Friday 30 September 2011


Huntly's Cave for our problem solving today and the students did well (no -one's head actually exploded). They dealt with a variety of scenarios: students struck by rock fall, dislocating shoulders, fitting, unable to complete a move, becoming unconscious whilst abseiling..... and so on. Midge free but I did swipe the largest tick on the planet off before it sank its teeth in!

Thursday 29 September 2011

Coaching climbing and Navigation

another day on the Glenmore Lodge MIA training and today was about coaching processes. After an intro. this morning I spent some time examining the themes we had flagged up in a climbing setting. Then this afternoon we went up to the Ciste car park and looked at ML standard navigation and how to teach it.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

3 days in the west....

The Glenmore Lodge MIA Training course travelled west for a change of venues for the last 3 days. On Monday we were looking at series ropework at Polldubh in slightly showery conditions. Isi and Erin and I racked up a good clutch of pitches examining stance selection and management.

After a good night at Inchree (and too much of the great food at the 4 Seasons Bar/Restaurant) yesterday saw us heading for the Buachaille for the mountaineering day. the forecast was spot on as Colin, Ross and I worked on the 'grey art' of short-roping. Then it was back to Inchree to fill the drying room and another huge meal.

Today dawned a little grey and the rivers were still very full. So it was plan B and back to Polldubh where Stevie, Colin and I climbed Pinnacle Ridge, 3 Pines and Secretaries Direct to look at parallel rope technique. The guys did well to get their head around tangle free changeovers and the necessary stance and rope management on the first truly hot day's rock climbing I've had since the spring! Secretaries is one of the best Severe's in scotland and today the sun reflecting off of the big sheets of schist that make up the climb left me remembering what climbing is all about!

Sunday 25 September 2011

Single pitch climbing

Today we took the MIA Training course to Kingussie Crag for some single pitch climbing and to start our look at the whole rock climbing process. We escaped the rain that arrived later and after a review back at Glenmore Lodge did some indoor work looking at the 'nuts and bolts' of some problem solving. Off to the west tomorrow!

Saturday 24 September 2011

Yesterday and today

Soooo yesterday I was coaching climbing movement with students from the Adventure Studies Department of UHI. We went to the Ice Factor and did an assessment of each student finding that many of them were relying on strength at the expense of technique. So after looking at constructive warmups we went back to basics looking at their understanding of their centre of gravity and how they can use it to affect their climbing. We used the camera to capture some images which displayed on a laptop (with an acetate sheet on top to draw on) allowed us to get a clearer picture of what they were doing.

Today I was working at Glenmore Lodge on the first day of an MIA Training course. We spent most of the day looking at the dynamic assessment of risk as a core element of making judgments. After some theory in the classroom we took it out onto the hill to the Twin Ribs where we used ML ropework scenarios to explore the ideas under discussion. Then we did some more classroom work looking at the other adventurous activities that MIAs may be involved in and also the legal side of our work.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Technical advice CPD and Bolivia Videos

Mountaineering Instructors often work in relative isolation unless they work at a Mational Centre or somewhere else where they can exchange ideas with their peers. I enjoy my time working somewhere like Glenmore Lodge as it affords me a great opportunity to see how other people work and think about what we do. I ran a CWA for EICA Ratho this year and it was really useful to work alongside one of their staff to get a different slant on the same issues. To only ever work alone is to risk disappearing up your own arse.
Another way to do it is with good CPD. Yesterday I made the long journey to Climb Rochdale to attend a joint BMC/AMI/NICAS Workshop for climbing wall technical advisors. There was a good breadth and depth of experience there and we had seminars on: Procedures and Risk Assessment, Wall Construction, Route Setting and Site Specific Award Schemes as well as going off at various interesting tangents and over running every session.
Some of my peers seem to find such CPD honerous. I think it's very naive to believe that we can't learn from each other and besides that, which part of getting better at your job is not to like?

Here are 2 videos of my Bolivia Exped. for Adventure Peaks a month ago:

and Pt 2

Sunday 18 September 2011

Not a bad day...

Despite waking up to the rain hammering on the velux again Susie and I weren't to be put off our plan to visit the Ben. Given that she is a reconstituted rock chick I suppose its not really surprising that she had only been on the big hill once before and never to the top.
The damp start seemed to be giving over to a slow brightening as we drove up- amazing patterns of swirling cloud ahead an above so we went for big boots and headed for Tower Ridge. We only had the odd shower and not only did the rock dry out on the upper half but we even had views AND some sunshine. This was enough to spur us to avoid the drudgery of the pony track (no offence to it, or those on it, but its such a let down after the joys of TR) after ticking the summit and to send us down Ledge Route.
We saw Rich and his client on the way up and I think they were following us down the same way too.
Not a bad day....

Saturday 17 September 2011

Teaching about teaching

Out to help a friend today. Scott has a teaching climbing assessment coming up for his MIA and wanted some feedback on how he structured his day.
Ali and Susie had volunteered to be mock students and we went to Polldubh despite a showery day. If you know which routes to pick there are climbs that will dry almost as soon as the rain stops- especially if there is a breeze. We were lacking that wind today so it was a little midgey but Scott took the team up 3 pitches of the Gutter, Styx Buttress Right Wall in 2 pitches and a pitch of Three Pines in the improving weather with an abseil from each route.
We focussed on creating a structure to his day and drip feeding and reinforcing key learning points in bite sized chunks.