Thursday, 28 February 2013

Final Day Shooting in the Ming!

Today was the last day of the Life Systems/Life Venture shoot.  We had been hoping for some poor weather to shoot the thermal and survival products, and today delivered the essential ming.  This was great for our shoot, but will most likely have stripped the buttresses with the warm wet cloud and drizzle.  Fingers crossed a clear night brings some lower temperatures through for another stunning day tomorrow.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Photo Shoot Roles On

We had another stunning day in the Northern carries today shooting for Life Systems and Life Venture.  After some footwork coaching on the flat ice, we cruised up on to the Fiaciall Ridge and climbed that to get some pics.  After a tea break back in Aviemore, we were back up to do some night time shooting.  A long but awesome day again!

lighting shots 
The sun has stripped the buttress on the Mess of Potage and Aladdin's, but Fluted Buttress and the Fiaciall are holding in.  Lochain looked in ok nick, with many options.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

East Coast Catch Up

I am suffering with computer and internet problems again, so will round up the last 4 days.

Over the weekend I was working with 4 kids from George Watson's College.  We had a good day in Corie Laogh Mor on Saturday re-freshing skills and taking in a bit of a journey.  Sunday was another stunning day, and with a little dusting of fresh snow, the twin ribs were white enough to run a little mixed climbing workshop.  There was still time after this for a charge up Jacob's Ladder I, which is just that at the moment with all the massive footprints.
James walking of a stunning Meggie summit
Monday was another stunning day, but James and I had a meeting to be back for so wanted a quick hit. We opted for a late start at Meggie and left the car park at 8:30.  After what seemed like a leisurely walk in, we were charging up toward Pumpkin V,4****.  There were a couple of teams ahead but they were very kind and let us pass.  We had taken a long single, which meant we could fire up the route in 2 long pitches.  When we checked our watches back at the bags, it had only taken us 3 1/2 hours from the car park, to climb the route and back down.  It seemed only right to nip up the Wand too.  A rapid 45 min ascent, taking advantage of our long rope again (we had carried it all that way) and back at the car for just after 3pm. gave us plenty of time before meeting up with Craig and Matt from Life Systems and Life Venture.

James hard at work
 Today was the first day of a 4 day photo shoot with Life Systems and Life Venture.  the weather was stunning and great way to showcase some of this excellent kit.  After a long day and with over 900 images to sort through, we deserved a good meal at the Ski-ing Doo.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Back to Work

I have just had a week off whilst the family came to visit, but it is back to work tomorrow over East for a week.  Whilst I have been off the weather has been stunning. The Ben is in awesome condition, along with Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag and Creag Meagaidh.  Hopefully my clients a I can take advantage of this in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Intro Winter Climbing Weekend

I have been working an intro climbing course over the weekend, and despite the warmer we managed to achieve a lot.  We spent the Saturday as a combined group with Phil's in the Gulch running a ice climbing workshop.  This was an excellent way to coach folks movement and technique whilst close enough to see and talk to each other.  We did a mixture of No axe and One axe climbing to really focus the feet as well as a couple of steeper route to test all the skills being coached.  Everyone showed a big improvement through the day on ground grade II-IV.

Yesterday I climbed Waterfall Gully IV,4*** quickly and early, then spent the rest of the day looking at building belays in rock and ice, as well as bucket seats etc.  There is still a massive amount to go at on the Ben, and now the snow has settled down and things are freezing overnight, conditions are going to continue to improve.  Sunday was a much better day, and people climbed all the ridges and the steeper face ice routes.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Intro Climbing Week

I have spent the last 5 days with Don and Maddy on an intro winter climbing course.  The weather has been a bit mixed and their aims and objectives varied, so it has made for a great week.
CIC Cascades

On Monday we went up to the CIC Cascades and climbed a number of pitches to give some coachinmg and find their level.  It was very clear that easy snow was not going to put them through there paces, so we were going to have to bump the grade a little.  They both made short work of the first IV,4 route and then coped very well on the next that had a short section of tech 5.  We spent the reminding time of the session coaching placements and footwork around the base of the crag in preperation for Tuesday.

Don and Maddy enjoying No.6 Gully
No.6 Gully Crux Pitch
Tuesday was the best day of the week. so we could not waste it.  We fired off No.6 Gully on Aonach Dubh, which was a little hollow at the bottom, but improved with hieght.  A great day on a great route.

