Monday, 1 September 2014

Northeast Buttress Ben Nevis

I knew it would be a bit cloudy and a unless its bone dry its usually greasy but at least Northeast Buttress gave us some views even if it did feel a bit like climbing it with roller skates on!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Polldubh with MIA Trainees

Day 2 of the workshop for AMI today and we were looking at teaching climbing in Glen Nevis. The guys had a list of things to look at begining with the questioning process to establish the starting point for crafting a good day for their students. Then we went to Polldubh where the sun came out, the breeze increased and finally the midges departed as the guys got some hands on experience with a variety of teaching situations.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The west face of Aonach Dubh with MIA Trainees

After a week with sick kids followed by sick mum and dad it was nice to be back on the hill today working for AMI with Dan and Sam who are both trainee MIAs working towards Assessment. We were looking at mountaineering today and moving 1 or 2 students effectively up, across and down the UK mountain environment. Both of the guys got plenty of time to polish their short roping but there was also a lot of non rope management to talk through and plenty of top both environmental input to. To give both of them a variety of terrain to work on and some new ground we went to the West face of Aonach Dubh; up B Buttress, along the first terrace to the amphitheatre then back north along the upper terrace (part of Rhyolite Romp) until we could drop back down the south side of Dinnertime Buttress. Spectacular scenery and a real lost world feel and after initial rain it dried up nicely!
A debrief in Crafts and Things over brews and banoffee pie to finish the day. Always interesting to work these workshops as it lets me stretch my brain to really understand why I do things the way I do and find ways to coach this effectively to new MIs.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Aonach Eagach

Good time today as Martin and I were working for Steven Fallon Mountain Guides with 5 great folk on the Aonach Eagach, possibly Britain's best mainland ridge walk. We weren't alone as Max and Di were both out with parties too enjoying what turned out to be quite pleasant weather; after early mist it turned bright with clear, cool weather and just the odd shower. Its always great to be out with a wide variety of folk and the craic was great all the way to the Clachaig for a beer! Prepare for a plethora of happy people!
 Ian after the first step down- zoom in for the crowds mid-descent behind!
 125 Munros for Jen
 Climbing the chimney
 A little atmosphere as the mist recedes
 Coming down?
 Nigel after the pinnacles
 Girls on the move
 Martin and Ian past the Pinnacles
 Looking back over most of the Ridge
 Frank cruising
 Jen in the sun
 Technical bit over… lunchtime!
 The last pull...
 Second munro of the day
 We did that
 To the pub
Slainte! (especially to Ian who had to go!)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Transition Training

I spent the last 2 days at Transition Extreme in Aberdeen with a full keen team of staff covering some training in my role as Technical Advisor to the climbing wall.
We looked at the role of the floorwalker and how to approach customers without unnecessarily annoying or distracting them including conducting various scenarios that taxed the Instructors' acting skills as much as their soft and technical skills! A climbing wall's climbing experience is its key product. That means climbers need to feel welcome in the centre whilst at the same time the wall is comfortable that a good standard of climbing practise is on display and they are fulfilling their duty of care. Younger Instructors have a poor reputation being very rigid in what is acceptable but equally experienced climbers need to be aware of the picture they present to novices around them and that its the most experienced who are often the ones who relax, get distracted or just make a mistake and the wall staff need to strike a balance between caution and making climbers feel welcome rather than under strict scrutiny.
We also looked at the possible technical rescues a staff member might be called on to conduct. I have a list of incidents I know have happened at walls ranging from the common to the bizarre and like to give staff a toolbox of skills/experience to build up their judgement with so that they can deal with anything from a harness that isn't doubled back on a climber to a leader being lowered into space whose belayer has run out of rope or a climber detached at height. We spent a lot of time letting staff experiment with different ways of doing things and varying the situations they used tools in to let them get to grips with the limitations and advantages of techniques.
There was also some route setting rope work training to be done. For some staff this was limited to how to rescue an incapacitated setter whilst for others it was setting up an appropriate cordon, placing ropes, ascending, descending, use of bags for holds and bolts and stripping ropes afterwards.
Great to see a wall investing time and money in truing for staff. Its important not just in terms of safety of the wall but hugely beneficial for the psyche of the staff team too when they feel they are progressing and valued by the management.
I'm looking forwards to going back for more training and assessment of the staff at TE.
 Different ways of doing the same thing when things get 
technical at the end of a long process of problem solving
 Going up
 Old school works too
 Heading for the top
Darren recovering after a particularly physical problem

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Outdoor Climbing Workshop for MCofS Club members

Over the last 2 days I've been working with Andrew and Jodie 2 members of MCofS affiliated clubs each keen to sure their knowledge with less experienced climbers. The MCofS created this workshop to allow members to access a range of advice on introducing people to the sport. The weekend was not designed to replace or heavily overlap the CWA/SPA/CWLA/MIA syllabuses although we did drift into some common ground. The emphasis was more on discussing good practise and its importance when working with beginners. Legal and safety issues and potential problems. In particular we looked at pathways into outdoor trad climbing and helping novices further along, mostly by just going climbing with them!
Saturday was a drench day and we started at Glasgow Climbing Centre talking about routes people come to climbing by, individualising progressions and the basics of good climbing practise (e.g. tying on, belaying, choosing and utilising equipment the guys were so keen to chat and do that we soon found it too late to go out to the crag in the rain!
Today we got a 7am start to head east to dodge the rain. We went to Andrew's home crag of Traprain which has one of the most pleasant outlooks of any Central Belt crag (I know, shame its a bit polished). We did a lot of translating terminology and systems with Jody as she is from the States. Its always interesting to chat through international preferences and I dislike painting these as right or wrong- its more important to discuss the pros and cons of ways and doing things to gain an understanding of them. Such systems are usually the product of the environment they are developed in and the history of climbing in a particular place. As such they may well be reasonably transferable to other environments especially if you have a good grasp of their limitations.
Nice to be out on dry rock with 2 keen climbers and we had it almost completely dry if a little windy!
 The view from Traprain
 An American climber in East Lothian
 Going up
 Stemming (that's bridging to you and me)
 Jody in the breeze
 Andrew on home turf
Jody explaining her first runner, how to remove it and what to do with it to Andrew