Saturday, 27 April 2013

Rebuffet Route

Up we go
So, after bailing out of the last ski tour, we decided to climb the Rebuffet Route (6c) on the Aiguille Du Midi.  Amazing granite crack climbing.  A bit of a shock to the system as I hadn't climbed rock for ages but managed to lead the route clean.  An amazing day out followed by a night in the Cosmiques Hut before skiing out down the Vallee Blanche!
Mike coming up the crux pitch

Hanging out on a belay

Room with a view!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ski touring in Italy

About to embark on our second ski tour
After an absolute epic drive from Austria to Italy, Mike and I embarked on our second ski tour.  The Grand Paridiso tour.  We had a casual start as it was only a two hour skin up to the Sella hut where we had organised to meet up with John, Paul and Guy.  The next day we set off early doors and made our way up to a col.  It turned out that it was the wrong col (I wasn't navigating!) and we ended up doing some gnarly down climbing and even gnarlier abseiling.  This got us onto some terrible snow, none of us could turn, it was almost impossible to ski.  From this point Mike and I decided to bail down to Val Savarenche and made our way back to Aosta.  It was a nice little day tour but conditions weren't ideal.

Up to the col we go...

Back down the other side

Unpleasant abseiling

Guy (the other one) keeping well out of the way of falling debris

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Piste Skiing in Austria

For the last couple of days Mike and I have been in St Anton brushing up on our (well mainly my) skiing technique.  First day was very much an endurance day - to see how many runs we could do from the top. The second day we found some sweet powder lines that had fallen overnight before hitting the snow park for some jumps!  Two brilliant days of downhill action!
Mike hitting some kickers!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Ski touring in Austria

So after a fantastic party at the Original Hofbrau House in Munich, we departed from our friends and made our way to Austria.
Re-hydration before our ski touring
From here we made tracks from Ischgl through some absolutly stunning mountain scenery, through some very fancy mountain huts through to Galtur where it was a short journey back to the van.  As this was the first time Mike and I have ski toured we found it a very steep learning curve but we were pretty sure we knew what we were doing by the end of it!
Mike enjoying the blue skies

Well needed rests!  It was getting hot!

Nice gentle ascents

More rests...

We found it hard skiing with a heavy rucksack!

First attempt at a "steep" kick turn....Failed!
 It was a brilliant first ski tour, spent several days in the mountains.  Snow conditions werent perfect but we toured some great mountians and found some good descents.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Keep on winter climbing but that is enough for me!

Once again the winter season has come to an end for me.  This has been my best winter ever!  A combination of fantastic conditions, lots of psyched climbing partners, very willing clients and great employers has meant I have completed 82 winter climbs and had over 100 days out.  I just want to say thank you to all my employers for the winter - Martin Moran, Glenmore Lodge, Abacus Mountain Guides, Skye Guides and Tarmachan Mountaineering.  A massive thankyou to all my clients both new and old, especially those who were keen to explore new places and climb routes I'd never done before.  Seeking out new routes is one of the highlights of my work.  Most of all I would like to thank all the climbing partners that came out with me on my days off - Kenny Grant, Murdoch Jamieson, Donald King, Blair Fyffe, Keith Ball, Martin Moran, Al Halewood, Mike Lates, Craig Mackay, John Orr, Guy Buckingham and Ewan Rodgers.  These days I shall remember for a long time.

So I'm going to take a little bit of time off and go skiing and climbing in the Alps.  All this winter fitness will need to be put to good use.  I'll update blog this now and again but I'm not promising anything!  I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the winter and has a great spring.  Get outside, stay healthy and smile!  See you all soon!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Boomer's Requium

 Today was my last day out with John and my final day out this winter season.  After yesterdays grade V John and I were keen to do one more before we finish.  Today we climbed Boomer's Requium (V,5) which is such a brilliant route.  The crux pitch is nice and steep with an option to bridge out if arms are not feeling super strong.  The upper pitches have been catching the sun and softened up quite alot but didnt cause any issues.  On the last section where we moved together, John got hit by a lump of oce on this leg which meant for a slow hobble down the Red Burn as he didnt fancy down climbing Number 4.  It was another stunning day and a brilliant route to wrap up my winter season.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Point 5 Gully

Day 4 of John's climbing course and today we reached his ultimate goal of climbing (cruising) Grade V.  So what to do tomorrow?  Consolidate on grade V of course.  So which one to do...?  Everyone was out was ace!  Mike was on Orion as well as Max, Ally was on Minus 3, James was on Astral Highway and then did Zero Gully.  Teams on Indicator Wall too as well as several folk out enjoying the great weather.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Number 6 Gully

Team ahead making swift work of the crux

Speedy clove hitch trickery

John pulling out of the crux pitch

John pointing to his home

SCNL was deserted

Saw a couple of solo walkers...what a day for it!
John was keen for a mid week break from Ben Nevis so we ended up in Glencoe.  John liked the idea of Number 6 Gully (IV,4) as it had a short walk in and its not a massive day.... (un)Fortunately it didn't pan out that way.  We had agreed that we would take it easy today and not have a massive day, so we have energy for two more days on Ben Nevis.  On Number 6 Gully, we took the line of most resistance and practised more specific steep ice climbing techniques.  At the top of the route, instead of traversing off we just kept climbing, and climbing and climbing until we found ourselves on top of Stop Coire nan Lochain, one of the finest peaks in the area.  So there goes our 'rest day'!  Calves were burning with lactic acid, face's were burning with the suns rays but it was so worth it.  SCNL has to be one of my favourite summits with stunning views in all directions.  It was a brilliant top out!  The descent was so easy too, with plenty of steep soft snow to bounce down back into the coire below Bidean and back onto the path.  On another note....Elliot's Downfall is getting there....oh and on another's climb was my 80th route of the winter ever!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

North Gully

John leading the first pitch

Happy at the second belay...loving leading
Loving winter climbing!

Loving the moment!

Easy peesy for someone as cool as John!

Big Day for John today!  Leading day!  We had Jenny along who was going to be a willing belayer and also to climb here first ever winter climb!  It was definitely going to be a good day had by all!  We were all able to solo up to the base of North Gully (II) where John created a strong belay for us all to attach into and get ourselves organised.  With a stance cut, ropes flaked and plan made, John set off on his first lead.  He instantly spotted the first runner, crucial to protect the belay.  This gave confidence as he moved up into the steeper ground.  Ice screws were going in like a dream and John's climbing was very steady, it was great to watch.  Belay didn't take long to make.  John led 5 contrasting pitches as I soloed next to him helping and coaching where he needed.  As Jenny climbed up, John and I could both see that she was really enjoying the experience.  She cruised up every pitch and didn't even get cold...amazing!  After topping out we made the 20 minute walk up to the summit for more stunning views.  We have been blessed with several of these over the last week!  A great day for both John and Jenny and very enjoyable for me too.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Green Gully

John snug on his belay with his green jacket on Green Gully

Powering up the route!


Today I was back out with John for the first day of his 5 days winter climbing.  The plan for the week is a bit of mileage  a bit of leading, a bit more mileage and some grade V action, something John has been really keen to get involved with.  We started our week on the classic Green Gully (IV,4) which gave great climbing in a very quiet Coire   It was great to be climbing this route without getting bombarded from other folk.  The left hand finish at the top give a direct finish and a wee bit more ice climbing and is well worth doing.  From the top we headed straight for Number 4 gully for our descent and also to check out the route that John will lead tomorrow.  Another stunning day!