steall Falls on Friday for a quick tour of Glen Nevis. A bit of fun on the wire bridge and we headed back to let the chaps get ready for a longer day. Some nice ice forming in the Glen in the cold conditions.

On Saturday we headed up to the CIC hut to let the guys get a proper view of Ben Nevis. It's a shame that the thousands of people who ascend the Tourist Track every year never get to see the true character of the Ben. We headed back round to the Lochan, headed up the zig zags for a short while and then cut off to look at No.4 gully for more views of the North Face. A final slog up to the summit saw us on top of the UK to stunning views! Not a bad day in the office at all. A quick descent down the Red Burn and we headed across the moor back to the car. Good effort chaps for doing the deluxe Tourist Track!
Well worth the detour!

Davie took Tony and Mia up the Ben on Saturday for a similar day.

Top of the Ben!

Yesterday the team headed up the North Ridge of Stob Ban in Glen Nevis. Another smashing day on a smashing route.

The North ridge

Tony and Mia on top of Stob Ban (999m)