Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Off piste in Chamonix

Simon and I have enjoyed a great few of days off piste skiing here in the Chamonix valley. We had a good dump of snow on Sunday night and enjoyed fresh powder yesterday off piste from Le Tour and again yesterday off the Brevent. Today we enjoyed off piste off the lifts first thing before doing a short tour into Switzerland, enjoying over 1000m of vertical descent on fresh untracked powder- awesome! It's been great putting some avalanche avoidance decisions into action whilst on skis and with so much going on here at the moment and of course getting some awesome skiing in too! 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Avalanche Course

I am in Chamonix this week for some off piste skiing and touring and kicked the week off with an avalanche course based at Le Tour. It was a great refresher and we enjoyed some good powder with more on its way tonight. Tomorrow could be great! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Off to the Alps

I have been at home all week, have had a stinking cold and its been raining. Its still been great though because all of the kids have been at school and Kate and I have been out for coffee every day, lovely walks just the two of us and generally remembering what life was like 19 years ago when we first met! Anyway off to the Alps tomorrow to shred some powder with friends and do a bit of CPD with the avalanche academy! :-)

PS my LandRover is also up for sale if anyone is interested:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

MTUK Mountain Skills Courses

Mountain Training is launching two new personal skills courses for new and improving hill walkers on 1st April, 2014. We are approved providers and will be running the new Mountain Skills course here in Snowdonia. 

The Mountain Skills course is an ideal choice for walkers interested in applying their countryside walking skills to the mountain environment. Ideally, participants would have done some basic hill walking previously and have a reasonable level of fitness. Skills in map and compass, mountain weather forecasting, movement through steep ground, planning and preparation, emergency procedures, seasonal effects and the mountain environment all form the syllabus of this course. 

You can read more about the course on our website here:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Buachaille Etive Beag

For the second day of our winter skills course the boys and I headed up Buachaille Etive Beag today, enjoying some sunny spells and fresh snow as well as a great summit and some skills practise along the way. The snow was still pretty firm on Southerly aspects but pretty soggy on anything with any depth, reports back from the Ben tell of a similar thaw that will benefit from tonight's re-freeze.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter Skills

I have been joined for the weekend by John, Bob, Darren, Andy, Graham and Carl for a Scottish winter skills course. We spent our first day today at Aonach Mor where we looked at axe and crampon skills, movement on snow, ice axe arrest and avalanche avoidance. There was quite a bit more fresh snow than had been forecast and a great deal of wind transportation which made for good teaching and learning. It was also colder than forecast which was ideal as we stayed dry! Another great day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I have had a day off today so headed out with Huw, back to the Cairngorms, to make the most of the overnight re-freeze after yesterdays thaw. We enjoyed great neve as we made our way to Hells Lum, hoping to climb Deep Cut Chimney. Several other parties had the same idea so we enjoyed a quick romp up Hells Lum (III), down the Fiachall Ridge and then climbed The Seam (IV,4). It hadn’t been climbed for a while and so there was lots of cleaning but Huw did a great job of digging the gear placements out and the snow was good too. As usual we had plenty of giggles along the way, another great day out. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tower Ridge

Charlie, Simon and I climbed Tower Ridge today on what has been another stunning day in the Highlands. We walked in with the intention of doing Ledge Route but the ridge had been on the boys hit list for a while and it was calling me like a siren so they didn't take much (any!) persuasion to change objectives. We were the only team on it and the snow was generally good although deep! Getting out of Tower Gap was more challenging than normal but lots of fun. Another great day.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dorsal Arete

Today is the first day of one of our winter mountaineering courses and has been superb here in the Highlands. I have been joined by some regular faces, Simon, Charlie, Andy and Steve and fellow instructor Huw. Today saw us head up Dorsal ArĂȘte where the snow on the route was great, nicely refrozen albeit with most of the gear lower down buried. The snow apron took some careful route finding to avoid the windslab but we had some stunning views until we topped out and a snow squall hit us! A great day out. Thanks to Simon for the photos as I forgot my camera. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fresh Powder Skiing

I have the weekend off and with more fresh snow overnight decided that skiing was the way forward. I headed to Nevis Range where the pistes were lovely, queues non existent and we even had some blue skies. Once the visibility had improved I dropped into the back corries which gave some amazing off piste action, fresh powder on a firm base and fresh tracks too - superb! The odd whiteout added to the challenge, this is the UK after all!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ledge Route, Ben Nevis

I took the boys up Ledge Route on the Ben today for the final day of their winter skills week. Its a bit more than you would expect on a winter walking week but we had dropped down to two people for our last day so decided to push things on a bit and the boys were mad for it. The snow in general was softer than we had yesterday on Aonach Mor but once on the ridge it was great, giving confidence inspiring foot placements and of course looking amazing. There were fresh snow showers all day and we had to forge the route as the first party on it for the day. Not a lot of other people out today and some more white out navigation from the summit - awesome end to a brilliant week, thanks folks. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Glimpses of sun and crisp neve

There were stars in the sky last night and the resulting freeze was just what was needed to give some lovely neve for us to skip across on Aonach Mor today. We also enjoyed some lovely views when the clouds parted as well as some proper white out navigation when they didn't! We were able to use the neve to perfect ice axe arrest and crampon technique, looked at the use of a rope to approach an edge in winter and did some great poor visibility nav to the summit. Another great Scottish winter day out!