Saturday, 20 December 2014

Social climbing...

Today it was back to the West face of Aonach Mor but with a crowd of friends. The gondola at Nevis Range was open this time making the wok in a bit easier and conditions turned out to be great! We had neve, ice and frozen turf, the rocks were well rimed and a foot would stick anywhere. The repeated thaw freeze cycles had only done this part of the hill good and the 6 of us soled and roped our way rapidly Golden Oldy getting back to the cafe for cake and a Christmas beer (not the drivers though) in under 5 hours. Top fun!
 Iain on the approach
 Rich lapping up the perfect conditions on the crux
 Iain hamming it up for the camera
On the narrows
 Clearing conditions
 Great way to spend a day
A great mountaineering route
Gill on the last step
An appropriate finish at The Pine Martin cafe

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Last day at work for a while!

Final day of a CWA Training for West Highland College today and we made use of the climbing wall at Abernethy Trust in Ardgour.
Thats me got a few days off now and MERRY CHRISTMAS to all those that have shared a rope a route or a path with me this year and those planning to for 2015!
(Now if winter would just sort its act out I could go climbing….).
 A variety of belay devices
Sticky feet

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

CWLA Training

Today I was running an MTS CWLA Trg for Staff from Three Wise Monkeys Climbing and The Ice Factor.
After a discussion on the scope of the Award, how to assess clients existing ability and structuring a session we got down to working through a large number of drills and games based on: finding stable clipping positions, clipping and lead belaying. On a regular basis the students were asked to think through and demonstrate progressions to ensure it wasn't just about the tools though! We also looked at falling progressions, common problems and the difference between teaching lead climbing to both adults and under 18s.
Always enjoy these courses as there is a great opportunity to engage CWLAs with ideas on coaching their own students in the future.
 Lotsa knots
 Spot the beanbag
 Joe moving a rubber thumb
 Georgia getting stable
 Clock snap
 Clock snap with a tail
 Comparing noses
 Autobelay tail clipping
 Dan and Joe racing the rope
 Autobelay lead belaying
 Toprope leading
 M belayed falls
 Georgia catching some air time
                 Ready……                                                  Go!
                 Ready……                                                  Go!
                 Ready……                                                  Go!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Not all who wander are lost…fun solo on W Face Aonach Mor

Finally a full day off to get out in the white stuff! Unfortunately the usual suspects were all working / strapping long bits of wood to their feet before going for a long walk followed by hurling themselves down a hill (some people have issues…). So a solo mission… debated on Ben N but felt like a change so cycled up to the dam and headed in to W Face of Aonach Mor.
Soon I was sweating in just a thermal but enjoying some great light, wading through deep snow and heather with no real path, passing deer scrapes still fresh with the tangy musk of the recent inhabitants.
I was going to go to Western Rib but the first defined ridge looked like it would be fresh ground to me… and was a lot closer!!
The approach was classic W Face of AM stuff- innocuous steps turning into slabby thinly iced granite, good looking turf turning out to be airy moss or juniper, but I persevered picking the most interesting line to the base of the ridge (via a couple of waist deep wades through the snow). This turned out to be a low but well defined series of rocky steps… very escapable but possible at II (think Dorsal Arete but longer and with no crowds…) and, more importantly, by taking each of the steps directly I got a couple of hundred metres of Grade III climbing of surprisingly good quality but in 10-15ft chunks so never too serious. From the off there were great hooks and torques, frozen turf and even a little usable rime ice at the top. Great gear for those wanting a change too- just follow your nose and take lots of slings for chockstones. The ridge peters out just short of the shoulder marking the edge of the ski area but a short traverse right gave me another 100m of the same on a shallow rocky spine ending in a broader well rimed buttress.
I'd had a bit of wade on the way up and there was more of the same back to the bike but I was in time to catch up Jane and the kids as they walked home from school.

…I do like mixed climbing… :-)
 The ridge line above
First stick of the winter!
 Fun from the off
 not serious but involving and the Glen floor is now far below
 That chockstone was a hook of justice!
 Bobbly rime and frozen vegetation
 A change in weather over Ben Nevis
 My season has begun!

Monday, 15 December 2014

'Must try harder…'

Today I was directing an MCofS FUNdamentals of Climbing 2 at Glasgow Climbing Centre. I was working to a new syllabus and I'm sitting reflecting on the train looking back over the day using my notes and some feedback I elicited from those on the course.
I'm trying to practise what I preach- I wasn't happy about the course but that's not a bad thing right? It just means I've got to reflect, learn and improve for next time. I won't go into specifics and there was plenty of positive feedback too… and I know that if I'm fostering a 'growth mindset' then a less than perfect performance is not a bad thing, just an opportunity…
…but I still hate it when I come away from a course feeling it was anything less than great!!
 Surface, features and techniques
 Blez going for a supremely stable base of support as a platform for using his tablet to gather data
 Feedback for Rob
 Matt talks through the other Rob's bridging demo
 Gettng Christie to twist
 Christie takes it steeper
 Rob mirroring Blez (nice attempt Rob ;-)
The ever unpopular cardboard box arms… do they have a place (other than the bin Jeans)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Another CWA Training

I've been in Glasgow working based at Ibrox running a CWA Training for nine candidates assisted by Karen (soon to head for PYB's AI scheme - have fun mate). Yesterday we were at GCC and today we returned there but not before a morning at the wall at Braehead. A fun 2 days working through the syllabus with a nice group of folk.
 Keeping it in the family; Jenny in her mum's EBs
 Jingle bell boots
 Down at the (auto belay) farm
 Karen explaining the rules of the game
 Silent deadly ninja beanbag assassins at the ready
 Hey! That's cheating!
 Sticky feet flexibility
 Coming down
 Sit down, stand up and centre of gravity
 Stacking the beanbags
 Pendulum rules
The abseil module