Thursday, 31 March 2011

ML Training

The last couple days I have been working on an ML training for PYB, with the ovenight camp coinciding well with the onset of rain. After it had been dry for so long!

On the expedition we went up into the Carneddau camping over in Cwm Eigiau. We concentrated on the navigation and the many techniques that can be utilised to get from A to B. When darkness set in, after eating dinner, we headed out for the night nav - which the group enjoyed though challenging.

Overnight the wind pushed the tents into a variety of new shapes but all survived. So back to the Brenin for the compulsory tea and cakes.

The ML qualification enables people to lead groups on walking terrain up any mountain in the uk. With a 6 day training course, 5 day assessment and at least 40 quality mountain days in between it takes commitment to complete the first step of the uk mountaineering qualifications.


Monday, 28 March 2011

North Ridge of Tryfan

Today I was working for PYB with a school group from Surrey. Scrambling was the chosen activity and they were all keen for the popular North Ridge.

They proved to be a competent group looking after each other and easily tackling the various scrambling sections on the route. A little hazy again but no complaints were made about the blue skies and calm weather.


Tryweryn Fun

On Saturday I was out coaching Tom and Will on leadership for their upcoming 4 star assessment. We ran the river from the chipper all the way down to Bala. Each took turns to lead sections ensuring they kept line of sight and positioning themselves appropriately.

Another sunny day but no good for the local rivers which are super low at the moment.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Back to Rock

I have now returned to North Wales to be greeted by blue skies and sunny weather. Thursday, Friday I was out with Dell. He needed to do an update on his SPA for Cadets, a bit of professional development.

On Thursday we went to Lion rock first and then Pont y Cromlech looking at setups and group issues at both. Handily Lou and Gareth were there with groups from Blue Peris and Kent Centre. They kindly allowed us to look at their setups and styles of group management. Later in the afternoon we walked up to Wastad and climbed the classic Crackstone Rib while discussing points on leading routes.

Friday we initially went to Upper Tier at Tremadog concentrating more on rescues both for the SPA and more complicated multi-pitch scenarios. In the afternoon Dell was keen to lead a route himself so we went down to Bwlch y Moch and he led up Boo-Boo in fine style.

P3240082Crackstone Rib, Llanberis Pass

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Curved Ridge

Terry and Graham wanted to lead for real today, in particular looking at rock anchors. With the thaw happening all around we opted for a snow-less Curved Ridge as at least it had plenty of solid rock.

As we started the drizzle disappeared and the sun shone. They both did a good job of leading all the main rock sections. I took over for the soft snow on the upper part. At least it is good for bum sliding.


Monday, 21 March 2011

No. 3 Gully Buttress , Ben Nevis.

Nice and warm today, I didn't have to wear to many layers. However the ice was a bit soggy and snow certainly damp.

I was working for Abacus today with Terry and Graham again. We headed up the Ben in search of ice and a safe route to climb. The snow in the Ciste is certainly wet but generally stable, now in one homogeneous layer. There was however a fair bit of debris that had fallen down from above, presumably cornice collapse.

We went for the Quickstep start then across on No. 3 Buttress. Climbable ice, even took ok screws, keeping away from anything that may want to detach itself from above.

Things were certainly disappearing quickly. Vanishing and Waterfall gully were living up to there name. It was very claggy today so impossible to see other routes.

As long as things hold in tomorrow looks like it is getting colder from Wednesday and the snow will readily turn to neve.

No. 3 Gully Buttress, Ben NevisNo. 3 Gully Buttress, Ben NevisNo. 3 Gully Buttress, Ben Nevis

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Stob Ban

Team Ireland were on Stob Ban. The climbers, with Kath and Paul, ascended the East Ridge which gives great climbing at the grade. I took the others up the North ridge and over the top.

A nice day with cloud free peaks. A fair bit of snow has now disappeared from the lower slopes. Higher up there was some firm slabby snow, though the freezing level felt to be near the top of the peak.
North Ridge Stob Ban
East Ridge Stob BanEast Ridge Stob Ban

Last two photos courtesy of Kath Bromfield

Friday, 18 March 2011

Lochan, Glen Coe

First outing of the season for the walking axe today. I was out with members of the Irish Christian Walking Club taking Peter, Ronin and Lorraine through there paces. Kath and fresh from assessment Paul were also with 3 fellow members Donncha, Conall and Martin on Dorsal Arete.

It all started out nice and sunny but by midday the snow and wind came in. We wandered around the corrie looking at snow and doing a bit of sliding. There was a new wind slab building with fresh cornices building around the corrie rim. Snow level is still low but it felt like the freezing level was around 900 to 1000m today.

Dorsal Arete, Lochan

Thanks to Kath Bromfield for the Photo

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Waterfall Gully, Ben

Second day with my Dad and friends Tom and Will. Although the track is a no-go, with snow and stuck mini buses, it seemed rude not to head up to the Ben.

