Thursday, September 30, 2010

Intro Rock at Stanage Edge..

I was joined by Phillipa and Liz today at Stanage Edge for a days introduction to climbing.

After three days of what can only be described as heavy rain it was a little damp this morning.  However, it was perhaps the best day this week with clear blue sky and plenty of sunshine.  This combined with a slight breeze, dried the edge out quickly proving that optimum "cragging" conditions can appear in minutes..

We did a variety of routes varying in grade, including 'Anatomy' VD, which is of course compulsory for two Doctors!

Friday looks set to be wet again as low pressure systems dominate the weather, fingers crossed for the weekend..

Monday, September 27, 2010

Turbo SPA Workshop at Stanage Edge...

I was out at Stanage Edge today running a 'Turbo' SPA Workshop on behalf of Peak Mountain Training.

This is a continuing professional development workshop recognised by the Mountain Leader Training Association (MLTA).  The intention being to take an imaginative look at what can be done within the remit of the SPA. Including teaching progressions, leading (without leading!), additional rope systems and coaching models.

Unfortunately it was fairly wet today at the crag with steady rain for the vast majority of the day.  On the positive side the winds were light and it was relatively mild allowing us to get plenty done.  The picture on the left is of the same workshop, but at a different crag (you win an immense feeling of personal satisfaction if you can work out where it is...?)

The weather looks to be set like this for a couple of days with the potential for better weather in the later half of the week.  Fingers crossed...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

University of Portsmouth Mountaineering Club Weekend..

Paul Knowles has been out over the weekend with members of the University of Portsmouth Mountaineering Club for some specialist training.

As many Universities start up around the country many University Clubs hit the crags, and the Peak District is always popular.  This year the committee from UPMCC decided to do some extra training in top and bottom rope rigging, crag etiquette and lead climbing.

Saturday was an almost perfect Gritstone day, and the team spent it at Birchen Edge looking at a variety of the above topics with the opportunity for lots of practice.  Sunday kicked off with a brief visit to Outside in Hathersage to make some essential 'trad' climbing purchases before heading to Windgather rocks.

For me it was an unexpected weekend off as sadly Ollie and Frank were unable to join me.  Ollie if you are reading this I hope you are on the mend..

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The First Snow....

Well it appears that the first snow falls of the winter have arrived in Scotland.  A brief text message from Alison Culshaw today talked of a dusting of "fresh" in the Cairngorms.

It might be difficult to hide my excitement as the long range forecasts have suggested cold weather in late September for a while now - but it hasn't quite arrived.  With high pressure currently dominating, we should see some frosts and potentially some more snow on the Scottish mountains as low pressure systems try and edge in..

Just in case you don't believe it, here is a picture from Cairngorm Mountain webcam.

For James Thacker Mountaineering winter instruction, courses and guiding visit:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Navigation and Ropework Training..

I was out on Kinder Scout today with Kirsty and Hugh who were keen for a days navigation and rope work training.

Both were keen to improve their hill skills to potentially join Edale Mountain Rescue Team at a later stage.  We spent the day practicing accurate navigation combined with some basic rope skills essential for the individual rescuer.

Finally, we had a quick descent back to Edale in a prolonged and particularly savage thunderstorm.  It wasn't a good time to be on the plateau..

Monday, September 20, 2010

Scottish Winter Video..

For many of us it's the time of year to look forward to the Scottish Winter season. Last season will certainly go down as being a great winter - Pete Macpherson, Iain Small, Ian Parnell, Guy Robertson and co, had a particularly productive season. Here is Pete's video for a bit of inspiration.....

Scottish Winter Climbing 2009/10 from peter macpherson on Vimeo.

Intro Climbing at Froggatt Edge..

Mandy and Mark joined me today for a day's introduction to climbing. As we met this morning it was raining steadily in Hathersage but we decided to get stuck in and brave the conditions.

We opted to go to Froggatt hoping that it would dry quickly given any break in the weather. We weren't disappointed and had a good day climbing routes in the Moderate-Severe bracket.

During the day we also spent some time covering essential skills such as tying on, belaying, seconding combined with a bit of movement coaching.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Single Pitch Award Training Day 2..

Burbage North was the venue for day two of Peak Mountain Training's Single Pitch Award Training course.

We started the day looking at the group orientated aspects of rigging and route selection. As the day went on some heavy rain resulted in us moving to Stoney Middleton where we could look at group abseil set ups in relative comfort.

