Friday 28 June 2013

Another climbing video, Steve's amazing climb and Exped prep

Here is another video using the Ion Air Pro plus headcam from Sport Pursuit.

Volcane Pitch 1 from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.
And if you want some REAL climbing inspiration keep and eye on Steve's Blog for the full story of his solo on El Cap. An impressing enough achievement for someone on their first trip to 'The Valley' but when you factor in the fact that he can barely see owing to retinitis pigmentosa its pretty mind-blowing- nice one mate.
I've been avoiding work for the most part for the last week or so but that doesn't mean I haven't been very busy. I've been preparing for a long exped. to Central Asia in a few weeks. Part of that has also meant being 'daddy day care' with Sandy and Kaye so they get plenty of time with me before I'm away (and saving us a lot of money in childcare to boot). Unless you've ever looked after active 1 and 5 year olds at the same time you have no idea... believe me. So days with the 2 of them are write offs in terms of work done. Plenty of that to do though, multiple visas and permits, Grant Applications, 2 sets of agents, co-ordinating a team including people working offshore half the time and one in South Africa, flights, kit, food, fuel, clothing etc. etc. etc.
Many thanks to the Mount Everest Foundation, Mountaineering Council of Scotland, The Mountain Club of South AfricaCotswold Aberdeen (and Adventure Food), Sport Pursuit and Lowe Alpine and Life Straw for various bits of support and kit to trial we'd struggle without this support.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Ardnamurchan Head Cam

Perfect rock on Ardnamurchan from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Ardnamurchan Rock
Deceptively steep direct finish to Krakatoa (4c)
Gill going for the top on Greta Gabbro (VS 4c)
Rich on Claude (HVS/VS 5a)
Gill on the crag classic Yir (VS4c)
Seconding one of the alternative second pitches to Yir (this one is 4b)
First pitch of Volcane (4c)
Rich on Trauma Crack (E3 6a)
A chilled day out yesterday with Rich and Gill at Ardnamurchan. The folks at Sportpursuit (join via this link and we both get £10 to spend on the site!) have given me a fantastic ION Air Pro Plus HD headcam to play with for a while so it got its first airing yesterday. I soloed Greta Gabbro (VS4c), An Toiseach (VDiff), the first pitch of Volcane (the 4c bit) and the slabs opposite the main crag of Meall Fhir Eoin Beag that I've been meaning to look at for ages (2 15m lines, about VDiff and Severe). I also followed Rich up Claude (HVS/VS 5a- depending on which guide you read) and Gill up Yir (VS4c and I led one of the alternative finishes at 4b). Whilst I had a play with the cameras Gill and Rich also climbed Krakatoa with the An Deireadh finish (VS4c), Lava Lout (E1 5b) and Trauma Crack (E3 6a).
First thoughts on the camera are all positive, easy to operate, very high quality video AND stills, not to heavy on the helmet.

Sunday 23 June 2013

SPA Day 2, new stakes at Auchinstarry and Edelrid Mega-Jul

Its always nice when the forecast is wrong in your favour (yesterday), its even nicer when it happens 2 days running (more dry weather today) and its EVEN nicer than that when you get a clean sweep of passes on an NGB you are working on. Well done to the 4 candidates who all passed their SPA Assessment today.
 Mike Jeans needing rescuing from a VS.... don't see that every day :-)
Someone has placed a couple of new stakes beside the path at the very top of the crag. The first is on the outer side of the path just near the junction with the track to the closed gate leading to the 'poolside' crags (pictured) and the second is just beside the path between the obvious 2 trees. Both are the same material and show the same amount of material protruding above the ground. The first (slightly harder to see in long grass) is well bedded in but can be pulled out easily and you can see how much metal is in the ground (second picture below). There was a third I'm told but no sign of it today.

I've been playing with an Edelrid Mega Jul recently. This belay device looks like a slightly quirky belay plate but functions as an assisted braking device (one with no moving parts, like a Mammut Smart rather than Grigri). It also functions as a guide plate like a Reverso/ATC Guide. I let the candidates from the last 2 days have a little play with it and they soon got to grips with paying out to a leader and tested its ability to lock up in response to a sudden load (worked fine). Today when abseiling with it we all found it quite jerky (you have to keep the device tilted- usually with a thumb in the green loop- just visible in second pic below), more so on steeper ground and even more so when abseiling on a doubled rope. It does lock up well in descent when you go 'hands free' on it (see pic 1 and 2 below with slack dead rope). More playing needed.

Saturday 22 June 2013

TA and SPA and hooray for a wrong forecast

Yesterday I was working as a Technical Advisor to East Dunbartonshire Council doing some Training and Assessment of their DofE volunteers. We were based out at Mugdock country park which gave me the opportunity for another 1 hour commute each way on the bike in the sun (with a killer hill at the end on the way there in the morning).
Today I was at Neilston Quarry running an SPA Assessment for Glasgow Climbing Centre. We started at the wall in the morning with a really grim weather forecast but were blessed when in the late morning the showers cleared and the team got to climb on dry rock for the rest of the day!

