Saturday, 3 June 2017

Summer so far... (Part 2)

Back from Skye I was back with Alan Halewood on a very busy SPA Assessment. Kingussie was our venue for personal climbing followed by a day in Glen Nevis looking at all the group set ups and rigging. Well done to the 6 new SPA holders- great to have a clean sweep!

A happy team!
 Andy had a busy week out on the Ben three times guiding John and Claire, Larry and Julie and Sharon. Well done to everyone for their successful days!
John and Claire on top of the UK!

 I had a thoroughly enjoyable week working with Mike Pescod (Abacus Mountain Guides) on a Summer Mountain Leader Training course. We had 11 candidates on the course which meant there was lots of experience to be shared and drawn upon. Our first day looked at the scope of the award followed by lots of navigation tips and practise.
Our second day was up on Meall an-t Suidhe looking at safe guarding groups on steeper and rocky terrain. The team got some realistic conditions as gusts of 50mph hit just as we topped out onto the summit!

Our third day took us to the ever-inspiring Glencoe and it's iconic mountain, Buachaille Etive Mor.
This day was all about using a rope to protect your group in an emergency situation as well as how to safeguard yourself as a leader using a rope whilst descending. This venue worked really well and we were treated to some fantastic views in the classroom!

 For our expedition we headed to the wild west and started off from near Lochailort up An Stac and camping below Rois-Bheinn. I've been wanting to head up to this area for some time and with good weather it really didn't disappoint.

 We had an amazing sunset before heading out for some night navigation for about 3 hours on a very pleasant night.
Night Nav!

What a great place!

 Our final day looked at emergency procedures, improvised carries and stream crossings before heading back for some debriefs and a chat about the period between training and assessment.
Well done to the candidates who all put in a great performance over the course. It was great fun working with Mike, an experienced course provider and I learned some really useful tips about delivering these courses during the week too- every day's a school day!

Last week I was up Curved Ridge with Caroline and Sorrell. We had hoped to do Tower Ridge but with strong winds and rain forecast, we chose Curved Ridge as our back up plan. This worked a treat and the ladies loved the classic scramble. Lets hope the weather will play ball for Tower Ridge next time!

 I was back on Ben Nevis with Carla who was over from Australia on a family holiday. She was keen to take an interesting way up the Ben so we chose Ledge Route, which fitted the bill perfectly. The North Face of the mountain was very quiet and we didn't see a soul until almost at the summit. A cloudy and atmospheric day but Carla loved this- it felt very Scottish!

 Last weekend I was working for Hebridean Pursuits with pupils and teachers from George Herriot's School in Edinburgh. With thundery showers forecast we had a speedy trip up the Zig Zags, over the summit of Gearr Aonach and down into Coire nan Lochan, arriving about 2 minutes after the rain started- perfect timing!

 Meanwhile Iain was out on Curved Ridge with Jonathan who had had to abandon the climb with me last year due to ill health. This time  there was nothing stopping him and they made good time to the top of the ridge, taking in Crowberry Tower on the way (and avoided most of the rain too!)

 Sunday was my turn on Curved Ridge as Andy, Matthew and I lead our groups up for their second day out for Heb. Pursuits. The young people were inspiring and took everything in their stride cruising up the scramble and also taking in Crowberry Tower and the summit of Stob Dearg. A fantastic couple of days work, thanks to Andy Spink for the work and the pupils and teachers for being great company.

 Eli was also over in Scotland on a family holiday but was keen to sample some of the rock climbing that Scotland has to offer. We swapped our days to get the best chance of dry weather and it all worked out well. Choosing a venue to showcase some classic rock climbing is always hard as there is so much to choose from. However, after recalling my first route on Rannoch Wall years ago, I thought this would provide us with a  quality day.

 We made great time ascending Curved Ridge and with no-one in front of us, we jumped on Agag's Groove (VD, ****). Eli is already a fairly experienced climber so loved the exposure, especially on pitch 3. With some time to spare, we abseiled back down to the second belay and we climbed the final 2 pitches of January Jigsaw (S, ***) before abseiling back to the ruck sacks. From there we scrambled up Curved Ridge, Crowberry Tower and Stob Dearg. An amazing day and I'm glad the weather allowed Eli to experience some Scottish climbing at it's best!

 On Thursday I took Wai and Inka for a walk up the Mountain Path on Ben Nevis. They too are on a grand tour of Scotland and were keen to ascend Ben Nevis whilst here. Despite a bit of rain and cloud later in the day, the weather was very kind to us and we had great day on a rather quiet mountain.
 The summer mountaineering work kicks off this coming week so I'm looking forward to guiding on some of the classic scrambles in the area.