Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year in the Mountains 2014 - Now Screening!

I have spent the last few days putting the finishing touches to this years film, A Year in the Mountains 2014. The film is the story of my year in 2014 and documents the adventures that I have been lucky enough to share with friends and clients around the world and from my home in the mountains of Snowdonia. Many thanks to all of you who have joined us in 2014 and Happy New Year!

Here are some stills of some of my favourite shots in the film.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Crib Goch in the snow

It has been another stunning day here in Snowdonia. Eager to blow the cobwebs away I took the dog for a walk this morning. We headed along Crib Goch in the sunshine, managing to get some great footage for this years "A Year in the Mountains 2014" film that I am editing the fishing touches too. I hope you like the selfies :-)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Beautiful in Snowdonia

We have had some snow here in Snowdonia and now our mountains look like a Christmas card - simply beautiful!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Morocco Thank You

Hi Rob -

Hope all well and your course in Tignes is going/has gone well.

Please don't think, for a moment, that the delay in my getting this note to you has in any way diminished my memory of our stupendous expedition to the High Atlas mountains that we completed with the 'Toubkal Gang' a fortnight ago. The excursion had to be experienced to be believed and whilst we weren't able to tackle Toubkal I thought the trip was perhaps, in some ways, better than had we summited given the exposure we had to such extreme snow conditions and the use of snow shoes and crampons. 

As you know, other than my introduction to winter mountaineering via your Scottish skills course last January, it was my first real outing in 'full-on' winter conditions and the experience at altitude did not disappoint. I had a fabulous time, with a great crowd of people - Yorkshire contingent aside - which coupled with the 'snow science' - love the expression - sessions, snow hole building acclimatisation exercises and your and Bryn's safety first approach ensured that there was never a moment of concern and enjoyment was the name of the game. 

A couple of relaxing - and warm - nights in Marrakech was the icing - no pun intended - on the cake; my thanks know no bounds and I look forward to being with you in the mountains again soon.

Best regards.

Bob - Morocco 2014

Alpine Ski Leader

I have just got home from the Aosta Valley in Italy where I spent the week on an Alpine Ski leader course. The week combines training and assessment over 6 very long days and evenings in the skills required to lead and provide basic instruction to ski groups within the boundaries of a ski resort. It was a very enjoyable week and nice to be on the other side of the assessment process as much of my year is spent in the role of assessor these days. I am pleased to say I passed, enjoyed some great company and look forward to doing the off-piste version of the course in February.

Friday, December 12, 2014

American Avalanche Association Level 2 Course in Tignes

I have had a great week of learning and ski touring in Tignes in the French Alps this week. I have spent the week on an American Avalanche Association Level 2 course that has been run by Bruce Woodland and Mike Austin of Avalanche Geeks. The course is designed for professionals who operate in the winter environment and built nicely on existing knowledge to explode some myths, give some structure to avalanche avoidance and examine leadership in avalanche terrain. It has been a great mixture of classroom theory and practical application whilst touring off piste and has seen some pretty long days! I am now off to the Aosta Valley in Italy for a weeks course on ski leadership.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

American Avalanche Association Level 2 Course

I am in Tignes this week enjoying 4 days of CPD on a Level 2 American Avalanche Association course. It's pretty damn cold, -15c whilst digging pits but stunning blue skies! Getting properly geeky with snow and sharing knowledge with BMG tutors, great fun! 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Atlas Mountains of Morocco

LThis week has been spent in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Three days before we were due to leave the UK I had an email from my operator to say there was 3metres of snow at the high mountain hut we were stopping at, did I want porters rather than mules? Long armed porters were duly hired and the weather forecast checked, another 1.5 metres of snow was forecast for the day we arrived! 

All this weather meant that the road into the mountains was closed and so our first night was spent in Marrakech with the main aim of avoiding getting people ill before the trip began. On Sunday we were able to forge a path to Imlil where we decided an extra day of letting the snow calm down was in order before our walk in to the hut at 3200m. 

Our walk up to the hut on Monday gave plenty of opportunity to discuss the Avalanche hazard, I have never seen so much snow here and the mountains were absolutely plastered. We had a lovely day of light snow showers and sunny spells giving some fantastic light and atmosphere. 

Having seen the forecast and conditions I had arranged for each of my clients to bring snowshoes and so Tuesday was spent acclimatising, practising snowshoe use and teaching Avalanche avoidance. The reports had not been exaggerated and we found a consistent depth of 3-4 metres of snow, with 2 metres of wind slab on all aspects and lots of natural Avalanche activity.  

Wednesday dawned another stunning bluebird day. Parties were attempting Toubkal but were floundering in the deep snow. I have had fellow instructor and friend Bryn working for me this week and we took the team towards Ras and Times Guida in the hope that the ridge leading up would provide a safe haven from the avalanche conditions. Unfortunately we weren't able to get that far, stopped by the huge amounts of windslab that were visible on the approach to the col. Nevertheless we enjoyed a beautiful snowshoe journey, managing the avalanche risk by travelling over rolling terrain and being very aware of what was above us. 

Thursday was a similar day, blues skies and sunshine and massive amounts of snow! By this time we had all relaxed into the trip and the cards we had been dealt and spent the day looking at winter skills and shelter building whilst topping up the tan and then Friday back to the bright lights of Marrakech. 

This was one of the most challenging trips I have run in terms of the conditions we faced and it's testament to the clients open minded and relaxed approach that a great time was had by all, safely.