Monday, 2 May 2016

Setting up for the summer

They might be small but The Lake District has excellent crags and mountains
With my planned winter work well out of the way I'm now looking forward to the transition into the summer season.  With winter still stubborn in the mountains I will still be carrying axes and crampons on some of my objectives.  No light weight summer bag just yet.  I have been looking forward to 2016 I turn 30.  As do several of my friends and between two birthday weekends last month, one at a beer festival in Stuttgart and a surprise party down south, I have been trying to regain some rock climbing fitness, see friends and family and do a little exploring.  Whilst being in the Lakes we managed to get some days climbing at St. Bee's, Langdale, Borrowdale and near Thirlmere.  The nice weather has been surrounded with wet days so I have made use of The Ice Factor, Kendal Wall, Keswick Wall and Ratho.  Unfortunately, I'm weak as a kitten after winter.  The new wall opening in Fort William might help build up a little strength for the coming climbing projects this summer.
Can't go to a German beer festival without wearing a Leiderhosen and drinking a few Steins
Another course done, another signature in the book
Whilst in the Lakes, I embarked onto my first training course (after the inductions) to become a IFMGA Mountain Guide.  The course, Rock One Training, focussed on all aspects of British summer mountain guiding.  It was a great week with a wide range of fellow candidates, some with instructing and guiding backgrounds and some new to the concept of managing and guiding novices.  I have been asked to write a course report on the week which will be put on the new British Mountain Guide website soon so feel free to have a read.
Mountain cragging on Pavey Ark
We had fantastic weather

The milestone of turning the big 30 this year will be marked with some interesting climbing trips with friends, family and clients, both old and new.  I hope we all have dry rock and full chalk bags.  I left my camera up north so only have a couple of picture of my phone.

Bouldering ayt St Bee's whilst the crag dried
We were pretty lucky with the weather
Got very close to this little fella

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Winter Mountaineeing - my final course this winter


With the warm temperatures of late, the outlook to this week was looking doubtful in terms of winter conditions in the NW highlands.  This was my final week working for Moran Mountain this winter and the Easter winter mountaineering course was full. and to top it off...we had plenty of snow.  We visited Glen Shiel, Liatach, Beinn Eighe and Skye for some fantastic days on the snow and with a great team.  Looks like I have one more day of winter before I can make a start on the rock climbing season.






Friday, 25 March 2016

Torridon sandstone, quartzite and milage

The last two day I have been working with John and we took the Torridon office as a change of scenery.  We left our ice axes and ice screws behind and took our summer boots and scrambling gloves.  John had never been to the Torridon hills so I suggested we have some big days on the Torridon Giants.  Our first day finished after a 22 km round on Beinn Eighe massiv.  We started out climb on to Sail Mor (980m) via the Ling, Lawson and Glovers route, which is just as good in summer conditions as it is in winter.  From here we left the sandstone and climbed up quartz to the summit of Coinneach Mhor which gave some brilliant scrambling.  As we were moving well we went on to Ruadh-stac Mor (1010m), a first for me and then we continued onto Spidean Coire nana Clach (993m) before coming down into Coire an Laoigh.


As the weather wasnt looking great for a Liatach traverse on day two we opted for the Beinn Alligan traverse.  Over the horns, Sgurr Mor (986m) and Ton na Gruagaich (922m) which turned out to be a great option and an easy day for me as John did all the navigating which, despite following a ridge still took some thought in the clouds.



Monday, 21 March 2016

Good weather round up

If you have been in Scotland in the last few weeks you will know it has been the place to be.  Blue skies, no wind and views as far as the eye can see.  With such amazing weather I have kept away from the computer so here is a very quick round up of the last couple of weeks since the 'weekend warriors'.  We have had a pretty good haul of route's, even went rock climbing to kick of the rock season.
First off was The Curtain (IV,5) with Alan, a gentleman's day out.  Then I was out with John on Observatory Buttress (V,4) on Ben Nevis, Twisting Gully (III) on Stob Coire Nan Lochain, followed by 3 days in the Cairngorms; Aladdins Mirror Direct (IV,4), Pygmy Ridge (IV,5) and a hill day over to Ben Macdui, followed by a 'follow my nose' day to finish off before heading back to the West.  Then I had another day out with Alan on Ben Nevis where we climbed Indicator Wall (V,4) and the following day I was out with John and we climbed Indicator RH (V,5).  Both were brilliant routes which I had never done before.  Well worth the walk!  We saw a team on Smiths Route (V,5) and that was enough to get John psyched for it.  The next day we took the walk and climbed this brilliant route.  Top end grade 5 I think and John lapped up the lactic acid!  After a good few days on ice we opted a day on Tower Ridge (IV,3), a super classic and it was in beautiful alpine conditions.  I ended up with a rest day so I put rock shoes on for the first time in months and climbed in Glen Nevis in the sunshine which was brilliant.  It was so good that I persuaded John to come climbing there the next day too rather than having a big mountain day.  We had a great time ticking off some more Glen Nevis classics I have never done.  Today, we went back to the Ben and climbed Hadrian's Wall (V,5) which was brilliant conditions but a very wet day indeed.  Here is a selection of photos from some of the days.
We had this view for many days

Indicator Wall

Great week to be in the mountains

A special summit

John leading to Ben Macdui

Cruising around the Northern Corries

Climbers on Smiths route

High on Indicator Wall

Alan hanging out

Summit belay

John high on Indicator RH

Number 4 Gully

John on the Eastern Traverse...photo bombed by a foot!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Weekend warriors


Dave, Mara, Jose and Ben
Ice time

This weekend I was out with Jose, Mara and Dave for a couple of days of introduction's to the winter mountains.  They wanted a bit of everything so they could get a little taste of what winter is all about and then they could go away and decide what they want to focus their time on.  We started off with basic skills at Stob Coire Nan Lochan, introducing them to the multiple spikes that we carry, how to 'faff' with gloves, how to dig in the snow and much much more.  We finished the day with a traverse of the mountain and a descent of Broard Gully before heading back to the Clachaig for beers and dinner.  
Mara making winter climbing look glamorous
Day two we opted for Ben Nevis to continue where we left off and cover some aspect we hadn't got round too.  Starting off with a bit of ice craft, then followed an ascent of ledge route looking at rope work and rock protection followed by the summit via white out navigation.  Followed by an abseil descent into number 4 gully and finished off the weekend with some ice axe arresting.
Team London on Ledge Route

Down time

Thursday, 3 March 2016

The double act stike back

Cuillin Ridge

Second summit for the day
This week I was back out with Ade and Katya who I have spent quite a bit of time in the hills with. Usually Sam joins us but this year he has become a grown up, got himself a mortgage and couldn't commit to a climbing trip in Scotland.  Sam...you were missed!  So with just a trio, we spent our first day having a shake down on Skye.  I suppose this wasn't a particular easy day but as Ade asked for a 'boot camp' experience.  We have a very varied week of weather, plenty of snow, fluctuation temperatures which gave us a very difficult day of ice climbing on Liatach, a dry of shelter at the local dry tooling crag, a day of epic proportion on Fuar Tholl and finally a nice day on Blaven on the Isle of Skye.
Carnage on Fuar Tholl

Ade loving the soft snow

Beautiful skyline

Katya giving me a rest by belaying Ade

Katya getting too close

Bum slide