It was a tough winter. A dry early season followed by later swings and roundabouts of snowfall and thaw meant we never got the build up we usually see that brings a crescendo of good spring conditions. We've had a late flash with a few days of 'good' conditions now but my time on crampons is over and last week I crammed my feet into rock shoes to work with the Trainee Instructors from Abernethy Trust the goal being to make them into independent lead climbers- one of the BEST bits of my job.
Tom and I had 4 students between us and 5 days to play with. The weather was going to be cold but not forecast for too much precipitation. Day 1 we left Fort William and headed east to our base at Nethybridge stopping to climb at Kingussie on the way. It was chilly on the fingers but the wind direction meant that the snow showers blew overhead leaving the rock dry- until the end of the day and we got plenty climbing done. Tuesday and we went to Duntelchaig on a promise. After a bright start though the forecast let us down and we retreated to the climbing wall to look at some movement exercises and indoor leading. Wednesday and we hit the Costa Del Moray and Cummingston. Well layered against a cold breeze we warmed up by scrambling and boulder hopping along the beach before the team got on the sharp end. Day 4 and a new crag to me. Redhythe is only 20 miles from where I grew up but I'd never visited. It didn't disappoint with bright sunshine and shelter from the the breeze, funky rock, interesting gear placements and abseils in give this place an atmosphere- voted crag of the week by all. On the last day the team split with Tom taking his pair back to Cummingston. My team wanted another new day and a different character of climbing so we stayed at Huntley's Cave. The steep in-cut schist and intimidating lines weaving through the overhangs on positive holds were meat and bread to the guys as they ate up 8 pitches from VDiff to HS.
End of the week and despite some mixed weather (well done toughing it out guys) we have 4 climbers all much further on the road to a lifetime of leading. More of the same next week.
...And winter? Well there's always next year.
Here are two shots from each day but lots more of the best pics (with captions) on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/climbwhenyoureready.mountaineering/media_set?set=a.1363845010325279.100000993792059&type=3&uploaded=34