Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mixed in the Cairngorms..

Graham, Andy and I made an ascent of 'The Message' IV,6 in the Cairngorms on Friday.

The Mess of Pottage was in good condition with a good covering of snow on the ledges, and snow/ice in the cracks. Exposed turf was freezing high up on the crag.

Other areas won't have frozen turf due to the depth of insulating snow on lee aspects e.g Fiacaill Buttress.

Further south, North Wales has a good coating of snow high up making for good winter walking conditions. Snow was also falling on the Dark Peak last night.

Looks like cold weather for a few days yet with a cold airflow from the north..

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Winter is here...

Graham Stein and I have been out in the northern corries of the Cairngorms today.

There is plenty of fresh snow coming down, with the buttresses well covered on the grade IV+ mixed routes. No surprise given the forecast that it's windy, and feels very cold on the crag.

There is also lots of fresh windslab and unstable cornices that are prone to collapse, as witnessed today. Care is definitely required but product can be had if you are keen..

Monday, November 23, 2009

Scottish Winter 2009/2010..

It looks like snow on the way for the Scottish Highlands in the next couple of days..

Fingers crossed there might be some early season sport for those prepared to walk up to the 1000m freezing level. Later in the season, I will be making the annual pilgrimage north for the winter.

This year I will be available for private instruction and guiding on dates to suit, and on the following courses:

Winter Mountaineering, 11-15 Jan

Intro Winter Climbing 30/31 Jan, Mixing it Up: Scottish Performance Mixed 8-12 Feb, Cold Climbs 15-17 Feb Details at

For the winter weather watchers have a look at the Preliminary Forecast for Winter 2009/2010

Kendal Mountain Film Festival..

I was up at Kendal Mountain Film Festival over the weekend to speak about our Phari Lapcha 2008 Expedition to Nepal.

It was great to speak as part of the Mount Everest Foundation, British Mountaineering Council and Alpine Club round of lectures.

More importantly, there were also some inspiring talks from Tom Stewart, Gavin Pike and James Clapham on Kyrgystan and Alaska respectively.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lead Coaching at Stanage and Lawrencefield..

Neil Johnson was out with Duncan today at Stanage and Lawrencefield. Duncan was keen to work on some climbing movement, as well as potentially pushing his grade leading.

Despite the high winds they visited Stanage first, leading and seconding a number of routes up to VS. From here Duncan managed to up his limit by a couple of technical grades, making smooth leads of 'Right Hand Trinity' HS 4b, and 'Christmas Crack' HS 4a.

They finished the day with 'Flying Buttress' HVD 4a, before moving to Lawrencefield and ticking off 'Three Tree Climb' HS 4b. Not a bad days "product"..

University of Derby at Froggatt..

Mike Gray and I were out at Froggatt today assessing students on the University of Derby Buxton Foundation Outdoor Activities course.

We spent the day looking at personal and group skills associated with climbing at a single pitch crag. Despite the heavy rain yesterday, the crag was bone dry due to the strong south westerly wind. This did give us additional problems at the top of the crag, making for some inventive rigging.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Climbing Wall Leading Award (CWLA) Workshop in Manchester..

I was over at the Manchester Climbing Centre today. Mountain Leader Training England were delivering a workshop for future providers of the new Climbing Wall Leading Award (CWLA).

Although still in a draft format, this award is aimed that existing Climbing Wall Award (CWA) or Single Pitch Award (SPA) holders who are keen to teach lead climbing indoors.

Fingers crossed this should be rolled out in spring 2010. For details keep an eye on the MLTE site and Peak Mountain Training website.

Just as well I was inside as the rainfall in the Peak District early this morning was biblical...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lawrencefield Quarry with Derby University..

Pete, Mike and I were at Lawrencefield Quarry today with students from Derby University Buxton.

The aim was to assess those present in a number of person and group climbing skills. Lawrencefield was the obvious choice with cold but dry rock in most areas..

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Introduction to Rock Climbing..

I have been out over the weekend with Kit, who was keen to experience some rock climbing.

On Saturday we visited Froggatt climbing plenty of routes from Mod-Very Severe - not bad for a first day of rock climbing! We finished the day with some bouldering at Burbage North along with tea and cake at Outside in Hathersage.

Sunday started well with the low cloud clearing quickly at Stanage, only to be replaced by torrential rain. This took us a little by surprise, but we managed to salvage the day with a visit to the Foundry in Sheffield.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Lead Coaching at Froggatt..

Matt and Mick joined me for a day of lead coaching at Froggatt today. Already experienced climbers indoors and out, they were keen to look at strategies for pushing their grade.

With heavy rain forecast late in the afternoon we made for Froggatt's fast drying slabs. Mick and Matt made quick progress and climbed 'Slab Recess', 'Gamma', 'Slab Recess Direct' HS 4c and 'Sunset Crack' HS 4b.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

North Wales with Derby Univesity..

Derby University (Buxton) are in North Wales this week with students from their outdoor courses.

I joined them yesterday for some night navigation around Moel Siabod in torrential rain. Despite this everybody achieved some good navigation legs and came away with a good idea as to the Mountain Leader (Summer) standard.

Today was spent on Tryfan traversing some steep ground and looking at risk management when scrambling with a small group.

There were some squally showers during the day with some hail on the highest summits. Further north in Scotland many areas have experienced a light dusting of snow.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Climbing with the MMC..

Ian Hey and I were both out with Nancy, Beatriz, Roz, James and Tom today for some more lead climbing training.

With heavy rain and strong winds lashing the Eastern Edges this morning we quickly made the decision to head indoors. We were lucky to make use of Edale Mountain Rescue Team's small training wall.

Here we revised belay systems, abseiling, prussiking etc before leaving to climb some routes at Lawrencefield Quarry. Due to the high winds the crag dried quickly although there is significant seepage down the lines of 'Boulevard' and 'Billy Wiz'.

Tomorrow looks like a good day for those able to take advantage of it...