Thursday, March 31, 2011

Resin to Rock at Froggatt....

Andrew and Ben joined me today for some Resin to Rock action at Froggatt Edge.

It was very blustery today with strong south westerly winds blowing straight onto the crag.  This resulted in dry conditions almost immediately after the prolonged rain overnight, and in the early morning.

We spent the day getting to grips with the grit and trying to use the friction to our advantage before also doing some belay rope work etc.

Hopefully the wind will die down a bit tomorrow, it's really quite energy sapping at the moment..

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Doug Lang (1941-2011)..

It was with sadness recently that I heard of the death of Doug Lang in an avalanche in Coire Fee.

Simon Richardson has written a brief obituary at, an articulate description of a man that he knew well.

I didn't know Doug other than seeing him on the hill from time to time.  But like many climbers I have followed in his footsteps, particularly on Ben Nevis and Creag Meagaidh.  Slav Route VI,5, Left Edge Route V,5, The Wand V,5 along with many other major routes.

The next time you are queuing at the bottom of 'Point Five' V,5, step over to the right and head up the long, seldom climbed, but logical line of 'Left Edge Route' V,5.  It's not quite as easy as Andy Turner is making in look in the photo above..

Rockcity, Technical Advisor Day..

I was up at Rockcity Climbing Centre in Hull today doing some site specific training for centre staff.

We spent the day looking at personal climbing, coaching skills, group supervision and how to deliver the National Climbing Wall Award Scheme (NICAS).

Tomorrow I will be out on the grit..

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ML Assessment, Day 2...

I was out again with Peter, Tim and Dan today for the second of five days Mountain Leader Assessment.

Kinder Scout was the venue for the day allowing us to take in some steeper ground on the flanks of the main plateau.  In the interests of avoiding the use of fancy buzz phrases such as proactive and reactive risk management and group leadership etc, I will simply say that we went for a walk!......

.......A very nice walk it was too, as I was skillfully and safely moved through the terrain while being engaged with various snippets of flora and fora information.

Peter, Tim and Dan will now be heading over to North Wales for the expedition phase.  For more details of National Governing Body Award courses visit Peak Mountain Training.

Monday, March 28, 2011

ML Assessment..

I was out with Peter, Tim and Dan today for the first of five days of Mountain Leader Assessment.

We spent the day focusing on moorland navigation by traversing the northern moors from Kings Tree in the Upper Derwent Valley.

The visibility was excellent today, ideal conditions if you are an ML Assessment candidate!..

For more details of National Governing Body Award courses visit Peak Mountain Training.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Turbo SPA at Stanage..

I was joined by Nigel, Richard and David today at Stanage Edge for Peak Mountain Training's Turbo SPA Workshop.

This one day workshop is for those who already hold the Single Pitch Award (SPA), and are keen to develop their teaching progressions and coaching in the Single Pitch environment.

We spent the day looking at safe and efficient rigging, coaching belaying and other practical tasks, building teaching progressions and finally teaching lead climbing skills at a single pitch crag.

For details of Turbo SPA and other continuing professional development workshops, visit the Peak Mountain Training website.

The crag was busy today with a chilly easterly wind making it bitter at the top of the crag.  Great friction though....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ledge Route, Carn Dearg..

Alun, Mike and I decided to finish our four days climbing/mountaineering with an ascent of 'Ledge Route' on Ben Nevis today.

The snow was definately firmer than in previous days, but things could still do with a decent freeze to produce the "bullet hard" neve for which Ben Nevis is famous.  Other parties did do Good Friday Climb, Indicator Wall or Indicator Right Hand, Comb Gully, Green Gully and No.3 Gully Buttress.

There are however, still some big cornices around, and plenty of loose rock on the ledges here and there, so care is required.  It does appear to be getting colder and there could be some great conditions to come.

Finally, it was my last day out of the season so thanks to Alun and Mike.  We shared Ledge Route with local instructor Max Hunter (pictured) who was working for Jagged Globe - a prerequiste of which seems to be to looking as cool as possible....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ice Factor Ice..

Alun, Mike and I decided to visit the Ice Factor today in search of artificial ice.

Luckily this seems to have survived quite a few visitors in recent days due to warm conditions on the hill.  Here we were able to experiment with steep ice technique and use a variety of tools, the Black Diamond Fusions being a big hit with the team.

Mike is pictured swinging straight into the underlying concrete, all essential practice for those Ben Nevis thin face routes...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Northern Cairngorms..

