Wednesday 29 June 2011

CWA Training Day 2

Balance and control
Autobelay mats
Busy bouldering
the second day of our CWA Training and we began by visiting Climbzone at the Xscape at Braehead to look at a completely different type of climbing wall. The day continued back at Glasgow Climbing Centre with a fairly in depth look at coaching basic movement including various games and drills to help, autobelays, risk assessment and problem avoidance and solving.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

CWA Trg Day 1

Today was a stunning day around Glasgow but unfortunately I was indoors all day directing a Climbing Wall Award Training Course for 10 candidates at the Glasgow Climbing Centre. We spent a busy day looking at personal climbing and bouldering, assessing the needs of groups and planning sessions, managing peer belaying, equipment, legal aspects of working as a CWA and a little basic problem avoidance and solving. More tomorrow!

Monday 27 June 2011

Climbing Wall Leader Award Assessment

Demonstration of personal lead climbing ability
Teaching clipping
Teaching lead belaying
Today I was directing a Climbing Wall Leader Award at The Peak climbing wall in Stirling. This is the National Governing Body award for SPA or CWA holders who would like to be able to coach lead climbing on purpose built artificial climbing structures. Congratulations to the candidates ho were both successful and thanks to our willing volunteer who they were teaching to lead.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Skye MRT Warning. Cioch direct Rockfall

Skye MRT have advised Cioch Direct as a no go area following an abseil inspection yesterday. Team members will attempt to clean up the worst area tomorrow whilst removing ropes and gear left in the accident a few weeks ago. I'll update here when I hear how things go but I suspect that the route will always retain an even greater reputation for requiring caution.


Subject: Guidebook and Publications Comment


Cioch Direct on the Sron Na Ciche Skye is a no go area until further notice. After recent rock falls resulting in the death of a climber and the serious injury of 2 other climbers on the 31 May the climb has become unstable, especialy at the base of the 3rd picth. Further rock falls are immenent. Climbers should not attempt this route until the large boulders in the gully have been removed.

Please display this message on your web site and help us prevent any further injury/death to climbers.

Conformation of this message can be obtained from Northern Constabulary Portree Tel 01478 612778.

Also see UKC post.

Friday 24 June 2011

It's worth a look at the new BMC Belaying leaflet which takes into account the varying types of ropes and devices we now use. It's also worth familiarising yourself with the relevant terminology now recommended by the UIAA (e.g. Gri-gris are now 'assisted braking devices'). To download a pdf of the leaflet click on the image above.

Thursday 23 June 2011


The last day of our SPA Training course was fortunately a little drier and we got some climbing in a rapidly drying Neilston Quarry.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Wetter AND wilder!

Yesterday and today I was directing an SPA Training based at Glasgow Climbing Centre. We spent Monday evening at the climbing wall and were outside today- the weather was, in short, awful.
However apparently things haven't been quite so bad up on Hoy: sounds like congratulations to Dave and Andy, and I suspect to those recording the event too: and

Sunday 19 June 2011

Paths, brocken Spectres and red deer

Red deer hinds and calves
The new path looking back from just below the CIC
And looking ahead
Brocken Spectre
I grabbed the fine weather opportunity to get out and go for a brisk bash up Tower Ridge this morning. I've had a cold for the past few days and really felt the after effects on the uphills. On the walk in I found myself on the new path just below the CIC Hut and stopped to watch 3 red deer hinds and their calves grazing. As I hit the ridge the cloud briefly boiled in around me and I was crossing the arete above the chimney out of the Douglas Boulder Gap when the sun came back out to cast my shadow as a great brocken spectre in Coire na Ciste below.
Tomorrow begins a busy 3 weeks of NGB courses in Glasgow and Lochaber.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Training for single pitch sessions

Today I cycled out to Glen Nevis in dry weather to provide some site specific training on running Single Pitch climbing and Abseiling sessions for Ian and Andy from The Ice Factor. The weather was dry and breezey enough to keep the midges away and there were several teams from Outward Bound there as well as Scott having a solo about.
We looked at ways of making sessions more interesting and maximising climbing time using creative warmups, bouldering games and scrambling approaches to climbing areas. I then observed the guys as they ran an enjoyable session for 6 local school children.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

NE Buttress and Ledge Route

I took Andy up Tower Ridge last year so this time he wanted to up the ante a little. As we left the car Ben Nevis was shrouded in low cloud but true to the forecast this began to break up as we walked in. We had a good chat with a couple of Irish guys heading for Tower Ridge and then pushed on from the CIC Hut to our objective. The route was only a little damp and loose and we made quick progress past the lower difficulties, the ever clean and awkward mantrap and the wet 40ft corner. Then we pressed onto the summit which was the quietest I've seen it in a while (only 3o odd people and a half a dozen dogs) for lunch watching our Irish friends from earlier tackling Tower Gap.
With fine weather and plenty of time we headed for Ledge Route to make the most of the day. On the way down we met a pair of girls coming up who had recently called the police to report hearing shouts for 'help' coming from somewhere towards the Douglas Boulder. As we pressed on the Royal Navy Sea King arrived for a circuit before heading to Fort William to pick up Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team Members. We reached the base of the Douglas Boulder at the same time as the first 3 of them and Andy stayed at the base of the route. Two guys who had been working on the CIC hut were already there helping the 2 climbers who had taken a tumble and I was able to be another pair of hands as the LMRT members went to work proficiently making the climbers safe and beginning first aid. Once one had been evacuated and the second was ready to go I scrambled down to rejoin Andy who was waiting patiently lower down and we headed out. Best wishes to the 2 injured climbers and hopes for a speedy recovery.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Aonach Eagach

After a sociable evening last night we had a late start today and didn't leave the van at the foot of the Aonach Eagach until almost 2 o'clock. Neal had his fast (if short) legs on and Lee and I kept up and we were at the Clachaig less than 3 and a half hours later! Its been great just to be out on the mountains in fine weather after a month of rain, snow and gales!

