Friday, 11 July 2014

Sunburnt on Spartan, great granite, friction and food

Yesterday I took Chris Sleight, one of the folk responsible for the excellent BBC Radio Scotland Out of Doors program, to Glen Etive. The sun scorched the sky and the slabs were like a granite mirror baking us with its heat. We followed another team up the classic Spartan Slab helping them out as they learnt a few lessons about single ropes, running 2 pitches together without enough rope and going off route because they didn't thought the normal route looked a little thin. It made for a slow, relaxed day sunbathing with the shoes off at each stance.
P1 of the excellent Spartan Slab
The path was really overgrown with long grass and head high bracken and there were a surprisingly large number of tufts of grass and flowers (long and tall stuff, not wee tufts) in the cracks on the route that weren't critical for gear or holds.
The verdant green approach
Its been such a good 'growing season' for wildflowers, fruit (the kids have been gorging on raspberries, gooseberries and cherries in Corpach) and all types of plant life.
Kaye foraging near home
Chris was heading south and I was getting the train home from Bridge of Orchy so we popped into the hotel for something to eat and drink. Its been a few years since I've been into the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and I can thoroughly recommend their menu and beer. I had an excellent black pudding and chorizo salad with a deep fried poached egg and the deconstructed cranachan was divine. The beer was good too!
Deconstructed cranachan at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel

Monday, 7 July 2014

Cold fingered mountaineering

Ok so the weather wasn't that bad. Its just that after such great weather I'd forgotten what it was like to climb in the rain… and I could have done without the hail on the side of the Great Tower… and having to blow on my fingers to restore circulation crossing Tower Gap. But as Barry said 'Better a wet day on the Scottish hills than a day in the office' (this is my office :-).
Today I was working for Abacus Mountaineering.
 A view from the hut up Tower Ridge
 Barry getting to grips with the rock
 Only a little soggy
 Tower Gap
Summit selfie

Sunday, 6 July 2014

FUNdamentalism in Glasgow

I spent the weekend in Glasgow running FUNdamentals of Climbing courses for the MCofS. These days are about giving those introducing people into climbing some theoretical understanding and practical techniques to help them with beginners.
Saturday was at TCA Glasgow with emphasis on Long Term Participant Development theory, Agility Balance and Co-ordination, Warm ups, an introduction to how we use our Centre of Mass effectively on slabs or easy juggy verticals and hand and footholds.
Sunday I was at GCC and, after a review of F1 we moved onto steeper ground with more emphasis on the C of M interacting with the Base of Support on verticals and overhangs. We spent time looking at videos discussing how to make movements of climbers more economical and then spent time on straight arms, twisting, flagging, using opposing forces when bridging or lay backing, drop knees and egyptians.
Busy days and keen climbing coaches!
 Magnus on the warmup relay
 Agility, balance and co-ordination
 Handholds
 Pete really getting to know the hold
 Simon losing his head over hi base of support
 Centre of Mass and Base of Support
 Observation of other group members using Coaches Eye
 Layback
 'Boxing clever'
What did we do today anyway?

Friday, 4 July 2014

More happy clients, fixing fire alarms and an earthquake

I was a little surprised by the 2.9 earthquake n Lochaber last night, my wife failed to notice it as she was dancing up a storm at the primary school disco party!
The weather has broken now and its raining in Fort William but the spell of weather we had in Skye was great.
The RAF party I had on a Ridge Traverse had perfect conditions and Finlay the organiser said
'Thanks again for your instruction last week. I can personally say it was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done'
 Sgurr nan Eag
 Sunset over Sgurr Thuilm
 West Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean
The last abseil
We were treated to a cuppa in the Glenbrittle Memorial Hut by Ruth after dropping our stash at Bealach Coire na Banachdich. She pointed out that it was only fitting as the Hut was there for all mountaineers and as it was built as a memorial to members of the military it was all the more apt that she was brewing up for serving members of the armed forces!
I was able to return the favour at lead in part a few days later. I'd been on the hill with Pete and his son Robbie. We'd had a sunny relaxing day taking in the Inaccessible Pinnacle before dropping into Coire Lagan to sunbathe. The day had been booked by Cary for Pete's 60th birthday (fit chap for 60!) and she texted me afterwards to say:
'Thanks so much for looking after my menfolk, they are utterly thrilled and now we're off for  victory dinner! They are full of praise for you and your superb abilities for a successful climb and to keeping them safe. They're both saying its the best day they've ever had on Skye. Thanks you again.'
Father and son enjoying the spectacular views
Given that the family has been coming to Skye for many many years on holiday that's some praise - but stunning weather helps a lot!
When we came down we saw Ruth outside the hut and she told us that one of the fire alarms had gone off and refused to reset. The problem was a slightly cracked 'break glass' and after some work with a knife to dismantle the alarm Pete and my combined engineering ability managed to reset it and leave it in working order.
FUNdamentals in Glasgow this weekend and not long until my Lofoten trip :-)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

More Skye magic

A great day out yesterday before the weather change with Pete and Robbie. To celebrate Pete's imminent birthday the pair of them joined me on the Inaccessible Pinnacle for the day. There was a little mist as we topped out which then burnt off. I had a sociable day chatting with Derek and his team of friends doing a 1 day traverse, Mike and his team ticking some quality Munros and Tamsin her party with the same mission as us. After celebrating what is always an atmospheric climb we discussed options and decided to drop into Coire Lagan to sunbathe and admire the turquoise waters of the Lochain before retiring to the cool of the Sligachan Bar.
Father and son
 Inn Pin
 Robbie coming down
 Pete stopping to wave
 Mission accomplished
 Stunning colours in the Lochain
Not a bad view

Saturday, 28 June 2014

5 days 1 summer

Its been a busy week. On monday and tuesday I was revalidating my First Aid qualification with BASP based at Nevis Range. As I've come to expect from them it was a very practical course, well tailored to those present and a rest chance to update and ensure confidence from those attending in their ability to del with simple first aid situations in the mountains and other similar environments.
Jeff and some injured bananas
Tuesday night I headed to Skye to meet 6 RAF personnel in Broadford. 'Sausage' their 1 man support team cooked us a great meal and on wednesday we used the drizzly day to cache some food and equipment along the Cuillin Ridge. This mean that we didn't have to start too early on thursday for our traverse. It was a lovely day but really hot. We spotted the octocopter of Hotaches doing some filming of an amazing performance along the way (you'll have to wait to find out what they were filming but it will be spectacular from the little we saw). We were gasping for more water by the time we dropped down into Coire na Banachdich for dinner and fluids. Then we enjoyed a stunning evening pressing on to our divvy site at An Dorus. Day 2 was dry but with a very chilly wind that staved off dehydration but after a show summit celebration and descent from Sgurr nan Gillean there were some weary legs heading down the seemingly endless walk to the Sligachan for a well earned beer. Top craic with the lads and well done to all on a successful completion of the UK's finest summer mountaineering challenge.