Monday, September 28, 2009

Chamonix 2009

Alec and I have had a great week in the Alps. The weather has been really kind with bright sunshine most of the week, despite arriving in heavy rain with a gloomy forecast. Conditions were a little bit limiting as a long dry and hot summer has meant that the mountains have suffered from large amounts of rockfall, little snow and poor snow conditions.

We flew out Saturday and on Sunday we caught the Auiguille de Midi cable car and climbed the Cosmiques Arete. This is very popular normally with the guides but we had the route virtually to ourselves as the weather was still overcast and we were in cloud most of the time - quite Scottish! The route is graded AD and has 1 crux move that is given 4b on a granite slab. It had snowed overnight and frozen so we climbed the entire route in crampons, gloves and with a single axe. It was a great little route and we even topped out to applause from the Japanese tourists at the Midi cable car station which is always nice!

On Monday we decided to head back up on the Midi and we headed towards the Auiguille de plan on the Midi-Plan traverse. It was bitterly cold with a strong wind reminding us we were at altitude, if the throbbing head and lack of breath had not already! Snow conditions were not great with mixtures of fresh windslab and some very icy sections.

On Tuesday we headed back up the Midi and climbed the Chere Couloir on the North Face of Mont Blanc du Tacul. The route provides 6 pitches of sustained ice, followed by several easier pitches of mixed climbing and is graded II/4 which equates to Scottish grade 5 but it was in good condition and so was very enjoyable. We shared the leads and then abseiled off rather than walk down the ordinary route under some big seracs.

On Wednesday we walked upto the Albert Premiere Hut above Le Tour and bivvied out above the Glacier du Tour. Our aim had been to climb the Auiguille de Chardonnay via the Forbes Arete but the snow conditions and a closer inspection of the descent route put us off so on Thursday morning an Alpine start saw us heading up to the Col du Tour and climbing the Tete Blanche which involved some nice rock climbing on the sharp granite and an abseil descent.

Our final day of climbing saw us back on Mont Blanc du Tacul. We climbed the north Face again, this time by the Contamine route which gives 350 metres of climbing at about Scottish grade 3. It was a lovely route, even in the sunshine for a while at the start and it rounded the week off well. All in all a fantastic trip! The full photo collection will be on the gallery pages by the end of today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I am off to the Alps

I am leaving for Chamonix tomorrow morning for a weeks climbing with a friend of mone, Alec. Last year we climbed the Frendo Spur together but this year the weather forecasts and current conditions are not looking quite as favorable so we will see! I will be out of contact for the week and will be back on the 28th September.

Llanberis Pass

Skye and I headed into the Llanberis Pass today with Stewart and Jason for the final day of their learn to lead course. This morning they lead Crackstone Rib (Severe) whilst this afternoon we looked at some improvised rescues and problem solving techniques. This built nicely on the skills that they had learnt during the week and allowed them to answer the question "what if". Thanks to the boys for a great week of climbing, sunshine, ice cream and cakes!! I wish you all the best in your climbing. The full weeks photos are now available for viewing on my gallery - see the links on the right.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bochclwyd Buttress

Skye and I took Jason & Stewart up onto Bochclwyd Buttress today where they lead the Chimney Climb (Severe in 3 pitches) and 5 pitch Route (Severe). We had a great day and once again it has been dry and sunny all day, all though there was a fresh NE wind.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rock Climbing at Holyhead Mountain

Stewart, Jason and I headed to Holyhead Mountain today where they both lead their first routes. They started off with Black Owen and Slab Direct (V Diff) and then lead Stairs ( Severe) in alternate pitches. They have done really well to be leading Severe after 3 days with no previous rock climbing experience and we were blessed with another dry, sunny day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The boys and I headed to Tramdog today, it was slightly moist in the mountains first thing but we had beautiful warm sunshine and dry rock at Tremadog. We climbed Scratch which is graded VS 4b with a great corner crack top pitch. We then headed into Llanberis for some shopping at V12 Outdoors as the guys wanted to build up their own kit with my advice. We finished the day with some movement coaching at the RAC Boulders in the sunshine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

