Thursday, 22 May 2014

In full swing...

Been keeping busy the last few weeks as is usual for this time of year.
Myself and Dave headed to Glen Nevis with Jonny to look at some multi-pitch climbing. We had a great day taking in routes including Pinnacle Ridge, Three Pines, Right wall and Pine Wall, as well as getting a chance to work on getting my ropework slick.

The weather wasn't looking as good the next day so Jonny and I headed to Meall Cumhann for a dampish scramble. I've been meaning to head up there for a while and we were rewarded with some great views down Glen Nevis. The scrambling was good fun though a bit broken in places and involved the odd heather or mud handhold!

Next up for me was guiding Jason, Liam and Ian on the Mountain Track, for Abacus Mountain Guides. This was to celebrate Ian turning 50 and the guys did really well with a respectable time of up and down in just over 6 hours.

Keen to start racking up some more climbs this season, Andy and I headed to Binnien Shuas. We biked in most of the way, which after having done the walk in last year, felt really easy. I jumped on to the Fortress Direct(HVS 5a) which had a great first pitch. Andy led the second 5a pitch up a crack on immaculate rock. There was a loose block on the second main pitch just as Andy traversed under the triangular niche which is worth watching out for though.
Our second route of the day was Hurricane (HVS 4c). The first pitch was pretty good, bold in places but the climbing was generally fine. Things did deteriorate higher up with a lot of choss and some seepage but we got there in the end!

Andy on the Fortress
After the stunning day climbing, we were back to more normal Lochaber weather but it wasn't wet enough to dampen the enthusiasm of Kirsten, Amy and Betty on our trip up the Ben (for Abacus Mountain Guides). Amy and Betty, both from Hong Kong, had not seen much snow before so they were amazed how much is still left on the Ben! Kirsten on the other hand, from Canada, was pretty at home on the white stuff! Another great day on the hill.
Dave, Kev and I were in Glen Nevis on Friday running through some rescues and problem solving. This was a good session for me as I hadn't covered much of these since my MIA training. We started with some easy common problems and then worked up to some more tricky ones to solve! Thanks to Dave for the feedback and Kev for being a patient victim on the rope!
Hanging around while Dave rescues me!
Andy and I were again working for Abacus on at the weekend with a big group from Lloyds bank. They were all raising money for the Alzheimer's Society. The team were treated to a full Ben Nevis experience with plenty wind, mist and horizontal rain! Still, everyone finished with big smiles, despite the wet clothes! No pics for this one as my camera was hiding from the all the rain.

On Sunday I was working over in the Cairngorms for Wilderness Scotland. A group from the Edinburgh Business School were on a leadership course and had to deal with a mountain rescue scenario. I got to be a casualty for the day, which actually turned out to be a very pleasant job! Sitting out on the hills, waiting to be rescued has never been quite as enjoyable!
The Northern Corries

Loch Morlich
On Tuesday, I took Fang and Sumaaya on one of my favourite days out- the CMD Arete! I seem to get more than my fair share of good weather when working on this route and Tuesday was no exception. The pictures say it all really....

To bring things up to date, yesterday I was guiding Lynne and Latimer on the Mountain Track for Abacus Mountain Guides. It was Latimer's 11th birthday and a trip up Ben Nevis was his present!
An absolutely fantastic effort from the young man! We even had some birthday cookies on the summit to celebrate. A definite birthday to remember.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Getting stuck in...

It's been a busy start to the Summer season so far. I had a great day on Ben Nevis with Tina and Simon. They have both done a fair bit of hiking and trekking abroad, mainly in Japan and so were keen to see what Scotland had to offer. A pretty pleasant day all in all and we even managed a bit of cramponing descending the Red Burn.

 The next day I was working for Abacus Mountaineering guiding Tony and Kim on the Ben. The guys got a proper Ben Nevis experience with some wind, rain and cloud thrown in!

I've also started the process of consolidating what I covered during my MIA training and Andy and I went for a trip up the North Buttress of Stob Ban and descended the North Ridge. Really good route for some short roping practice.

We also had a  great trip to Ardnamurchan and climbed a few routes up to E1 5b.

Back up the Ben on Saturday with a group from Action Challenge, with lowering freezing levels and a frosty night we were slightly concerned about how firm the snow would be. Thankfully the morning sun helped to thaw the top layer of snow by the time we got to the snow line and on descent things were soft and pleasant underfoot.

On Sunday I was working for Dave at the Highland Mountain Company on the CMD arete. Unfortunately two of the chaps in the group made the tough call to head down on our way up to Carn Mor Dearg. Whilst not an easy decision, when taking into account the length of the day, it was the best one. I accompanied the guys back down and then headed back up the Mountain Track to meet the rest of the team as the ascended the final slog up to Ben Nevis from the arete.

On Tuesday Kev and Andy were kind enough to be my guinea pigs for some more short roping practice. We settled on Curved Ridge on the Buachaille as our route for the day and despite

the odd shower, the weather was pretty kind to us. Lots more good practice for me and thanks to Andy and Kev for being patient 'clients'!

pics by K. Shields