Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Today on the Aonach Eagach

After a busy few days revalidating my First Aid Qualification with BASP at Nevis Range (excellent course as ever- highly practical- well taught and ever interesting) and running both CWA and Foundation Coach Assessments (well done to Laken and Rosalind on the former and Ian and Ella on the latter) today it was back to the mountains.
 Laken improvising to talk about movement
 Jeff on cleaning wounds
 Ian keeping the team engaged
Ella getting them active
Today I was out with Mike, Mark and Alan working for Steven Fallon Mountain Guiding on the Aonach Eagach with Jonty along to gain experience towards his MIA Assessment. Although the general forecasts mentioned a chance of thunder the Met Office's specific forecast was more optimistic for our intended peaks. It turned out to be even nicer than expected. We had a hot and sweaty accent of the east end and made good time over the first Munro of the day and the pinnacles. At the low point of the ridge and after all the scrambling Mike was feeling quite off colour so he opted to descend north to the Kinlochleven Road- at one of the few easy escapes from the ridge- with Jonty. The rest of us summited the second Munro and headed South back to recover the cars before picking the others up. We had a little sun, a little mist and a few spots of rain/light showers- and mostly dry rock! It was only on the return to Fort William that the heavens opened and we heard a little thunder.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Costa Del Moray

For our last day out for a while we decided to follow the weather again and give Lisa a little more rock climbing mileage at the ever sunny Cummingston. We did a little bouldering talking about techniques suitable for the often steep sandstone at this crag and then climbed half a dozen pitches up to VS and abseiled down from various places. Lisa got a chance to review her own gear placement and belay building and to push herself on the steep and burly Stegasaurus. Captions at:

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Scaling the Tenements- Cairngorm Rock

Its somehow fitting given that I first met Lisa a long time ago in Glasgow that we ended up doing a route called the Tenements today. With a poor west coast forecast and the hankering for mountain rock we journeyed east with an open mind. Strong winds and spots of rain at .1141 made us think that a steep 'quick drying' route would be good so we left 1 bag at the top of Stag Rocks and slithered down Coire Raibert before traversing in to the bottom of the route. Pitch one sets the seen with grippy rock but an un-nerving number of blocks that appear held in place by- well by not a lot. With recent rockfall accidents on the other side of the hill in mind I was being delicate and purposeful today! Pitch 2 is the peach... an 'awkward' pull out of a recess (spoiler alert: hidden jug if you can reach it!) followed by a delicate rising traverse on narrow footholds before levitating up a series of rough dishes and pockets on the wall above with exactly the right amount of gear (still felt a little like jenga though). After a short heather break there is a tall open groove with better gear, more solid rock and some excellent bridging before a more meandering 4th pitch and a heather ramp to finish. 5 pitches on windy showery fun in an awesome setting. Great to get out on granite again- its been too long! Captions at:

Sunday, 11 June 2017

No such thing as bad weather....

...only the wrong clothing.... Its a popular cliche but I'm here to say that the weather today was bad, just not as bad as it might have been. I was working with Helen, Johnston and Will for Steve Fallon today and the objective was Tower Ridge with Trainee MIA Mehmet along to get some practise and feedback on his shortroping. Watching the forecast carefully yesterday I watched it change from showers, to heavy rain, gales, hail and thunder, back to showers and settle on heavy rain and gales. BUT it looked like the morning wasn't going to be too bad AND the wind direction made me hope for shelter on the way up.
It was wet, it was a bit grey, it was a little chilly, the water got in at your wrist and ran down your sleeve... and they seemed to love it! Well done for zipping up the man and woman suits today and getting on with it. I enjoyed it too and we didn't feel the wind until the way down. Johnston kept throwing compliments at my advice on the way up but that may just have been because I was holding the rope he was attached to, Will's face getting up the 'will' to make the step at Tower Gap was one of deep concentration and Helen was a hero at the back end of our two ropes where it can feel a little lonely but I could always see a smile. Challenging conditions accepted and route completed. Enjoy the afterglow guys :-)
Photo captions on Facebook:

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

BIG Wednesday on Garbh Bheinn

Its so good to get someone to take out like Lisa. She's done the classics and now brings a connoisseur's eye to her mountain days but is keen to get off the beaten track a little. She also goes all day long with no complaints and views faff as 'the enemy'. A Mountain Instructors dream!!
Lisa has always wanted to do The Great Ridge on Garbh Bheinn and we had some time together booked for this week. Today looked to be about the best day and conveniently I returned from Namibia to find my copy of the new SMC Highland Scrambles South waiting for me.... complete with a 400m 3* Grade 3 Scramble recommended as an approach to The Great Ridge- a little synergy here methinks!
Lisa was game so we set off around 9 from the Van and other than me overshooting the start of the scramble (its closer to the car park than you think) we were soon eating up the metres of ascent on Eagles Nest Slabs immaculate gneiss. After the initial slabs we did find it a little less sustained and you were linking crag to crag but the line was pretty direct and the rock good. 2* rather than 3* maybe? Also if you plan to use a rope on this then be prepared for no belays and gear as is typical of Argour gneiss slabs!
Midday and we were at the top of the scramble looking around the coire at the main event. The Great Ridge is an undersold mountain classic... perhaps due to the fact that the walk in is longer and the fact its not on a munro or Ben Nevis.... elsewhere without the local competition of the Buachaille's accessibility and the cachet of the Ben Ridges it would be mobbed! Its graded Diff but feels steeper and more sustained than Tower Ridge and that's only once you have accessed it by the steep grass slopes of doom!
Once up there you are faced with walls, aretes and chimneys giving climbing that is 'pushing V Diff' in places but can be kept a little easier with a weavier line (shame!) on superbly grippy rock.
After our loooooooong traverse of the Coire we accessed the Ridge by the South East Chimney (grass, grass and a little more steep grass) before enjoying dry and ever sunnier mountaineering to the summit.
After a second lunch all that remained was the long and knee punishing (I'm not as young as I use to be ;-) ) descent down the ridge to the van- this is compensated for by great views to Appin, Lorn and Glencoe!
More pics and some captions at: