Sunday 31 October 2010

Its all go...

Canyoning the Bruar from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

A busy week of CPD and work. On monday, tuesday and wednesday I was attending a Canyoning workshop arranged by Vertical Descents, hosted by Nae Limits and run by American Canyoning guru Rich Carlson. Rich is sort of the Yoda of the canyoneering (as its called in the States) with a tremendous amount of experience at home and working alongside various other Asscoiations in France, Spain and Australia to name but a few. The course provided a good introduction into the nature of techncial ropework involved in descending rocky swiftwater canyons.
Thursday night I was in Glasgow eating Neal's excellent roadkill pheasant, Friday was a day run to Kendal where the Climbing Wall were hosting a BMC Learning to Train workshop for coaches looking to teach specific movement techniques. After waiting for a crash to be cleared by police and fire services just south of Fort William I was home at 1 in the morning to start an SPA Training which ran yesterday and today.
Busy times!

Monday 25 October 2010

Home to the cold

I'm back from a family bolt clipping trip from Mallorca. After the first day the weather was warm and sunny and although the crags were very busy we had a great time at the crags and on the beach. Being a die hard trad climber at heart I had to go to Sa Gubia to climb Albahida, a fine soaring ridge line in the hills.
Whilst I've been away of course the early winter scratching has begun with ascents of the Message and Savage Slit amongst others in the Cairngorms and Babylon on Ben Nevis. although the Ben still has a dusting on top this morning it will be warmer later this week I'm away for a bit of CPD.

Mallorca 2010 from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Friday 15 October 2010

Gone climbing for the next week!

Off to Mallorca with a big team of friends and the kids. Enjoy the snow!

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Gabbro is great.

Graham and I decided to ignore the forecast's predicted drizzle out west and went to Ardnamurchan today. Meall Fhir Eoin Beag is a great crag for 2 pitch routes of a wide variety of grades on perfect rough gabbro. We started off on 'Volcane' (E1 4c,5b) with me leading the upper pitch. Then Graham took us 'Up Pompeii. (E2 5b). Next I led a good first pitch of 'Return of the Jedi' (E2 5c) to the large ledge above the crux and Graham led up the last 4c pitch- been wanting to do this route for ages! And Graham finished off over on the dome shaped buttress just East of the main crag with 'Lava Lout' (E1 5b). It was grey all day with a strong cool breeze at times. However other than the odd spit of rain when we arrived it stayed dry. Happy days!

Rock climbing on the Ardnamurchan peninsula from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

More sunshine on D Gully Buttress and Curved Ridge

Second day out with Nigel, Tracey and Matthew and with slightly weary legs today we opted to go to Buachaille Etive Mor. Matthew owns the excellent Guisachan Guesthouse in Fort William- well worth checking out if you are looking for accommodation.

Leaving Fort William today Loch Linnhe was shrouded in low cloud and mist but by the time we reached the Ballachullish Bridge we were out in the open sunshine again. This set the tone for another hot day. Nigel got the chance to put some of the ropework he had seen yesterday into practise leading the team up the lower section of D Gully Buttress. I took over for the upper section and we made rapid progress up the top part of Curved Ridge to our lunch spot and beyond to the summit. Another cracking day.

D Gully Buttress and Curved Ridge from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Monday 11 October 2010

Tower Ridge again and Ledge Route, even hotter!

Today was the best weather day I've had in Scotland this year. I'd have been happy in shorts and t-shirt as Nigel, Tracey and Matthew and I climbed Tower Ridge. The rock was dry, the weather fine. We lingered for lunch on the Great Tower before putting on a show for those on the summit as we crossed the Gap. When we reached the top we decided the weather was too good to waste on the Pony Track so heaed down Ledge Route instead to the sound of the stag which had been baying below all day long, chasing off his rivals.

Hot on Tower Ridge and Ledge Route from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Sunday 10 October 2010


Catch the leaping toddler!

I haven't been to Glenuig since the day when Gill and I made the first ascent of the Forsay Burn last January. It was rather different today as we went with some other local families to the beach to paddle, swim and dig sandcastles. Sunshine and seaside weather!

Saturday 9 October 2010

Indian summer?

Today it was hot! Bill has been waiting for a good weather day when I was free to fulfill a long standing ambition to climb Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis. He picked the right day! After a blustery breezey walk in we enjoyed a hot and calm walk down with Maggie- Bill's wife- who had walked up the pony track to meet us. On the way down we passed plenty of charity walkers. There were large groups from Help for Heroes and a couple of hundred Asian men walking up to raise money for the Pakistani flood victims.
Awesome weather, better than any day in September, and Bill did great for a 67 year old!

