Sunday, 22 May 2016

Spring begins...

pic by S. Holmes

Spring is well and truly here in Lochaber. It's been a great start to the Summer work season for me. I had 4 days working alongside Mike on a Rescue and Incident Management Module with 3rd year students at West Highland College. We covered lots, from prussiks, hoists and lowers to more complicated scenarios. We finished the course with a fantastic day climbing on Rannoch Wall on Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe. Great to see the students progress over the 4 days and also great to learn some new tricks from Mike too- everyday's a school day!

Prussiking in Glen Nevis

Brodie enjoying January Jigsaw on Rannoch Wall

I had some more days out with some very keen mock students in prep for MIA teaching day assessment. We seemed to have more than our fair share of Spring snow showers on these days but everyone carried on regardless-good effort team!Thanks to everyone who came along.

Dan on three pines

Jenny belaying in between snow showers!

Tom and Ross multi-pitching it on Cave Route, Huntly's Cave

Adrien at Dunkeld

The big day came at the start of May and I was back at Glenmore Lodge for my reassessment.  As usual, the staff at Glenmore Lodge were great, providing a relaxed atmosphere to let me concentrate on the tasks in hand. We headed to Cummingston which was the only venue that had any chance of staying dry and the 'Costa del Moray' didn't disappoint with only one heavy shower during the day!
Since last August, I feel the time spent working towards this has turned a previous weak area into more of a strength and was delighted to finally reach the milestone of passing my MIA. Thanks to colleagues and friends for advice and to my family for putting up with all my days away! Like lots of assessments, it's good to look at a pass as a starting point rather than an endpoint and I'm looking forward to learning lots more whilst working as an MIA.

A sight that you can't help but smile at!
With an amazing forecast, I decide to join Steve for the day for a recce on Skye. Leaving the house at 0430hrs got us on Skye in time to drop a car off at Glen Brittle before a long drive to Elgol to get the boat into Coruisk. We headed up the Dubh's Ridge, a route I'd wanted to do for a long time but had never quite made the opportunity to do. The route was great, slabby enough to walk most of the way but steep enough to keep it interesting all the way. We abbed off Sgurr Dubh Beag and headed up the ridge to Sgurr Dubh Mor. Over to the TD Gap, Sgurr Thearlich, King's Chimney and South Crack on the Inn Pinn finished the day nicely. We attempted swim in the loch at Coire Lagan but even the 28C wasn't enough to warm up the freezing loch and we admitted defeat after a minute or two! A baking hot day but one of the best I've had on Skye!
Steve on the Dubhs

TD gap- pic S. Holmes

Back to Fort William and I was assisting Al on an SPA assessment with students from West Highland College. Another couple of fine weather days and some good performances from the candidates. It was also great to get some more experience on an NGB course and learn from an experienced provider like Al,

Not a bad view!

Our awesome new local wall, Three Wise Monkeys!

More sunny weather!
Last week I was back on Skye working for Steve at Vertical Fever. I took Alanna along the classic Pinnacle Ridge on Sgurr nan Gillean. Alanna was over on holiday from the US and wanted an adventure on Skye. She already climbs quite hard but with the weather back to poor visibility and drizzle we decided to get a taste of Skye's famous scrambling in the mist with a bit of wet rock thrown in for good measure! Pinnacle ridge was great, with a memorable abseil from the third pinnacle, good route finding and lots of great climbing, it really showcased the Skye scrambling experience! We descended the West Ridge of Gillean and headed down Coire a Basteir. A really enjoyable and rewarding day, I absolutely loved it!
Abseil off the 3rd Pinnacle

The window on Gillean

Summit Selfie!

We did get some views at last!
The end of the week saw me working for Mike at Abacus Mountain Guides on a Summer Mountain Leader training course. The candidates were full of enthusiasm and we had a very productive day covering medical situations, emergency procedures and difficult scenarios a Mountain Leader may face on the hills. We also looked at some micro-navigation before getting a bit wet and tackling stream crossings before the team got themselves ready for their expedition. I'm sure they'll all go on to be excellent Mountain Leaders in the future.


Yuka getting 'rescued' by Will and Alex!

Getting a bit wet and tackling the stream crossing

With some good weather forecast for the coming week, it's back off to Skye for a few the sunshine (hopefully!).

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