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:

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Last week catchup

OK its actually more like 9 days but most folk following me will have seen it drip fed on social media:
The weekend of the 18,19th I was running a Trainee Workshop for the Association of Mountaineering Instructors. 2 wet pants days one looking at short roping and apron approaches to climbs with a little ice trickery thrown in the second day was more interesting. We did find a climb and get the things done we needed to but in hindsight with the thaw, potential for loose rock and ice fall we'd probably been better not going up there and that's the message I decided to leave the team with at the end:

Then it was a CWA Training for the School of Adventure Studies at the Ice Factor and Three Wise Monkeys assisted by Dave. Sooo lucky to have 2 good facilities like this in Lochaber now. Interesting to observe Kate working with Sally on her dissertation research too:

Wednesday saw me in Glasgow providing a FUNdamentals 2 for Mountaineering Scotland at Glasgow Climbing Centre. The course looks at movement on vertical/slightly overhung ground, observing climbers and opposing forces techniques such as laybacking:

Thursday was day 1 of a Development Coach Training for 4 experienced wall coaches. Mike Mullins came along to observe but there was no way I was going to leave someone with his experience of youth coaching in walls on the sidelines and he contributed a lot to the course. Day 1 was at Glasgow Climbing Centre and day two at TCA Glasgow- thanks to both walls for the warm welcome:

Saturday and it was day working with staff from GCC on how to coach lead climbing. These are always fun courses looking at progressions for hard and soft skills to build confidence and competence in students:

And on Sunday I was back at the great new wall in Perth working with some of their new staff team looking at making the wall a safe and welcoming place for visitors through considered floor walking as wells as worst case scenarios for customers needing assistance:

Now I'm at home and with a few days work cancelled this week owing to the particular winter conditions I'm enjoying a break!

Friday, 17 February 2017

2 days with Mac and Sam

Yesterday it rained... really quite a lot. Rather than go and take our licks on Ben Nevis we went to Polldubh where first the guys took themselves up Scimitar Ridge using a variety of mountaineering rope work. Then it was across to The Gutter to slow things down with some more pitched, climbing style rope work.
Today we got the reward with a nice steady ascent by Mac and Sam of Ledge Route doing the ropework for themselves (very thinly iced first slab and quite a bit of loose rock just above this). We took off crampons at the top of the gully and moved on rock until the last 50m of ascent where the spikes went back on again. After a sunny lunch break we headed over to No.4 Gully which I belayed them down for a pitch before we walked down and out.
More ice than expected has hung in high up... now if some of t can just survive the next few days...