Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trail Magazine

I have been out with Matt & Tom from Trail Magazine today, along with Trail reader Simon. We headed up onto the Carneddau for a forthcoming feature on mountain journeys using the map and compass and moving away from the guidebooks and recognised paths. We had a great day with some good cloud cover to put navigation skills to the test and some nice views lower down. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter Skills Weekend in Snowdonia

Today we headed up onto the Carneddau and managed to find some snow to practise self arrest with an ice axe and enjoy a nice mountain journey. It has been milder than forecast and damp and overcast in the mountains all day. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Winter Skills Weekend in Snowdonia

I am running a  Welsh Winter Skills course this weekend. We headed up onto the Glyders and found some great patches of snow to look at use of the boot as a tool, crampon skills, cutting steps, movement on steep snow, avalanche awareness and winter navigation. It has been a beautiful day here in Snowdonia and is due to get cold with some overnight snow and temperatures below freezing on the tops tomorrow so we could put the crampons to further use! 

Friday, February 20, 2009

MIC Assessment

I have been doing my MIC assessment this week at Glenmore Lodge. The assessment spends 4 days in the mountains. We were in the Northern Corries on Monday being assessed on our winter mountaineering and on Tuesday headed over to Ben Nevis for a day of winter climbing. Sandy and I climbed Central Route (III, 4) in heavy thawing conditions but on good steep sticky ice, albeit a little damp! The last two days have been spent with 2 real clients in the Northern Corries teaching winter climbing, with of course an omnipresent assessor over my shoulder! It has been a really challenging and rewarding week and I am pleased to say that I passed. Thanks to Sandy and John (my fellow assessees) who have been great company and all of the staff at the Lodge for a great week. 
The conditions here in the Cairngorms have improved over the last 24 hours with the snow firming up nicely and the crags riming up again. The weekend is bringing another period of freeze/thaw cycles so the climbing should be great.  

Thursday, February 12, 2009

West is Best at the moment

Dave and I headed over to the Cairngorms today chasing the sunshine that was promised in the forecast. As we drove across to Aviemore from Fort William the snow was falling heavily and the ski road was closed to the Cairngorm Ski Centre. We joined the que at the barrier and by mid morning joined the rush to the car park. After an hour of hard walking we could still see the car park! The track from the last few days had been completely covered and the snow was waist deep so we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and with much giggling retreated to the car! 

Monday, February 09, 2009

Curved Ridge

Jason, Chris, James and I headed up Curved Ridge today in more perfect weather. Why would you go anywhere else other than Scotland with weather like this and snow down to the road?! I have been mentored by James Thacker for the last 2 days in preparation for my MIC assessment. Jason and Chris lead a couple of pitches each in the middle of the route whilst I took the sharp end at the start and finish of the route. It has been a really valuable day for all of us and thanks for James, Chris & Jason for a great 3 days. The weather has remained still and cold with no snowfall today and the snowpack slowly consolidating. 

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Boomerang Arete, Stob Coire nan Lochan

Jason, Chris, James and I headed into Stob Coire nan Lochan today for another gorgeous day in the Scottish Highlands. We climbed Boomerang Arete (III) in near perfect conditions. As you can see in the photos we saw an ice halo around the sun which normally is a warning of bad weather on the way, enjoyed blue skies all day and then a mackerel sky at the end of the day as the sun dropped below the skyline. There is still lots of unconsolidated powder around so care is still required in route selection but it doesn't get much better than this!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Aonach Mor

What a beautiful day here on the West Coast. I have been joined by Jason and Chris for 3 days of winter mountaineering. Today we spent the day brushing up on skills on Aonach Mor before we are joined by James Thacker (MIC) for the next two days climbing. It started off a little breezy and cloudy but as the day went on the sun came out, the clouds lifted and we had some beautiful sunshine. Temperatures have been well below freezing all day and the skiers have been reveling in the fresh powder. 

Friday, February 06, 2009

Green Gully, Ben Nevis

Andy and I broke trail into the Ben today in more heavy snow. We headed up with a range of routes in mind and having looked at the snow conditions decided on Green Gully (IV 3). The snow had been blown around scouring the slopes leading to the foot of the route and the route itself was in great condition with some fat blue ice which was slightly brittle due to the cold temperatures. We topped out in proper Ben weather and navved down in strong winds and blizzard conditions. A great day!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Stob Coire Nan Lochain

I have been out with Andy today after Alec headed for home amid the snowy travel chaos that has hit the UK. We headed into Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe and walked in with snow falling from road level. We climbed Boomerang Arete (III) which was really good fun with lots of fresh powder all over it, some nice climbing and some great mountaineering sections that landed us smack bang on the summit. Dave and Karl climbed Ordinary Route (IV, 4) and reported equally good conditions. The snow was building as it did not stop all day so keep any eye on the avalanche forecast over the next few days. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

South West Ridge Route, Douglas Boulder

Alec, Andy and I headed up onto the Ben today. We chose the S W Ridge on the Douglas Boulder (III) to keep clear of the high winds on the summit plateau. The route is a great Alpine style ridge and gave 4 pitches of nice climbing and an abseil off in cold conditions. The wind was roaring over the summit so were glad to be tucked in the shelter of Tower Ridge. We then made our way across to some nice ice smears where we put a top rope up and had a play on some steep ice. The clouds were kissing the summits all day and we had some very light snow showers but not much to speak of.

Dave Hormego and Karl headed up onto North West gully (II/III) on Stob Coire nam Beith and reported good snow conditions and sheltered from the wind until they topped out.  

Monday, February 02, 2009

Winter Skills Weekend Availability 7-8 March

I have a couple of spaces left on a winter skills weekend course on the 7/8 March. Follow this link for details: 

Winter Skills Course Day 3

Yesterday my clients headed up Stob Ban with friend and fellow instructor Dave Holmego whilst I was in the Cairngorms. Today I took them back onto Aonach Mor to utilise the gondola and tired legs and we did some good crampon work on the bomber neve and looked at emergency use of the rope and snow anchors. It was a very cold day as forecast with temperatures well below freezing and a good coating of ice on the summit plateau and great neve everywhere. There were some very slight snow showers but no real quantity of snow where we were. It sounds like its all in England!!

Alec headed up onto the Ben today and soloed Hadrians Wall Direct (V), Comb Gully (IV) and West Gully on the Douglas boulder. He reported hard ice and some spindrift but generally very good conditions.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Climbing in the Cairngorms

I was out with Alec today climbing in the Lochain in the Northern Corries. The overnight freeze has hardened the snow pack up nicely although there are still some cruddy patches about it was generally great on really nice neve. We climbed Astroturfer (III) in the shelter from the wind and with varying levels of visibility. There is lots of ice about and the plateau was bare of snow but plastered with ice.

Winter Skills Weekend

I have been working on the West coast today on a winter skills course. The snow was great having had a good freeze overnight, much better than expected. We headed up onto Aonach Mor and did some basic skills in sunshine and strong Southerly gusts. I then headed over to the Cairngorms for the AMI AGM.