Sunday, 26 April 2015

Spring days...

It's finally been a great start to the Spring here in Lochaber with the much awaited high pressure. During the last week or so, I've been working with 1st and 2nd year students from the Adventure Tourism Degree at West Highland College, UHI. We've been looking at coaching climbing, with the first years doing some peer coaching and the second years coaching some young people from various schools.

I've also managed a fair bit of climbing, both with some MIA teaching days and some personal climbing.

Andy and I climbed Time lord (VS 4c **) in Glen Gour and I also got the chance to climb Secretaries Super Direct (HVS 5a***) in Glen Nevis, both great routes.

Joe and Andy came with me to Polldubh as some willing guinea pigs and we climbed P1 and 2 of Pandorra and onto Phantom Slab as well as giving the chaps some coaching on their leading on Repton Right Wall.

I was also out with Prashant on a teaching day on which we climbed Pinnacle Ridge (S), Three Pines (V.Diff/S) and Flying Dutchman (S).

I've also had a few amazing days on the Ben starting with a stunning day with Ian.....

 and  then a chilly day with Victor.......

..... and another stunner with Patty and Geoff on the CMD Arete.

As I write this, there's been some fresh snow down to about 600m here today so it looks like Spring is on hold for the next few days at least. Tempting to get the ice tools back out...

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Spring not quite sprung (and my 2 seconds of fame)...

This time of year can be strange with one day in the mountains feeling like Spring, the next day feeling Winter. Saturday was definitely one of the latter! I was out with Matthew, Elaine and David on Ben Nevis. It was Matthew's 14th birthday so he was celebrating it with a day to remember! There's no path beyond corner 6 on the zig zags, and with still some hard snow ice around, ice axe and crampons were essential. We managed to dissuade a few folk from continuing on and also a few cheeky people from 'tagging along' with us. Visibility was poor but actually felt pretty good compared so days this Winter. Well done to Matthew and his Mum and Dad on a great day!

 On Sunday I was out at Huntly's Cave on an MIA teaching day.We climbed Right Hand Groove, Cave Route in 3 pitches and Diagonal. Despite the odd snow shower, it was pretty pleasant!

Yesterday I was out with Nigel and Judith. Nigel told me he's wanted to climb Ben Nevis for 50 years so it was his big chance! We had the mountain to ourselves until we were on our way down. It was windy, with a lot of spindrift but otherwise quite nice conditions.Again, some hard scoured snow on the plateau so crampons were still worn. Some scarily large fragile cornices forming with the fresh snow blowing around.
The predicted rain arrived bang on time and the waterproofs came out for the final half of our descent. A superb effort from Judith and Nigel and one big tick off the list for Nigel!
Drooping fresh cornice over Gardyloo!

A happy couple!

On another note the advert I was involved in with Vodafone a few weeks ago whilst working for Abacus Mountain Guides has gone on air! You'll find my 2 seconds of fame at 0.50s !

Vodafone - Let's Go! from Grey London on Vimeo.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Misty Mountains

At the weekend I had a good catch up with some friends as part of Minesh's stag weekend in Glencoe. Despite the low cloud the team were still keen to do some walking so we headed up Tom Meadhoin to the North of Loch Leven. No views but still a great wee hill and it put the guys in good stead for a few celebratory drinks in the Clachaig afterwards!

Today I was out with Kirk and Carl on the Ben. Kirk climbed Snowdon with his daughter last year and was keen to take the next step up.
We put crampons on at corner 2 to help with the unhelpfully slippy soft snow which has become quite compact with the weekend's traffic. At corner 6 the visibility really dropped and it was full on Winter navigation from here to the summit and back. There were points where I was almost in touching distance of some of the cairns before we could see them. As usual a lot of folk worryingly unprepared for the conditions though it was good to see some people making good decisions and turning around when they had reached the limit of their skill level.
A superb day and a great effort from Kirk and Carl, well done chaps!