Mike, Alun and I decided to head over to the northern corries of Cairngorms today in search of slightly drier weather.

With the freeezing level well above the summits again, the snow was fairly 'gloopy' in most locations.  All the gullys remain complete however and will give some excellent neve romping with a bit of a freeze.

To make the most of the conditions Mike and Alun led Jacob's Ladder (I) while experimenting with rock and snow anchors.  Alun is pictured just pulling over the cornice..

Monday, March 21, 2011

Zig Zags and Dorsal Arete..

I was out with Mike and Alun today in Glen Coe, the first of four days climbing. With the freezing level forecast to be up to 3000m today we opted for a Mountaineering day out.

We decided to head up the Zig Zags (I) on Gearr Aonach followed by doing Dorsal Arete (II) in Stob Coire nan Lochan. This mini enchainment is popular in sub-optimal conditions the approach being sheltered from south westerly winds. Unsurprisingly we didn't have it to ourselves, Max Hunter and Dave Hollinger were also following similar itinaries.

The deep snow from recent days is now saturated making progress slow in some areas. It is however going to turn cold again, it just a question of when....?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Get out on the Rock...

Spring is here and although I still have one week left in Scotland my attention is starting to turning to 'getting out on the rock'.

For everybody who wants to consolidate at their grade, push it to the next level, or improve their rope work at the beginning of the season, I will be available for personal instruction and guiding.

Currently, I have some availability in April, May and June.  For an informal chat feel free to get in touch via email or phone.

Alternatively feel free to check the website at Rock Climbing, Peak Rock, and Multi Pitch.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Crevasse Rescue, Coire Laogh Mor..

I was out in the northern Cairngorm's today with Claire to do some crevasse rescue training in preparation for her trip to Denali (6194m).

We spent the day revising and practicing with rope lengths, coils, prussiks, snow anchors and pulley systems, making use of a small but steep wind scoop close to Coire Laogh Mor. (Kris Hill is pictured acting as a "body" - thanks!).

Finally, we also practiced prussiking in the trees in the shelter of Glenmore Forest.

The hill was busy again with very few people evidently on foot.  Ski's or snowshoes were the main mode of transport today..

Friday, March 18, 2011

Skiing in the Cairngorms..

I am working in the Cairngorms tomorrow and decided to head out briefly to get a feel for the quantity of snow on the east side.

Kris Hill and I took a brief skin up to the base of the Fiacaill a' Choire Chais in gale force winds.  There was a significant amount of snow on the move on the hill today with large sastrugi features, and corresponding accumulations of soft slab in lee areas.  As usual check the avalanche forecast tomorrow.

We skied down the hill on some varied terrain, powered largely by the gusting wind before heading back to Aviemore..

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Interesting" day on Ben Nevis..

With a great forecast for today it wasn't hard for Dave Barker to temp me onto Ben Nevis despite a growing pile of essential admin.

We were keen to head up to the Douglas Boulder again due to the good conditions, and relatively safe approach.  While gearing up we sadly witnessed a team of three trigger an avalanche from the top third of Garadh Gully.

One climber was carried approximately 200m, his companion coming to rest at about 300m in 'the gulches' buried up to his neck.  Being fairly close behind them we were able to lend a hand and initiate a rescue by Lochaber MRT and Rescue 137.  Both had sustained serious fractures to their lower legs.  We hope they make a swift recovery.

Conditions on the mountain are good, the difficulty is getting to the bottom of routes safely and with some energy left over.  Today there were teams on Orion Direct, Astral Highway, Hadrians Wall, Waterfall Gully, Ledge Route and North West Face Route on the Douglas Boulder...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ben Nevis and Buachaille Etive Mor...

I have been climbing with Chris for the last couple of days, on Ben Nevis and today on Buachaille Etive Mor.

Monday saw us follow the wandering track up to the CIC Hut through some deep snow.  The Douglas Boulder was the obvious choice, and we climbed the SW Ridge III/IV,4, an ideal objective under powder.

Richard Bentley was just starting a weeks stay in the hut with Trevor and James, climbing Vanishing Gully V,5 - although he did say it had formed steeply at the top.

Today, we improved the trail into North Buttress IV,4 on Buachaille Etive Mor, climbing an entertaining four pitches of mixed ground.  It was all very social with numerous other parties on the route including James and Rob Turnbull from Outside in Hathersage, Gaz Davies from Sea to Summit and Big Tim Neill from Plas Y Brenin...

Monday, March 07, 2011

MIC Prep, Coire an-t Sneachda..

