Friday, April 30, 2010

Idwal Slabs

Yesterday I was in Manchester all day as I was sitting on an interview panel for the Association of Mountaineering Instructors to appoint a new Development Officer. Paul was joined by Mick and they were taken out for the day by friend and fellow instructor Huw to the Milestone Buttress. Huw got Paul on the sharp end and introduced Mick to his first ever rock climb. Today we headed to Idwal Slabs and Paul lead Hope in alternate pitches with me alongside him. On Micks pitches he simu-lead with a ghost rope from me. We topped out as the rain started and looked at abseil descents to finish off a great week of dry rock!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More climbing in the sunshine

It has been another beautiful day here in Wales. Paul and I continued his 5 day climbing course by heading to Tremadog and climbing his first multi pitch Severes, Oberon and Christmas Curry. There were a few other folk out enjoying the weather giving a very sociable atmosphere at the crag. We progressed belay skills and looked at placing and scoring protection and stance management before heading to the RAC boulders for a movement skills coaching session. Another great day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amphitheatre Buttress

Paul and I headed onto the Carneddau today to climb Amphitheatre Buttress. This is a classic V Diff that gives 10 pitches and almost 1000 ft of climbing. We moved quickly and topped out for lunch and some stunning views across the park. We looked at efficiency on long routes, the conversion from climbing to roped scrambling, belay construction and how to avoid rope faff. There were a couple of teams setting out after us so it was a popular choice in the sunshine today and the rock was dry and warm to vindicate that decision!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Grooved Arete, Tryfan

I am running a 5 day learn to lead climbing course this week. Today I took repeat client Paul up Grooved Arete on Tryfan which gives about 9 pitches of V Diff climbing to the North Ridge. We were supposed to be joined by regular client Mick but he has been delayed for a couple of days due to the volcanic ash! It has been a beautiful day and we had Grooved Arete to ourselves with warm rock and sunshine - hard to get much better! I introduced Paul to multi pitch climbing looking at belay construction and basic skills as a foundation for the week ahead.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lead climbing coaching

I have been joined for the day by repeat clients Gavin & Lesley who joined me for a day of lead climbing coaching last spring and did the same today as a refresher ready for the summer on a private guiding basis. Gavin had been leading V Diffs and Lesley had been leading indoors and today they both lead Severes at Holyhead Mountain in the sunshine, progressing on to multi pitch climbing and pushing their grade. I was able to offer some tips to clean up the stance management aswell. It was a beautiful sunny day with only a slight breeze and some lovely views across to the mountains.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Home in Wales

I am back home now in Sunny Wales. I was fortunate to have driven out to the Alps, purely because of the amount of kit that I was taking and it was like wartime Britain on the ferry as people shared tales of epic trips across Europe with airplanes grounded. There was a couple who had travelled by taxi from Spain, another pair who had hitch hiked from Eastern Europe and large groups who had negotiated buses, taxis and trains to get to Calais. I stopped off in London on the way home to see my sister who lives in Chelsea, there people were talking about how quiet the skies were. Hopefully things will start getting back to normal now.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More ski mountaineering in the sunshine

Skiing, skiing and more skiing! On Saturday we spent the day skiing off piste at the Grands Montets which is a great place to get technique nailed whilst still using the lifts! Yesterday we headed for St Gervais to do a day tour to the Col de la Fenetre but it was raining and very cloudy when we arrived so we ended up skiing on the piste in the rain!

Today was much more what we have come to expect from the weather with clear blue skies, sunshine and no wind once more. Bryn and I enjoyed another day tour on the Aiguille Rouge. We used the uplift at Flegere and then skinned up to the Col de Crouches which got progressively steeper towards the top but was on nice soft snow. We then dropped into the other side and did a long traverse on icey snow before putting skins back on making our way up to the Cold de Berard. At this point the clouds had built up a bit giving slightly flat light.

