Saturday, 23 May 2015

Beating the rain in Glencoe

Today I was working with Martin and Dave for Steve Fallon with 6 strong guys wanting to do the Aonach Eagach. The day started warm and summery but the forecast was for a serious deterioration in the afternoon. It was also the Bank Holiday weekend so we kept a steady pace on to get ahead of a few teams and as the day went on we were looking back over our shoulders at the ridge which was as busy as I've ever seen it.
Quite few teams were going west to east and a few teams were getting caught out by the false routes that avoid the crest. These look easier but often peter out in unpleasantly loose and damp ground compared to the crest. Although it often looks harder its clean and solid and best followed both for a much cleaner route and more fun too!
No problem for our team though as they kept the pace up all day. By midday the sun had gone and it got cooler but the forecasts were pessimistic and after 7 hours we hit the Clachaig at 4 for a well earned refreshment. Great folk, great weather, great day!
 Warm and sweaty
 Feels like summer!
 The route ahead
 Come on down
 The closest we came to a cloud all day
 Rather busy behind
 Scrambling done
 Time for a well earned drink!
Looking back along the Aonach Eagach today

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Solo on the schist

A clear day all round (work and weather) so I hopped on the bike down to Polldubh to boulder and solo. I had a good play following Tom Ballard's Bouldering Guide as well as soloing half a dozen pitches of easy routes and nice to bump into Jess and Annie out for a climb to catch up too. The camera was also being played with.
No midges around yet but swarms of ticks to beware of!




Sunday, 17 May 2015

Its snowing… again...

Day two of the AMI workshop and I went to Buachaille Etive Mor with the 3 trainee MIAs. We went up Curved Ridge and down its top section before curving round under North Buttress to carry on our descent. Rain, sun, hail and big, big snowflakes. Plenty of fresh white stuff on the hills today… enough already, I'd really appreciate some more spring and a little less winter impersonation!
Good to see Andy Nelson and Steve on the hill today too.
 Busy and blurry at the base
 Plenty of fresh white on those hills
 Getting involved
 Its snowing
 Ok are we still in the scope of the award here :-)
 Sun's back!
 Nearly up
 Always a great view down
 Steve at work
 Andy heading down under the rainbow
Lets go!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Wintery again!

Today I was working for the AMI running day one of a weekend workshop for 3 trainee MIAs. Today it was to be all about rock climbing. We talked about establishing the existing experience of groups and possible progressions over a brew before heading to Polldubh. We did see blue sky and sunshine a few times but there was fresh snow on the hills and hail, sleet, rain and strong winds even down in the Glens. We worked through various ways of taking folk up climbs and passing on the basics of climbing looking at pros and cons of different systems for people at different levels using 3 Pines and The Gutter to their best advantage in wet and chilly conditions. Nice to bump into Mick and 2 willing volunteers preparing for his own MIA Assessment too- respect for braving that weather guys!
 The sun DID shine today
 But there is a dusting of fresh on the tops
 And plenty of this...
 But look the top holds on this pitch have almost dried out!
And there is some dry rock under that roof!
 But it was flowing on the Gutter
Time to go home!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Rock before rain!

With the rain due at lunchtime long term client Ruairidh and I got a very early start for Polldubh to work on some more lead climbing. Today Callum came along as a belayer and to get some experience for his own development.
Ruairidh jumped onto Reptons Right Hand Route on the sharp and and after leading that in one long pitch we abseiled off and headed for the Alp so he could do the same to Styx Buttress Right Wall.
Callum had been belaying patiently so we let him take us up Resurrection and after another abseil he went and rigged a top rope above SW Buttress as practise towards his SPA. I made use of this by getting Ruairidh to lead Tear and take some falls on his gear backed up by the toprope. I stripped the gear just as the rain arrived. Winner!
 Reptons Right Hand Route
 Styx Buttress Right Wall
 Down for more!
Resurrection a Polldubh Classic

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Forcan fine day!

I did the maths and struggled to believe that its been 18 years since I last did the Forcan Ridge- where did the time go? I've done it twice in damp summer conditions and once absolutely buried in snow but today was the perfect day to remind me of just what an exceptional route it is!
With Ben Nevis labouring under the misapprehension that its still winter I needed a good plan B for Mike and Malcolm's last day with me and the Forcan Ridge seemed to fit the bill. Dave was joining us again and I fixed up Ruairidh to body for him to get some more practise towards his MIA Assessment.
With an immaculate forecast we were soon sweating our way up the excellent stalker's path before gearing up for the ridge.
There is plenty of snow around in the Coires of the Saddle and it covers many of the paths on the ridge that avoid the best of the scrambling so we had to stick to the crest throughout- great news as that was the plan anyway and excellent schist holds abound! At the drop off before the final section to the munro top we decided to abseil just for the hell of it (but I nipped back up so we wouldn't need to leave any tat) and then it was a sunny meander to the Trig pillar with views east to Ben Nevis and west to Skye and beyond.
A great few days with Malcolm and Mike. Top routes, some top weather and top craic! That's what its all about :-)
 Snowy but the crest is clear
 The steady walk in
 Beginning the fun!
 Schist
 Bring it!
 Dave and Ruairidh
 A proper 'Ridge'
 Dave working it
 Happy Dave
 "Posing… moi?"
 Bottom of the abseil
 Nearly there
 To the top
 "We climbed that!"
Down we go...