Thursday, 21 September 2017

3 scrambles in Lochaber

3 day's mountaineering for Steve Fallon with MIA Trainee Kieran to assist me whilst working towards his Assessment.
First up was a lovely day on the Aonach Eagach with Jay, Peter and Shona. The team made good time over the ridge on a relatively quiet day after the crowds of the Skyrun at the weekend and we descended off the west end to prolong our stunning view out to Ardgour.
Day 2 was just as nice. Peter and Jay were out again this time with Julia to complete the team. Grins all round as we had dry rock and great views. Lunch on the summit and this team were game for a little more so we came down Great Gully Buttress to complete the day!
Day 3 and it was only ever going to be 2 out of 3 for the weather unfortunately. Lorne Alastair and Gregor headed in with full waterproofs on but Gregor turned back before the ridge with a niggling knee injury bothering him (skiing is obviously more dangerous than mountaineering). The rest of us got a good soaking but enjoyed Tower Ridge nonetheless. Another swift ascent meant we had time to enjoy Ledge Route as our way down.
Well done all of you!

Catching up.

Just over 7 weeks since a blog post! A great month in Greenland... icebergs in light that seemed to glow with so much body you could cut it with a knife. A nice first ascent and time spent with wonderful folk. Since then? Up Tower Ridge and down Ledge Route 3 times, Curved Ridge 3 times (down Great Gully Buttress twice), the Aonach Eagach twice, Ledge Route in the rain for some first timers, up and down Dinnertime Buttress, an MIA Assessment with rock climbing at Dunked twice, Huntly's Cave once, Polldubh once and a very wet Cairngorm Nav day, a CWA Assessment, an SPA Assessment and a little quality time with the family...Its a grand life if you don't weaken...

Friday, 28 July 2017

Arriving in Greenland

I love the Arctic. The light and the stark, uncompromising environment. I also love the fact that coming to Greenland I'm not going to have to worry about crowds, altitude or 'delhi belly' compared to some other expedition locations I've been to.
I'm safely ensconced at the Tangent Expeditions basecamp at Constablepynt Airport in NE Greenland. I have a group arriving in a few days to try to climb Ingmikortilaq ('The place that looks like an island') which is a triple summited rocky peninsula that looks rather like 3 Skye Munros dumped in the sea. It sits in the furthest north part of Scoresbysund, the world's largest fjord system and attached to Hinks Land by a thin strip of raised ground. On the north side is Nordvestfjord and in turn at the nearby head of this is Daugard-Jensen Gletscher which calves directly into the fjord providing the bulk of the icebergs that slowly drift out down Scoresbysund to the open ocean.
My team of 4 plus me will take a long boat journey with one of the local Inuits from Ittoqortoormiit and after we've sited a basecamp we have 12 days to explore the area. As well as the rocky summit we have the option of heading up onto the local glaciated peaks. There is no record of anything being climbed in the area but with various geological expeditions dating back to Lauge Koch's epic sea plane supported trips in the 50s you never quite know who has done exactly what. Hopefully these peaks will be a little too remote or technical to have seen previous ascents but that's not my prime motivation for visiting anyway.
Google earth image of Ingmikortilaq
Owing to flights I have a few days here in Constablepynt. Its my 6th trip to the area (Milne Land, Gaase Land an epic 8 day blizzarded ski retreat across the fjord from Volkaarts Boons Coast, a N-S traverse of Liverpool Land and our amazing Catalina trip to Faxe So) and I've also been to Ausmannadalen in West Greenland and Svalbard with my (then soon to be) wife, Jane. The Arctic has given me some the best times of my life. Tangent now have a great base here; raised (to keep them above spring snow and melt) shipping containers used for storage and converted as staff bunkrooms and an HQ Weatherhaven with small kitchen, workshop, electricity and even some wifi piggy backed from the airport. This all forms an essential base for the busy spring expedition season supported by the Snow Dragons (skidoos) permanently based there.
I'll have a gentle start to the trip sorting food, tents, stoves, climbing gear, comms and emergency kit waiting for the team to arrive and then local boatman Ole will take us north on a boat journey that should take about 20 hours... excited!
 Amazing what you can do with a small shipping container
 Tangent HQ
 On the rise walkway
A la carte dining in the Arctic!
Last night, after dinner, I took a walk down to the coast to admire and take pictures of some small grounded 'berry bits'. The evening light as the sun lowers (it doesn't go all the way down) is lovely. There were Arctic Terns and a Long Tailed Skua around and a great view (if you turn your back to the airport!). Everything is a little further away than you think out here, the quality of the air seems to shorten distances so with a decent wee hike its important to take the right tools, including a rifle. Bears are rare in the area in the summer but always a possibility. A few more pics on:
 Grounded bergy bit
 Long Tailed Skua overhead
 Melting... Liverpool Land beyond
 Looking down Hurry Fjord from the beach
 Not a bad spot for an evening stroll
Lines in the sand