Sunday 26 March 2017

50 days in 5 minutes-end of season video

A tough winter season with limited early snow meaning it often felt like winter would never get going. I still managed to have some great days out and some wild ones too!
Many thanks to all who I shared the mountains with and to Steve Holmes and Rob Brown for the video clip and images of me on Goat Track Gully and picture high on Curved Ridge respectively.
Got to say a big well done to everyone passing a Mountain Training/Mountain Training Scotland Award this winter- hard season to get the mileage in and make the best of conditions. Congratulations to the new MICs and WMLs whether I've worked with you or not.

Winter 2016to17 from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.

Saturday 25 March 2017

Winter up there but rock climbing for me

It was a tough winter. A dry early season followed by later swings and roundabouts of snowfall and thaw meant we never got the build up we usually see that brings a crescendo of good spring conditions. We've had a late flash with a few days of 'good' conditions now but my time on crampons is over and last week I crammed my feet into rock shoes to work with the Trainee Instructors from Abernethy Trust the goal being to make them into independent lead climbers- one of the BEST bits of my job.
Tom and I had 4 students between us and 5 days to play with. The weather was going to be cold but not forecast for too much precipitation. Day 1 we left Fort William and headed east to our base at Nethybridge stopping to climb at Kingussie on the way. It was chilly on the fingers but the wind direction meant that the snow showers blew overhead leaving the rock dry- until the end of the day and we got plenty climbing done. Tuesday and we went to Duntelchaig on a promise. After a bright start though the forecast let us down and we retreated to the climbing wall to look at some movement exercises and indoor leading. Wednesday and we hit the Costa Del Moray and Cummingston. Well layered against a cold breeze we warmed up by scrambling and boulder hopping along the beach before the team got on the sharp end. Day 4 and a new crag to me. Redhythe is only 20 miles from where I grew up but I'd never visited. It didn't disappoint with bright sunshine and shelter from the the breeze, funky rock, interesting gear placements and abseils in give this place an atmosphere- voted crag of the week by all. On the last day the team split with Tom taking his pair back to Cummingston. My team wanted another new day and a different character of climbing so we stayed at Huntley's Cave. The steep in-cut schist and intimidating lines weaving through the overhangs on positive holds were meat and bread to the guys as they ate up 8 pitches from VDiff to HS.
End of the week and despite some mixed weather (well done toughing it out guys) we have 4 climbers all much further on the road to a lifetime of leading. More of the same next week.
...And winter? Well there's always next year.
Here are two shots from each day but lots more of the best pics (with captions) on Facebook:

The week before last-7 climbing wall days!

4 visits to Three Wise Monkeys Climbing, 2 to the Ice Factor, 1 to Perth College Climbing Centre. 2 Mountain Training Scotland Climbing Wall Award,Mountaineering Scotland FUNdamentals 1, a day coaching for School of Adventure Studies students and a day with the family.

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Hunting winter last weekend

Whilst its cooler up the hill this week it was another damp weekend for me working with Claire on Ben Nevis. Claire's been up over the last few years and has worked her way through a lot of the buttress and ridge lines in Lochaber and experienced some mixed weather. On Saturday we climbed Castle Ridge. We were 'bare boots' until above the first corner but after that crampons were useful. The steeper rock was bare and wet though so the axe was just taken for a walk up the ridge! On Sunday we had a dry walk in and things were just a little cooler. We climbed ice below and on Rayburn's Easy Route (some of it was even blue and good for screws!) in poor visibility. It tried to snow on us at one stage but the snowpack was deep and sodden. There was evidence of large avalanches from the day before the base of a number of the gullies and we had a great bum slide down the Red Burn. Both days we were joined by Becky who is working towards her MIC.
You can see more pictures at:

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Into March...

At the end of February I had some work cancelled and rather than take the kind offer of replacement work from Plas Y Brenin I planned some time off and some climbing for myself. However- as often happens- when I took a break my body decided to relax too much and before I knew it I was fighting a chest infection. It was good to be back last week though and working on an MIC Assessment at Glenmore Lodge.
On day 1 we went to Creagan Cha No which let us see the candidates moving with 1 axe a rope and 2 students (myself and the other candidate). We moved over a variety of rocky and snowy ground up to Grade II in ascent and descent and enjoyed the best weather day of the week.
On day 2 we'd lost a candidate due to injury. I went with 1 would be MIC and a volunteer from the Instructor Development Scheme (thanks Seori) and we were guided to and up Fawlty Towers which was in good if not straightforwards condition.
Day 3 and I was watching another candidate make the best of some wild weather teaching his 2 mock students on the Twin Ribs before beating a retreat in some of the worst weather I've been out in for a while.
And on day 4 I watched a candidate coaching his 2 students through Fiacaill Ridge letting them lead some of it as appropriate.
More pictures at: