Saturday, 28 March 2009

Navigation Course

Today I was running a Navigation Course for the EICA. I went out with Susan, Alan and John to the Pentland. We started with a short classroom session at the centre before heading out. On our journey we looked at using bearings, pacing and timings. Everyone did really well, locating some tricky points as we finished in the dark.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Spring Rock

The last couple of days have given me the chance to relax and get back on the rock for the first time since November. On Monday I had a great morning at the Limekilns soloing and leading with Neil on route from VS to E3 in the sunshine. Today I walked to Rosyth quarry and warmed up by soloing all the routes fromVD to HVS, which was a great way to get back into the swing of things. I then had a bit of a training session by doing laps on Philistine before coming home for something to eat. A great couple of days to get the head back.

The conditions on the Ben have been pretty good over the last few days. Most of the ice that's around is good but going fast. A little snow has fallen, but more is needed if it is to stay around for a while yet. Routes such as Zero, Orion Direct, Indicator, Smiths and Two Step to mention a few have been climbed.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


This weekend I have been working for the EICA running a Climbing Wall Award Training course with Nic. There were 7 candidates on the training, all with a wide range of experience which helps add to the cousre.
Day 1 we looked at personnal climbing. This started at the EICA where everyone covered bottom roping with a variety of belay devices, before moving on to lead climbing. We all then went to Meadowbank to see a different venue. This is an excellent wall to see as the differences are quite large.
Day 2 covers all the aspects of working with groups. We looked at different games, belay methods and ways of coaching technique. We also include the abseil training in the course. This includes rigging and running a session at two different points in the wall.

Overall a lot was covered and everyone took alot away with them.

For more info on the CWA check out the MLTUK website, or contact me.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Snow Holin'

Yesterday 10 of us set off walking into ciste Mereth (sorry about the spelling, I will check and change). A later start and steady pace saw us arrive at about 2pm. To our suprise there were no holes there already that were usable. THis was great as the group got the opportunity to dig there own. After the long dig and some food we went for a little night Nav that took us to the top of Cairngorm under an amazing star covered sky. The still night and great conditions gave us plenty of time to discuss tactics etc. along the way.

Today we woke to another fantastic day with burning sunshine at 7 am. After a bit breakfast and packing up we all headed back to the bus. This marked the end of an amazing week with a great group. Rosie Gooldin was working the group this week with me.

Check out the link for info. on the Moray House Courses.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Winter Mountaineering

Today we were looking to use snow anchors and mountaineering skills to climb and descend some of the classic grade 1 gullies. We started by climbing Aladdin's Mirror to the seat. Then we looked at using the rope to safe guard less confident member's down Aladdin's Coulior. We contiued are day by heading around into Jacob's Ladder to climb this, before cutting some bollards and abseiling back into Jacob's. A great day was finished by a pleasent stroll over 1141 and back to the bus.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Winter Sunshine

Today I was out with the same misfits from the day before. We went into Lochain today to have a look at snow anchors and have a journey through some steep ground. After digging in some very hard snow and looking at belaying in the bucket seats and holding a leader fall, we went to climb the Coulior. This was in excellent condition. We had a lunch stop then headed off for some nav practise. We made a journey around the tops of the corries to head down the cas ridge.

There were teams on the Vent, Milky Way, Oesophagus and Crows Nest Crack today.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Winter Skills

I am working this week with Edinburgh University Murray House on their winter week. The course is based around the winter ML syllabus, but pitched at the level of the student. Today I was out with Greg, Dave, Gordon and Alun. We walked into Sneachda to look at refreshing some of the skills they already had. After a session on self arrest we looked at some cramponing on the flat before heading on a journey. We walked up onto the Fiacaill Ridge and made a summer ascent of the ridge before doing a bit of bad weather nav back to the goat track. After a pleasent glissade back down, we had a leisurely walk back to the bus.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Intro to Winter Climbing

I was only out with Ben today. We headed back into Sneachda to look at some of the classic easy gullies in much nicer weather. Today we climbed Central Gully, the Runnel and the first pitch of Goat Track gullt right hand start. All the major gullies are complete, but the thaw has taken heavy casualties. There was a team of finger's ridge, who sent a couple of large bit of rock down. All the buttresses are black, with no climbing incondition. I was working for Glenmore Lodge today.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Wild Intro to Winter Climbing

Today I was climbing with Ben and Gareth who are on an intro to winter climbing. The wind was not too bad as we made are way into Sneachda. However, the signs that it was worse in the corrie were evident as people were turning back. We persevered and made a very wet start up central gully lefthand. The temperature came down a little as well got higher as the rain turned to snow. The wind however got stronger as the gully narrowed. This made the ice pitch a bit more extreme than normal. Despite the weather, we managed to look at building quality belays and grading runner placement. After we had all been blown over a couple of times on the top, we made it down through windy col where the wind eased and we walked out quite pleasently. We got back to the centre and looked a little more at belay construction before quiting for tea and cake. Today I was working for Glenmore Lodge.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Watch out

Greg and Damo were out today in Sneachda again. They climbed a couple of routes on a very white Fiacaill Buttress. First up Greg put in a great effort to on sight Watch Out (VI,8), which climbs the arete right of the Seam. Greg said that this was excellent climbing but a little bolder than expected. They came back down then climbed Sterling Bomber, Damo leading the crux pitch. They weather was a bit better today, but is set to be warmer over the next few days with cooler weather coming back by the weekend.

For pictures check out greg's blog

Monday, 9 March 2009


Not as wild in the Corries today. I was climbing with Damo in Sneachda today, we did Salvation. This route has a bit of a reputation, so we were expecting that there might be a bit of a hard time to be had. Conditions must have been on our side, the climbing seemed straight forward and bang on the grade at VI,7. The turf was excellent and there was some helpful ice around (this made for a very bold first pitch). Greg and Euan climbed White Magic (Magic Crack) by the original way as the top section was a bit too scoured. The climbs today were lightly rimed with good snow, ice and turf throughout. A lot of the buttress routes looked in similar condition with the fiacaill the exception, this was very white.

Other teams climbed Fluted Buttress Direct which did'nt have much ice in it, No Blue Skies and the other classic grade 4's on the mess of Potage and the trident gullies had teams in them.

There was a rucksack lost today by some nice Europian climber's. If anyone finds this can you hand it in the Aviemore police or the Ranger's station as I think they were going to keep checking these spots.

Sorry no pics. I need a better set of batteries.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Mess of Pottage

I was out with Richard today who wanted to look at a bit of mixed climbing and making belays simple and quick when on easy ground. We climbed a short steep crack/chimney before the start of the slant that takes you to the same belay. This is not in the guide but offered good climbing at about V,5 I think. We then finished up the slant to look at the rest of Richard's objectives before coming down the cas ridge. We also had a look at some avalache awarness and snow belays on the way down. Despite the wild weather a good day. There were a lot of people out despite the weather.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Busy Day in the Corries

I was out with James today in Sneachda. We and the rest of the world headed over to the Mess of Potage. At one point there was a que of about 20 people in and around the Slant today, I thought there was more than one route in the northern corries? We avoided the pile up and went up through the Forty Thieves area taking in as much grade 2 ground as possible. We then descended Jacob's and made a congestion free ascent of the Slant before making are way down.

It was very wet just after midday as the temperature went way up. there was still heavy sleet, but it was raining at 750m.

Friday, 6 March 2009


Matt has been on his MIC assessment over the past week. I'm happy to say that he has passed with flying colours in some challenging condition this week.

There is a lot of snow around on the West coast making things quite serious and route choice very important. The East has also had alot of snow, but the buttresses have many people on them over the last few days. Gully lines are best avoided at the moment as they have had a lot of snow blown into them.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Mixed Action

I was out with Sharon today who wanted to get on so harder mixed ground. We climbed the Messenger which was quite hard going due to the foot of fresh snow that needed clearing all the way up the crux pitch. The climbing was excellent with all turf well frozen on the route. We came back down and climbed Hidden Chimney Direct. Some kind people had cleared this for us so it wasn't long before we where bachk in the car oark after a great day in great weather. The Mess of Pottage was a busy place today with teams on the Honey pot, Messege, Pot of Gold, the Haston Line and many variations of Jacobs edge. There is a lot of fresh snow, so use your judgement uf your heading out over the next few days.

Monday, 2 March 2009

A Breif Return of Winter

The snow from the previous day and night had left some of the buttresses looking a bit more wintry today. We decided to take advantage of this and try something mixed. The fiacaill looked the best place to head for, so Invernookie was the target. Dave and Colm led the first 2 pitches between them while I climbed alongside. I then switched into the system to lead the trickier upper section so the Colm and Dave could experience something a little more challenging. We topped out and came back down into the corrie to look at some more ice screw teaching, by this time the temperature had shot up and the buttresses were very quickly turning black again. After getting wet in the heavy sleet in the corrie we headed out, a good day to finish the course.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Hell's Lum

In search of ice, Dave, Colm and I headed over to Hell's Lum to see if Escalator was in good shape. This was the guys first proper ice route on the lead. After a practise session on ice screws yesterday they were well keen to get on the sharp end. The route had mostly good ice all the way. You had to clear an inch or so of snow to find the good ice to place protection. The Sneer had an unpleasent looking layer of snow on it that would make it a little hard going at the moment. We then went for a journey on to Lochain and descended the Couloir which is in top nick, before heading out. There was a little snow falling during the day and more forecast over night, some of the buttresses had started to whiten up a bit. Finger's crossed.