Thursday, 31 January 2008

Stormy but Snowy in Scotland

I've been working on another 'introduction to winter skills' course this week. We have used the white corries to introduce crampons and axes, summited Stob Corrie nan Lochan via the NE ridge, blown around on Anoach Mor and climbed steep ice at the ice factor.A lot of snow has fallen on the high mountains today and yesterday, creating avalanche problems as it forms slabs with the strong winds. The freezing level looks set to remain low, which wont help stabilisation of the snow, but hopefully ice will be growing on the cliffs.
I'm hoping my new camera will arrive next week so I can display photos again.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Winter Skills Week

Due to the lack of internet access I haven't bee able to update my blog recently. I have however been busy in the mountains. Starting off the week I climbed Twisting Grooves in Glen Coe with another Gaz, a nice fun but short day out. The rest of the week I ran a winter skills course, introducing crampons and axes, then progressing on to grade 1 ground with ascents of the Bauchile and Stob Corie nan Lochan in Glen Coe. Other days (when the weather was warm and stormy) looked at navigation and climbing steep ice at the ice factor. The weather was a challenge at times, but everyone had fun, learnt lots and went away keen for more!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

New? Winter Routes on Ben Nevis

Yesterday I climbed with another Gaz up high on Ben Nevis. Seeking out possible new lines we headed up near No. 4 gully climbing two mixed routes that weren't listed in the guide book. Both were continualy interesting lines around grade IV, 5 and about 70m long. Being located near No.4 makes access and descent easy, almost like cragging but at the top of the Ben!

The turf was well frozen, with ice in places, which made for good conditions. The walk up to No. 4 was also made easy by the firm, frozen snow.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Sea Level Traversing & Kayaking

I have briefly returned to Wales yesterday or 5 days to work at Ogwen Cottage. This is an outdoor center run by Birmingham Council. The young people are on an activity course, aimed to challenge and develop them through adventurous activities.
Yesterday we went sea level traversing on Anglesey. The sea was big, which greatly reduced the venues that we could use. In the photo is a high level traverse, with a roped clip line to keep everyone safe, we also setup some zip-lines that day too. Only a few got wet from the persistent sea spray!
Today we went kayaking, running the rapid beneath the bridge at PYB in Capel Curig. Unfortunately the river was too high to journey down to Jim's Bridge on the Llugwy. Nevertheless they all enjoyed the introductory rapid so much they were still keen for more after the sixth go!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Winter Skills in the Western Highlands

I ran a 2 day winter course this weekend with Nick from Alpha Mountaineering. The group of 6 were split into two to cover either introductory winter skills or more advanced ropework and avalanche awareness.
Saturday was a glorious crisp day on Anoach Mor, with a hard frost the previous night, snow below 600m and no wind. My group (Joe, Nina and Mandy) ascended to the top of Anoach Mor looking, along the way we looked at using an ice axe and various crampon techniques. We also covered useful strategies to navigate in the winter.
Unfortunately todays weather wasn't quite so nice, but we still found good ice in the ice factor to coach on.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Buachaille Etive Mor, Glen Coe

Mat and I attempted to find a frozen winter route on the Buachaille today, but were unfortunately faced with a lot of wet snow and no frozen ground up to the base of Crowberry Ridge. At this point we decided to stop battling and turned back for a coffee, wading back down. It looked like the isotherm was nearer 1000m than 600m, if it drops though the snow will freeze nicely.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Winter Climbing in the Cairngorms

As the weather continued to be stable I took the opportunity, along with Nick again, to try a route in Coire an Lochain in the Northern Corries. Shorter walk-in and smaller route, though a little harder. We climbed Ventriloquist, a HVS rock route in the summer, a steep and technical mixed winter route today. Not used to the grade of VII, 7, Nick led most of the route and I tried my best to pull hard on the axes behind him.

Strong winds are forecast tomorrow, so a good excuse for a rest day, and return to the current winter wonderland on Thursday.

Winter Climbing on Beinn Eighe

Yesterday I went out with Nick (from Alpha Mountaineering) to Beinn Eighe in the Northwest of Scotland. A 2.5 hour walk-in gets you to triple buttress where the main climbing is located. We chose a mixed route (mixture of iced cracks, frozen turf, and snow), making the most of the frozen conditions. The snow was hard under foot, water ice was 'dripping' down the rock, and the vegetation was solid. These good conditions coupled with clear skies, for most of the day, and light winds made it a day to remember.

We climbed Pigott's route, a classic up central buttress, that goes at VI 7 winter grade. The crux involves struggling up a smooth, steep chimney right near the top of the 260m route.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Kayaking on Afon Llugwy

An afternoon outing today with friends on the Llugwy from Capel Curig. The rainfall last night was just enough to make the river paddleable, an ideal level for Nicky and Ian who were very much new to the world of white water. They had planned to make good use of the surf conditions, but strong onshore winds put a stop to this.
My next adventures will take me North to Scotland, which is currently looking very white if not a little stormy too. Posts on winter conditions will be added as and when I get internet access.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Introduction to White Water

Yesterday I ran a private white water course for Glen and Ali on the River Dee at Llangollen. We used the grade I and II rapids on the site to look at breaking in and out of the flow and ferry gliding across it. We also ran some of the rapids on the upper section, which always gives the participants a thrill!
The hardest part of the day was battling against the cold, after it being relatively warm on New Years day the temperatures have plummeted since. Glen reckoned the water wasn't too cold, under two wet suits and a fleece top, but Ali and myself decided not to try this theory out.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Sea Kayaking on New Years Days

Happy New Year. After a few drinks to see in the New Year, a few of us decided to make the most of the calm conditions and explore the coast around Trevor on the Llyn peninsular. From the small pier a series of shale cliffs extend southward, which comprise of various caves arches and stacks to explore. Unfortunately though the tide was still high making navigation through the arches impossible, with out turning the kayak into a submarine.

Skiing in the 3 Valleys

Christmas was spent skiing with the family this year in France, a nice alternative to the normal Family meals. Good snow was found on the pistes, though unfortunately the off piste conditions were very variable. Crusty snow to hard neve, with pockets of softer powder kept me on my toes!