There is a track that leads all the way to the CIC hut. From here we headed over to Waterfall Gully, climbing the first 50m in two pitches. This provided fun grade IV ice. While up there we also played on some steeper ice on the left. Gemini was certainly forming but not there yet.

After this we wandered over to some ice to the left of the gulches. There was some significant amounts of poorly bonded slab below No. 5 - easily sliding on an icy crust.

Waterfall, Gully, Ben NevisWaterfall, Gully, Ben NevisWaterfall, Gully, Ben Nevis

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Raeburn's, Lochan

Sunny, sunny. Blue bird day today. My dad has come up for two days for his Scottish winter hit along with two friends from the Wirral. We stomped into the Lochan to find our place on a route. The track in is good, but the snow is deep elsewhere. A fair few teams about today. Wanting to avoid anything with quantities of snow I initially headed over to the Pinnacle area - bit busy. We slotted into Raeburn's in the end - that certainly on the upper pitches had a good quantities of useful soft snow.

Other parts of the crag that have been in the sun are now stripped back and look quite dry. This includes a lot of the main mixed routes.


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

North Buttress, Buachaille

It did the job. A track was in place, gave the required grade of climbing and an opportunity to look at rock anchors - plus being safe.

We were joined by Tim and his assessment team that included Si Lake, James Thacker and Chris plus another 3. Sociable start but everyone managed to find their place and climbed quickly. The assessment team went up and over the others abseiled back to the start.

There was a fair bit more snow than last Thursday, allowing for a few more footholds and bit more to swing at. In the morning there was a bit of mini snow storm but this cleared later to give beautiful views across the moor.

I was working for Abacus today with Graham and Terry. They are back next Monday for another two days of climbing fun.


Monday, 14 March 2011

Far Eastern Buttress, Glen Coe

Today I was with Terry and Graham, working for Abacus Mountaineering. With all the fresh snow I wanted something low down that would ideally have a track leading to the base. Fortunately a Jagged Globe team had set off up to the Lochan ahead of us. Roger and Dave with clients Nick and Stuart did a great job of ploughing through waist deep snow, thanks. We took over for a few steps when we caught up, but this was at our turning point towards the crag. Timing is essential.

We managed to find a handy wind scoop that lead up to the left hand side of the crag. There is no recorded route up here, but we climbed a fun ice groove with a few steep moves then a turfy groove higher up at grade III. The guys wanted to learn about rope work and gear so I arranged a variety of belays and even placed two screws. On the way down we found a few other rock outcrops to look at more wire placements.

Few teams coming over from the Zig Zags but sounds like no climbing was done up in the Lochan. There is a fair mix of snow high up. We found a variety of windslab layers with the graupel from last week hiding underneath. There was a slide, probably from the weekend, above the Lochan path that had dislodged a some small saplings.


Saturday, 12 March 2011


Day off today. With all the fresh snow I went up to Nevis Range to sample it on skis this morning. Good snow down to the bottom of the Goose, with many of the surrounding slopes and upper plateau very much scoured. We found the snow on the back corries with 3 runs down Chancer which was deep and dreamy.

It is now snowing hard down to sea level and the winds have dropped, so unfortunately for the climbing the previous scoured slopes are now being loaded.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Raeburn's, Lochan

Today I was with Tim and Stuart while working for Jagged Globe. It was the last day of their course. Yesterday they had done some dry tooling and I thought it would be good to put it to action.

We headed up to the Lochan in Glen Coe and climbed Raeburn's (IV). There has been a fair bit of snow and it is easy to find waist deep drifts. Fortunately there was a line of exposed boulders leading up to the route. On the climb though I had to do a fair bit of cleaning. Crusty top layer, powder below, chunks of old detached neve. Still we ascended and had fun. Tim's only complaint was that it finished all a little too soon.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

North Buttress, Buachaille

Today I was out with just Peter. Again a windy snowy day. We opted for North Buttress with the intention of abseiling back down the route, so avoiding wind and snow higher up.

This offers some great mixed climbing. There was a mixture of snow on the route, from crusty snow from Tuesday to fresh graupel (and lots of it) from today. When we walked out fresh snow was just starting to stick to the road.

Sounds like there are significant accumulations of snow high up but also many scoured slopes on the West Faces making for safe and pleasant climbing.

More Photos

Today I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides
Kath was out for Sea 2 Summit with Angus. Today they ascended the Zig Zags keeping out of the wind.


Fawlty Towers, Ben

Fresh snow down to the Fort on Wednesday morning and a bit of strong wind high up. Pete and Dave were keen on some climbing at the back of the Ciste so we went up to see how much snow had been deposited and where the wind had transported it. As we stood on the slopes below Moonlight Buttress there were large scoured areas of old neve but also significant dumps of windslab - which happened to be very unstable. Figuring the chances of finding a line of old neve leading to some great ice was slim we decided to head over to the West side of Douglas boulder. We could clearly see the safe scoured slopes.