Saturday 11 June 2011

Observatory Ridge

Today Lee and I went to Observatory Ridge for a great mountaineering day. The forecast was for good morning weather deteriorating to poor weather in the afternoon. So we got a reasonable start and were leaving the van at 0830. The ridge was a touch damp and there was a half inch of hail/snow on most of the ledges but not enough to impact badly on the climbing. We pitched the first 4 rope lengths and then moved together up the rest of the ridge and the weather stayed dry and clear all until we had summited at lunchtime and beyond. So after we got to the top it seemed sensible to continue Lee's acquaintance with the North Face with a descent of Ledge Route. We had the odd spit of rain on the way down but nothing serious as we wandered down the ridge to finish a good day out.

Friday 10 June 2011

Sunshine, soloing and Sandy time

Sunshine at last. Felt like a cool spring day today but at least it was dry. Sandy was trying out his new bike (this one has pedals) and then led Jane and his grandpa up to Steall Meadows to cross the wire bridge whilst I went for a cheeky wee solo at Polldubh (inspired by this video of Steve House soloing) . I climbed the ever polished Pinnacle Ridge, Pine Wall and the excellent Secretaries Direct (the best severe in the Glen and well worth the walk up. It felt good to have rock shoes on and to be out moving on real rock again.
Pedal power
Hold on tight

Sunday 5 June 2011

Improvised rescue workshop

On the second day of the MLTA Skills weekend at Glenmore Lodge I was running a workshop based around improvised rescue.
Wendell has completed his MIA training and was looking for a refresher whilst Mike is a much less experienced climber. So I gave Wendell the opportunity to do some teaching of basic building blocks for Mike who in turn acted as a casualty so that we could revise some scenarios and problem solving. Another dry day where groups were out revising ML Ropework, looking at GPS based navigation, the teaching of navigation to novices and the environment of the Cairngorms. Another busy but successful day.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Coaching climbing movement workshop.

I was working for MLTA at Glenmore Lodge running a workshop on introducing basic climbing movement to beginners. After working through the components of a healthy and relevant warmup we looked at fundamental concepts such as the climbers centre of gravity and how to move it and rotation. We examined how to introduce these concepts to different client groups and exercises and games to improve their understanding and execution of these climbing skills on a variety of angles of climbing surface. The inclusion of a little bit of Coaching Processes (How to coach as well as What to coach) gave us a good full day of training.

Friday 3 June 2011

A summer's day (at last!)

Woke to a gentle inversion below my house and blue skies above. So I hopped on my bike out to Torlundy and sweated my way up to the CIC Hut. The ridges seem largely clear of snow but there is a great deal in the gullies for June. No.2 looks like it might give a good day out in next weeks forecast cooler temperatures! Then it was up Tower Ridge.... a route I struggle to tire of overtaking a fast party of 4 just at the through route after the Eastern Traverse. There was a tiny bit of avoidable snow on the Traverse and an insignificant amount of ice in the chimney- other than that dry rock all the way. Topping out I worked my way down through the hordes (most of whom seem to walk head down in a somnambulistic trance- either that or they are fascinated by their own footwear) and back to my bike- where I broke my chain... and only being out to Torlundy and back did I have any tools on me? Nope. Fortunately it is the MTB World Cup this weekend and a lovely lady soon came to my rescue with a chain tool :-)
Sorry about the blurry photos- the camera was down the front of my t-shirt and I was perspiring somewhat!

Thursday 2 June 2011

The head game...

Today I was out with Emma and Ross. Th brief for the day was to help Emma (who was out with me in Rjukan on the MCofS Meet this February) with her nerves when leading. With a drizzly start at Fort William this morning we headed east to Kingussie (I'm there so often I'm beginning to feel I should buy a house). Here we began to work our way up through the grades from VDiff through her usual grade of Severe and onto here regular upper grade of HS. We examined her gear, her ability to plan a route and spot rests and protection in advance and to risk assess her position. We also worked on her distrust of camming devices! After a brief bouldering session where we examined her breathing and some relaxation techniques Emma went on to lead a short VS- the first time she has climbed a route of this grade clean and with absolutely no input from me. We spent a little more time talking about managing anxiety whilst climbing and accessing and anchoring positive climbing experiences before she geared up at the foot of the steep and pumpy HVS at the left end of the crag. This route is always quite tough and punishes any lapse in technique with a serious pump! emma did well placing a large amount of gear and overcoming her concerns to take rests on it before topping out. We finished up by reviewing the day and giving her some exercises to work on. not bad progress for one day.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Tour de Ben Nevis

Out on the bike today following the route of the Tour de Ben Nevis Race. Including the ride from home into Fort William this gave me over 75km of mountainbiking with plenty of ascent and descent. A brighter day in Lochaber with only a few showers today. Jane has been working her sports massage magic on my tonight in an effort to stop me paying a high price for my ride tomorrow! Here is a short video of the sections along Loch Eilde Mor and the carry from Mheanach bothy up to the highpoint before dropping into the Lairig Leacach. Then it was on into Leanachan Forest and back along the puggy line to Fort William. A great ride!