Saturday, 27 August 2011

Alps trip.

The veiw from the top of the Coolidge couloir, just below the summit.

Descending down the Violettes Glacier.

So summer in Scotland this year hasn't been horrific but not the best either so Ken and I have been looking foreword to this trip for a while. We both finished work on the Monday evening and finished packing and jumped into the van for the long drive to Ailefroide. We arrived late on the Tuesday night and got a fresh start on the Wednesday. I could talk you through the whole trip but I would be here forever and I'm not sure most of you would bother reading on.

The approach to the Glacier Blanc hut.

Mont Pelvoux from the Glacier Blanc hut.

So we spent about a week and a half based in Ailefroide and did a number of great rock routes in the valley and also managed a trav. of Mont Pelvoux which for PD takes you through some impressive scenery although the descent is knee breaking back to the valley. We also did a rock route on Pic de Glacier Blanc called Le Communard which was fantastic if a little bit tedious through the easy ground in the middle of the route, spending most of your time looking for the next bolt rather than climbing.

Ken on top of the Pic du Glacier Blanc with the Barre des Ecrin in the background.

After Ailefroide we had planned to go round to La Berarde but with the power of technology we found out that people had been doing some routes on the North face of La Meije. So we headed round to La Grave and caught the Telepherique up and approached via the a very interesting Facile. The bivi was in a fantastic place with awesome views of the face. During the evening and night the sound of Serac and rock fall was all around us but we kept our fingers crossed for colder temps over night. At 4am we left the bivi and all was quiet but it soon became obvious that things hadn't cooled down enough. Unfortunately after Ken fell through a thankfully very small snow bridge we called it a day as we still had far more complex ground to cross so we headed back to the bivi for a cup of tea and watch the sun rise.

The veiw from the bivi at the foot of La Meije.

We carried on round to La Berarde and bagged a route in in the valley and then headed up to the Soreiller hut to tackle the Voie Madier on the Aiguille Dibona. This is a fantastic route and my favourite of the trip, 400m of clean Granite and it turned out to be bolted for most of the way. After that we headed down to Bourg d'oisans and bagged another route the next day. Unfortunately the weather was set to change so we decided to head home early and break the drive home up.

Our first veiw of the Aiguille Dibona.

Abseil no2 I think, on the Cascade de Villard.

All in all a good trip with some fantastic climbing in a beautful part of the Alps but it is good to be back.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Kingussie, Learning to lead.

Day 2 with David and Al and after yesterdays very wet day of climbing we were looking for somewhere dry and where the guys could get their first leads in, so Kingussie it was. Both of the guys did great and we had a good day building up their skills and confidence and working through the grades slowly. We had to crag to ourselves until lunch when a group from the Lodge turned up and only had to stop play for five minutes due to rain but the sun and breeze soon dried the crag off. Since then they have had a good couple of trips to the peaks to climb some more. Good luck to them.


Sunday, 7 August 2011


Day 1 of two days working with David and Alex for Mountain Plan. Both have them have led indoors and wanted to look at how they would move on to real rock. With a bad forecast everywhere in Scotland and even some Severe weather warnings it didn't really make a difference where we went. So to try and make the most of the day we headed into Glen Nevis to do some multi pitch. With water pouring down the crags we headed for the gutter to try and concentrate on rope work and placing gear. We did well and managed to get four pitches in before lunch but the rain got worse as the morning progressed. At lunch we decided we had had enough of the rain and the midge and ran away to the Ice Factor.

Pitch two of the gutter. Note the waterproofs and midge nets.

Here we looked at consolidating the ropework, in the dry and then spent some time climbing and looking at some movement skills. It was very busy and who could be blamed for wanting to be inside on a day like today.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The In Pinn and the Cioch.

The Cuillin when I arrived on Wednesday evening.

Just back from two days on Skye with Jenni and Gordon working for West Coast Mountain guides. I met them yesterday morning and the rain wasn't forecast to start until about lunch but as we set off from the car the rain started and the cloud came in and it stayed like that for the rest of the day. We set off up the South west ridge of Sgurr Dearg and made quick time up to the base of the In Pinn. Jennie and Gordon did well with the pouring rain and a stiff breeze. We abseiled of the East ridge and quickly ran away back down Coire Banachdich. No photos today, there really was nothing to see.

The Cioch appearing out of the cloud.

This morning with a better forecast we decided to head up towards the Cioch and have a look at some teaching climbing on the slab. As we entered Coire Lagan the cloud started to lift and we got a view up to the Cioch but the cloud never cleared above the summits. We traversed in to the base of the slab and did three pitches of climbing to get ourselves onto the top of the Cioch but unfortunately the cloud had come in again and we weren't treated to a view. We then carried on over to East gully and continued up this to the top of Sron Na Ciche. A good couple of days despite the weather and both Jenni and Gordon coped well with the 'summer' weather.

Jenni and Gordon looking after themselves on a very damp Cioch slab.

Monday, 1 August 2011

A catch up!

I've been a bit slack with the blog lately so here is a bit of a catch up. On Saturday 23rd I was working for Maximum Adventure again on the Ben Nevis leg of the three peaks. Most of the team were successful with the front runners coming in at 5 hours but unfortunately two of the team had to turn round at the three hour mark as they hadn't reached the summit.

The Challenge group descending from Cairn Mor Dearg.

Last week I was Outward Bound again working on a government funded course called 'The Challenge'. This was the first week of three for the group and it was designed as an opportunity for them to bond as a group and face some personal challenges before they go onto the second and third week of their course nearer home.
They arrived on the Sunday night and I threw them straight into the deep end on Monday morning as we set off on Expedition. We left the top car park at 11am and made our way up onto Cairn Mor Dearg. The weather was fantastic if a little warm in the midday heat so we were glad to be up high. From there we carried on round the C.M.D Arete to the Abseil posts on Ben Nevis. It was a little late in the day at this point so we decided not to go up the Ben and started to drop down towards Coire Guishagen and Spent the night bivvying out on a grassy shoulder a couple of hundred meters down. It was a beautiful night and the stars were out and the group really enjoyed their night out in the wild.
Day 2 and we carried on descending and made our way out past Steall falls to our pick up.

Not a bad veiw to wake up to.

The next couple of days were spent climbing in Glen Nevis and Gorging in Glen Dubhlighe. The group did really well on what was a tiring week with the heat and some very strong bonds were built between the members. Good luck to them for their next two weeks.

On Saturday I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides marshaling a Marie Curie event which saw 52 participants walking from the King House in Glen Coe to Glen Nevis. Almost 23 miles in again very hot temperatures. Everyone but one person made the finish line and the one gentlemen who didn't make it was a 74 year old local that gave it a damn good shot.
A couple of days off to start packing before my Alps trip next week and then I'm away doing some work right up until my departure.