Wednesday 30 September 2015

A change is as good as a rest- Castle Ridge

Working for UHI today I ended up with Cameron and Rob for a mountain day. Both are summer ML Trainees and Cam has a lot of personal climbing and mountaineering experience. Rob has done plenty of scrambling but not a lot with a rope. The forecast? Immaculate!
We headed in to Ben Nevis to check Cams mountaineering ropework and introduce Rob to some for his personal skills. We took the opportunity to botanise and geologise our way around and descended Ledge Route discussing the limits of the ML Award (and offering advice to some slightly misplaced scramblers).
It was hot. In fact even though its so late in the year that the N Face was mostly in the shade today it was even hot in the shade (perfect for the climbers on Centurion and Bullroar). After yesterday's wee beasting my legs were heavy and the heat didn't make it any easier. I'm not complaining though! I'll take days like today whenever I can get them!
Castle Ridge is the right-hand lump and the ridge faces the camera

Scurvy Grass, Ladies Mantle and 3 types of Sorrel
 A strong stance for Cam
 Rob getting onto the Ridge
The first Crux
Rob following
 Nearing the second Crux
 Cam ready for the chimney
A belay from Rob
 Seconding with the whole face below
 The 'fun' bit
 No worries
 A runner for Cam
Rum and Skye visible
 Looking down to Mull
 Topped out, now a wee walk in the sun before a descent of Ledge Route!

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Training days?

After a bothy weekend with the family and a lazy day yesterday the computer beckoned for an office day today.
Not with that forecast!
I'm cack at training these days. Excuses abound: my knees have been diagnosed as "fu@*ed"(the specialists words), the roads round here make biking like riding through a shooting gallery (to the tw@t who overtook me at speed in the 30 zone today- if I can touch your door you are too close!) etc. etc. and I'd rather climb than train for climbing (hmm but is the right kind of climbing training for climbing anyway? Cue articles, books etc.).

But today I decided a bit of a leg stretch was in order. So I pushed the bike up the new N Face Track to the top car park and forced the pace to the hut. There I had a chat (good excuse for a break) with Rebecca and Mike B and a litre of water before hitting Tower Ridge. I could see a fast moving pair (turned out to be local stalwarts Steve and Kevin) well ahead so the target was to overtake them. The weather was… confused… one minute I was baking the next a strong breeze was chilling me. I also spotted a little ice melting on a ditch on the push up to the top car park AND a little verglassey ice weep across the path on the first traverse right on the Ridge. A nice light jacket from Rab did the job and it was a chance to try out my new sack from Lowe. I was a sweaty keep as I overtook the guys and sank half a litre of water on top of the Great Tower. I hit the top and ploughed on round to Ledge Route where there was more chat with friends working (phew- another break) and then it just remained to nip down that scramble and the path back to my waiting bike and onwards down to Torlundy (the fun bit) and home.
A banana and a pint of milk and I really decided to overdo it and hit the dungeon- AKA the pain cave- for a little dry tooling.

Now was it a one off or will there be more prep like this on the run up to winter….?

Oh and I've found that chasing a small girl round a trampoline on a slope from a position seated in the middle of it is AMAZING for your core- who knew?

Just wanted to add a big up to Robbie Phillips (there's someone who likes to train) for his ascent of Dalriada… started in the mist… with damp holds. Anyone who has climbed on the Cobbler in even slightly damp conditions can join me in being well impressed. Nutter.
 Hike a bike up to the top car park
 Ledge Route- the way down
 Some pilgrims heading up
 Steve and Kev
 Sweaty selfie
 The Great Tower
 Tower Gap- looking down Glover's Chimney
 A relatively quiet summit
 Looking back up at Ledge Route
 New sack
The pain cave- I did not last long!!

Friday 25 September 2015

Observing peer coaches at work

Today I was working for West Highland College but I wasn't in the front line instructing. My job today was to observe several of my fellow Instructors at work as part of the College's policy of sharing practise. I'm really pleased that WHC consider it important for us to do this as its a great opportunity for all involved to learn from each other. I watched Mike, Dennis and Craig each working with a group of their own and at a different place in their development. Then it was back to the College to Ali in stores to provide some advice on inspection and give him some feedback from instructional staff on the racks they provide us with. Finally a spell at the computer to write up the observations and stores chat and thoughts on how we manage staff out and about.
 Kate getting reedy to fly (warming up actually)
 Getting an early runner
 Mike in close attendance
 Coaching points
 Ready to commit
 Air time!
A lead climbing progression
 Happy climber
High five partner!

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Getting away with the weather

Intermediate rock climbing for UHI Students today. Dennis and I headed east with a large group to Kingussie. We lucked out as despite the forecast we had a dry day until we were packing up. The team placed gear and built belays using them to climb half a dozen routes during the day.
 Climbers climbing
 A good belay
 No hands required
Last climb of the day

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Top mountaineering day for the MTA

Today I was working on the 3rd of 4 workshops for the MTA. The last 2 have been run by MICs Lou and Max and the latter has one more to go. Copying a model for a workshop run in Wales the idea is to give Association members some CPD based around improving their personal mountaineering skills.
Today I was out with Lucy (experienced ML and WML starting down the IML pathway) and Wally (an old hand ML thinking about MIA) from Arran. They are both climbers with plenty of past mountaineering experience- although they claimed to be a 'bit rusty'.
We decided a full mountain day would be the ticket and so despite a damp forecast we headed to Ben Nevis and Tower Ridge. I guided the first part of the ridge as a Mountaineering Instructor would to illustrate to Wally to some of the skills he would pick up going through the MIA. We passed a party who were abseiling off owing to greasy conditions and made good speed to the bottom of the Little Tower. Here I handed over to Lucy and Wally and they used their personal mountaineering skills to make their way to the top of the ridge placing gear and taking belays as required. Top job to Lucy taking us across the Gap- the scene of some very mixed personal experiences in the past!
After a quick look down into No.4 to check on the various flowering Mouse-ears and Saxifrages (late this year) we headed to Ledge Route. Taking the easiest way down we had a good chat about where the scope of the ML Award starts and finishes before the clouds began to ease off to finally give us a view back to where we had been.
A fun day with a top couple of MTA members taking their own personal development seriously!
 Low on Tower Ridge
 Wally interested in how an MIA might do it
Wally and Lucy take over
 Lucy bringing Wally up some easy ground
 Slimey and smiley!
 On the Great Tower
 See it wasn't that big a step Lucy!
 Lucy styling Tower Gap
 Fun and games on the way down Ledge Route
 My Sherpa softshell jacket getting a good outing
The clouds part revealing the Great Tower