Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Mentoring a MIC Trainee in NC Gully today. Good old fashioned winter gully climbing.

Today Andy Spink was out climbing with Julie who is about to take her Mountaineering Instructors Certificate MIC assessment. After many years of experience and working towards her goal, Julie is putting the final practices in before the challenging and robust assessment. Julie was practiing setting up anchors and teaching how to build these to Glen and Kirsty. Glen is Hebrdiean Pursuits modern apprentice and is gaining amazing experience. Kirsty who instructs for us is consolidating her growing log book towards future qualifications. The weather was kind today although the stream of snow pouring down the gully was a reminder of how dramatic good old fashioned winter gully climbing can be. A great day out in spectacular landscapes. Please take care in the gullies as new and large amounts of fresh snow and graupel is being transported wildly. Other parties were climbing on Ordinary Route, Twisting Gully and North Gully. Winter is here..

Sunday, 25 January 2015

George Heriot's School winter walking skills course.

Some more images from the weekend working with George Heriot's pupils. What a fantastic bunch!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

George Heriot's School Winter Walking Skills Course.

I can't believe it is a year since George Heriot's were with us on their last winter walking weekend. Today we headed for Aonach Mor to access the snow line quickly and easily. The intention to concentrate on essential skills for winter walking. For all the pupils it was their first experience of winter and winter didn't hold back. It was a squally day and very chanagable. The sun did come out in between the salvos of wind and snow. Although the conditions were challenging at times the pupils seemed to thrive on their exciting journey of skills. We saw a couple of other parties on the Nid Ridge area. I had a sneeky peak over the back of the Nid. Not surprisingly the cornices are building and the snow was being transported rapidly onto east facing aspects. Time for the pupils to put it all into practice tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Fantastic conditions for The Aonach Eagach Ridge today.

It never fails to impress the Aonach Eagach Ridge in Glencoe. Today I was experiencing how the client feels on the other end of the rope whilst mentoring Tom Sylvester who is about to take his MIC Mountaineering Instructors Certificate assessment and on his performance today he will do really well. Tom is one of our valued freelance instructors and it is always a pleasure to see talent blossem. An awesome day on this constantly interesting and challenging ridge climb. It was also Hebridean Pursuits modern apprentice's Glen Howatson first grade III winter climb and I think it will be an amazing memory and learning experience for him, not to mention fantastic fun. Not a bad apprentiship! Thanks guys what a day out..I learnt loads too.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Guided winter walking on Garbh Bheinn 867m.

Not a bad day for a 14th birthday celebration! We were working with a school group from Tynneside on their annual winter walking trip to Glencoe. One of the lads was just 14 years old, what an experience for him. The weather was awesome and the conditions under foot ideal for cramponing. We ascending the varied and interesting nw ridge and we were only affected by the strong winds from the south on the summit approach. We avoided most deep snow as the windslab has continued to form and this is refelcted in a considerable avalanche warning. Going is tough off scoured areas as the cold snow has been transported into hollows and sheltered areas. Please careful out there. Once the slight thaw has passed through over Friday we should be seeing the snow pack firmimg up very nicely. Ice is forming high up but the freezing level is to rise to 800m over the next few days. We are out climbing tomorrow and we will report back tomorrow evening.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A beautiful day in Glencoe.

A fantastic day in Glencoe today. Reports of climbers finding it hard going wading the deep snow abound. Most sensible folk headed to West facing routes and lower ones at that. Ridges and buttresses seemed the most popular. Although one team on there first winter climb were benighted on Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis! It is tricky under deep snow and time consuming. It looks cold for the next few days. I am keen to see some low level ice forming soon.

Friday, 16 January 2015

A calmer day working in Glencoe.

A much nicer day today for the ACOL students on their winter walking skills training course. The wind has subsided and the snow stopped falling, which was a relief for everyone. The result of the storms is alot of fresh snow with unstable layers within it and evidence of cross loading on all aspects especially north and north east faces. Approaching climbs will be hard work for a while if you don't choose the right locations, but it was visibly colder as we descended this afternoon so fingers crossed the colder and stable conditions do materialise next week.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

And the snow keeps falling and the wind keeps blowing.

Since Monday I have been out working in the hills on winter walking skills courses for Hebridean Pursuits clients and West Highland College students. I started off over in the Cairngorms and retreated back to west. The conditions were such that we would possibly get more out of being on the west where we would have more variety and access of venues. The storm force winds have been the main feature up until today when the 'pow' fell in bucket loads. We have been keeping reasonably low down due to the winds, although on Tuesday we did get up onto Aonach Mor and summited Creag Dhubh on Monday. Today we were in Glencoe which proved a mission just getting to the car park. Once through the stuck lorries and cars we had a great day in the well predicted lull. The recent snow has continued to develop a high wind slab risk on most aspects from North through to South. The drifts are making for hard going and brutal post holing. However if you can get to wind scoured ridges and find a sheltered aspect the walking is good. It sounds as though tonight into Thursday maybe a return to a deep front and a repeat of the earlier storms. I am back out tomorrow so watch this space.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Teams out on winter walking skills courses over the last few days.

It has been a mixed old couple of days in the mountains here in Scotland. Yesterday we were working in Glencoe in a torrent of rain combined with 81 mph squalls and today we headed up to the north face of Ben Nevis to run the training day. We saw climbers retreating from a variety of routes today but a party climbed Green Gully and other middle grade buttresses were ascended, yet all reporting alot of spindrift. Colder and drier today and it certainly felt more like winter. The photos tell the story.