Friday, 31 January 2014

Quick skiing hit to the Alps

Blue sky at last
I took a few days out and nipped out to the Alps for a few days Skiing at Avoriaz, the Portes du Soleil.  I went with my school buddy who I used to go snowboarding with all the time when we were at school. I have ditched my snowboard after 8 years on the board and now spent the last 2 years on ski's.  A very good choice I think.  Most importantly is I can go up hill with my ski'd, go fast on flats and be quick off the lifts.  Ok...i agree, maybe I dont make skiing look cool but im trying!  One day when I get better!  Just a wedding to go to this weekend then back to Scotland for some sustained days of work and climbing.  I am chomping at the bit to get my axes back out.  Well done to Tony and Ian on Scansor, Murdoch and Ian on Sundance, Kenny and John on Central Grooves!  I want to do them all (well maybe not so much Scansor...too hard for me)!
Me and Jez

Time to kill on a flat

Jez, Dave and I

Thursday, 23 January 2014

North West Highlands

Team summit shot
For the last week I have been based in Stratchcarron working for Martin Moran.  I was working on and Introduction to Winter Climbing course with Dawn, Cassie and Charlie.  All with varied experiences we covered lots of routes, venues and skills.  We visited Skye, Glen Shiel, Fuar Tholl, training crags and the dry tooling crag for a broad experience of what winter climbing is all about.  The snow conditions were pretty limited but we got plenty done with the Forcan Ridge being a particular highlight..quite a ridge!

Its great to be back in the North West.  Looking forward to my next two week stint up here..

Chaz enjoying a bit of mixed

Dawn and Chaz in the white room

Cassi and Chaz on the Forcan Ridge

Photo time on the summit

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Team Thompson

Team Thompson
Today I was back out with family team Alan, Linda and their son Austin.  It was to be an interesting day for everyone.  Linda hasnt had crampons on for a number of years and Austin was keen to do a wee bit of leading.  We headed for Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor as it is always a crowd pleaser and such a fun route, not to mention the short walk in for those wishing for a gentle day after the new years festivities.

Linda and Alan being brought up by Austin

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

It was the Inaccessible Pinnicle

Not sunny today
So today wasn't quite a nice as yesterday....  It rained, it was windy, it was was Skye after all!  Chris and I made the most of it non the less.  We were hoping for snow on the very tops so we headed up to the Inaccessible Pinnacle with our soggy fingers crossed.  Unfortunately the rain didn't turn to snow as we topped out on Sgurr Dearg.  As we caught a glimpse of the striking plug of rock, however our eyes were lashed shut by the horizontal rain and driving winds.  It didn't require me to make the call that we weren't going to climb the In Pinn today. "You'd have to be a bloody idiot to climb that in this weather!" Chris screams over the howling gale.  All I could do is agree.  We knew our only sensible option was to descend back into Coire na Banachdaich and swim back to the car.  A good stretch of the legs and glad we braved the elements.

Getting protection from the wind

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

North West Face Route

A wee bit cloudy...but snowy!
Chris hanging out on the first belay
Another top day today.  The Isle of Skye was the venue of choice for Chris and his two day winter climbing stint.  We had a fantastic day climbing North West Face Route (II/III) on Sgurr Nan Gillian with good neve high up and very helpful snow lower down.  Unsurprisingly we had the mountain to ourselves and it was perfect.  On the summit we descended down the West ridge which was bomber neve and made progress very easy.  After a wee abseil we popped over to the North Face of Am Basteir to check out other routes.  A brilliant day on Skye.  There really is something quite special and satisfying about winter climbing on Skye.

Great wee chimney with great snow ice

Happy days on the belay

Chris romping up the easy ground

Looking back to Pinnacle Ridge on the way out

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Curved Ridge

Lovely morning colours
Gus and Mike enjoying a ridge
Today was just perfect.  Great weather, great conditions under foot, great company, great craic, summit too ourselves, amazing view and all finished off with a pint in the Clachaig.  I was out with Gus and Mike, both have been doing their fair share of gully climbing such at Number 4 on Ben Nevis and various others.  Today we opted for something a little more rocky and ridgy and Curved Ridge was the perfect choice.  It was hard enough to keep them on their toes and also showed them where their limit is and what they need to do to progress.  After climbing Curved Ridge, over a pint, we created action plans of what they need to work on and how to go about it.  Next time they will be on the sharp end digging out all the placements and protection!  A brilliant day.

Making good progress

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Flake Route

Bags off
Today I was out with Donald and Guy for a look up on Bidean in Glencoe.  The crag looked spectacular with plenty of snow around, huge avalanch debris and plastered crags.  We opted for Flake route (IV,6) which was fun climbing up tight squeezes and some steep mixed sections.  As the route was so buried it was hard to find gear, we worked out over a drink in the Clachaig, that on the 150m route, we only placed 7 bits of gear (excluding belays).  It felt bold!

Guy pulling over the crux

Donald looking cool

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Strong Genes

Charlie quickly learning what winter climbing is all about
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Today I was out with my cousin Charlie in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms.  A good day for us, it was Charlie's first time wearing crampons and doing any sort of winter climbing.  Charlie being a very experienced skier, he was used to being on snow and was happy moving around with spikes on.  We started off on Hidden Chimney (III) on Mess of Pottage which we shared with a few others from the university club I was working with last week.  After topping out, we scooted down and climbed Hidden Chimney Direct (IV,5 but was grade III today).  With the intention off abseiling/down climbing off after the first pitch, we decided against it and pressed on.  Conditions were generally good, plenty of soft snow required a wee bit of digging and scraping for gear if you wanted it.


Despite being younger, Charlie has a better beard growing ability

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Quick link up

Nice moves right at the start
Today Kenny and I hit the Cairngorms for a link up of s couple of routes.  We were quite keen to just keep moving and not hang around on belays too long.  Armed with a single rope and a small rack we started of on Original Summer Route (IV,5) on Aladdins Buttress.  It was in reasonable condition.  a good freeze would bring it into excellent condition.  After topping out we traversed across to Pygmy Ridge (IV,5) and quested up this.  As the winds intensified as we climbed hight we moved off the ridge proper and escaped up the top on the right...didnt fancy flying today.  With a tight time schedule we bailed out content and happy with two routes that neither of us had done.

Waiting for a team ahead to move so time to kill!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Ice factor today

Bad conditions outside meant I took Connor into the Ice Factor for a day of getting very pumped in the ice wall, the rock walls and the dry tooling wall.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Not pleasant conditions in Glencoe.

Aonach Eagach looking inviting but we know it this weather it would not be easy
Today I was out with Connor and Ginge from Limerick Mountaineering Club and we were unfortunately tied to climbing in Glencoe.  With a deteriorating forecast we knew we didn't want to hang around but a swift ascent up into the corrie didn't save the day.  On arrival to Stob Coire nan Lochain, one team decided to give it a miss and turned back but we pressed onto Ordinary Route on Central Buttress.  Unfortunately it wasn't to be today.  The first pitch was mainly unconsolidated snow, and alot of it at that.  Underneath the snow exposed summer conditions,  everything that was loose was wobbling, turf wasn't frozen.  I got to the top of the 1st pitch, dug around for the abseil tat around the block...the block lifted out!  So I created a new belay, brought the lads up and then abseiled off.  So if anybody wants 3 wires then you know where to go! ;)  Ill buy anyone a pint who returns them!  After abseiling off we made our way over to the Zig Zags and descended these is the rain.  Unfortunately we never hit the freezing level and couldn't see any signs of it above us.  I wont be going to Glencoe tomorrow that's for sure.
She won this time!

True warriors, will return for another battle!