Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter Skills and Scrambling North Wales..

Amazing views in North Wales today due to the stable high pressure conditions. It's also cold again with the ground verging on "permafrost" status.

Alex and I spent the day in the Glyderau doing an introduction to winter skills and scrambling.

We spent some time covering axe and crampon work before ascending Bristly Ridge and taking in the summit of Glyder Fach.

Over in the Devils Kitchen ice is starting to form readily on the steeper lines and will continue to build.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Edale MRT Winter Training Day 2..

I was again out with the team from Edale Mountain Rescue Team, this time in the Snowdon Massif. We spent the day looking at movement in steep and technical ground ascending the North Ridge of Crib Goch, before traversing to Crib y Ddysgl.

We took the time to look at scrambling ropework and moving together to safeguard people in this sort of terrain.  It was another bitterly cold day with a light dusting of snow on the tops..

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Edale MRT Winter Training..

I have been out in North Wales today with a group from Edale Mountain Rescue Team to undertake some winter skills training.  Although there has been a prolonged thaw in North Wales, the conditions now remain cold with frozen turf and water ice down to low levels.

We decided to do the North Ridge of Tryfan today in order to take in some steep and technical scrambling ground.  This was made significantly more engaging with the presence of some thick verglass above ~800m.  Following this we made the ascent towards the summit of Glyder Fach, taking in some more steep ground and allowing a crampon refresher on some hard neve.

Finally, a brief look at snow belays and bollards allowed us to descend a steep 'cwm' rim before heading back to Ogwen MRT's base.

We will probably furnish ourselves with a visit to the Snowdon massif tomorrow...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Buchaille Etive Mor..

Ian, Scott, John and Chris joined me for their final day of Winter Skills today on Buchaille Etive Mor.

The aim of the day was to again put many of the skills learnt in previous days into practice as well as summiting Stob Dearg - one of the most photographed peaks in Scotland. (Team Grivel pictured on the summit!)

Starting the day from Altnafeadh we made steady progress up Coire na Tulaich before going off piste and tackling a grade I gully to the right of the normal route.

The freezing level was around 1000m today with some small flurries of snow high on the hill...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stob Coire nan Lochan Traverse..

I was out again today with Scott, Ian, John and Chris to put some of yesterdays winter skills into practice.

We decided to head up to Stob Coire nan Lochan traversing the two ridges that bound the corrie from left to right.  This is a popular excursion with guided and instructional parties because it's very very good!

This allowed us to practice crampon and axe work on snow and mixed terrain as well of the decision making skills of route choice etc.

The crags were busy with plenty of climbers, many of whom where from Edinburgh University Mountaineering Club (EUMC).  'Dorsal Arete', 'NC' and 'SC Gully' had all seen plenty of traffic.  However, it was Church Door Buttress that seemed to be holding the best conditions.  For those of Facebook, please visit my Facebook Page for conditions updates on a Thursday evening....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winter Skills at Aonach Mor..

I have been out on the hill with Scott, Ian, John and Chris today as the first of three days Winter Skills.

We opted to use the Aonach Mor Gondola to aid our ascent to ~600m giving us maximum time to practice the essential skills for winter travel.

Using the Aonach an Nid area we practiced using the boot as a tool, axe arrest, crampon work and the associated issues of avalanche awareness and route choice.  The virtues of Grivel Rucksacs were also explored at length during the day by John and Chris (pictured)!

The remaining days should allow us to get in some quality mountain routes/summits and put some of the skills into context..

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Aonach Eagach Traverse..

With high pressure dominating today's conditions were one of light winds and a clear blue sky.  At dawn it was freezing in the valleys resulting in a hard frost.

Mick and I opted to do a traverse of the Aonach Eagach making good progress towards the Clachaig Inn at the end!

There is a good trail in place from a couple of teams but it is still hard going with a breakable crust for most of the routes length..

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter Hillwalking in the Mamores..

I was out with Colin today for a days refresher to winter skills.  As a keen hill walker and Munroist Colin was keen to build on his previous skills.

With a good forecast and relatively high freezing level we decided to do a circuit in The Mamores accessed from Kinlochleven.  We headed up towards the shapely summit of Am Bodach before traversing the narrow ridge to Stob Coire a Chairn.

The snow has refrozen on the tops creating some patches of good neve for fast cramponing and there are some fresh cornices in evidence...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Vallee Blanche..

With an improved forecast in Chamonix, we decided to throw some laps off the L'Aiguille du Midi today, making a couple of descents of the famous Vallee Blanche.

First up was a descent close up to the right hand side of the Gros Rognon (pictured) before traversing to the Requin Hut and descending a great couloir onto the Salle Manger.

Following a brisk stroll through town we also descended  the Vraie Vallee Blanche, the steep entry pitch giving access to an agreeable untracked powder stash..

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Courmayeur Revisited...

With such good conditions in Italy we decided to head back to Courmayeur again today skiing off the Arp lift in much improved visibility.

Good powder meant that we enjoyed some great runs including the descent from the Col d'Arp, Col de Youle and multiple lines into the Val Veni.

Stu MacDonald is pictured shredding the powder today..

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Off Piste Skiing in Courmayeur..

Having shaken off a debilitating bout of illness I made it out to Chamonix yesterday.

With fresh snow in Courmayeur Pete Rowlands, Dave Evans, Nick Wallis and I perked ourselves to a trip through the Mont Blanc Tunnel so ski from the lifts in Italy.

Some great runs from the top of the Youla bubble were accomplished before reduced visibility and more fresh snow confined us to the piste. No photos today due to the poor visibility later, so a photo from the Grands Montets a few weeks ago..