Saturday, 13 February 2016

Plan C...

Today I was running the first day of an AMI Workshop for Trainee MICs. Iain and Sam are both preparing to undertake the Assessment for the National Governing Body qualification for teaching all aspects of walking, climbing and mountaineering in winter. Today was climbing... we sat in the cafe talking through the profiles of some fictitious students I'd given them and then talking about where to go. I was keen for an easterly aspect, not to busy and plenty of pitches for them to show off their rope work. we headed for Stob Ban hoping to get on Skyline Rib but another team was visible at the base of that area and the snow was pretty obviously not going to be helpful (sugary and not great for climbing) so we headed up and right through strong winds to the base of another route I hadn't done, Foxtrot. Iain led us up a pitch and it was pretty rubbish: poor snow, worse ice and no gear. He persevered with 2 different attempts at a second pitch before we decided to cut our losses and go for plan C... the (now quite popular) East Buttress of the North Ridge. Here the turfy ground and good protection meant we rapidly got in another 6 pitches catching up on fellow AMI Members Paul and Nigel out for the day. The wind was quite vicious but the light was lovely. Sam took the opportunity to short rope Iain down the bad step on the North Ridge and we made our way down the hill.
 Climbers already visible as tiny dots below Skyline Rib
 Foxtrot... he's grinning because he didn't have to lead that!
 Iain slightly manic
 "I'll just have a look round here..."
 Rock and crud...
 Run away...
 Plan C
 Great views
 Stob Ban living up to its name
 He's not so gorgeous but its still a nice view
 Ben Nevis across the Glen
Time to go...

Friday, 12 February 2016

Video of this week

After 3 days out unfortunately Steve had to leave a day early- the weather went with him! This gave me an unexpected day off that is welcome as like most MICs I'm in the midst of one of the busiest spells of the year. Here is a quick video of our 3 days out- top fun. Take care Steve and see you again matey.
Its beginning to feel a little more like winter up there. Ice routes are 'thin but in'!

Three winter ridges from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Steve meets the hurt Lochan

Day 3 with Steve and he'd never been into Coire nan Lochan above Glencoe. He'd also seen a video of Dorsal Arete and was keen to climb the fin. He soon discovered why some people make a play on the phrase 'hurt locker' by calling the it the 'hurt Lochan'- the walk in can feel a little.... direct.
Nice light at first and an icey path but in the Coire there was a lot of soft snow and last night's showers had buried any trails... queue a bit of a wade to the base of the route. I led a pitch, Steve led a pitch and then I took us to the base of the fin. Visibility had gone right down now and snow showers were passing through. The usual pull and pause to savour the exposure and I took a last belay below the rim of the Coire. Steve was soon with me and it only remained to top out into windier weather and coil the rope before a rapid descent down Broad Gully. Teams heading into Twisting (looked deep and snowy) and Raeburns Ordinary and a pair working hard on Scabbard Chimney. We were followed up the route by Gill with 2 students from West Highland College and Alun and a pair of Irish warriors. A soloist also swam up Forked Gully.
 Steve... legs finally feeling it
 Stob Coire Nan Lochan and a snowy coire
 Are we nearly there yet?
 Steve gets on the sharp end
 Getting thinner
 Belaying me on the fin
 Always fun on the fin
The iconic shot
 Walk the line
 Nearly there
 Last bit
 Gill tackles the fin

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A golden day on Golden Oldy

Today Was a great reminder of why we do the winter game. The previous grim days this season fade rapidly in the face of a stunner like today. Steve and I went to the West face of Aonach Mor taking advantage of the early Nevis Range gondola. As we walked towards the golden lit hills of the west we said hello to Giles and Johannes who were off to Aonach Beag and Lucy and Wally who were heading for Gendarme Ridge and then put our heads down for Golden Oldy. The trail of those who were there yesterday meant we were gearing up not far below the first belay an hour and half later.
I wore a soft shell only again! I wore thin fleece gloves! The sun shone and the wind refrained from blowing. It clouded in just as we topped out for lunch at the summit and although we stopped to chat to Brian and Brodie on the plateau and Gill on the slopes we were still in the cafe for a brew and a beer by mid afternoon. Steve was cruising today and we fair flew up the route!
Happy days!!
 Heading for the golden lit hills of the west
 Lucy and Wally gearing up below Gendarme and a team following us to Golden Oldy
 Stunning light through the col
 Last bit to the climb
 Here we go!
 The gendarme of Gendarme Ridge against another cobalt blue sky!
 Carn Mor Dearg with Ben Nevis just poking out behind
 High above the Allt Daim
 Wally on the crest in the shade and Lucy just below in the sun
 "Not bad is it?"
 Happy climber
 Half way there
 Narrower and flatter
 The thin bit
 Steve posing
 On the plateau
 I can see my house from here!
Plenty of skiers enjoying the snow too

Monday, 8 February 2016

Soft snow shuffle on Curved Ridge

Was it a bird? Was it a plane? No it was the sun!!!! in a cobalt blue sky!!! I wore a soft shell all day today as Steve and I sweated our way up Curved Ridge. It was calm, warm and pleasant to the summit if rather porridgy. Milder than forecast but... did I mention it was sunny!!
Day 1 with Steve and he selected Curved Ridge from the menu I offered as it was a route on his radar. Delicate climbing under loose snow today.
 What's that bright light in the sky?
 I remember... its the sun!
 Buachaille Etive Mor today
 Bright Light!
 Crowberry Tower
Coming down