Thursday, 3 April 2014

Cheerio Winter, hello Spring...

Last week I had a great day out with John, Colin and Sam in Glencoe. The guys were had all done a bit of winter walking before but wanting to brush up on a  few skills. We had a good chat about avalanche awareness and route planning before heading onto the hill. The walk up to Coire nan Lochan was tough going due to the fresh snow but thankfully, Andy and his group had already broken trail. We looked at the snow pack before heading into the Coire properly. There was already some avalanche debris in the West side of the Coire and by the time we headed down there were 3 more avalanches! We managed to cover lots whilst still being out of harms way. Thanks for the enjoyable day guys!

On Tuesday I was guiding a group of priests from London along with Dave B. Two of the group, Junior and James, were out with me last year for a winter ascent of the Ben. This year, they decided to bring some colleagues and had raised £2000-3000 for charity. It was a bit of a soggy day and plenty of cloud but we did get the odd glimpse of sun. The path fizzled out at corner 4 and we headed straight up to the plateau from there. A great effort by everyone meant we all reached the summit and had a speedy descent back down to Achintee.
Photo by D. Buckett

Wednesday was a great forecast so Kev and I headed to the Glen for our first bit of rock climbing this year. This was quite a benchmark for me as the last time I was out climbing was September, when I fell and fractured a vertebra! We warmed up on Pine Wall (HS 4b) and I went on to one of my favourite routes, Damnation (VS 4c). Despite some early season rustiness, my head felt in a good place which was really encouraging, so hopefully last year's ground fall shouldn't affect things for this season. The first BBQ of the season also happened that evening, with the obligatory down jackets on after 7pm!
Pic- Kev Shields

Pic- Kev Shields
Last Thursday and Friday I was working with the First Year Degree Students on their leadership module. Day one was training based so we looked at some of the hands aspects of leadership such as helping a group over rocky steps, choosing a route and general management. We even had time to look at a couple of emergency situations and the leader's role.

The next day was their assessment so we headed to Druim Fada for a hill day to put into practice some of what they'd covered. The students did really well and handled some very awkward group members with ease! Chilly on to the tops but some stunning views over Lochaber.

On Tuesday I was out with Andy as he prepares for his Summer ML navigation assessment. We went up Glen Loy and I found some good features to give some challenging legs near Beinn Bhan.
As the weather cleared up we headed down to Glen Nevis and I jumped on a climb on Dundee Buttress which I think was  Weaver's Loom, HVS 5a ( left the guidebook at home!)-. I then ran through a couple of bits of ropework with Andy being a  helpful body on the rope!

I'm heading off to Wales tomorrow for my MIA training. I've been looking forward to it for a long time so can't wait to get started!
It's been a challenging Winter season, with some really tough conditions to be working in. However, I feel I've learned a lot on a personal level and the few nice days out climbing I've had have really stood out because they've been so rare.