Maddy finishing up No.6
Wednesday saw a turn in the weather.  This meant that a trip to the Ice Factor, which was a great way to firm up some skills, then introduce some new ones.  After the 9 am ice session, we focused on building belays and taught both Don and Maddy to lead climb.  A mammoth 6 and half hour factor session was extremely productive.

Thursday was not a great day weather wise, but we had a good plan.  Unfortunately, a stomach upset gave us a slow start and change of plans.  Instead we went to Glen Nevis to build on the skills introduced at the Ice Factor. This culminated in Maddy leading the Gutter Diff***, her first outdoor rock climb, Skills!!!

Left Twin

Today, we tried to make up for the lost route and headed up on to Aonach Mor.  We climbed Left Twin III,4*** and The Split IV,4** which were in good condition.  It was a great way to finish an excellent week.
Don exiting the Split

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

No.6 Gully Aonach Dubh

I am having internet issues, but will post properly when i can.

I climbed No. 6 Gully with Don and Maddy on Aonach Dubh.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Nordwand Direct

The line of the Nordwand straight up the middle
So, Yesterday Matt, Matt, Freda, Dave, Lena and I climbed the Nordwand DirectIV,4** on the North face of Carn Dearg.  This 430 m route is very much like the Orion face, having a very committing and serious feel, with hard won belays and poor protection.  The guidebook suggests that it weaves around and is a mixed route, but we followed a very obvious line straight up on ice for 10 pitches.  The majority of the pitches were  grade IV,4 with a couple of IV,5 and maybe one at tech 3.  Out of the 10 pitches we climbed, only two were easy snow, with the rest being ice.  Pitches ranged from 30-60m, but felt very much like solo's due to thin or poor ice.  It was a fine expedition and we were down in good time, with the route taking 5 hours.  A climb well all recommend.
Starting up the first steep pitch

Dave and Lena starting off
Matt Lander sending somewhere on the face

Leading up yet another ice pitch
The ice is not as good as it looks

Lena and Dave enjoying being out on the face

Send, Send, Send!!!!
Are we there YET!!!!

Lander bridging to the max
Stygall pulling over the last step

Freda with one short step left
As the weather swept in and out through the day, it gave a real Nordwand feel.  Matt and I managed to lead on parallel lines most of the way, which meant it was a very sociable experience.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Screaming

Matt and I both have a couple of days off, so headed to Beinn an Dothaidh today for a steep mixed route whilst the body is working.  The aim of the day was to climb The Screaming VIII,8**, which has a 20m overhanging crack as it's crux pitch.  As Matt and I don't get to climb that often together any more, and I had the crux last time out, I was happy for him to have this one and enjoy the toprope.

Matt sending large

The route had 2 pleasant VI,6ish pitch at the start which went by really quickly.  Standing underneath the main crack, it didn't look that steep.  However, once Matt was on it, the angle the gear was hanging off his harness suggested otherwise.  In true Stygall style, he dispatched the pitch swiftly.  It was a great pitch to climb.  Positive hooks, with big moves between them.  Not a mass of gear, but enough.  Easy ground to the top saw us top out before 1pm, and back at the car before 2pm.  A least it means we get a good rest before hitting the Ben with friends tomorrow.
Steeper than it Looks

Getting involves

The smile suggests a good day has been had!!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Curtain

Today Alex and I went up on the Ben and climbed the Curtain IV,5***.  Although a little thin at the bottom, it was hero ice all the way today.  There was a team on the route when we approached, so taking our time kitting up, we gave them chance to be on the final pitch as we started.  This was just in time as the queue started to form.  We made rapid progress, so walked around to do Waterfall Gully as well.  Unfortunately, this was 4 deep.  Instead we dropped down to the CIC cascades and rattled up them.

Alex cruising up the easy slab of the first pitch

Approaching the second stance
A great day to be cruising around classics on the Ben.  Ronnie and Paul climbed Gemini VI,6*** which looked in excellent condition.
Can you spot the impatient leader climbing all over the team in front, poor skills Sir!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Ordinary Route

Today Alex and I walked into a a very quiet SCNL with my breif to challenge his limits.  After seeing him rock climb yesterday, it was obvious that grade II would be a little too easy.  So Ordinary Route IV,4***, was a good choice.
Alex reaching the belay after the crux pitch

The route was in the best condition I have climbed it in, with ice everywhere, and on nearly all the ledges.  Alex made swift work following each pitch and growing in confidence the higher we went.  With the idea to climb ice tomorrow, the Ben it is then!

