Tuesday 30 December 2014

Icey in the Lakes

Rich and I have been working with Worksop College for the past 4 days in the Lake District. This is the start of preparation for a pretty unique expedition we have planned in the summer.
There was a bit of rope work and some walking with large rucksacks and camping in the snow- sunday night was particularly chilly! Well done to the team for some of whom it was a baptism of fire (or maybe that was ice)? See you for more in February!
Looks like a thaw at home so I'll give it day or two to settle down before leaving the Lakes for Scotland again.
 Introductory ropework
 Kit check
 Heading in
 An evening walk with a big pack
Sunset from Greenup Edge
 A braw bricht moonlicht nicht 
 Thawed out and on the move
 Well frozen near High Tove
 Shivery Knott was not
 Camp near high seat
Coming down towards Borrowdale

Thursday 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Its looking great up there!
And bizarrely I have to head south for 4 days work in the Lakes :-(
But roll on New Year!!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Solo on Ben nevis- fortunate indeed

Its funny the way things go… soloing a winter route is probably seen as a great deal more hazardous than doing your Christmas shopping in George Square but the randomness of life seems to mean that today I was safe whilst 6 people tragically were killed in Glasgow yesterday. Unfathomable and it leaves me thanking my lucky stars that my family and I are safe and well (barring the usual kids diseases… coughs… colds… dicky tummies… a non stop round at this time of year it seems) this Christmas. I hope and yours are as fortunate.
Friends were off to Gulvain but that hill tried to kill me in the late 90s when a wet cornice fell and avalanched much of the coire I was ascending, leaving me trembling and in a cold sweat! So I took a lift up Ben Nevis and waded up into Coire na Ciste. Snow above the hut but mild feeling. Firmer as I got higher but rather than plough blindly into the mist I was lured by the ice on the Trident Buttress. Mega Route X looked close, Jubiliation and Nasturtium looked fat but I was a little concerned by what might lurk in the large snow basin above. As I plunged my way through soft debris from yesterday's avalanches (plenty of bits of cornice around the Ciste from the thaw) occasional streams of spindrift made me recall that yellow on the Avalanche Forecast means that human triggered avalanches are possible…so I launched out up the icey slab of Jubilee climb which looked in fine icey nick.
It was a pleasure; the ice mostly good to great, snow firm enough and improving with height, rimed rocks and that ethereal light and occasional glimpses of blue sky above that tell you you are almost above the clouds- just not quite!
Stunning light as I took the steepest steps along the ridge crest to the top of Carn Dearg too…
…fortunate indeed.

Rich was on Tower Ridge and has a Report on action in Observatory Gully.

Marry Christmas one and all. Thanks to those who've shared life, laughter, ropes and routes this year and here's to 2015!

Saturday 20 December 2014

Video of 20th Dec on Golden Oldy

Social climbing...

Today it was back to the West face of Aonach Mor but with a crowd of friends. The gondola at Nevis Range was open this time making the wok in a bit easier and conditions turned out to be great! We had neve, ice and frozen turf, the rocks were well rimed and a foot would stick anywhere. The repeated thaw freeze cycles had only done this part of the hill good and the 6 of us soled and roped our way rapidly Golden Oldy getting back to the cafe for cake and a Christmas beer (not the drivers though) in under 5 hours. Top fun!
 Iain on the approach
 Rich lapping up the perfect conditions on the crux
 Iain hamming it up for the camera
On the narrows
 Clearing conditions
 Great way to spend a day
A great mountaineering route
Gill on the last step
An appropriate finish at The Pine Martin cafe

Thursday 18 December 2014

Last day at work for a while!

Final day of a CWA Training for West Highland College today and we made use of the climbing wall at Abernethy Trust in Ardgour.
Thats me got a few days off now and MERRY CHRISTMAS to all those that have shared a rope a route or a path with me this year and those planning to for 2015!
(Now if winter would just sort its act out I could go climbing….).
 A variety of belay devices
Sticky feet

Wednesday 17 December 2014

CWLA Training

Today I was running an MTS CWLA Trg for Staff from Three Wise Monkeys Climbing and The Ice Factor.
After a discussion on the scope of the Award, how to assess clients existing ability and structuring a session we got down to working through a large number of drills and games based on: finding stable clipping positions, clipping and lead belaying. On a regular basis the students were asked to think through and demonstrate progressions to ensure it wasn't just about the tools though! We also looked at falling progressions, common problems and the difference between teaching lead climbing to both adults and under 18s.
Always enjoy these courses as there is a great opportunity to engage CWLAs with ideas on coaching their own students in the future.
 Lotsa knots
 Spot the beanbag
 Joe moving a rubber thumb
 Georgia getting stable
 Clock snap
 Clock snap with a tail
 Comparing noses
 Autobelay tail clipping
 Dan and Joe racing the rope
 Autobelay lead belaying
 Toprope leading
 M belayed falls
 Georgia catching some air time
                 Ready……                                                  Go!
                 Ready……                                                  Go!
                 Ready……                                                  Go!