Friday, 31 May 2013

Summer ML Assessment Expedition in the Cairngorms

I just spent an enjoyable 2 days wandering the NW Cairngorms with a party of 4 on their Summer Mountain Leader Assessment with Glenmore Lodge. Our route took in Braeriach and the plateau between there and the Feshie Hills before dropping back into Gleann Einich to finish. We had cold winds but good visibility, the odd spot of rain and stunning sunshine to finish (the weather was good enough that we needed to spend most of our first night out to cover some poor visibility navigation). The area worked well as it seems to have lost more snow cover than the main Cairngorm Plateau the other side of the Lairg Ghru.
Thanks to a great team and well done to those that passed. A relaxed group who were a pleasure to be with and didn't mind me taking the odd unobtrusive picture.
 Gordon and Tom on the way up Braeriach (AKA Gimli and Legolas... don't ask)
 Looking out over 'The Great Moss'
' Getting one's bearings'
 Tom hiding in his tent
 Gleann Einich
 Sgor Gaoith
 Heading Down
 Dancing for joy at the end of a leg
 A informative chat
Last night's camp

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Steep ground day in the Cairngorms

Day 2 of the Summer ML Assessment at Glenmore Lodge and today was about security on steep ground, leadership and party management. Dry but a coooooold wind.
Off on the 3 day mini break tomorrow!

Monday, 27 May 2013

2 titbits...

I've seen 2 tweets now saying that James McHaffie has made the second ascent of the Long Hope Route- nice work! Can't wait to hear story and see some pictures.

A different type of retrievable abseil. Practise this one at home and use with care!

ML Assessment Day 1. Wildness and wet.

'What would the world be were it bereft
of wetness and wild and wildness and wet...
long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!'
It was a bit like that in the Cairngorms today on day 1 of a Glenmore Lodge Summer Mountain Leader Assessment that I'm working this week. The weather was wild and wet at the Cas car park level but improved as we descended back to the Lodge via a number of river crossings and emergency scenarios.

Super ski mountaineering on the 2 Towers

Well done to Al Todd and Peter Mackenzie who had a great day climbing Tower Ridge in their skiing kit and then heading down Tower Gully. Some great pics (including a few of Dave Kerr who climbed Tower Gully and then skiied back down it).

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Prep for Jon's MIA Assessment

A busy day for me in Glen Nevis today. Jon is coming up for Assessment and wanted to be put through his paces to get a feel for where he was at and do some practise with some informed feedback sooo....
First off we did Scimitar Ridge. This roadside scramble is in the Lochaber Scrambles Guide as a 1/2 but its a great wee route that can be made much harder by taking all the slabs (nicely cleaned by Outward Bound's regular groups- thank you) directly. Jon took willing volunteers Dave and Rob up and down the route:
 Jon on Scimitar Ridge
 Creative direct belay!
 Good views as ever
Coming down the Ridge

Next up we went to Pinnacle Ridge where I demonstrated a simple drill to prevent your parallel rope work (belaying 2 ropes each with a climber seconding on one simultaneously- most commonly done with a direct belay using a 'guide plate') getting in a tangle and then Jon led the guys up the route in 3 tangle free pitches.
 Pinnacle Ridge
 Tangle free parallel changeovers... nice!
 Which way now Guv'?
Nice socks Jon ;-)
Onwards to teaching climbing. We had a discussion about teaching progressions and the continuum of experience we get students coming to us with, I set a couple of example 'clients' for Jon to question and then we went to 3 Pines which he led the team up in series (Instructor leading first rope to allow first student to mock lead protected by this 'ghost rope' before bringing his second up with the second rope)- swapping the order of the students half way up and teaching appropriately to the experience of his students on each pitch. 
 Series ropework on 3 Pines
Trying to make pitch two look good
Then Jon arranged an abseil to get everyone to the base of the crag...
Rob going down
...before we turned our attention to Repton's Right Hand Route just as it began to spit with rain. This Jon led in series in one long pitch which Rob got 'stuck' on. So Jon had to solve a simple problem in an unfamiliar situation.
 Dave topping out on Repton's Right Hand Route
Giving Rob a helping hoist over the bulge
Another abseil and we just had time to look at a self lining rig (the set up an Instructor can use to ascend a fixed rope next to a student learning to lead for real) before calling the end of a very full day. 
I honestly didn't expect to get anything like that much achieved but the fact that the Instruction was 1:1 and Dave and Rob were just willing to listen in AND that Jon was already on top of most of what we did.
A busy day in Glen Nevis up to the point when the showers began (cue mass retreat from routes except poor Max adrift amidst the slabs of Damnation :-). I got a chance to play with a new toy to... an Edelrid Mega Jul. This device seems a little flimsy but will be interesting to play with as its an assisted belaying device with no moving parts that looks and works like a regular 'guide plate' type belay device with 2 ropes and doesn't weigh too much. First impressions it seemed to work as described when lead belaying  (showing its inclination to lock up when shock loaded- most of the time) and abseiling (40m abseil twice with the device locking up as expected when left untended). More on this when I've had it a bit longer.....
Off East to Glenmore Lodge to work on a Summer (?) ML Assessment now!