Cruising up the final pitch

A stunning day in the Lochain
The only other team out today was Kenny Grant and his client, who climbed Scabbard Chimney.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Winter Climbing, Sort Of!!!

Cold and wet on the Gutter, just like winter climbing!
Today was the start of a 3 day winter climbing course with Alex for WCMG.  Alex was on the sleeper, which was delayed by an hour and a half.  This did not leave us masses of time to go on the hill, so instead we sorted kit and headed up the glen.  We climbed the Gutter, Diff*** to cover all the ropework we would use over the next couple of days and looked at abseiling etc. This worked really well and puts us in a good position for tomorrow.

Alex's hands feeling a little warmer on this pitch

Monday, 4 February 2013

New Edelrid Crampons for 2013

As I have a day off today, but the weather is awful. I thought I would share a little about some new crampons that will be out this year.  As some might be aware, Edelrid produced a new range of ice axes last year, with the Rage being part of a tool review on UKC recently.  Over the last year or so, they have also been improving their crampons.  I have been using the old range of the Samba and Salsa for around 3 years, and have been delighted with the way they perform.  The New range however, looks to be a step forwards again.  The BEAST will replace the Samba and be an aggressive crampon that can be either dual or mono point.  It is extremely light weight and has good solid anti balling plates.  The SHARK (which I currently have) will replace the Salsa as their general all round climbing/mountaineering crampon.  So what do you get and how much?
The SHARK crampon fitted on the New Garmont Icon Plus GTX

Some stats:

SHARK £140.
Weight: 880g
Excellent pre formed anti balling plate that is screwed to the crampon for an almost seamless fit.
Optimal Fitting flexibility: They come with all the fittings to make the crampons either Automatic, Semi Automatic or Soft.
SHARK in Semi Automatic mode
SHARK in Soft mode

I have have been very happy with these so far whilst using them for work.  They have performed well on ice and mixed up to Tech 6, and have been easy to use.  Defo keep an eye out for these, and think outside the normal brands when buying this winter.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Message

Today Chris and Rich were keen for a quick hit so they could be back down the road.  An early start for the Gorms saw us away from the car around 8am, which meant we should have a choice of routes on the Mess of Pottage.  Surprisingly (or Not), there where a couple of teams on routes already.  Despite there being a team at the first belay of the Message IV,6***, we opted to follow up that reasoning that they should be up the crux corner and away by the time we walked up and climbed the first pitch.  Unfortunately, this did not happen.  We got to the belay as the leader was half way up the corner (Error on my part).  This meant we had a little hanging around, but it was not too bad and only cost us 45 mins over the whole.  Even so, we still made it back to the car before 1pm, so all was well!
Chris pulling out of the crux corner

A couple of short vids to highlight the hospitable Cairngorm conditions today.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Sneachda Brace

I have been in a very busy Sneachda today with Rich and Chris.  All the classic lines were mobbed when we got into the corie , but I spotted that Aladdin's Mirror Direct IV,4*** was free. Rather than join a que, we walked up past the 6 people waiting to do Patey's and climbed a pleasant, steep Mirror which was good value today.
Rich happy to be at the top of Aladdin's Mirror Direct
We abseiled off and walked back around even more folks waiting to do Patey's, and jumped on Original Summer route IV,6**.  This had had a team on when we walked up to the Mirror, but are detour had paid off as the route was free and clear.  This offered the right amount of challenge today, with good technical climbing in short sections

Chris Pulling out the crux of Original Summer Route
Rich lovin' it!!
There were a couple off avalanches over by the fiaciall today which had a considerable forecast on that aspect, unfortunately, 3 people needed to be choppered out.

Friday, 1 February 2013


Entering the main corner

Yesterday Dave and I went into Sneachda and climbed Damnation VI, 6**. This is the last route on Aladdin's for me to do, and has a bit of a reputation.  The main pitch up the corners is the crux, and offers some excellent climbing.  We had useful thin ice in the corner for your axes, but it was not thick enough for your feet.  This meant it was a smash and smear affair between thin but positive holds on the left wall for your feet, whilst smearing the crack.  There is a in situ wire and peg at the base of the main corner, then nothing until the top.  The climbing is steady, and gets easier the further away from the gear you got, so not too bad.  I thought the technical crux was get to the main corner, which was safe, so the grade seemed fair.  If there was a good amount of ice in the corner it would be a romp.

Dave embracing the ming