Sunday, 29 March 2015

Wet rock in the Glen and fresh snow on the Ben

Yesterday I was out with Prashant who was making his third trip back to Fort William this Winter. The weather was looking less than promising so we started the day in the Ice Factor looking at more of the fundamentals of rock climbing movement. We also had a play using some prussiks to ascend and descend a rope and some other bits and pieces of ropework. With the forecast predicting that things would dry up, we left the comfort of inside and headed to Glen Nevis for some real rock! Things started off dry but we were quickly drenched as some heavy showers passed over us. Having water trickle up your sleeves when climbing isn't really the most pleasant feeling but Prashant was still smiling! We finished the day with an abseil back to dry(ish) ground!

Today I was out with Bill and Keith who after an epic drive from Exeter yesterday, we're still raring to go and climb Ben Nevis today. They were raising money for Sainsburys' Charities.
After a wet start, the promised lull came and despite some trail breaking and white out conditions, we made great time to the summit and had it all to ourselves. The chaps just about flew down the mountain which saw us back down in not far over 6 hours! A superb effort guys!

 Meanwhile on the other side of the Ben, Steve was out with Prashant on Ledge Route and reported plenty fresh snow there too!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Back on the rock

There's still a lot of good Winter climbing to be had at the moment but this week was my transition into rock climbing. Andy and I headed to Glen Nevis to practice some rescues in between the sleet showers which went well!
Next Dave, Andy and I went on a road trip to the 'Moray Riveria' to find some sunshine and dry rock! We headed to Cummingston, and looked at the venue with regards to teaching climbing. Some useful bits and pieces gained as well as having fun getting back on the rock. We climbed a couple of routes each, up to HVS 5a.

 Yesterday I was working with Julie for West Highland College. With some more sunshine we thought it'd be a shame not to head outside so we went to Kingussie Crag. I was working with Anne, Becky, Rachel, Hannah and Emily, who have just completed their CWA training. We rigged up a bottom rope on Right Hand Crack, a smashing HVS and had a chat about the rigging as well as some coaching on the climbing.

We finished the day setting up a group abseil and the girls had a chance to run this. A great day again and some good effort from the students!

Pretty steep!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Blue skies on the Ben

Today was an early start on the Ben for Dave B and I with Susanna and her team of 3 peakers! The folks are all raising money for Comic Relief and with £8000 raised already, have had a great start!
A chilly start in the Glen saw us quickly make our way onto the snow which was very hard and still frozen this morning. Crampons and axes are still very much needed on the Mountain Track (despite a number of people chancing their luck without them). Before long were enjoying some crystal clear views over to Skye, the Cairngorms and Small Isles. A fantastic effort from everyone and best of luck with the rest of the challenge!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Spring in the air

Yesterday I was out with Andy starting some practice towards my MIA for which I'll assess later this Summer. We went up the nose on Gearr Aonach, a grade 3 scramble followed by a descent of the Zig Zags. Some nice little bits to look at how to manage clients on and we were home by lunchtime!

 Today I was working for West Highland College with Craig and the First Year ATM degree students. It was their turn to do some leading so we gave them various scenarios and awkwards group members to deal with as we traversed Mam na Gualainn and Beinn na Caillich near Loch Leven. A great effort by the students as usual and some superb leading too!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Solitude on Tower Ridge

Today was forecast to be pretty good again so with a day off, Andy and I headed up the Ben for a day on Tower Ridge. The last time I did this route in Winter turned into a bit of an epic so we were keen to avoid any night time crossings of Tower Gap and moved fairly fast. Despite a lot of cars at both car parks, we were surprised to get the route to ourselves for the whole day!

The cloud came and went just as we finished the Eastern Traverse and we were treated to some spectacular views.

The ridge was in great condition with lots of firm snow for feet and axes, and I even managed to place an ice screw as a runner.

 After a wee stop on the plateau, we nipped down Ledge route which was in great snowy condition.

An alpine Ledge Route

Lots of routes getting climbed today as you might expect including Harrison's climb, Smith's route, Castle Ridge, Indicator Wall, Hadrians Wall, and  Point Five.

Queues on Hadrian's Wall

Monday, 16 March 2015

'Action'on Gearr Aonach

Yesterday I was working for Abacus Mountain Guides on a rather unusual job! Vodafone were wanting a dramatic place to film and photograph someone taking a 'selfie' for an ad campaign so I headed up the Zig Zags and onto the edge of Gearr Aonach. It was quite a change working but not having anyone to look after! The weather was absolutely glorious again and I did stop to think how great it was to have all of this as my workplace.
The chopper arrived about midday and I was given my instructions from the director. This varied from moving about a bit, pretending I was on the phone, to taking a picture, acting annoyed and eventually playing air guitar! The helicopter returned a couple of hours later to do some stills.
As I said, quite an unusual day and I'll be intrigued to see the finished product! :)

What an amazing selfie ;)

The helicopter circling before the next shots!

Glencoe at it's best!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Amazing Winter Days on Bidean and Mullach...

I've spent the last couple of days with Whittaker who is already a fairly experienced hill walker. He wanted to cover some skills to give him some useful tools to head out in Winter and well as climbing a Munro or two while we were at it.
Yesterday was a rather unusual day 1 of a Winter skills trip but having seen the forecast, we thought we'd aim big and go high! The highest peak in Glencoe, Bidean nam Bian is one of my favourite mountains and armed with sunglasses and sunscreen (rather than the usual goggles and Goretex!) we ascended towards Coire nan Lochan and onto the peak via the West Ridge. The coire was quite busy and it was nice to bump into so many people having a great day.
The connecting ridge between Stob Coire nan Lochan and Bidean had some of the hardest snow ice I've seen, with my not so sharp crampons skidding off the surface in places! We made it safely to the summit to enjoy some outstanding views.

A careful descent was need to get off Bidean safely so it was a bit of a baptism of fire for Whittaker who was fairly new to crampons. Still he did fantastically well and we were back down in the Glen in good time. An absolute gem of a day!

We decided on a slightly easier day today so we headed up to Lundavra and along the North Ridge of Meall a Choarainn. We looked at step kicking, step cutting as well as a bit of ice axe arrest. We also looked at making decisions in Winter with regards to the underfoot conditions and avalanches.
A wander up to Mullach nan Correan saw us bagging our second Munro of the trip. Another stunning day to be out!