Friday, 28 May 2010
Today Maz and I headed up to Polldubh with Alex for a spot of cragging. Alex hadn't climbed much with ropes for a while, and this was the first time Maz had been climbing outside. I started off by leading up Repton Ridge (Diff), Alex lead up The Gutter (Diff) and then I took us up Right Wall (VDiff) on Styx Buttress. I finished up with a quick solo of Slanting Slab (VDiff). The aim of today was to give Maz some confidence on outdoor rock in preparation for the Inn Pin next month, which we achieved with her confidently climbing a route 2 grades harder than the climbing on there will be!
Ali and I were out for the second day of the MIC assessment in Coire nan Lochan. Today was a teaching day, looking at mountaineering skills. We covered snow and rock anchors, placement of pitons, snow pack stability, multi-pitch ropework and logistics and finished up by playing on some steep rock on a top-rope with our ice tools. Congratulations to Gaz who deservedly passed his MIC despite everything Ali and I could throw at him!
Today Ali and I were out being guinea-pigs for an MIC assessment with PyB. We had a great day on Thomson's Route (IV,4) which is an icy mixed route near to No 3 Gully Buttress (our original aim, but there was a large party on it already). The ice was great and Stu McAleese kept us entertained on stances whilst Gaz did his thing leading the route. There was quite a lot of debris around under the gullies today, and some deep soft snow on the walk in.
In total contrast to the previous day cragging in the sunshine, Jamie and I headed for the Ben today to climb Italian Climb - Right Hand (IV,4). This route has a meaty first few pitches, followed by a few of easier terrain to come out onto Tower Ridge. We then descended the ridge and agreed that it is one route you could justify abseiling off after the main part if you weren't planning to head up TR afterwards.
First cragging of the year up at Gairloch in Raven Crag area. Jamie B and I decided that the rock would be warm enough to jump onto today so headed to these lovely crags for some early season mileage. Hard at first not to try and kick each step to seat it after what feels like a long winter, but loving the feeling that you could lace each route with gear! I lead up Lucy (VDiff) to start, followed by swinging leads on Charlestone (Sev 4a), Jamie lead Plump (VS 4b) a nice little steeper line on Fruity Crag, I lead the slightly eliminate line of Leac McCac (VS 4c) and Jamie finished up with Acorn Slab (VS 4b) on Druid rock - a lovely thin slab to start, but a bit loose higher up. Warm enough whilst the sun was on us, but as soon as it dropped behind the horizon we were reminded that it is in fact still only March!
A day out shadowing Jamie B, who was working with a couple wanting to improve their winter skills and ropework for easy climbing terrain. We spent the day looking at snow stability, anchors and movement techniques in Coire nan Lochan, before heading up the East Ridge in pitches over some rockier terrain to get them thinking about using the rope to protect each other on more exposed terrain. The cloud opened on the summit to give a few views and we stopped on the way back to look at some snow shelters that had been dug by others.
After such a great day on Ben Cruachan the day before, James and I decided to head to the next Munros across, Beinn a'Chochuill & Beinn Dorain. These hills aren't quite as pointy as their neighbours, but still gave a satisfying day out, finished with a bum-slide of a good 300m :-D
Finally that blue-sky névé day I'd been waiting for on the Aonach Eagach. Having spent last winter working in the Clachaig and talking to lots of happy mountaineers who had returned from that perfect winter day (including the other 4 climbing staff members at the time on a day when I was working!) this route was high on my list. I didn't want to do it on a grey day or when things weren't just right though, and it was well worth the wait. Chris, Dan, Lorraine and myself headed out. As it was Chris's first time wearing crampons outside (!) we moved together over most of the ridge and abseiled the first steep descent from Am Bodach. Great day on the hill.
Given a cold and sunny day again today, Ali, Chris and I escaped from centre for a few hours to head to Onich Slabs for some staff training. This gave me a chance to get familiar with the set-up for this crag and Ali and Chris took the opportunity to rig top-ropes and releasable abseils which they have been practising indoors recently.
Despite a good 6 inches of fresh snow in Kinlochleven, Jamie and I managed to make it out of the village and over Rannoch Moor, where there was less powder (although I did almost persuade him that skiing would be a good option!). We went to climb Salamander Gully (III) on Beinn an Dotaidh. There is only really one main pitch on this route with easier going either side. The ice was cruddy on the steep section which made it trickier than it might have been. A good day nonetheless and the cloud opened as we descended to give some stunning lighting and views.
Went up to Aonach Mor with Alex to find near white-out conditions on top and lots of fresh snow. Abseiled down Easy Gully to check out what things looked like on the climbs, but found the slope under the crag to be pretty unstable. We decided to cut our losses and climb back up, then spent the afternoon pottering and playing with map & compass.
Another cracking ridge-walking day - James and I followed the good forecast by going south a little to Ben Cruachan. We walked the horseshoe on nice névé with the weather sometimes making us wonder if it was really February still! Although we didn't rush the day, we got back in the same time as my guidebook suggests for summer, which we were rather chuffed with.
A fantastic day in Coire nan Lochan, Glencoe with sunshine and lovely névé. Gillian and I climbed Twisting Gully (III, 4) which is a classic line. We made an early start and had descended Broad Gully by lunchtime. We considered jumping on another route, but I had to be back in work for the evening and the coire was quite busy so we had to call it a day.
Went up to Glen Shiel with the intention of walking the Three Brothers ridge with James. Interesting and somewhat unstable snow conditions on the ascent followed by very odd and time-consuming snow formations on the ridge meant that we cut the day short having visited the first top of Sgurr an Fhuarail.