Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas..

Merry Christmas! As I look forward to the New Year it looks like cold conditions may well continue for a time in Scotland.

The long range forecast for the winter can be seen here from Initial information suggests we might have slightly milder spell in early January, fingers crossed this will be relatively short lived.

As things stand there are still some spaces for winter courses this winter, so if you interested in swinging an axe please get in touch. Currently, there is:

1 Place on "Cold Climbs" 15-17 Feb. Come and climb some classic winter routes at III-V
2 Places on "Mixing it Up: Performance Scottish Mixed" 8-12 Feb. For those keen to work specifically on mixed climbing regardless of grade.

Finally, there is always the possibility of private guiding and instruction on dates to suit you. However, please don't wait until the last minute or you may be disappointed...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cold in the Peak..

The temperature has remained below freezing for a few days now in the Peak District. This has resulted in some light snow showers, with snow settling on the higher ground.

Despite a lack of significant snow some of the more exposed water courses remain frozen.

There has been quite a lot of speculation about Kinder Downfall. I haven't had a look, but would guess that there will be ice there. It will take over five days of freezing temperatures for the steeper 'Downfall Direct' IV ice fall to come into condition.

In the meantime it might be worth having a look at Waterfall Swallet. Although low lying this venue is a bit of a frost hollow and is normally the first to come in.

Despite the cold temperatures there were plenty of folk out climbing and bouldering today at Burbage North, Burbage West, Stanage and Millstone. In these conditions the 'Secret Garden' will also be a good bet being relatively sheltered from northerly winds.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Scottish Avalanche now LIVE..

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) starts it's forecasts this evening.

The news this year is that the forecast report is changing to make it more user friendly, hopefully aiding those avalanche avoidance decisions. Full details about the changes can be found here.

Forecasts are also available by SMS, great idea but at £1 per day you might be better using an internet enabled phone.

Pete Rowlands is pictured doing some avalanche observations in La Grave; slightly better conditions than those normally experienced by SAIS observers in Scotland..

Andy Campbell on Stanage Edge..

Andy Campbell, a soldier paralysed in a fall at Stanage Edge, recently revisited the crag with members of Edale Mountain Rescue Team.

Andy's accident occurred in April 2004 and since then he has been living life to the full, with numerous cycling, paragliding and skiing challenges for charity. On the 8th Dec Andy used a hand-powered mountain bike to get to the crag before using a rope system to haul himself to the top of the edge. Picture here.

For more information about Andy's story visit this BBC item including the opportunity to listen to the radio interview.

Andy Campbell's website.
Edale Mountain Rescue Team

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mountain Leader Training..

Neil Johnson and I were out at Higgar Tor today; the second of six days Mountain Leader Training.

We spent the day exploring security on steep ground and ropework. The aim being to look at these important skills in context during a two day expedition in North Wales. Unfortunately, there are no photos today as I simply couldn't bring myself to take shots in thick "pea soup" mist.

For more details about Mountain Leader Training visit the Peak Mountain Training website.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mini ski tour in Verbier..

We opted for a short ski tour today from Verbier up to the Col de la Chaux.

After a good descent on untracked powder we used the lifts to reach Les Attelas, before descending one of the Creblet Couloirs and the open slopes into Verbier.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Grands Montets..

Tim Blakemore, Alison, John and I were up on the Grands Montets today enjoying ~50cm of fresh powder which fell last night.

Despite a delayed start following some blasting on the steeper slopes, we managed to get some fresh tracks in...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Skiing Grands Montets..

The Grands Montets ski area opened today and was predictably busy.

Vicci and I decided to head up and try and find some untracked snow with some success. There are still plenty of rocks about however; the whole area could do with another significant snowfall.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Skiing in Verbier

Neil Johnson and I decided to head over to Verbier in Switzerland this morning.

After some fresh snowfall last night we enjoyed some good piste skiing combined with some fresh tracks. Back in Chamonix the Grands Montets should be opening tomorrow..

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Skiing Le Tour..

Neil Johnson and I skinned up to Col de Balme today from Le Tour for a bit of exercise.

Despite the fresh snow in the Chamonix valley last week the weather has remained particularly mild with a foehn wind at times. Despite this the Grands Montets and Aiquille du Midi lifts should be opening on Saturday.

Back in Scotland it sounds like conditions have been good. Dave Hollinger, Di Gilbert and Rich Bentley climbed 'Sidewinder' VII,8 on Ben Nevis' South Trident Buttress. Martin Moran and Pete MacPherson also made light work on 'Sioux Wall' VIII,8.

All in all it sounds like Scotland is the place to be just at the moment with colder conditions than continental Europe..