Monday, 31 January 2011

HPL Winter Mountain Courses from Mid Jan 2011.

Pretty wet in Oban today, so here are a few images of better conditions we have had over the last few weeks.
HPL have places left on Winter courses, for dates and prices

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Jan 30th, Race against the weather.

Today was an atmospheric day in the mountains. The forecast offered a window of good conditions this morning and into the afternoon. We made the most of the slot. Waking up the damp, spring like conditions didn't inspire confidence in the day ahead, but as with allot of days out it improved as we ascended. The light today was very strange, thin sheets cloud filtered bright sun and gave off a low glow. On reaching 500m we encountered frozen surfaces and hoar on the rocks. On the summit winter was with us and it certainly gave the pupils experience of bitter wind chill. By the time we were down it was raining hard and feeling very overcast. Navigation and route choice were on today's menu, along with 'what ifs?' and emergency procedures. The Pupils really put in a big effort today, the ground was hard to walk on and descending was tricky given the frozen ground. I have had a fun weekend with some really motivated young people, I hope they continue to go out into the hills? Thanks guy's. For AALS licenced winter skills and climbing courses check out

Jan 29th, Winter Walking Skills Course, Day 1.

Callum on the summit.

Everyone gets one each! Beautiful.

Steep snow, great fun weaving through the crags at 900m.

Scotland Outdoors at it's best. Looking up Glencoe.

This weekend HPL have been working with Pupils from George-Heriots School. Winter walking skills was the order of the day. So eleven of us headed out to find snow and summits. On Saturday we headed to Meall a Bhuiridh. We found plenty of hard packed neve and fine water ice to use for skills development. After a morning of all manner of walking techniques and essential foot foot work skills we headed up to the South East ridge and hence to the fine summit, past the hum of ski tows. The summit, luckily is away from the skiers and a sense of space was experienced, the views as the mist lifted were fantastic! The pupils were blown away with the views across the Black Mount. We descend in the warm evening glow, For most of the party this was their first Munro and doubt it will be their last! A great day out.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Jan 28th Garbh Beinn, A fantastic 'Little-Big Hill'.

The Pap, looking autumnal.
The Summit Ridge looking more wintry.

Friday was a mixed day for weather. Cloud hung at 900m above Loch Leven and shrouded most of the higher hills in the area. The ground was starting to freeze up and the crags were looking whiter again, giving optimism of better conditions to return. I had a walk up Garbh Beinn 867m, a fine and overlooked Corbett above Loch Leven. It offers fabulous walking with real interest. Small crags, steep and with false summits it leaves it's fine summit to the last to come into view. The views of the Back of the Aonach and Meall Garbh are breathtaking. A remote and quiet area which should be explored more.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Fine weather in Glencoe Today.

Firm snow at 800m.
A very famous hut and Location.

Yet another blue sky day in Scotland!

The shadow of the Little Buachaille on Beinn Fhada.

Still looks good up high!

The temperature has dropped! After a couple of quite soggy and warm days, winter has returned. It doesn't look like it low down, but above 700m the old snow pack is now very fine neve.
Glencoe seemed quite busy today with plenty of cars at the main parking spots and allot of folk were walking into to Lochan this morning. Coire nan Lochan seems to have retained it's snow cover in the main gully lines at least, these lines should be very nice indeed right now and into the weekend. Stob Coire nam Beith looks a little sad; the big gullies such as Summit Gully are hanging in there, but there is little in the way of ice forming at present. After coming off the hill I had a wander over to 'Jacksonville', the Creagh Dhu Club Hut. I had never been to it, but the river was so easy to cross it was a chance to be taken! The sense of history is immnese there. High above Jacksonville on the Buachaille I spotted four folk in Great Gully climbing what looks like some nice old ice and couple of parties on Curved Ridge.
I had very a pleasant day on Buachaille Etive Beag [The Little Buachaille], Michael and Lindsay were practicing using their crampons and were just blown away with the incredible conditions and firm snow. We could see the sea on the west coast today and Loch Etive looked vast in the morning light.
It all looks good for the weekend in the hills. HPL have eleven folk coming on a Winter Skills Course, based in Glencoe and then A 'Winter Climbs Week', so fingers crossed the cold and the clear skies remain.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Coasteering Season has started!

Exploring zawns and Geo's, great fun!
Adventure swimming has become very popular recently.
Chris Saunders getting to grips in the impact zone near Girvan.

Happy folk, brilliant fun for groups and Parties!

Earle Wilson jumping off a stack in the very remote Soay Sound, St.Kilda!

Myself, enjoying a medium swell day near Oban, just such adventure.

Horrible high up in them hills today, so it seemed better to get wet at sea level and have a local Coasteer! The sea is warming up already and as HPL are taking bookings already for groups to go Coasteering and for Skills Training Courses this spring and summer, I thought it was time to put the steamer back on. It was really lovely to be back in the water, even if my body has forgotten it's swimming stamina!
HPL offer a variety of Adrenalin Activities such as Coasteering, Canyoning, Surfing and Gorge Scrambling to individuals and parties, schools, youth groups and stag groups. Here are a few photos of some great Coasteering trips we have had.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Fun at the Ice Factor today with a toddlers climbing party!