Monday 17 June 2013

4 days on Mull

My only previous experience of Mull was a hasty journey heading to the delightful granite of Erraid so I was looking forwards to 4 days of DofE Assessing this weekend.
Scotland never ceases to amaze me, there is so much there. I climbed heathery cols, passed bothies and did all the usual things I do in Scottish Mountains but I also sat in a beer garden at the oldest pub on Mull that felt positively like being in the Lakes (only less busy), I sat on rocky shorelines watching for otters, seals and lost count of the herons and buzzards I saw and visited the best bakery cafe I've been in in a long, long time.
We had showers early on passing Tomsleibhe bothy and the memorial to the dakota that crashed on the hillside above it but after that conditions cleared as we passed Mull and gave us a sunny last two days and the girls from The Glasgow Academy walked well and provided endless entertainment. A very pleasant 4 days work right up to last night when I upset a boiling jetboil over my left hand. Taking my own advice I hastened to the stream to immerse my arm in cold running water for quarter of an hour. This seemed to take the heat out of things well as this morning I have a penny sized blister and what looks like a case of sunburn- a lucky escape.
Grand finish through Glen Gorm today and down into Tobermory. Smidge saved the day again packing away the tent this morning!
 The memorial to the crashed Dakota
 Time for a hearty lunch
 Where next?
 Waiting by the shore
 Emerging from the forest
Should have bought that midge hood at Cotswold!

Thursday 13 June 2013

Cuillin video and prep for expeds

I've been helping look after my wee ones, Sandy and Kaye, for a couple of days this week - more tiring than a Cuillin ridge Traverse by far! Here is a video of Simon's 2 days on Skye with me showing the amazing weather.
I'm also preping for a big trip this summer and a smaller one to Mull for the next 4 days. Unfortunately I don't tink the weather is going to be as nice as last weekend but it will be some more miles under the legs as training.

Cuillin Traverse in the sun from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Another bigger ridge. Charred on the Cuillin!

What a top two days! After Tower Ridge on saturday I hopped a bus to Skye to meet Simon. We stayed at the ever popular Old Inn at Carbost but were on the go early(ish) for our 2 day Cuillin Ridge traverse on sunday and monday.
It was obvious from the word go that the biggest problem was going to be the sun! Factor 50 was being burnt through at a great rate of knots and water was consumed equally quickly.
Simon's aim was the 11 munros in one trip so we started up Coir' a Ghrunnda filling our bottles and joining the ridge before an out and back to Sgurr nan Eag. Then we took another detour to Sgurr Dubh Mor before making a tactical drop below the T-D Gap for water at the excellent spring there. That did us over Alasdair, Mhic Connich and the Inaccessible Pinnacle. We stopped for dinner and another water top off down in Coire na Bannachdich and then it was onwards over Sgurr na Bannachdich and Sgurr a' Greadhaidh before a bivvy at An Dorus. We shared the best sunset I've seen in the UK with Jo and her dad.
A lazy start the next day saw us off at 0730 (too much sleep- best night I've had on the Ridge) and we were soon involved in the complexities of Sgurr a' Mhadaidh and its 3 satelites and Bidien Druim nam Ramh. Then its was the long haul in the heat to Bruach na Frithe via the 2 wee jumps over gaps on the Ridge. The water was still lasting out but you could have fried an egg on my neck as we climbed Am Bhasteir and finished the 11 Munros with Sgurr Nan Gillean. A last abseil back to the Coire and a slide down the snow with the Sligachan ahead. We stopped for a quick dip in the burn on the walk out as it would have been rude not to and Simon (a keen birder) was please to spot a Greenshank although he was denied the sound of a Ring Ouzel.
The hottest traverse I've done yet and very midgey at An Dorus but Smidge did the trick keep the the b(l)ighters at bay! Well done Simon on what is never an easy trip.
Watch out for Simon's article on the trip in an upcoming edition of Scotland Outdoors.
 'Over the seas to Skye
 One end of the Ridge
 The pull back up out of Coir' a Ghrunnda
 Sgurr Alasdair
 On The Inaccesible Pinnacle
 The team who kindly let us through
 Sgurr na Bannachdich
 Beautiful sunset from An Dorus
 Dawn and the way ahead
 The tops of Mhadaidh
 Am Bhasteir, 10 down, 1 to go
 Headind up onto Sgurr nan Gillean
 Through the window
A well earned dip

Saturday 8 June 2013

Busy all round on the Ben

Today Jen and her Dad and I were not short of company on Ben Nevis. We did Tower Ridge along with a half dozen other parties, 2 lads skied Tower and No.3 Gullys (less snow than last weekend No.4 has a small break now), a team headed for the Long Climb (looked damp with a couple of snow patches leaking onto it) and at least 2 parties were climbing on Carn Dearg. And of course then there were the summit hordes... private walkers, bikers and 3 peakers.
We enjoyed great conditions on the Ridge and had lunch on the Great tower and 60th birthday cake and champagne on the summit!
The MIDGE IS HERE. Nibbled at the car park, again at the CIC and again on top of the Great Tower. Smidge that midge!
 Spot the ski tracks and the pair headed for the Long Climb
 Father and daughter
 Loving it
 Approaching the Great Tower
 Out of the cave
 In the Gap
 Nearly there
 Blowing out his candles
A grand day out!