Thursday 28 May 2015

Enough already!! Cold fingers wet rock.

Ok I've tried being calm and sensible and laughing it off but I'm bored of the weather now. Lets see and end to snow, rain, ming and cold. Today I took Ian and Ella to Polldubh to look at a little multi pitch rope work and I was hoping for showers but the precipitation we got was more like passing storms! Rain, sleet, a little hail, rock running with water, numb fingers and super strong gusts! We started with me leading a wet Pinnacle Ridge by its easiest line. We got no further. We gave in. Brews and chat seemed more attractive!
 Ian's wet look in his belay jacket
 Ella wondering what on earth she is doing?
 It stopped raining/sleeting/hailing momentarily
 Almost pleasant- if you could feel your fingers...
 Ian placing a last runner/drowning…
3 minutes later

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Foundation Coach Training

Today I directed my first full (all 12 slots taken) Foundation Coach Training at The Ice Factor in Kinlochleven with Jon Jones. We had participants from as far afield as Orkney, Inverness and Stirling as well as a few locals. Candidates were from a wide range  of backgrounds from 8a leaders, wall Managers, MIAs, CWA trainees, CWLAs and the parent of some keen climbing children and happily everyone seemed really pleased with what they were getting out of it.
The FC training covers the 'how to coach' strand of the introductory coaching award in the progression created by Mountain Training and is aimed at Coaches getting a good foundation in coaching basic skills (although many attendees will go on to use the same principles at a much higher level and with higher performance climbing students too). we looked at a little theory and some practical exercises to illustrate the importance of good observations skills, structure to sessions, designing practise, giving feedback and creating a plan, do, review…. cycle giving the candidates a chance to then apply these ideas by creating sessions based not the work they do in climbing walls.
Love the brain work involved in these courses and keen to promote more of them in Scotland- if you are interested get in touch!
 Observation skills
 Do learning styles matter?
 Tying a figure 8 a different way
 Can we vary the practise
 Students' sessions
 More varied practise 
 Foot swapping
Taking it onto the walls
JJ at work

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Whistle stop Northwest Highlands

Last night I had to go and moderate the provision of NICAS courses at Gairloch Climbing Wall so Iain and I took the opportunity to visit somewhere different for him to practise towards his MIA.
Yesterday afternoon we visited Aztec Tower in the showers and after a big boot VDiff got dry enough conditions for a couple of decent VSs. Iain was splitting them into 2 (very) short pitches to practise his rope work. Great rock and a nice wee venue. Then it was off to the wall to meet the legend that is Paul Tatersall who is responsible for NICAS there and to observe Connor running some sessions.
This morning before we came back south I joined Iain and local guru Paul for a visit to Meall Aundrary. Paul scrambled around reminded himself of some rock that he hasn't visited in years whilst Iain led me up the short but interesting northwest buttress. The rock was rough if a little damp and I trundled 3 very large blocks one of which gave Iain quite a shock low down. Worthwhile for a half day visit and on top of the hill I had Iain take me up and down the various outcrops onto before we descended a steep nearby gully.
Nice to visit some new spots!
 The mighty Aztec Tower
 Big boots on Rough Voyage
 Hanging out on Warrior God
 Excellent holds on the metamorphosed sandstone of Aztec Tower
 Gairloch Climbing Wall
 Paul beating a trail in to Meall Aundary
 Our wee buttress 
 Rough rock
 Amazing lichen
 Topping out
 Heading down
Grotty wee gully

Saturday 23 May 2015

Beating the rain in Glencoe

Today I was working with Martin and Dave for Steve Fallon with 6 strong guys wanting to do the Aonach Eagach. The day started warm and summery but the forecast was for a serious deterioration in the afternoon. It was also the Bank Holiday weekend so we kept a steady pace on to get ahead of a few teams and as the day went on we were looking back over our shoulders at the ridge which was as busy as I've ever seen it.
Quite few teams were going west to east and a few teams were getting caught out by the false routes that avoid the crest. These look easier but often peter out in unpleasantly loose and damp ground compared to the crest. Although it often looks harder its clean and solid and best followed both for a much cleaner route and more fun too!
No problem for our team though as they kept the pace up all day. By midday the sun had gone and it got cooler but the forecasts were pessimistic and after 7 hours we hit the Clachaig at 4 for a well earned refreshment. Great folk, great weather, great day!
 Warm and sweaty
 Feels like summer!
 The route ahead
 Come on down
 The closest we came to a cloud all day
 Rather busy behind
 Scrambling done
 Time for a well earned drink!
Looking back along the Aonach Eagach today

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Solo on the schist

A clear day all round (work and weather) so I hopped on the bike down to Polldubh to boulder and solo. I had a good play following Tom Ballard's Bouldering Guide as well as soloing half a dozen pitches of easy routes and nice to bump into Jess and Annie out for a climb to catch up too. The camera was also being played with.
No midges around yet but swarms of ticks to beware of!

Sunday 17 May 2015

Its snowing… again...

Day two of the AMI workshop and I went to Buachaille Etive Mor with the 3 trainee MIAs. We went up Curved Ridge and down its top section before curving round under North Buttress to carry on our descent. Rain, sun, hail and big, big snowflakes. Plenty of fresh white stuff on the hills today… enough already, I'd really appreciate some more spring and a little less winter impersonation!
Good to see Andy Nelson and Steve on the hill today too.
 Busy and blurry at the base
 Plenty of fresh white on those hills
 Getting involved
 Its snowing
 Ok are we still in the scope of the award here :-)
 Sun's back!
 Nearly up
 Always a great view down
 Steve at work
 Andy heading down under the rainbow
Lets go!