Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Winter Mountaineering Course Day 2, 3 and 4.

Dorsal Arete and Broad Gully finish. Great fun in the top corner today.
Looking down to Joe and Scott at the bottom of Broad Gully and Dorsal Arete. Charlie belaying.
Getting to grips with moving together.
The wind blew hard on School House Ridge. The lads at the start of the tricky steps section.
Four days of skills training with Hebridean Pursuits Ltd. Joe and Charlie are now set for their adventures.
I have been working with Joe and Charlie on their winter mountaineering course over the last few days. The weather has been challenging but each day we have been really lucky as the conditions reflected the theme and content of each day.
Day 1 Rock and Scrambling rope work and belay management. The Zig Zags and Gales. See previous blog post.
Day 2 Snow Belays. We headed to Aonach Mor to gain height quickly so as to access the good snow conditions on the back of the Aonach Nid at approx 1000m. Here we concentrated on belaying in snow, ascending steep snow terrain and trying out descending techniques including abseiling off snow bollards, threads and spikes.
Day 3 Rope work and movement skills. We headed up onto School House Ridge, Grade 1. This ridge offers challenges of technical steps that are hard to protect. Joe and Charlie were keen to practice moving together on 'alpine terrain'. So day 3 was based around short roping and moving together. The conditions were just fantastic. Deep new snow presented us with interesting climbing conditions on the ridge and atmospheric shafts of sunlight made the ridge look really dramatic. On reaching the summit the cloud cover promoted some micro navigation practice for the lads. We had this classic ridge to ourselves all day.
Day 4. Putting it all into practice.
Over night the snow line had dropped to around 450m. So we headed up to Dorsal Arete and Broad Gully in Stob Corrie Nan Lochan. The weather was kind again. We had a dry walk in. The rain didn't really come on until we reached the last pitch. Topping out we were greeted by a blast of very warm drizzle!
The lads led the route, placed their own protection and all in fine style. We saw a few folk out. One party climbing on Ordinary Route and another behind us on Dorsal. Very quite though. The conditions are good up there, we just need another freeze and the new snow will be amazing!
Thanks to the Glencoe Independent Hostel for looking after Joe and Charlie.
Thanks also to Scott for his help. Scott is working towards his MIC assessment and it was great to have him along observing the course.