A few teams were already using the area but we managed to find some ice and fun mixed steps on Fawlty Towers. Upon topping out we abseiled down into the gap and back to the CIC hut for a cup of tea.
More Photos


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Goat Track Gully, Cairngorms

With the possibility of drier weather in the morning we raced East to get ahead of the incoming ming. Leaving a wet Fort William we arrived in a drier though windy Aviemore.

We headed into the Snechda, with the idea that Peter and Dave took over today. With incoming snow and not too keen on the idea of wandering around on the plateau we opted for Goat Track Gully. This offered some lean but icy pitches and then a traverse to escape down Goat Track itself.

With the wet snow falling (freezing level must of been above the crag) we decided it was time for coffee.

I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides today.

Kath has also been out with Angus for the last two days. Yesterday they bagged Ledge Route and today they followed us East to climb The Slant.


Monday, 7 March 2011

NE Buttress

With another reasonable forecast, before the snow tomorrow, Dave and Peter opted for another Ben day. Dave always had his eye on NE Buttress, calling him on each walk-in to the North Face. So this was the route of the day.

The first rock step was a little dry but otherwise all good. In some places where there is usually snow lower down it had been replaced with bullet hard ice.

Misty again so no views but calm though. Others were on Orion, Point 5, Cascade, Indicator to name but a few.

NE ButtressNE Buttress

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Point 5

Day 1 of a 5 day course with West Coast Guides. Peter and David wanted to do some classic grade IV and V climbs. With the weather getting snowier and windier each day we decided to jump in with two feet, and as Point 5 was quiet it seemed rude not to.

First time placements all the way up, the colder temperature last night had done a good job at freezing the snow. Both enjoyed the steeper pitches, shame the mist rolled in as we started. Hmm what next?

Point 5Point 5

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Sunny Cairngorms, Spiral and Red Gully

I met Richard and brother Robert off the sleeper this morning in Aviemore. They were up for the weekend and today the aim was enjoyable grade II/III routes.

We head into Snechda with fine views and hard snow under foot. It was reasonably quiet on arrival and fortunately with a view of the routes, allowing myself to note the white lines that are left.

Red gully has a mix of ice and rock at the start with another ice pitch higher up. We returned to the corrie via the Goat Track which is currently quite steep with heard neve. Spiral Gully was next with Richard and Robert opting for the direct finish that provided some nice ice climbing.

Other routes that were climbed included Fiacaill Couloir, Aladins Direct, Runnel, Crotch ...
More Photos

Spiral Gully Direct, CairngormsSpiral Gully Direct, CairngormsRed Gully, Cairngorms

Friday, 4 March 2011

Left Twin Aonach Mor

Shorter day today for the final outing for the JG team. I was with Mary and Jim today who were keen on some ice to swing two tools at.

We used the lifts to quickly gain height up to the East Face, abseiling in and wandering over to an icy Left Twin. There was some good fun ice to climb, though damp and little mushy on the surface. Calm again, and a little sunshine on top all was good.

The other team climbed Tunnel Vision. Central Buttress is devoid of anything white though White Shark looked icy.
More Photos

Thursday, 3 March 2011

No. 3 Buttress, Ben Nevis

After hopes of a colder day the freezing level was again just above the tops. Still plenty of ice and snow higher up, just a bit damp today.

Due to the warm temperatures ice was falling down and the softer snow on the move. We decided to head onto a semi-direct version of No. 3 Buttress. Rock belays positioned under safe buttresses were taken. Some nice ice was found, with only the top inch being wet and a bit rotten.

It seemed some people found sun on the Ben today, unfortunately the Ciste wasn't good enough and remained shrouded in mist.

I was working for Jagged Globe today.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Austrian Skiing to Scottish Snow

Last week I drove out to Austria, briefly stopping in Wales to move house. Staying outside St Anton I was part of a group of 10 keen for the skiing. A fortunate dump of snow at the start of the week transformed the slopes to powder fun rather than an icy nightmare. Further snow through the week kept fresh tracks possible, especially the last day were 30 minutes of uphill revealed an unblemished valley. Virgin snow as far as the eye could see!

Anyway while I was away it seems that I missed a lot of warm and wet weather in Scotland. The walk-in today was therefore straightforward, avoiding any snow until at the base of Corrie Lochan. I was working for Jagged Globe today with Malcolm. Out of the limited route choices we opted for Twisting Gully. Although certainly lean there was good neve to swing at with every upwards step. The lower crux pitch had helpful neve on the ledges with some fun mixed moves. The cornice appeared to of peeled off yesterday so no danger from above, just good firm snow to the top. Others were on Boomerang , Dorsal and Broad.

More photos.