Thursday 31 March 2016

3 Wise Monkeys

Opening a new climbing wall is a big job (I remember working 80 days straight to get the Ice Factor open in 2003). The team at 3WM are nearly there and I've nothing but respect for all of the effort they've put into getting this close.
I spent the last 2 days doing some training for the staff at the wall (and, ahem, a little climbing too- got to keep the training contextual)- team psyche is high! The Management are keen to create a friendly wall for both existing climbers as well as those new to or just giving it a try so we spent a lot of time talking about how we expected the wall to be used and levels of different practise that are acceptable and how to approach customers when the staff aren't familiar or have questions about what they are doing.
Dream Walls have as usual made great use of the space. The wall is narrow but not excessively so and the fist batch of routes were great. The bouldering wall has been literally taking shape before our eyes no just bring on May when I can use it all the time!!
 Bouldering under construction
 Testing some routes
 Nathan on the orange in the flarey chimney of doom
Evening on the hill

Monday 28 March 2016

End of winter but only for me

Another season of work and play at an end for me. 'Summer work' for the foreseeable future and a little family time. The usual mix of weather and conditions with a grim start to the season but the usual possibilities for climbing and mountaineering, teaching and learning nonetheless.
Claire and I decided our winters should go out with a nice big day.
We took the Nevis Range gondola up Aonach Mor and dropped down into the Allt Daim. There was more snow than yesterday and the plod up the glen turned into a tough trail break up soft snow slopes onto the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Mheadhonach. From here we headed round the Carn Mor Dearg Arete and up Ben Nevis. Then we took the pony track all the way down to the Ben Nevis Inn for a well earn beer.
We met some lads who had been into Coire na Ciste but decided the snowpack wasn't safe for what they wanted to do. Nice to meet people making safe decisions not everyone has been taking such care this weekend although they seem to have gotten away with it.
Now its time for a steak, a hot bath, a pint of G and T (liquids are rarely worth consuming in quantities smaller than a pint I find) and a shave. I'm looking forward to some work with staff at the new climbing wall in Fort William, some time on Skye, plenty of Lochaber scrambling and rock climbing too. Bring it on!!
 The Allt Daim and the route ahead
 Hot work...
 ...and the odd shower
 Near the top of the E Ridge of Carn Deag Mheadhoanch
 A snowy Ben Nevis teasing us with a view
 On the Arete
 A full day out for us both
My winter's over- off with the beard!

Sunday 27 March 2016

After the storm-a little more winter!

Claire and I have had some great weather in previous years but this time round we haven't been so fortunate. Yesterday we took the indoor option to avoid the rain and spent the day at the Ice Factor on the indoor rock and ice walls. Today we filled a wee gap in Claire's CV, she's already done Golden Oldy and Western Rib so today we added Gendarme Ridge to the trio. We were joined by Rory for the day and predictably after the deluge the ground was damp under the fresh snow which had a rain crust above it in many places. We made good time and even enjoyed a little blue sky. On the descent we looked into Easy Gully on the east face where there was clear evidence of slab avalanches in the form of 2 crown walls probably released by the cornice collapsing.
 Claire on ice
Getting steep
The Summit Ribs
Crusty snow
 Keeping it interesting on Gendarme Ridge
 Wintery but warm
Keeping I/II interesting
Come on up
 Short but steep
The Gendarme
End of the difficulties
 Summit selfie
 Easy Gully

Friday 25 March 2016

Recovery time

Small children are like petri dishes... harbouring colonies of bugs to give to worn down Mountain Instructors. I came home last week in and weary and got zapped by a nasty virus. It seemed to get better for a days or so but then my temperature skyrocketed to 39degrees+ and the Doc banned hill activity for a week. After a good rest I'm ready to face some very mixed looking weather for the Easter Weekend and the last of my winter work!
I did do a couple of days wall work as I improved though, a Climbing Wall Leading Award training which I ran at EICA Ratho. I always enjoy these courses where there is a real step up in judgment and coaching ability required for the candidates teaching novices to lead climb and lead belay progressively and well. It will be interesting to see how the colourful Clip n Climb works at EICA and whether there will be any feed on to the climbing population- here's hoping.
The day afterwards I was at Glasgow Climbing Centre Directing a Climbing Wall Award Assessment with 4 successful candidates passing both modules.
 Clip n Climb
 Dave breaking down his own clipping
 Vary the angle and body position- vary the practise
 Clip around the clock
 Onto the real deal
CWA Abseil module

Thursday 17 March 2016

On the wall and at the crag

The sun has scorched the tops this week and I've been a sick puppy unfortunately. Well enough to Direct the 3rd and final day of my SPA Training for West Highland College though. We started the day at the Press opening of the refurbished Ice Factor. I was the Manager there for its first 5 years and its great to see the the old girl looking so good with a lick of paint a healthy sized new slab and a vastly improved bouldering room. Nice work to all involved and thanks for hosting us this morning.
In the afternoon we stopped off at Onich Slabs to touch on the last few outstanding syllabus areas before wrapping the course up.
More Walls at the weekend but then 8 more days of winter!
 My new Beal Wallmaster in action on The Ice Factor's new colour scheme
 Lent it to GB Ice wads Anna Wells and Joe Saunders
 The old wall looks great with a facelift
And the mug on the move likes the bouldering wall too!

Saturday 12 March 2016

White snow walk

At the end of last week I was out with the Glenmore Lodge Winter Mountain Leader Assessment party on expedition. We went up to the area above Glen Feshie in snow showers but improving weather and improved some existing snow holes. On the second day we had clear and sunny weather so after a few hours back at the holes we began a long walk out navigating as we went. Underfoot higher up we had deep soft snow but lower down this was a hard icey crust which made for some very heavy going.
 Snowy walk in
 The way behind
 Planning the way ahead
 Sgor Gaoith
 Light winds on the windy peak today
 Happy snowholers
 Hole village
 Phil happy in his hole
 A day in the sun
 Lots of wind sculpted snow in re-entrants
 Blue skies
 A white desert
 On the move
 Heavy going underfoot
 Glen Einich below
 Avoiding the deepest snow
 A great white plain
 A brew at lunchtime
 Spot the team?
 Planning a route avoiding avalanche prone slopes
 Back to the holes
Night nav.