Friday, 17 February 2017

2 days with Mac and Sam

Yesterday it rained... really quite a lot. Rather than go and take our licks on Ben Nevis we went to Polldubh where first the guys took themselves up Scimitar Ridge using a variety of mountaineering rope work. Then it was across to The Gutter to slow things down with some more pitched, climbing style rope work.
Today we got the reward with a nice steady ascent by Mac and Sam of Ledge Route doing the ropework for themselves (very thinly iced first slab and quite a bit of loose rock just above this). We took off crampons at the top of the gully and moved on rock until the last 50m of ascent where the spikes went back on again. After a sunny lunch break we headed over to No.4 Gully which I belayed them down for a pitch before we walked down and out.
More ice than expected has hung in high up... now if some of t can just survive the next few days...

Sunday to Wednesday with Pete

Pete is a happy lad and rightly so. He got 4 of the better days this winter to go out on. Sunday was 'shakedown day' as he got into the swing of winter again. We went to the Dragon's Tooth above Ballachulish (my first time too- been meaning to go here for a while) and very good it was too. The weather was better than forecast and both we and Matt who came to observe for the day had a grand day out.
Monday was milder but we went to the East Ridge of the North Buttress of Stob Ban which was well frozen and had enough snow for it to be wintery. Pete was loving some of the climbing on the lower pitches.
Tuesday was a great day. We were on Curved Ridge in the sunshine and rime. The winds dropped as forecast, the ice pitch in Easy Gully was in great condition and all was well with the world!
Wednesday and the legs were weary so we stayed low and went to Fawlty Towers as it had been reported as fine the day before. The thaw had struck hard and some creative route finding was needed up booming ice and teetery rock but we got 3 more good pitches of climbing to end Pete's time here. For someone with no real experience of 2 axe climbing Pete did great this week with some tricky moves and some big mountaineering routes.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The first week of winter?

It felt like the first proper week of winter and I was mountaineering with Ross, Mikaela and Jade working for Glenmore Lodge.
Day 1 is always a shakedown day and it was wild! We beat our way into the Ciste Gully reviewing basic walking skills, avalanche awareness and went up Gully No.2. Then to get out of the notch we had to link arms and stagger sideways against gusts of over 80mph (it was 97mph on top of Cairngorm at the time).
Day 2 we went into Coire an t Sneachda to introduce snow anchors and bit of travelling through steeper ground up to windy col. Avalanche awareness was again a theme and we did some navigation over Cairngorma and down windy Ridge to the Cas Car Park.
Day 3 and my experienced mountaineers wanted a route so we took the whole mountaineering course to the East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn which helped us dodge the worst of the wind, let the team use some mountaineering rope work and more navigation to descend. Great light on the way down too.
Day 4 and it was of to Creagan Cha No. A windy walk meant that we lowered 2 of the team in to get the ropes down for the other pair of us to abseil. Then the guys did a stirling job leading a pitch each with one axe out of the easiest variation of Duke's Rib.
Day5 and it was my 31st day of 'winter' this year and my first sunny, windless but snowy one. The guys took themselves up Fiacaill ridge using a variety of rope techniques and negotiated the crowds! There was just time to look at a last snow anchor on the way down.
Half Term holiday weeks approach and we have a mixture of soft powder on steep ground and windslab in terrain traps and on lee slopes. Ridges and buttresses may be a good idea for the non 'wads' seeking super steep ground. Take care out there folks.
Wild Monday

 Digging Tuesday

 A route for wednesday

 Abseiling thursday

 Fiacaill friday