The descent was down the Berard bowl which gave some nice spring snow lower down and a ski through the trees back down to the village of Le Buet giving 1430m of descent. Once we reached the village for lunch the clouds cleared again allowing a spot of sunbathing! A great day out.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gran Paradiso

On Thursday Bryn and I drove round to Italy with a plan to climb the Gran Paradiso on skis. It is the only 4000m mountain that sits wholly in Italy and is therefore very popular with Italian mountaineers. The summit sits at 4061m and makes a great ski tour. We skinned from the car at 1900m to the Vittorio Emmanuel Hut (2735m) in the afternoon sunshine. The hut was reasonably busy but we fluked our own room and so a good nights sleep.

It snowed lightly through the night and we set off at 6:30am Friday in fresh snow. There were several other teams out with the same idea as the photos show but we soon spread out and enjoyed some solitude.

The climb was enjoyable at a good steady plod, with a couple of steepenings to catch out my skinning technique! We arrived at the summit for 11:00am which was a bit of a bottle neck as it has a short scrambling section to reach the Madonna that sits on top of Italy.

The ski down was on great snow, this type of travel in the mountains really gets you thinking about snow and avalanche avoidance and is also pretty rapid! We were back at the hut by 12:15pm and that was taking it steady because of my weary legs! The final descent to the road was the hardest part of the day as the ground is very steep through the trees but was very pretty.

A cracking couple of days out and a beautiful way to explore the mountains.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Touring in the Aiguille Rouge

Bryn and I enjoyed a brilliant day of touring today on the Aiguille Rouge. We skinned up to the Col de Dards under blue skies and sunshine in t-shirts before enjoying a brilliant descent on deep powder. We were the first people to descend today and enjoyed putting in fresh tracks - it doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fresh powder and sunshine

I drove out to Chamonix at the weekend and have spent the last two days getting some off piste ski coaching from Alison Culshaw. We have enjoyed perfect blue skies and fresh snow both days - the perfect combination of snow overnight and sunshine through the day. We have been on the Grande Montet both days and I am now looking forward to a few days touring putting my new skills into practice!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Off to the Alps

I am heading out to the Alps tomorrow with my friend Bryn for a some climbing and some ski touring, if we get the weather! I am back home on Thursday the 22nd April. Kate is at home if you call but email is probably the best way of staying in touch. I will keep you posted whenever I get a wireless connection.

Sunny Snowdonia

I has been another beautiful day here in North Wales. Mick, Shae and I headed up the Idwal Staircase (2) for the 2nd day of our advanced scrambling course. We then did an abseil down into Senrios Gully (1) which we followed into Cwm Cneifion and then climbed the Cneifion Arete (3) to finish a great two days. The boys have been good company, the weather has been perfect and I was even climbing in a T Shirt today - hard to call it work!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Advanced Scrambling Course

It has been a glorious day here in Snowdonia and I have been joined by repeat client Shae and regular client Mick for two days of advanced scrambling. We climbed Dolmen Ridge (3) and descended Bristly Ridge (1) with stunning views, warm dry rock and blue skies and sunshine. We looked at the rope skills needed to cover grade 3 ground as well as movement skills and efficiency. We enjoyed a nice cup of tea in the valley before my pager went off and I went and assisted on a rescue (read sunbathed at the helicopter landing zone whilst the aircraft did all of the work!) on Snowdon of 3 people stuck in a snow gully without winter kit.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

North Ridge of Tryfan

Skye and I took Mick, Rob & Tony up the North Ridge of Tryfan today for the second day of their intro to scrambling course. There was a strong Southerly wind so we were nicely sheltered on the ascent but got battered at the summit. The wind dropped as forecast this afternoon and was replaced by the rain. The mountain was nice and quiet and we enjoyed some lovely views this morning, most of the snow has now gone apart from the odd patch in the gullies.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Flak Jacket took some flak!

It has been pretty wild out n the mountains today and my Crux Flak jacket had to earn its keep as we had lashing rain and 70mph winds. I have been joined by repeat client Mick and by Rob & Tony for an intro to scrambling course. This morning making our plans in the cafe we had to allow for 80mph summit winds, snow in the gullies, flooded rivers and torrential rain! We headed into Cwm Idwal and introduced the guys to grade 1 ground, looking at movement skills and looking after each other in Seniors Gully. From Cwm Cneifion we dropped back into Cwm Idwal and did some rope skills including abseiling and body belays using just a rope. A wild but enjoyable day!