Saturday 30 November 2013

FUNdamentals 2 at EICA

Fast and furious day today with 12 students on an MCofS FUNdamentals of Climbing 2 at EICA ably assisted by the excellent Mr. Robbie Phillips. Lots of practical, not too much powerpoint and some great chat from the students. Now…. just time to mentally rehearse tomorrow's Foundation Coach Training at GCC!
 Active ABC based warmups
 Blind hold recognition
 Come flag with me
 Accuracy and precision
 Label that hold
 Robbie and his robot arms
 Mirror my flag
Lou drops the knee and gives herself a hug

Thursday 28 November 2013

Amazing light and giving the rat a wee nibble

(If you don't know the phrase "Feeding the Rat" read the book by Al Alvarez)
Work seems really busy just now. The new MT Coaching Courses are taking a lot of my time to ensure delivering good sessions from the word go, FUNdamentals as a lead Instructor need Co-ordinating with an Assistant, writing up moderation reports from NICAS etc… But what about CLIMBING!
So by working till after midnight (NICAS… that one's for you) I could at least see my desk under the outstanding work and with the post thaw temperatures looking like dipping below freezing I decided to take the bike and the axes and go to Ben Nevis.
On the sweaty cycle up from Nevis Range things didn't look promising. Most of the snow from last week had receded… but you never know until you can see into the Coires and sure enough looking into Coire na Ciste there was plenty of snow still about. The ridges looked very black except high up but there are plenty of dribbles of ice to be built on and a solid base of snow in the gullies. Now the next question was what was that snow like?
Firm and icey for the most part on the approach. Right, that settled it. I knew No.2 had been complete and often gives an icey step or 2 after a thaw so I started up in that direction. There was the odd 20-30m patch of softer stuff but once in the Gully I was soon marvelling at the remains of the ice on the walls and up on my front points. The water from the thaw had coated the snow and formed more than 60m of hard ice over the softer stuff as it twisted through the upper reaches. At this point I was reminded that I need to get a new pair of mountaineering crampons as the points on G12s are a little stubby to say the least! There were a couple of hollow sections (1 foot of snow and almost the same gap behind and a little running water) higher but the line was complete. The cornice was easily manageable on the left if a little softer than what I'd been climbing below.
On top an American on the Pony Track exclaimed "Jesus! That guys just come up over a cliff!" But I was too busy soaking up the view. Within the Gully confines I'd been aware there was an inversion going on but now I had red skies to the southwest, brocken spectres on the cloud to the north and amazing light everywhere. I finally tore myself away from it to head down a firm No.4 Gully in time to spend the late afternoon with the kids back from school.
All change again tomorrow with fresh snow on gales loading into those gullies a bit!
Winter lives!
 Not looking promising but...
 … give the hill a chance and you will be rewarded!
 The most reliable icicle on Ben Nevis
 More ice...
 Very icey…
 Climbed quite a lot of ice now!
 There's an inversion out there
 Topping out to surprised Amaericans
 Brocken Spectre
 Sweaty Al and brocken spectre
 Not bad eh?
 No digital enhancement required!
 Great light
 2 mountaineers approaching the top of Ledge Route
 Partially stripped but a good base in the Coires and Gullies...
…Like No. 4, my way down!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Using my time during the thaw

Nevis Range sent this poster through to remind us of what they can offer climbers during the winter:
With today's big thaw underway I've been planning my next NICAS moderation, an MCofS FUNdas 2 at EICA this saturday and a MT Foundation Coach Training at GCC on sunday… more varied and interesting wall work!
Well done to Craig for a good performance on his Assessment yesterday. Hard work and practise paid off.

Sunday 24 November 2013

3rd wall in 4 days

Today I was at Glasgow Climbing Centre running an MCofS FUNdamentals 1 day. The day looks at Agility, Balance and Co-ordination, the basics of climbing movement predominantly on slabs and introduces the Long Term Participant Development model in climbing. The crew at GCC were busy tidying up the leftover debris from yesterday's successful STS Drytooling comp as we got on with our practicals and presentations.
 Warming up
 No hands rest
 How low can you go Karen?
 Mirrored balance and reach
 Place the bottle solo...
…and as a team event!
 Centres of gravity
 Beanbag games
 Less arms, more legs

Saturday 23 November 2013

NICAS moderation at Keswick Climbing Wall

Another NICAS moderation and another chance to meet some psyched staff and youngsters today at Keswick Climbing Wall. These moderations are to ensure a commonality of standards across the hugely polar scheme and to act as a 2 way exchange of ideas for both the wall and NICAS to consider.
It was chilly cycling to the wall today but standing under the heaters in the barn thawed me out!

Thursday 21 November 2013

NICAS Moderation at Perth High School

Great visit to the climbing wall at Perth High School today to moderate the school's provision of the NICAS scheme. Great to such a good use of space and keen staff and pupils.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Plenty snow but turf still not well frozen on Ben Nevis

 After last night's snow this is what we woke up to in Corpach today...
 So I went to Ben Nevis and gasped my way up from Torlundy to the dam car park on the bike...
Saw Mike and Connor with Dougie from Landward and team making a wee 'winter's here' awareness piece...
There is plenty of fresh and some consolidated snow too. Around the base of No.5 Gully is some firm frozen snow and some avalanche debris from the thaw that was part of the cycle that stabilised it. The powder still means you can pop through a hole unexpectedly and I was cursing some deep drifts.
Looking up in the Ciste there is still a rocky step visible in No. 2 but 3 is complete with soft cornices above it. The turf was not frozen and there was water running fast from the Ciste Lochain, behind the icicles on the walls at the base of Ledge Route and under the snow where it cuts back left after leaving No.5 Gully.
There was a pair on The SE Ridge of the Douglas Boulder (Direct Start rather than the guidebook one) so I suspect there will be less turf on that now than there was this morning as it was pretty mushy everywhere I went. Its looking cool for a few days so it may improve by the weekend?
From about 1000m up there was a little rime on exposed NW facing rocks on Ledge Route.
Great light.
…and some more.
If the predicted winds come tomorrow a lot of that snow and some more will be redistributed into gullys and hollows and there is a firm base in places so watch out for slides folks!
UPDATE Kenny climbed Slab Climb today and said the turf wasn't too bad. On steeper ground there has probably been less snow lying to insulate it so it may well be better on that type of ground.