Tuesday 28 June 2016

Its pink and its wet

Today was the end of a long spell of varied work for me, NGBs, mountaineering guiding, teaching climbing at single pitch, multi pitch and mountain venues what a great summer!
Today was no exception. I was working on one of the MCofS Scrambling Courses and was teamed up with Isi and Paul who yesterday went up Dinnertime Buttress looking at movement, route finding and 'rope only' rope work skills. Today we fed them some more skills as the 3 of us ascended the Pink Rib on Beinn a Chrulaiste. Despite living close to it for 13 years now it was the first time I've done it and I was glad to finally get to go and have a look. The guys led themselves up the route using a variety of belaying techniques and we kept the runners simple limiting them to spikes. It rained. And when we topped out and headed for the summit it rained even harder. And, of course, when we descended to meet the other courses members back at Lagangarbh it stopped!
 Paul belaying with Buachaille Etive Mor beyond
 Isi following
 Isi using an Italian Hitch as part of a direct belay
The Pink Rib lies above left of the guys in this shot

Monday 27 June 2016

Wetter than an otter's pocket

The met office forecast for Glen Nevis was a tad optimistic today (unlike recently when its often been nicer than expected). It rained. We got wet. I was working for Glenmore Lodge on a day with Staff from Kilbowie Outdoor Education Centre. They were looking for some input on their climbing movement and some tips for dealing with anxiety on the lead on trad gear.
We began the day at Three Wise Monkeys Climbing Wall where we revisited some earlier work we've done on movement of slabs: shifting centre of gravity, use of hand holds to help this, where to initiate the movement and momentum from and performing an efficient rockover. We went into a corner and looked at bridging, using opposing forces and pushing rather than pulling. We also looked at slightly steeper walls and twisting and reaching and using the legs to provide upward motion. The surfaces and angles visited were all selected to reflect what they might experience of the kind of trad routes they are leading.
We had a chat about anxiety. About making things easy for ourselves rather than hard through route selection and reading, designing an efficient personal racking system, use of different types if self talk and breathing and not avoiding or denying anxiety but confronting it and working through it. Then we went outside. I don't know if the team were anxious but I was looking at the water coursing down the rock wondering how it was going to go. I needn't have worried. Glynis, Keith and Fiona took a pitch of the Gutter each and made it look easy. Then Keith and Fiona led Styx Buttress Right Wall in style whilst Glynis followed even though the water was coursing down it and the rain descending in sheets!
Interesting work and good fun if a little cold (almost forgotten what that was like) and damp!
 Glynis happy even on wet schist
 No problems for Keith
 Fiona getting another runner
Wet V Diff? No problems...

Sunday 26 June 2016

Curved Ridge

Out again for Steve Fallon today this time on Curved Ridge, Glencoe's second most popular scramble after yesterdays' Aonach Eagach. Diane was out for a second day and it was nice to see David again and to meet Matt. I was also joined by Jess another MIA Trainee getting experience in towards her Assessment. The forecast looked like it would get very wet later on but we were high on the route before the drizzle arrived and it never amounted to a great deal fortunately. So the rock was pretty dry as was the craic!
 Blue sky beginning
 Butterwort doing its job- plenty of victims
 Still dry
 'Up there?'
 David relaxed and poised
 David in the corner
 Jess near the top
 And then the rain came
 Crowberry Tower team selfie
Nearly at the top

Saturday 25 June 2016

Classic scramble

A grand day with Diane, Richard and Steven on the Aonach Eagach. I was working for Steven Fallon and Alex was along with me to get some practise for his MIA. We were lucky with the weather as the rain held off until we were almost back at the road giving us a day of views and often strong sunshine on Scotland best mainland ridge scramble.
 Descending from Am Bodach
 First Munro of the day, Meall Dearg
 Diane keen to get amongst it
 Richard tackling his nemesis, the crazy pinnacles, in style
No bother Rich
 Alex doing his thing
 Steve and Diane coming up
 Bidean nam Bian
One of the final towers
 Alex in action

Thursday 23 June 2016

Classic Rock

Barry has returned to do some climbing for a day or two and was keen to look at multiptich rope work. He's also wanted to do something on the Buachaille more interesting than walk up Coire na Tullaich. Toss in a dry forecast and Agags Groove was crying out to be climbed. Rob was along to learn some MIA type stuff so I led Barry up the first 2 pitches leaving him in a position to build his own belays and bring Rob up behind. Then it was time to up the tempo a little so we sent Rob out in front to finish the upper 2 pitches. From there we scrambled up the crest of Crowberry Ridge and down Curved Ridge accompanied by a handful of tenacious midges.
Of note today was that the ravens have definitely figured out that sacks are a food source at the base of Ranch Wall. From the top of the second pitch I spotted on tugging at Barry's pack. There was no-one around so a well aimed pebble scared it off. A pitch later and the same thing happened with the same result. On the last pitch I only had to raise my hand and it flew off. Back down at the bags and it had had its revenge. An empty snickers bar wrapper and no trace of Barry's sandwich- his bag had been raided!
 Scrambling up Curved Ridge to begin
 Sunny rock in the Highlands
 Happy Barry
 Enjoyed the first pitch
 Looking down pitch 2
 James and Alison, team Haglofs/Jottnar flying up Curved Ridge
 Barry building his own belays and bringing Rob up
 Rob enjoying the exposure on P3
 Barry pleased with the crux
 View from the top
Heading down

Wednesday 22 June 2016

SPAs CWAs and a Foundation Coach

Its been a busy week and it hasn't stopped yet. I've been working in Glasgow running a Single Pitch Supervisor Assessment followed by a full training course too. Nice to meet and work with a real mixed bag of folk all sharing a common interest in climbing and sharing it with others and we lucked out on both courses with good weather at Neilston and Auchinstarry as well as obligatory visits to Glasgow Climbing Centre. Then it was into a Climbing Wall Award Training for Snow Factor staff at GCC again for day 1 and TCA Glasgow on day 2 to give a contrasting type of wall experience. In between that I managed to run a Climbing Wall Award Abseil module Assessment and a Foundation Coach Assessment (great job by new FC Barry and thanks to the SHAG volunteers for coming along to be coached). 
Off home now for climbing and mountaineering courses- its a grand life if you don't weaken!
 Short but well formed- Strawberry Crack
 Pinkerton's Corner
 Abseiling at Auchinstarry Quarry
 Protecting Pinkerton's appropriately on Training
 Iain providing instruction on converting the climbing belay into a fixed abseil to recover some stuck gear
 Practising equalising 3 anchors
 Melissa rigging
 The Promontory at Auchinstarry Quarry
 Exploring the limits of the scope of the SPA... and beyond...
 Lead climb at GCC
 Just standing around
 Shifting mass
 Anyone for tennis?
Focus moved to the feet
 The classic accuracy and precision drill for feet
Useful new  'mini slab' at TCA Glasgow in the background