I was out in the northern corries of Cairngorm today with Iain Gallagher of Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Iain is currently training towards his Mountaineering Instructor Certificate (MIC) and was keen for a day of input surrounding the 'mountaineering day' of the scheme.

With this in mind we kicked off by heading into Coire Cas practicing some short roping close to the corrie headwall.  From here we nipped up to Pt.1141 and down to 'windy corner' before descending to the base of Jacob's Ladder (I).  Iain made short work of this route applying one axe rules and practicing stance management.

A quick jog over to the top of the goat track then allowed us to look at protecting folk on a descent, with a stomper to negociate the edge followed by more short roping.  A rising traverse under the Fiacaill Buttress allowed us to access the Fiacaill Ridge and some more short roping on mixed terrain.  To finish off Iain did a number of different lowers down the line of .5 Gully, after being given the scenario of one of his client's loosing a crampon (pictured).

For further information about specialist training and coaching check out the CPD and Personal Mentoring section of the Peak Mountain Training website...

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Ben Nevis, No.3 Gully....

Simon, Mike and I were rewarded today with a slight temperature inversion on Ben Nevis, the upper part of the mountain being above the cloud level.

Today we wanted to do a little rope work combined with a slightly steeper itinerary and Ben Nevis was the obvious choice.  We made our way up into No.3 Gully using axe belays etc before doing a final steep pitch onto the plateau.

Mike is pictured running the rope out just short of the top.  Following this we abseiled into the top of No.4 Gully and descended back towards the CIC Hut.

The mountain was busy but it isn't in perfect condition by any means.  The ice is good in many places but requires a little care here and there.  Point 5, Orion Direct, Green Gully, Glovers Chimney, Tower Ridge, Observatory Buttress, Hadrians Wall, The White Line, Central Gully, Central Gully Right Hand, Central Gully (on Trident) all had ascents today.  We also witnessed a heart stopping moment on Quickstep which looked a little thin to be described as in stella nick.

Stob Coire nan Lochan...

I have been out with Simon and Mike for the last few days doing some Winter Skills/Mountaineering.

The first of three days saw us visit Aonach Mor for an introduction to axe and crampon use.  On the second day we wanted to put all the skills into some sort of context so we decided to head to Glen Coe and Stob Coire nan Lochan.

Despite the Glen being recently stripped of its snow cover we enjoyed a traverse of the mountain from east to west.  This gave ample opportunity for some all terrain cramponing on ice, snow, rock and turf.

Finally we were also joined by Kris Hill who was observing prior to his Winter Mountain Leader Assessment course.  He is pictured above preparing to demonstrate a snow bollard, while Simon and Mike experiment with random ways of holding their axes.....

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Diadem, Creag Meagaidh..

Duncan and I decided to head into Creag Meagaidh today in search of some ice.

Despite the temperature being forecast to be above the summits, conditions were good in the Inner Coire with plastic and chewy ice.  There are some big cornices around however and we settled on 'Diadem' V,4 which appeared to have sheltered belays combined with the possibility of outflanking the cornice to the right hand side.

There was a little water running down behind the ice, and we could do with a freeze to improve the steeper pitches.  Care will be required in the coming days if this slow thaw continues, as rock and ice fall will become an increasing hazard.

There were other teams on Pumpkin, and Donald King did Glass Slipper/Fairy Godmother or something similar...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Red Gully, Coire an-t Sneachda..

It was overcast and drizzling this morning so Duncan and I decided to head east in search of the drier and brighter weather.

Following the thaw the major gully lines have been stripped back to hard neve making for excellent climbing in the grade I-III range.  We decided to climb Red Gully III, due to the attractive ice spilling out of the bottom groove.

Following this we checked out the insitu snowholes in Coire Domhain before ticking the summit of the Cairn Gorm and descending to the ski area.

Quisling Wall, Ben Nevis...

Keith and I decided to head up onto Ben Nevis yesterday to check out the conditions following the thaw.  We were keen to do some mixed climbing but took a little time to settle on a suitable objective - mainly because Keith has done everything!

We opted for Quisling Wall VI,6 in the end, climbing a variation line to Tower Face of the Comb.  This worthwhile mixed route was fairly hard but took an obvious line up the left hand side of the buttress.  Another pair also made light work of the Edwards/Hughes line Lost Souls VI,6.

The mountain was busy with plenty of teams on Green Gully, Comb Gully, Central Gully Right Hand, Thompsons Route, No.2 Gully Buttress, Tower Ridge as well as ice lines around the Upper Cascade area.