Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Foundation Coach Training at Alien Rock

Yesterday I went to Alien Rock in Leith, Edinburgh to deliver a Foundation Coach Training course for a team of 8. These are great courses to run looking at how to coach aspects of climbing to groups and individuals (as opposed to the FUNdamentals which look at the what and awards like the CWA which focus on safety and group management). The team today were from a wide range of backgrounds; full time wall staff, students and school teachers making for some great chat. It was an international team with British, American, Canadian and Spanish students.
We looked at the structure of the Mountain Training Coaching Awards schemes, different styles of Coaching and some of the skills of the coach such as; observation, giving feedback, structuring a session, a critical look at learning styles, reflective practise and spent plenty of time on practicals to let the team try things in a climbing setting. A grand day and great to visit Alien which is where climbing coaching started for me with the first FUNdamentals course in Scotland running there back in the late 90s.
 Starting to think about observation
 Part of the group coaching flagging
 Flagging coaching progression
 Which bits of the day were 'low hanging fruit', which were hard to reach at treetop level and which were already rooted in candidates practise?
Brain dump from the day

Greenland 2 first ascents

Another album of pics from this summer's expedition.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Catching up.

A couple of weeks since my return from Greenland- more on that in an imminent blog post- and its been a whirlwind of activity. After a few days hiding with my family I was home to a training day for the Nevis Landscape Partnership's 2015 Ben Nevis Survey and then I had a weekend working with Gordon and Lena prepping for their upcoming MIA Assessments:
Parallel Ropework on Pinnacle Ridge
Next it was into the 5 day survey with lots of guddling round vegetated and loose parts of Ben Nevis, learning more about the geology and botany on our way- we even had a sunny day this year!
Ben Nevis on a fine day
Lots of pics and write ups:

After this I was at Glenmore Lodge working on an MIA Assessment with 4 candidates who all performed strongly at points throughout the week. Monday was a grand day in the Loch Avon Basin climbing Whispers (VS) and Mack's Dilemma- sunny day. Tuesday we were in Glen Nevis for problem solving on Resurrection (VS), Damnation (VS), Repton's Right Hand Route (VDiff) and Cross III (Diff)- hot, sunny and sweaty. Wednesday teams were at Cummingston, Polldubh and I was at Kingussie watching novices being taught to climb- more sunshine. Thursday was a mountain day in Glencoe; up the most interesting line on Dinnertime Buttress and the lines above, over Stob Coire nan Lochan and down the Zig Zags- grey, windy and cloudy but dry. And on Friday it was teaching navigation near Castle Hill and Lurchers Crag- blowing a gale and the waterproof finally went on in a very heavy shower 45 minutes from the end of the Assessment. Almost a completely dry week!
Mack's Dilemma 
Classic Crack
 Dinnertime Buttress

I was due to be working this weekend but I'm going to enjoy a chance to catch up and prep for mountaineering and climbing work on Ben Nevis and Glencoe and a Foundation Coach Training in Edinburgh.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Gone climbing...

Off today for a month to Greenland.
On our last trip there a large lake and its uncrossable outflowing river blocked our way and sitting on a hillside observing this my friend Neal said: "Alan… do you know what we need? We need a sea plane".
Knowing Neal I should have been prepared for the email. "Fancy a trip to Greenland next year? I've got that sea plane!" So now we are taking a group from Worksop College to Eastern Greenland (this will be my 7th trip now- time flies) in the G-PBYA Miss Pick Up. In its time this glorious aircraft has been a submarine hunter, a photo recon aircraft, search and rescue plane and latterly a firefighter. Now its going to fly from Loch Lomond to Lewis to Akureryi to Contablepynt. I'm going out ahead by commercial flight but in Greenland we'll split the already freighted kit and the team in two and make the shorter hop to a lake landing (I'll also be flying home in her).
Plan A is to hunt for some unclimbed peaks in Scoresbyland the extreme southern end of the Stauning Alps but, like here in Scotland (where we may have white stuff falling atop Ben Nevis tomorrow!) the winter has been holding on late and our lake may still be ice covered. If this is the case we'll go south to  an area south of Paul Stern Land to land on the very lake that sparked the idea.
The Worksop team have done some training with me during the winter ( and and other logistics will be through Tangent Expeditions.
I'll be a wrench being away from my kids for so long now that they have their own personalities (and agendas for dad's time when present!) but it'll be great to feed my polarhula a little more.
So I'll be out of comms for a month. Back in early August to an already busy back half of the year!
The further lake as a landing site
 Cairngorm training for the team
 Miss Pick Up
Packing for the trip

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Volcanic temperatures at Ardnamurchan

Today I took Nathan and Ruairidh to the Ring Crags out at Ardnamurchan to work on R's climbing. It was hot. Its rare for it to feel almost too hot to climb in Scotland but today almost did it!
Great to see Guy and Alan out there sweating and smearing too.
Ruairidh led his first pitch of Severe and a good long pitch of VDiff and we showed him what he could do as he followed pitches of 4b, 5b, 5a, and 5b!
 Guy hanging out on Yir
 R leading his first Severe
 Bringing N up
 N with his feet dancing on nothing
 Guy on the excellent Greta Gabbro
 Alan following on Claude
 Nathan heading Up Pompeii
 Starting the run out
 R styling the seconding
 R leading on Wedge Buttress
 Doing it for himself
 Sweating gently
 Guy and Alan on Ring of Fire
 N reaching for the gear on Krakatoa
 Happiness is a good cam
Last route of the day