Tower Ridge from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Friday 8 October 2010

Autumn days

Ben Nevis with a morning nightcap of cloud first thing today.

In the last 2 days I've directed the second day of the SPA Training for Andy, Ian, Ali and Chris from the Ice Factor and worked with Bill, Gill and Rich on an Introductory Rock Climbing Assessment for students from UHI's Adventure Tourism Management Degree Course.

The pictures above show the SPA training course. We were looking at working with groups on crags at Polldubh on a dry but very blustery day.

The above shot and video below show the day for UHI. This was to assess the skills that Sally and Mike had developed over sessions with instructors on the 16th and 30th of September. At the same time I was introducing one of the 3rd year students, Graham, to the skills involved in teaching lead rock climbing. Sal and Mike have gone from almost no outdoor climbing experience to leading VDiff quite happily over the course so they were well ahead of the assessment criteria. This meant that we were soon able to move on and look at fine tuning their leading skills. We got a couple of multi-pitch routes in before the rain came on and it was time to abseil off and run away.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

SPA Training Day 1

Today I had a group of 4 out on Kingussie Crag for the first day of their SPA training course. We were lucky that the rain held off long enough for everyone to lead a couple of routes (it only began to rain and blow as I led up Right Hand Crack). After that it felt properly Autumnal, cold, damp and blustery. Better weather forecast for the weekend hopefully.

Ben Nevis

Here are a couple of pics of Ben Nevis. The snow patches are shrinking in the heavy rain showers that we have been having over the last few days. Blustery winds to.

Sunday 3 October 2010

And finally part 3...

Though I'd put the 3rd part of the Afghan trip's video onto the blog. It was a superb trip with amazing people living their lives every day there. From Adab and Hayat, young, hardworking guys from Ishkashem with perfect English, determined to improve themselves and their country, to Telor- poorest of our horsemen but incredible resilient and keen to work hard for westerners to bring $ in for his family or Qachi Beg, with a 300 year old family home in Sarhad who personified the hospitality, kindness and generosity inate in the people we meant. I have made 40 expeditions to almost as many developing world countries but I've never been quite as humbled as by the people of the Wakhan Corridor.

Scottish Wakhan Expedition 2010- Part 3 Koh e Khar and the road home from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Ben Nevis

Today Pete and I took a walk under the N face of Ben Nevis. There were plenty of people about (on Tower Ridge, Ledge Route, the Douglas Boulder and walking up Coire Leis) despite the blustery weather. I was able to snatch a couple of photos of the remaining snow patches in Observatory Gully for the guys at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh who keep track of such things.
As well as a builder at work at the CIC Hut the Friends of Nevis were out hard at work patching up the North Face path and clearing the drains- thanks guys!

Friday 1 October 2010

Day off

A wet day in Lochaber and other than a quick 10k run I've been being lazy and working on this machine.
I received a great e-mail the other day from Paul and Anne who were students on an Introduction to Winter Skills I ran at Glenmore Lodge last year:
'Anne and I thought that you would like to know that we have been putting to good use some of the skills that we learned with you on our Introduction to Winter Skills course at Glenmore Lodge in January.
We have just returned from a ten day walking holiday in Chamonix. This was a return visit, the previous one being six years ago, but on this occasion we ventured out onto the ice. We hired crampons, boots and ice axes and also a guide who took us out onto the Mer de Glace. It was a magical day with warm sun and blue skies and we went high enough up the glacier to have spectacular views of the Grandes Jorasses and ,of course Mont Blanc.
Being in amongst the waves and troughs of ice was amazing, but being able to front point up them with confidence was thanks to you.'

I love it when I hear of people I've been out with making use of the skills I've helped give them- great job satisfaction.

I also saw some good news on the Mountain Leader Training Blog about a UK wide unified syllabus on LTPD (and the pic is of me on an MLT workshop at EICA). I look forwards to some great new opportunities for professionals working in the field of climbing to share their experience and knowledge.

Finally, here is the last video from last week's excellent Assynt trip with The Glasgow Academy. It shows me taking 3 pupils up West Buttress ofnStac Pollaidh (V Diff).

Stac Pollaidh from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Out on Ben Nevis tomorrow.