Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BMC Funding

The British Mountaineering Council has recently announced £20,000 of funding for BMC affiliated clubs. This has been ring fenced for the development of newsletters, websites and instruction from qualified Guides and Instructors.

I was lucky enough to work with a couple of clubs who secured this funding last year: Learning to lead and self rescue training.

If your club is interested in doing something then feel free to get in touch.

The deadline for applications is the 30 April 2010, full details are available here at the BMC site.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ben Nevis week..

Apologies for the lack of updates, I have been staying up in the CIC Hut on Ben Nevis for the week with Derek, Richard, Norrie and Tamsin.

This was for five days of climbing for West Coast Mountain Guides. The weather has been changeable this week, frequently thawing at high altitudes. Despite this we made the most of the good conditions climbing: 'No3 Gully Buttress' III, 'Thompson's Route' IV,4, 'Central Gully Right Hand' IV,4, 'Italian Right Hand' IV,4, 'Ledge Route' II and 'Orion Direct' V,5. Richard is pictures on No3 Gully Buttress early in the week (click thumbnail for a bigger image).

Sadly, a slight temperature inversion forced us to come down early today happy with a good weeks climbing. The weather looks set to be cold over the weekend and into next week. Many of the big classics higher on the mountain will remain in good condition into Easter - winter 2009/2010 isn't over yet!...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ben Nevis Ice..

Andy Lole, Graham Stein and I decided to head up Ben Nevis today to see what had survived the recent thaw.

Although choices are a bit more limited than in recent weeks, conditions were generally good on the mountain. We opted for 'Slav Route' VI,5 (along with Mike Pescod and Radek) while other parties climbed 'Orion Directissima' VI,5, 'Orion Direct' V,5 (Alan Kimber), 'Astral Highway' VI,5, 'Zero Gully' V,4 etc.

It was fairly warm resulting in dripping and plastic ice with some routes suffering. 'Point Five' V,5 was climbed but was very slushy resulting in a couple of teams retreating. Fingers crossed the conditions will improve a little if the freezing level comes down...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aonach Mor and The Devils Staircase..

Yesterday was day four of our Scottish Hillwalking course with Plas Y Brenin.

With a deteriorating forecast we decided to head to Aonach Mor, taking the time to build some emergency snow shelters. After excavating these small holes and building perhaps the biggest "shovel-up" in living history we made our descent to the Gondola Station in torrential rain.

Sadly, this morning dawned with high winds and more heavy rain forecast. This combined with a correspondingly high avalanche risk, forced us below the snowline to do some navigation around the Devil's Staircase.

The recent heavy rain has saturated the snow pack adding to the load and hence increasing the possibility of failure on many aspects. As they say in Scotland "It will be great if it freezes"....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beinn Dorain..

Today we decided to put some of our winter skills into practice with an ascent of Beinn Dorain above Bridge of Orchy. This was the third day of a Plas Y Brenin Scottish Hill walking week.

We made a steady ascent up to the snowline, following the ridge to the summit on refrozen snow. This made for good walking conditions and is an improvement on previous days.

Further north it sounds like it has been busy on Ben Nevis with parties climbing on the Orion Face.

Monday, March 15, 2010

White Corries..

The day started with rain and low cloud here in Glen Coe this morning. With a high freezing level and moderate winds we decided to go to the White Corries ski area. (The second day on a Plas Y Brenin Scottish Winter Hillwalking course).

Here we were able to practice plenty of crampon technique on snow, ice and rock as well as some winter navigation.

The weather improved dramatically during the day with the cloud base lifting and breaking up in the afternoon. This combined with a lowering freezing level should bring good conditions tomorrow..

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Buachaille Etive Beag..

Today was the first of a five day Scottish Winter Hill Walking Course for Plas Y Brenin.

With a relatively high freezing level and rain/snow showers forecast we decided to visit Buachaille Etive Beag.

We took in the summit as well as looking at axe use, movement on steeper ground and found the time to do some snowpack analysis.

Further north on Ben Nevis it sounds like quite a few teams were turning round at the CIC hut. Fingers crossed for a drop on the freezing level..

Thursday, March 11, 2010

British Guides Winter Test..

Apologies for the lack of updates. Last week was the British Mountain Guides (BMG) Winter Test, six days based at Glenmore Lodge.

I spent six days with Graham Ettle, Jonathan Preston and John Lyall being assessed in the Cairngorms and The North West Highlands. During the week we managed a two day snowhole mini break, as well as ascents of Belhaven V,6, The Cooler V,5, Fingers Ridge IV,4, Rampant IV,5, The Message IV,6 and Hybrid IV,4.

Thanks to Graham, John and Jonathan for a good week.

Elsewhere in Scotland Andy Lole and Graham Stein made an ascent of Labrynth Direct VII,6 on Creag an Dubh Loch. Sadly, this uber classic route is unlikely to be condition now due to rising temperatures and freezing levels.

Higher on Ben Nevis the higher routes are coming into condition with the Minus Gullies, Point 5, Orion Direct etc all seeing ascents.

At a guess though these will be in proper condition and not in super fat "spring nick" so don't forget the shorter ice screws and remember to pack some moral fibre...

Saturday, March 06, 2010

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Chris Walker

Some tragic news.. Some readers of my blog may well have already heard about Chris Walkers death on Buchaille Etive Mor on the 24th February, which has been widely reported in the press.

Chris was a friend and fellow Mountaineering Instructor (MIC) with whom I shared many ascents with both here and in the UK and abroad. I would just like to send out my sincere condolences to all his friends and family. He had a passion for the mountains which he shared easily with his friends and those who joined him out on the hill; regardless of whether it was in the Himalaya or the rolling hills of the Lake District.


I can't really say much more but will leave you with a couple of images of some great days out: Ski Touring close to Val d'Isere, rock climbing on Pavey Ark and Creag Mhor Thollaidh.