As usual the crag was in "perma-dry" condition and there were quite a few folk bouldering on the Minus Ten wall and around the routes Mani/Padme etc.

Good luck to everybody for their forthcoming assessments and to Dave and Hasit in particular who are doing the SPA in preparation for joining the Stuntman register!..

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Single Pitch Award Training..

I was at Stanage Edge today along with Rene and team for a Peak Mountain Training Single Pitch Award Training Course.

We spent the day looking at the personal climbing elements of the syllabus visiting both Stanage Popular End and Lawrencefield Quarry. Following this we also visited The Climbing Works in Sheffield to look at the coaching of climbing and the use of an indoor facility.

Conditions were good on the grit with a chilly feel giving an ideal level of friction. Luckily the Eastern Edges also seemed to escape the showers. Fingers crossed for tomorrow..

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Scrambling in Chew Valley..

I was out in the Chew Valley today with Andrew, a day of scrambling esoterica and a revision of essential scrambling rope work.

First up was a visit to the historic Wilderness Gully East, scene of a significant avalanche in 1964 where two climbers sadly lost their lives. This was one of two significant events in the same year which led to the formation of the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation (PDMRO).

Today Wilderness Gully still makes a good scramble and is graded anywhere from Grade 1-3 or even Moderate depending on who you speak to. We ignored the numbers and made a quick ascent doing some short pitches on the steeper (and wetter) sections.

While in the area we also had a look at Wilderness Gully West, and made an ascent of Charnel Clough which is more in keeping with many of the classic Peak District scrambles.

Finally we made time to revise a bit of scrambling rope work before returning to the car park at Dovestone Reservoir. And who says there is no scrambling in the Peak District?....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

British Guides Alpine Summer Test..

I have spent the last week on the British Mountain Guides Alpine summer test along with Mark Walker, and full guides Terry Ralphs and Graham Ettle.

The week started last Sunday with a traverse of the Aiguille d'Entreves and an ascent to the Col de la Fourche Bivouac Hut. We left early the next morning in cloudy and windy conditions to make an ascent of the Kuffner (or Frontier Ridge) to the summit of Mont Maudit. A fine mixed line with a famous, and much photographed snow crest.

Tuesday saw us approach the Cabine de Moiry in the Swiss Valais, before doing some crevasse rescue in changeable weather. Wednesday resulted in a traverse of the Pointes des Mourti and the Dent des Rosses, a pleasant rock ridge made more interesting with a dusting of snow.

On Thursday we walked in to the Almageller Hutte before climbing a route on the Dri Horlini and making the classic traverse. Finally, we left the hut early on Friday morning traversing the Sonnighorn and the Sonniggrat, descending to Saas Almagell. A long but excellent day of ridge traversing thanks to Terry Ralphs and Graham Ettle's local knowledge.

I will be heading back to the UK in a few days but conditions remain very good here in the Alps. With the recent snowfalls in August the mountains are in a much better condition than in recent dry summers. The chances are that with stable weather the big classic mixed routes will make excellent objectives. From the Fourche Bivouac we could see that the Grand Pilier D'Angle was in good condition, the Cecchinel Nomine receiving a couple of ascents. Check out Jon Griffith's report here.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Peak Grit..

I currently have another week out here in the Alps, but back in the Peak District it's gritstone season. Well lets face it, it's always gritstone season!

Luke Brooks was out with Alan yesterday at Stanage Edge for a day of lead coaching and rope work. Apparently, the midges were obscuring most of the crag but they still managed to knock out plenty of product in preparation for Alan's stuntman certification.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Dent Blanche..

For the last few days I have been based in the Val d'Herens working for Martin Moran.

Along with British Guides Jon Bracey, Graham Frost and Mark Walker we made the punishing ascent to the Petite Dents de Veisivi.

Here we traversed the South East Ridge (Tsarmine Arete), an excellent rock route at AD with a short passage of grade IV on high quality Gneiss. Rewarded with views over to the Dent Blanche at 4357m this became our next objective. After a days valley cragging at Bramois, we made the 6 hour approach walk under fresh snow to the small and friendly Dent Blanche Hut.

The next day resulted in an ascent of the South Ridge (AD) under fresh snow and hoar frost, making the ascent time consuming but pleasantly engaging. The Valais feels quiet at the moment with some huts inevitably closing early in September...