Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunshine and snow

Its been a beautiful day in the mountains of Snowdonia today, blue skies, sunshine and snow capped peaks - world class! I was joined by repeat clients Elliott, Mark and Ryan and we headed up onto Pen Yr Ole Wen for some Welsh winter skills. We did some crampon coaching in Cwm Lloer before putting them and the axes to use on the East Ridge - the usual rock step an easy snow gully today. The summit gave stunning views to Ireland and the Isle of Man. The snow was perfect neve on all but the summit plateau where we found some breakable crust - a stunning first day in crampons for the boys. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bristly Ridge in the snow

Charlie, Laurie and I headed up Bristly Ridge today on the Glyderau. It has been a lovely dry and cold day and it must have been even colder overnight as the snow has re-frozen nicely to give some nice patches of neve up high. The turf is also freezing nicely now over about 800m. Charlie & Laurie wanted to be on the sharp end of the rope so we were able to look at the judgement of when to pitch and when to do something different! A great day out in some lovely light and conditions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crib Goch in the snow

Winter has arrived in the mountains! Laurie and Charlies advanced scrambling course turned into a winter mountaineering course this morning after the snowfall of yesterday evening and last night. As I drove down the Ogwen valley this morning there was snow down to about 600m so it was time for a change of plans. Fortunately they were both size 8 feet and so I was able to lend them some winter boots, crampons and axes and we headed up Crib Goch. It was pretty breezy on the East Ridge but the wind died down as the day went on and was fine on the crest of the ridge. We put crampons on about 3/4 of the way up the East Ridge as there was plenty of verglass as well as the fresh snow. For Charlie it was a first winter outing so well done both - a nice tick for November! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Snowing on the mountains

I have been out with repeat clients Laurie and Charlie today, they have booked me for 3 days advanced scrambling and hopefully today was the bad weather day! It has been extremely wet all day and pretty breezy up high again too. We climbed North West Face Route into the Idwal Staircase and Seniors Gully before descending back into Cwm Idwal. As we came off the hill the rain was turning to sleet and its looking fairly white high up - its also due to get colder as the week goes on so this might be the start of the Welsh winter!  

Friday, November 23, 2012

ML Wild Camping

Well the last couple of days have given some fairly challenging conditions for the ML teams and our camp was definitley wild. Last week I bought a new set of Arcteryx waterproofs and they were given an impressive test!

I took the ML trainees from Pen Y Pass yesterday morning, over Lliwedd Bach and down into Cwm Tregallan. Our route had been planned with the forecast high winds in mind but nonetheless we had a fairly physical time of it. You know its windy when you can't crawl forwards!  The boys did exceptionally well and never stopped smiling, rising to the challenges thrown at us and making the most of the learning conditions. Stream crossings maintained interest and it didn't stop raining all day.  Having been out on night nav we settled into our tents and to top the howling wind and rain were treated to a thunder and lightening storm!
We met up with the assessment team who had endured two nights of the same weather - in their debrief this morning I was pleased to tell them they had all passed - well done boys - and the sense of satisfaction matched the sense of relief at having survived! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ML Training

I have been out with my ML Training team today, joined by fellow instructor and friend Bryn who I managed to drag out of his office at Mountain Training Cymru for the only nice weather day of the week! We spent the day looking at the use of the rope in the ML scheme and based ourselves in a dry and even sunny Ogwen Valley - lovely! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ML Assessment

I have been out with the ML Assessment team again today whilst friend Huw took the trainees out on Moel Siabod. It was security on steep ground day today and the boys had some more harsh weather with high winds and heavy rain giving another good testing day! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

ML Assessment & Training

Its a pretty busy week for me this week as I have an ML Assessment and Training course running from Capel Curig. Today I have been out with Matt, Declan and Mark for the first day of their assessment is some pretty awful weather! We spent the day focusing on navigation, the environment and leadership skills - battling 60mph winds and driving rain. A great test for the boys and our waterproofs! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

ML Training

I have been joined for the next 6 days by Malcolm, Chris, Kris, Fred and Ben for a Mountain Leader Training course here in Snowdonia. We have had a lovely first day with a crisp frosty start, a light dusting of snow on the tops and some beautiful sunshine. We spent the day on the Crimpiau which gave some lovely views across the rest of the Park.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nepal Trip Report 2012

I have just got back from a great 3 weeks in Nepal. I took two teams out with the assistance of friends and fellow instructors Paul & Dave. In total I had 25 people to look after including the porters and Sherpas we employed and I am pleased to say we all had a safe and enjoyable trip.

On all of my expeditions I draw up a schedule that allows lots of room for rest and acclimatisation and combine this with small teams and a higher than average number of instructors to provide the best possible chance for everyone to achieve their aim in safety and comfort.

For this trip I had 5 clients going to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and 5 climbing Island Peak via Everest Base Camp. (There were originally 6 in each team but I had clients pull out of each team on the day of departure).

We all met up in Kathmandu and managed to fly out to Lukla early the next morning on one of the first flights of the day to start our trek. We enjoyed stunning weather with blue skies and sunshine throughout and over the first week and a half we all trekked into EBC together. This year EBC is situated at about 5350m and we also made the most of the opportunity to climb Kala Patthar (5550m) which gave an impressive high point for the whole of the EBC team who then trekked back to Lukla under the guidance of Paul.

The Island Peak team were lead by Dave and I round to base camp, with a couple of chill out days along the way before our summit attempt. We made the decision to climb the mountain from base camp (5100m) and avoid a night at high camp (5600m) and this worked well for us. We had a 1:30am breakfast and left camp by 2:00am. The route is initially a zig zagging path up steep scree but soon gains interest through a gully section giving some nice grade 1 scrambling in the dark. Our plan was to reach the glacier with the sunshine and put crampons on as the new day dawned. Sure enough the plan came together and we moved together roped up across the glacier towards the fixed ropes that allow progress up a steep 100m snow slope to the summit ridge.

The fixed ropes looked intimidating from below but the jumar training we had put in along the trek served us well and each team member maintained a steady rhythm to pull onto the brilliantly exposed summit ridge in their own time. We summited between 8:30 and 9:00am and Dave and I took control of the abseil station to make sure each team member negotiated the fixed ropes in return with the same ease they had in descent. A quick hop and skip back across the glacier and we were soon returning down the scrambling ground we had ascended in the dark that morning. After a brief rest at base camp we descended to the nearest village to celebrate a 15 hour summit day with another 100% success rate.

After a steady trek out and another smooth flight from Lukla we enjoyed a couple of days in Kathmandu before heading home from a great trip. Many thanks to all who shared it!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

100% Success to Everest Base Camp and Island Peak

I am sat in sunny Kathmandu this morning after the usual exciting flight from Lukla. We have had a great 3 weeks in the high mountains with two teams heading to Everest Base Camp and one team heading onto Island Peak. We had a 100% success rate on both trips and photos and a full report will follow next week!