Saturday 29 November 2008

Today I was out with Colin and Guy. After the heavy snowfall last night we opted for a rocky mountaineering route and went to Curved Ridge. The sun shone all day and a we joined a few friendly pairs on a well plastered ridge.
There was a very little ice around in drainage lines in the shade but we didnt hit the freezing level until about 900m when the powdery snow that had melted to water on my gear began to refreeze. Under this much soft powder we didnt even put crampons on until half way up and my axe spent most of the day tucked out of the way on my back as I used my hands to clear and climb the route.
It was much colder down in the continual shade of Coire na Tullaich but the ground wasnt really frozen off of the well compressed path although cars were well iced at the bottom.
Many thanks to the 2 teams who let us overtake them(it was just a cunning plan to let me break trail i'm sure ;-)
Had to put lots of pics up today - it just looked soooo good. Yey more pics at:

Thursday 27 November 2008

Wintery walking in the Mamores

Today I was out again with the SVQ students from Lochaber College. The objective was Binnein Mor in the Mamores. After the rain of yesterday this morning showed a little fresh snow down to 800m. We left Mamore Lodge and headed up into Coire an Lochain where there was plenty of old wet snow and slush underfoot. We traversed onto the north side of Sgor Eilde Beag and zig zagged up onto the main ridge. By point 1062 it was clear that the ground underfoot was too icey for the group's footwear and we headed back down helped along by gusty hail and snow storms. Just at the mouth of Coire an Lochain, on Sgor Eilde Beag's SE corner is a shallow gully which was full of debris from a recent full depth slab avalanche. This probably came down in the thaw in the last 2 days. We investigated the debris and spent some time bum sliding before the team navigated themselves back to Kinlochleven with me giving them plenty of space to find their own way down.
The ice on the ridge was formed by the wind and under the crust on snow patches the snow was still soft. I saw running water at 900m at 2pm.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

A day off

I went freelance 2 weeks ago leaving my job as manager of The Ice Factor (although I'm still retained as Technical Advisor and to run outdoor courses) and since then I've been working in Lochaber, Glasgow and at Glenmore Lodge. Today is a chance to catch up on admin and spend some time with the family.
Its milder and rainy today, I can see the snow being washed from the Mamores. Any that does remain will get a chance to freeze as it gets cooler again towards the weekend. I'm out on the Mamores tomorrow with a Lochaber College group. We'll see how much snow remains.
In the meantime here are a couple of pictures around Kinlochleven of the Grey Mares tail waterfall and some bracket funghi in the woods.

Monday 24 November 2008

Lochaber College in Glencoe

Today I was introducing the SVQ Level 2 Outdoors students from Lochaber College to security on steep ground techniques. After a session in the grounds of Glencoe Outdoor Centre we went up into Coire Gabhail to put some newfound skills into practise. Although there is snow up above 800m in Glencoe the mild weather for the next day or two will strip a good deal away. As long as its not too warm and wet when it turns cooler again on thursday some of the higher sheltered patches may firm up enough to begin to provide a base for later in the season.....

Sunday 23 November 2008

CWA Training for Glenmore Lodge

Here are a few pictures from the Climbing Wall Award Training I was Directing for Glenmore Lodge this weekend. They include various games, bouldering exercises, some rather aged, if very well maintained, climbing equipment and a gratuitous shot of an RAF Sea King from the window of our classroom. Back outdoors in Glencoe tomorrow.

Friday 21 November 2008

Snow in Aviemore

I've been across at a conference at Glenmore Lodge today and I'm Directing a CWA Training for them this weekend. The picture shows the large amount of fresh snow in the area at 1500 today. The view is from the new south wing at The Lodge up towards the Northern corries.

Thursday 20 November 2008

GCC Staff Training 2

My last day of a 4 day stint at Glasgow Climbing Centre. Today I did 2 half day sessions for staff looking at various subjects including: Coaching pointers and Games, other Climbing Games (you must try Climbing Golf - see: Climbing Games) and some problem solving techniques.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Glasgow Climbing Centre Staff Training 1

Today was spent indoors running a training course on how to teach lead climbing on artificial climbing walls. I was running the course as part of my role as Technical Advisor to The Glasgow Climbing Centre. We spent the day looking at: gathering information about novice leaders' ability and experience, equipment, teaching skills for lead belaying, teaching skills for lead climbing, problem solving and avoidance and discussing falling.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

SPA Assessment Day 2

A much better weather today. We took advantage of the cold but sunny weather to visit Rosyth Quarry. Despite being a graffitied quarry in an urban setting this can be a pleasant climbing venue. The candidates worked through a variety of scenarios and demonstrated their awareness of the issues surrounding supervising groups being in troduced to climbing. Congratulations to the new SPA holders!

Monday 17 November 2008

SPA Assessment

Today was day 1 of a Glasgow Climbing Centre Based SPA Assessment. The weather was awful and no amount of driving was going to help us find better weather so after a session at the Wall we went to Neilston to look at some very soggy rock climbs. Full marks for effort to the 4 candidates for their climbing today. At least the foreacast for tomorrow is for much drier weather.

MCofS Student Safety Seminar

At the weekend I joined a couple of dozen other volunteers who were helping the Mountaineering Council of Scotland by providing free instruction at the Student Safety Seminar they organise and run at Glenmore Lodge. On the Saturday as well as a number of indoor workshops Mark and I delivered a beginners navigation session. On the Sunday it was back to Duntelchaig with a group of beginner rock climbers. We had dry, sunny conditions almost describable as warm!

Lochaber College at Duntelchaig

On Friday I was working for Lochaber College's Outdoor Education degree course running a rock climbing assessment at the crags above Loch Duntelchaig. Despite a damp and windy day the gang were able to demonstrate what they had learned over the last year.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Today I took 2 of the lads from Glasgow Academy up the Zig Zags in Glencoe. Last night they all stayed at Lagangarbh and we had a great deal of snow fall. Today we had to wade up through it past a successful stag and his harem of does. The scramble was pouring with water under the coating of wet snow making it challenging and slippery but a good option for a quick day befoe the weather turned worse with hail and heavy rain (still falling as wet snow higher up).