Friday 31 October 2008

NE Coire Beinn Achaladair

Today Lorenzo and I went to the hills above Loch Tulla near Bridge of Orchy. Lorenzo has a Summer ML Assessment coming up so we navigated feature to feature into the NE Coire of Beinn Achaladair. We were hoping to bag a short winter route on the highest crags but were really surprised at the amount of water ice around. We chose a short ice choked gully between 'Spirit Level' and the col to its right. This gave a fun pitch of Grade III ice. Ok it was a little hollow and there was water behind it in many places but it was still up to 6 inches thick. From the top of that we headed up right of the col to the highest crags which we could see were rimed. We opted for 'Premonition' described as a 65m 'sustained' Grade IV. The turf was much more solid up here (thankfully because if what we climbed was IV I'm getting old and Lorenzo reckoned it harder than mixed 5s in the Northern Corries) and Lorenzo started off with an off balance, thin traverse into a belay at the base of a central groove. I then got 4om of excellent mixed climbing. Initial delicate walls gave way to a very butch overhung groove near the top. Top value! We finished with a shorter easier pitch. Sorry about the repetitive photos below but I love the sequence of grimaces as Lorenzo comes up the steep groove :-)

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Glencoe snow

Dave was given a day out with a Mountain Instructor by Yvonne to celebrate his 50th. A lapsed climber but a fit 50 he wanted an interesting day with a little excitement. We decided to wander up into Coire nan Lochan in Glencoe. Conditions were quite mixed; the path and any wet rock were very icy, as were the surface of bogs and some wet seeps. Deeper down though the turf wasnt frozen at all. That didnt matter to us on Dorsal Arete as the ground was either heavily buried in soft unconsolidated snow (6 inches to a foot deep even on the crest of the ridge, more in hollows) or was rock which was sometimes clean but often icy enough that I was glad we had opted to put crampons on. From the foot of the fin upwards there was quite a bit of rime ice. The buttresses further right and things like Scabbard were bare and rocky though. Diamond and Church Door only looked rimed from half way up too. We enjoyed some sunshine and great colours in the morning and the weather only turned for the worse as we descended (wet snow at the car park at 4pm).

Friday 24 October 2008

Wintery on Curved Ridge

Day two of Marks trip to Scotland and there was hail, thunder and Lightning as I left my house this morning!
We went to Buachaille Etive Mor and were caught in another blustery hail storm near the foot of D Gully Buttress that sent us scuttling for a faster moving day on Curved Ridge. The lower half was wet and clear of snow but once we had passed the foot of Agags Groove the showers we had watched blowing around the mountain contributed to the inch of hail and snow on the handholds. By the time we climbd Crowberry Tower we were clearing a lot of fresh wet powder off of the holds. We didnt see any hoar until the little wall at the summit however. We were even treated to sunshine and some wide views around the summit as we scuttled down before the next squall, happy with our day.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Rainy rock in Glen Nevis

Mark has 2 days booked to go out for some fun with The Ice Factor and the forecast today was far from good! Rather than giving up we went to Glen Nevis where we were treated to incessant rain and strong gales........ at least it wasnt midgey........

We did 3 routes and had a fun day out despite the deluge.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

White stuff

Its not winter yet but its thinking about it. This is the view of Na Gruagaichean in the Mamores from my house this morning, the snow line is about 700m.

Monday 20 October 2008

Problem solving for climbers

Over the weekend Lynsey, Kate, Peter and I were looking at the problems that we can run up against as climbers and what to do about them. We spent some time at a cold and blustery Kingussie Crag and also visited Glenmore Lodge's climbing wall where the learning environment was a little warmer and less windy.

After a refresher on rigging belays with both the rope and slings we discussed optiond for protecting an abseil retreat from the crag and what to do if your ropes are stuck. We looked at how to help your partner over little steps on climbs that are too hard from them, with and without their help. We loked at different types of prussiks and how they can be used to ascend a rope and we looked at what to do if your partner sustains a more serious injury during a climb, how to get to them and how to accomplish a retreat with the casualty. We looked at how to abseil past a knot or damaged section of rope and we even found a little time to refresh Lynsey's SPA training toolbox.

By the end of our time together their brains were fizzing with new found ropetricks to practise!

Kirk and Tom were on Angel's Ridge on Saturday and reported hail, rain, gales and a dusting of snow - it certainly feels as if winter is approaching in the Highlands.

Transition Extreme courses

I have been across at Transition Extreme, the main climbing wall in Aberdeen where I am the technical advisor. I was running Climbing Wall Award Trainings and Assessment courses and some other training for the staff team there. Congratulations to the 4 candidates who are now CWA holders.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Drier Rock

Another day out with Lochaber College. Today Graham, Richard and I were in Glen Nevis where we had a much drier morning than yesterday. Richard was consolidating his basic skills as a second; learning to belay a leader, build belays, place and remove gear, guidebook interpretation etc. Graham was wanting to get out on the sharp end. I led the guys up Pinnacle Ridge and then hung on a fixed line next to Graham to coach hi through leading Styx Buttress Right Wall. We looked at protecting a personal abseil as the rain came in and the moved down to Reptons Buttress. I lead up the first part of a very greasy 3 Pines and we used the opportunity to get the guys to conduct a safe retreat. Danny from Mountainplan as also working with a pair from the College and as he says on his blog, it was feeling mighty autumnal in Lochaber today - great colours!

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Wet rock

I was out in Glen Nevis today teaching introductory rock climbing skills to the second years of the BA in Adventure Tourism Management Course from Lochaber College. I was working with John and Gerry and it rained all day. That didnt stop the guys as they pumped me for information whilst we climbed first Styx Buttress Right Wall and then (with them leading) The Gutter. Different students tomorrow and hopefully better weather!

Monday 6 October 2008

Sharp Edge, Blencathra

I had a couple of hours free on my visit to family on Sunday morning and used it to climb Blencathra by the pleasant easy scramble Sharp Edge. After the deluge of Saturday I was treated to cool clear autumn sunshine as I continued on over the top, down to the Blencathra Centre and on over Latrigg to return to Keswick. There were about a dozen others enjoying this popular (and polished) route besides the 2 sheep shown!


Update on my son Sandy who is 10 weeks old and has inherited my appetite - he's growing out of clothes for 3-6 month olds. We went for a family outing up Latrigg, the fine viewpoint above Keswick and Sandy's first hill! On the way up we enjoyed ripe elderberries and on the way down spotted this inquisitive robin peeking out of the hedge by the path.

SPA Assessment

Last Wednesday and Thursday I was directing an SPA Assessment for Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre. On the first day we went to Neilston crag in damp, cold, blustery weather. That niight we spent some time in Ardroy's climbing wall. On Thursday, a much brighter day, we went to the formerly popular Glasgow crag, Craigmore. There was evidence of some bouldering but many routes are now, unfortunately returning to nature.