Friday, November 29, 2013

Off to Morocco

I am heading off to Morocco for a week in the morning on our annual Toubkal trip. I have no access to the internet for a week so I will reply to any emails when I get home on the 8th December and look forward to sharing the photos with you. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Trail winter issue looking good

The January issue of Trail magazine looks great, there is even some bald bloke giving winter skills advice! :-)

Costa Blanca Long Weekend

I have been in the sunny mountains of Southern Spain this weekend with regular clients Jude & Sue. We travelled out together on Friday night with a short flight from Manchester to Alicante and an even shorter drive to the lovely village of Finestrat, at the foot of the beautiful Puig Campagna.

Saturday saw us head to Sella which provides a sport climbing mecca on superb limestone. The temperatures averaged about 22c all weekend and we enjoyed soaking up this precious winter sunshine as we climbed a mixture of single and multi pitch routes, including one of the classics of the crag Marion - a 3 pitch VS that gives some great exposure and a taster of what was to come.

Sunday was the main event as Jude & Sue had come to climb Puig Campagna via the all time classic route, Espolon Central. This is a 13 pitch Hard Severe Trad route with the occasional bolted belay and a grade 2/3 scramble to get off the top of the route. We started at sunrise at about 7:30am and enjoyed pitch after pitch of superb steep limestone and some amazing exposure. The views across the Mediterranean were stunning and a slight breeze meant the sunshine was only a pleasure. The ladies did a superb job and we climbed the route in six hours, taking another 4 to enjoy a safe and leisurely descent and the Christmas cake that Sue carried for the entire route!

We spent the next two days climbing single and multi pitch routes by the sea as Jude increased in confidence and skill in here leading, ticking off some great 5's and impressing both Sue and I in the process.

The whole weekend was only improved by the location of our apartment being 2 minutes walk from Ooolala restaurant in Finestrat, if you are ever nearby pop in as the food is amazing!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Warm rock and sunshine

I am heading off to Spain today for a long weekend of warm rock and sunshine - fingers crossed! I look forward to showing you the photos when I get home on Tuesday. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Crib Goch in the Snow!

John and I enjoyed a winter traverse of Crib Goch today. John is on my trainee instructor mentor scheme and is a fairly experienced winter climber so as we drove down the Llanberis Pass this morning and saw Crib Goch covered in snow and glinting in the sunshine it seemed rude not to head up and enjoy it. Despite some fairly high winds forecast, the clouds were not moving that quickly so we headed up with and open mind and a flexible approach and found that whilst it was breezy it was ok. The snow got better as we gained height and this afternoon the temperatures dropped noticeably so I would expect it to consolidate nicely with an overnight re-freeze. We used axes, crampons and goggles so got the full winter experience - first day of winter for me, superb!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2014 Brochure Now Available

Our new brochure with photos decided by you has now returned from the printers. It looks great so thank you! If you would like a copy you can order one here:

Snow on the mountains!

It was snowing heavily as I drove up the Ogwen Valley this morning, the sun soon came out though and we had a stunning day on Pen Yr Ole Wen and Carnedd Dafydd today for the second day of our navigation course. The snow was only cosmetic but it was freezing hard so all could be different tomorrow and it made for beautiful views as we put into practice the skills covered yesterday and looked at relocation skills along the way - stunning!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Navigation & Hill Skills

I am running a navigation and hill skills course today and tomorrow here in Snowdonia. Its the last course of the year before winter arrives and we are promised snow tomorrow, no sign yet though. I was joined by friend and fellow instructor Huw as there were 9 clients with us for the two days and today we headed into Cwm Clan on the back of Snowdon to look at micro navigation skills and have some fun along the way!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


There is a beautiful dusting of snow on the mountains here in Snowdonia and a reasonable quantity on the Scottish mountains where the winter climbing season has already started. If you are keen to get out this winter and enjoy the mountains at their very best then come and join one of our winter skills courses. We have a winter skills feature hitting the shops in the next issue of Trail magazine at the end of this month so if you would like to book a space before then visit this link for details of our winter courses:

Our winter skills weekends will teach you the skills you need to avoid avalanches,  how to use ice axe and crampons, what kit to carry and emergency snow shelters. We will also take in a classic snow capped summit or two! 

Our winter skills weeks aim to cover all of the essential skills that you require in winter to be a self sufficient hill walker and enjoy this wonderful time of year safely and confidently. The big benefit of a 5 day course is that we will experience different snow types throughout the week which is really valuable from an avalanche avoidance and axe and crampon skills point of view. 

Skills covered include:

- Five full days of practical instruction in the mountains
- Choice and use of equipment for the winter environment
- Movement skills on snow
- Use of the ice axe
- How to fit and use crampons - when to put them on and take them off
- Use of the rope in winter (winter belays, snow bollards and as a navigational tool)
- Emergency snow shelters
- Mountain journeys putting all of the skills into perspective
- Mountain navigation
- Planned snow shelters
- Avalanche avoidance & snow analysis
- Diet & nutrition for winter walking
- Cold weather injury avoidance
- Emergency procedures

I am also available for private guiding for 2 weeks of each month here in Snowdonia. I offer this time on an "as and when" basis dependant upon the snow conditions so if you see snow and want to come and play in it, get in touch!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Advanced Navigation Day

I was joined for the day by Racheal, Andi, Andy, Steve & John for an advanced navigation course here in Snowdonia. It has stayed dry all day and we have had a great day using contour only maps to get our heads round contours and progress people onto Jedi style navigation. When map-makers create a map the contours are the first piece of information to get drawn onto the blank piece of paper and hence they are always accurate, the ability to navigate using them alone is a valuable skill and enhances all mountain navigation and gives an enjoyable day out too!

Friday, November 08, 2013

ML Training Overnight Camp - Beautiful light

For our overnight camp the ML Trainees and I headed up onto Lliwedd yesterday and camped in Cwm Tregallan last night which is where we did a night navigation exercise. This morning we climbed Yr Aran and throughout our little mini break we had some beautiful light and autumnal colours, I will let the photos do the talking: