Monday 29 October 2012

New kit, Ropeman 3 recalled and another meeting.

Its the time of year when I seem to have AGMs, CPD and other meetings to go to on a regular basis and today was no exception. This morning I was at a well attended meeting of MTS Providers discussing issues of interest to those running NGB Courses. The meeting was at Glenmore Lodge where I picked up an order of kit including a shiny new pair of Nomics! :-)
I came home to find that Wild Country have made the difficult decision to recall the Ropeman 3. I've been using one of these over the summer and had observed that it didn't always operate effectively. During an MIA training another Instructor and I both observed Ropemen 3 fail to bite when students attempted to apply them to loaded ropes. On another occasion when running a problem solving day a student tried to use one as the 'travelling' prussik on a 3:1 hoist from within the system. The cam failed to engage and I videoed it sliding back up the rope. Importantly this was on an 8.9mm rope and the device was only approved for 9mm-11mm ropes.
Having seen Steve Long's videos for Wild Country on the Ropeman I contacted him and soon WC were involved in testing to try to replicate the problem. The upshot is the responsible actions they've taken today:
I'll be returning mine and going back to the excellent Ropeman Mk 2.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Bothy trip with the boy

Whilst some were heading off to scratch in the Norries I was fulfilling a promise to Sandy of a father and son bothy trip. With some packing and food shopping we headed off for Jane to drop us and the canoe on the shores of a loch. We paddled over in the rain and after wading through head high vegetation (that's on me- Sandy was buried but refused to be carried) we reached Essan to get the fire on. It was a night of candles, ghost stories, glow stick sword fights, marshmallows, hot chocolate, coke can lamps and sparklers. This morning we tidied up, gathered some wood for the next users and had an adventurous paddle back across the loch in heavy rain.

Friday 26 October 2012

Meetings (in Kendal) and dusting (on Tower Ridge). Icicles and a new cairn for No. 4 Gully

Yesterday I was in Kendal with my AMI Trainee Winter workshop provider head on to discuss the process of mentoring that occurs within the association. Kendal Wall did us proud as hosts and as well as Ed and Paul from AMI there were others with various hats on including representatives from AMI, Plas Y Brenin, Glenmore Lodge, Mountain Training and Alan Kimber of West Coast Mountain Guides. It was a very productive meeting with some good ideas and information shared.

Today Steve and I were on Tower Ridge. An overnight dusting of snow didn't look to amount to much from below but previous light snow lower down had thawed and refrozen as verglas. This was covered with fresh light snow on every flat hold and I wished I'd taken a duster today to remove it all! There was a lot of thin water ice in evidence including a huge icicle in the fallen block chimney after the Eastern Traverse. From there onwards we put crampons on to take advantage of the firm snow but didn't use an axe until the last 20m to the plateau. The path to the summit was firm well trodden snow- avoidable but there were plenty of walkers doing their Bambi impressions skittering on it.

On the way to Ledge Route we chatted to Martin who has just finished the new No. 4 Gully Cairn (he is just clearing the area of loose rock except around the base where the remains of the old cairn have now become an important habitat for some rare plant life- wonder if that is down to the liquid fertiliser applied by many winter climbers!). The cap stone is huge and must weigh over half a (metric) ton. It took him days just to move it to the site from a little way along the plateau and a lot of effort to get it atop the cairn itself. There are 2 small No. 4s attached to the cairn (which will probably disappear under rime).

Steve and I headed down Ledge Route which was hard with a lot of ice to be avoided. Many of the lower ice lines on Ben Nevis (Cascades, The Curtain, Waterfall Gully, Carn Dearg Cascades even The Gulch below Coire na Ciste) were obvious smears of ice today. 

It was snowing and hailing to the treeline as we walked out. Winter is a coming!
 Steve with the Douglas Boulder behind
 Low on Tower Ridge
 Little Tower
 On the Great Tower
 Exiting the Gap
 Firm snow
 All the large snow patches in this pic were firm and hard
 Martin's Cairn
The RAF and the ice below Carn Dearg

Tuesday 23 October 2012

A weekend working in Marbella

Well last friday I said farewell to one bunch of loonies (here is Clemmie, Head Girl of The Glasgow Academy- a job requiring her to wear many hats)
and went off to meet another group in Marbella.

Mallorca was great fun and you just have to click on this photo to read the introduction from the Desnivel Mallorca Guide- I can't see this in a British Guide! (Its nothing like as good as the Rockfax Guide but has quite a few small beginners crags that aren't in it).
In Marbella I was working with staff and pupils at the English International College. They have a climbing wall and were looking to get some site specific training towards being able to run NICAS. I had two great days with a really good fun team and superb hospitality from Ali and his family.

Back home in Scotland now and I think its about to get a bit colder....

Thursday 18 October 2012

Last day on Mallorca...

...and the team were climbing up a storm at Calvari. Hot weather, atrocious belaying with gri-gris by locals and great rock. Tomorrow I'm off to Marbella for 2 days work- all change.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

La Creveta

Another day and more hot rock. The bulk of the group managed to fit in at La Creveta whilst Tim abseiled in to the small ledge right under the Mirador and did 3 single pitch routes with 200m of air tugging them down towards the sea.
 Chalked up
 High up
 Tim sending
 Clemmie crankin'
 Packing up
Tamsin in serious mood

Tuesday 16 October 2012


Today I took Tim and James up the Gubia Normal at Albahida. We did it in 8 pitches of climbing up to 4+ followed by a 40 minute scramble to the summit of the peak and then an hour back down to the car. The route has mostly (but not all) bolt anchors and goes with a few med-large nuts and cams and LOTS of slings for the innumerable threads. Dinner was in the balmy sea breeze at Port de Pollenca. Another great day out (and thanks to the team who recognised that we were moving much quicker and let us overtake).
 We'll just follow the left arete to the top then....
 The lads sort the ropes whilst I hide in the shade
 Getting higher...
 ...and higher
Hanging belays don't seem to phase this pair
Sorting at the stance
 Pitch 7 of 8
 End of the climbing, beginning of the scrambling
 Yellow feet
 On the ridge
At the top