'Thanks Mummy for making the cake!'

I had so much fun today at the Ice Factor with my son Ben and his little friends. Ben was celebrating his third birthday with his little pals. The intrepid toddlers did some Climbing but mainly swinging around under the big overhang! A big thanks to the staff at the Ice Factor who were really helpful with arranging the fun food and being very attentive with the kids.
Glencoe looked snowy high up with reports of the easy gullies still in good condition. It sounds as though allot of folk were out on the hills today. Donald was climbing up on Aonach Mor and reported reasonable conditions.

Friday, 21 January 2011

A stunning four days in the Cairngorms with the students from Devon.

Mike, getting to grips with the rope systems.

Heading out of the Northern Corries.

Walking off Cairngorm.

Some more photos of the last few days working in the Cairngorms. Thanks to the BTEC, College students from Devon for a great few days in the Cairngorms!
HPL offer courses in a variety of disciplines to Schools, Colleges, Universities and Private Companies and Organisations. For more information about our Courses and Outdoor Centre go to est 1989.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A fantastic last day on Cairngorm for Devon College, students.

Just amazing at the office today!
Happy Andy.

Laid back Danny on Cairngorm's summit.

Pile up snow shelter. Stage one, Cover all the rucksacks with loads of snow. Stage two, tunnel in and pull them all out and stage 3, hollow out inside and hey presto you have a nice shelter you can sit in.

What a descent off Cairngorm.

Today was spectacular in The Cairngorms for the students'! No clouds, just wall to wall sun shine. The snow pack on the plateau is brick hard and the climbing looks brilliant. We ascended Cairngorm from the Ciste carpark and during the ascent visited a variety of venues to practice skills and build 'cover up snow shelters' and we covered some winter navigation skills. Descending from 1141m in the evening warm sunlight was a particularly enjoyable for the students and us, as these days should be savoured.
Home to the west coast tonight and back out working next week, hopefully this high pressure will last a while and the neve is as good in Glencoe.

Before then, I am taking four three year olds to the Ice Factor for a toddlers climbing session, should be interesting!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Winter Walking Skills Course In Cairngorms.

Danny Goodwin demonstrating the art of step cutting.

Wintry crags.

Today I was out with the second team from Devon College, running the first of a two day winter walking skills course. The weather remains really settled, cold and spring like. We headed into Corie an Lochan where we found some lovely icy bulges to practice the use of crampons and interesting wind blown snow over good firm neve for all manor of skills. Folk were out on the crags climbing all grades of routes, conditions were wintry with the buttresses looking whiter!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Day two of winter mountaineering course in the Cairngorms.

Day two in the Cairngorms with the College students from Devon. We headed to the twin ribs in Coire an Sneachda and had a fun day looking at leading on a variety of ground. The weather was a little wilder than expected which was fantastic as the students really enjoyed the exposed nature of the ridge once they had topped out. After descending the steep snow we walked around into the back of the corrie to have a look at what was being climbed and to look at some ice techniques. Parties were on various routes, pretty busy for a Tuesday! Patey's route, Red Gully, Goat Track Gully were all being climbed. A really great day out with a fun bunch of young people, back out in the morning, can't wait!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Mountaineering skills course in Cairngorms today.

Today I was working on day one of an introduction to winter mountaineering course for a group of outdoor students from a College in Devon. Danny Goodwin and I, had a busy day looking at skills ranging from basic walking skills through to the beginnings of snow belaying and mixed ground climbing. The weather improved through the day and the freezing level dropped as the day went on! Its looking great for Cairngorms tomorrow. Couple of friends climbed Oesophagus in Corie an Lochan today, they said it was very pleasant. It's great to be over east for a while!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Winter in Scotland's Mountains so far, January 2011

I am heading off to work in The Cairngorms for the next seven days so here are some images of a wonderful winter so far with friends and clients, I hope it continues to be a classic winter!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Very wet in Glencoe for MIC Short Roping Training.

Wet Office!

Today I headed up to the Glencoe Ski slopes with Jamie and Gillian to run through some short roping techniques before their respective MIC assessments. It was really very inclement up there and a world apart from the Alpine conditions of two days ago! So a fast lift up on the chair gave us plenty of scope for steep wee crags, bulges and snow slopes to workshop the 'black art' of short roping.

Despite the wet warm deluge we had a great few hours trying out all manner of ideas and techniques.
We escaped some what soggy to The very nice Glencoe Cafe, the Carrot Cake was as good as the other day! I highly recommend a stop if passing.

A few hardy skiers were braving the conditions and I spotted at least one local guides car at the walk into the Buachaille, some working day; But maybe we have been spoilt over the last few weeks?