Saturday, March 28, 2009

Running in the Peak..

With heavy and frequent rain showers in the Peak District this afternoon, I decided that a run was probably the best bet.

I left Burbage North in strong winds and sleet showers to do a circuit of the Burbage Valley, and Higgar Tor before visiting Stanage Pole. It was generally quiet but not everybody was hitting the plastic; there were a few hardy folk at Burbage North and Stanage!

Despite the heavy showers the rock was dry due to the strong winds, and with a great forecast tomorrow it's definitely worth heading out.

I will be heading over to North Wales to do some climbing with students from Liverpool John Moores University, fingers crossed for some good weather.

Finally, for the observant the picture is actually from the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon in Assynt, North West Scotland - Not Burbage North!....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Climbing Wall Award and Climbing coaching..

The last few days have seen me confined to local climbing walls.

First up was a Climbing Wall Award (CWA) Assessment at Rockcity in Hull, with David and Ally. I'm glad to say that both candidates passed joining the first 100 or so CWA holders in the country.

Today, I was at the Foundry in Sheffield with Derbyshire County Council's Adventurous Activities Team (YSAAT). The aim of the day for these experienced instructors was to look at the coaching process and the FUNdamental skills required for climbing at a foundation level...

Andy Turner has also updated his blog with a description of his and Tony Stone's recent ascent of 'Sassenach'. Also included are some impressively steep photo's.. Sassenach FWA

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Peak Gritstone..

It's great being back at home in the Peak District for a while; a good opportunity to feel the friction of the grit and the gentle tug of gravity at your feet.

This week has certainly been ideal gritstone bouldering weather, with clear skies, cool temperatures and a stiff breeze to remind you it's still March. Plenty of folk have been out at the Stanage Plantation, Burbage North, Burbage South and the Secret Garden to name a few venues.

Further north it still looks like winter conditions are prevailing in the Highlands, with the freezing level forecast to drop to 400m of Friday...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ski Touring in the Ecrins..

I have been away for a week's break in France. The weather has been settled, with blue skies and relatively warm temperatures allowing Tom, Chris, Paul and I to do most of the classic Ecrin's Haute Route.

This classic ski mountaineering route has the reputation of crossing some remote terrain and certainly puts the 'M' back in Ski Mountaineering.

We started in La Grave before crossing the Col Girose and the Breche du Rateau, enjoying a 1904m descent to La Berarde. Day 2 involved a long skin up the valley to the Refuge Temple Ecrins which was particularly hard to find due to the depth of snow. Day 3 saw an ascent of the Col de la Temple at 3322m, and a descent of the remote Glacier Noir below the impressive north faces of the Ailefroide and Pic Sans Nom. Day 4 took us from the Refuge du Glacier Blanc towards the Col d'Ecrins, our planned ascent of the Dome de Neige des Ecrins being hazardous due to new windslab accumulations. Finally Day 5 consisted of a lengthly descent to Ailefroid and the village of Pelvoux, phew.

Back in the Peak District I have heard that spring is definately on the way. See you out on the grit..

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stanage..

Dave Hollinger was out with Lex today climbing at Stanage Edge, the second of two days private instruction and guiding.

Although cold the conditions are good on the grit between the showers..

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sassenach receives Winter Ascent..

The big news on the west coast of Scotland this evening is that Andy Turner and Tony Stone have made the first winter ascent of 'Sassenach'.

This big corner line has been much eyed over the years by Nevis regulars but the E3 6a section (or E1 with points of aid) to start probably put many folk off. It's certainly a major addition to modern mixed climbing on the mountain, and hopefully it will receive a repeat soon..

Picture here from the SAIS Lochaber blog.

Back in the Peak District the weather has been good over the last couple of days. Lex has been out with Dave Hollinger as an introduction to rock climbing. They chose to visit Lawrencefield which is a good choice during the winter and spring, being sheltered from the wind.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Stob Coire nan Lochan..

Martin, Jeremy and I visited the peak of Stob Coire nan Lochan yesterday.

Sadly, the heavy rain resulted in a sodden snow pack, making for hard going. There was also considerable avalanche activity as the freezing level shot above the summits. In the long run these dramatic thaws are good for the build up on the higher crags such as Ben Nevis and Aonach Beag.

Hopefully we will see the Orion Face and Royal Pardon building towards the end of the month...

Gearr Aonach..

Martin, Jeremy, Glyn and I decided to visit the 'Zig Zags', during a day of high winds and snow showers.

Here we practised some rope work before rigging some abseils to return to the base of the route. The weather looks stormy and cold for the coming week which should continue to add to the build up of snow and ice on the highest summits..

http://www.alpine-guides.com

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Stob Coire nan Lochan..

Martin, Jeremy and I visited the peak of Stob Coire nan Lochan today. Sadly, the heavy rain resulted in a sodden snow pack, making for hard going. There was also considerable avalanche activity as the freezing level shot above the summits. In the long run these dramatic thaws are good for the build up on the higher crags such as Ben Nevis and Aonach Beag. Hopefully we will see the Orion Face and Royal Pardon building towards the end of the month... http://www.jamesthacker.co.uk Sent by Nokia E51

Friday, March 06, 2009

Centurion

Andy Turner, Iain Small and Tony Stone made an ascent of Centurion VIII,8 on Ben Nevis today. This saught after line has only received a handful of ascents due to paucity of conditions, which makes it even more impressive.

The weekend is set to be stormy with gale force winds - ideal for the full Scottish experience....

Aonach Mor Winter Skills..

Jeremy, Martin and I were at Aonach Mor today doing some essential skills for mountaineering.

Hopefully, we will get the chance to put these into practice over the next couple of days. It was certainly much warmer this afternoon on the hill which has increased the avalanche hazard considerably even at quite low altitudes.

http://www.alpine-guides.com/

Over the last two weeks, Team Petzl have been here in Scotland to experience our quality conditions. Despite the tricky weather they have amassed a respectable tally of routes including Darth Vader, Babylon, Route One Direct (Ben Nevis) and Central Grooves (Stob Coire nan Lochan).

Ueli Steck, famous for his speed ascents on the Eiger, Matterhorn and Jorasses also, did the fourth ascent of Andy Turner's route 'The Secret' (IX,9) in about 20 minutes with three runners! For full details of their trip have a look at the Team Petzl Blog's for some pictures and video..

The Secret http://ueli-steck.petzlteam.com//index.php/post/2009/03/02/Scottish-Ice-Trip-Day-6-the-Secret

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Deep snow..

The weather cleared a little on the west coast this morning, following 24 hours of snow fall. Miles and I decided to head up to Ben Nevis.

After some serious trail breaking through knee deep snow we made it to Carn Dearg buttress and climbed Route II Direct start. Team Petzl also did many routes in the vacinity. The snow conditions will remain hazardous for days to come, so pick your venue and route carefully...