5 day learn to lead rock climbing course

I have been joined for the week by Stewart and Jason who are both firefighters and want to progress their personal rock climbing to being able to lead their own routes. We had a cracking day today climbing Hope (V Diff) 5 pitches and Lazarus (Severe 2 pitches) on the Idwal Slabs. It was dry and bright but with a chill Northerly breeze. There were a few folk out soloing which seems to be increasingly popular at the moment - who knows why?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gorgeous day on Anglesey

It has been an absolutely stunning day today here in North Wales. We have been climbing at Holyhead Mountain in the best weather we have had all year - crystal clear skies, warm sunshine, dry rock, sea views, mountain views - what more could you want?! We climbed a variety of routes upto VS 4c and looked at rigging top rope anchors and the importance of ice creams after climbing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Intro to Climbing Course - Tremadog

I have been joined by repeat clients Keith & Stewart and by Wayne today for a weekends intro to climbing course. It has been a beautiful blue sky and sunshine day and we headed to Upper Tier Tremadog. The guys climbed loads of routes from Severe to VS4c and did a good abseil too. There were a few other folk about including some soloists enjoying the warm rock and sunshine. This evening we had two rescues on Snowdon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rock climbing with Jim

Today I have been out with Jim who is on my mentor scheme. Jim is working towards his ML & SPA qualifications at the moment with a view to progressing onto his MIA. The gorgeous weather meant that we decided a rock climbing day was in order so we headed to Gogarth and climbed Lighthouse Arete (VS 4c) in 3 pitches. We then headed to Holyhead Mountain where Jim lead New Boots & Panties (S4a) and I lead Laceration (VS4c). The photos speak for themselves! Tonight is an AMI committee meeting in Manchester.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mentor Day with Kurtis

I have been joined for the day by Kurtis who is on my mentor scheme. We spent the morning sorting out some problems with his website and then headed out in beautiful sunshine to Cwm Cneifion. Kurtis lead the Cneifion Arete whilst I provided some tips on short pitching and Alpine efficiency. It was great to be out in the sunshine!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Advanced Scrambling Course

The boys and I headed into Cwm Idwal today in very high winds and constant rain. We had a great day with the boys leading North West Face Route and then abseiling off the Idwal Slabs descent route into Seniors Gully. It was a great day to test the new Crux Plasma Jacket which is a waterproof down jacket in Event fabric. It worked really well - the feathers stayed dry and I stayed toasty - a great belay jacket for the Scottish winter as its really light, warm and waterproof!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Advanced Scrambling Course

I have been joined for 2 days by Dan & returning client Luke for an advanced scrambling course. Today it has been a lovely day with very little wind and dry and sunny so we made the most of it. We headed up into Cwm Glas, up the Clogwyn Y Person Arete with the boys taking over the leading on the upper half, along Crib Goch, down its North Ridge and then down the side of Dinas Mot. We covered many mountaineering skills including taking coils, building belays, placing gear and lots more - a great day out!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Advanced Scrambling Clogwyn Mawr

Stewart, Danny and I headed into the Llanberis Pass today to build on the skills that we put into place yesterday. We looked at using the rope on its own to protect short difficult rock steps in ascent and descent and then scrambled up Clogwyn Mawr with the boys taking it in turns to lead with me alongside. It stayed dry all day and we were able to avoid the worst of the forecast high winds.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

East Face of Tryfan

I have been joined for two days by Stuart and Danny for an advanced scrambling course. With a strong SW wind forecast the boys and I headed to the East Face of Tryfan today to avoid the worst of it. The day was reasonably dry and we climbed Bastow Buttress Variant (Grade 2/3) and descended Little & North Gullies doing a couple of abseils along the way.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Scrambling in the rain

It has been another very wet and windy day here in Snowdonia so Alex, Thom & I stayed low and headed to Tryfan Bach this morning. We climbed the left hand side in 3 pitches and then Alex & Thom lead the scramble off the top. We then headed to Pen Yr Ole Wen and they lead their own grade 2 scramble and arranged two abseils in descent. A great day with big smiles despite the weather!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Private Guiding - Advanced Scrambling

I have been joined for 2 days by Thom & Alex who want to spend two days looking at the ropework required for rock climbing and advanced scrambling. The lashing rain and high winds dictated that we would don big boots and waterproofs and head out scrambling today so we headed into Cwm Idwal. We looked at the various skills involved in leading routes with me on the sharp end and also looked at abseil retreats. It should be brighter in the morning! No photos today I'm afraid as I forgot the camera!