Friday, 17 May 2013

17.05.13 - Ben Nevis via the mountain path

Yesterday I was working for Lochaber Guides, guiding Chris and Darren on the mountain path.  The weather forecast was for heavy snow throughout the day (in mid May!) but fortunately this materialised as a few brief but heavy snow showers.  As conditions underfoot were very good and consistent, we decided to go for a bit of a wander, leaving the mountain path at the corner of ZZ6 & ZZ7 and took a bearing to the top of No4 Gully during which I explained to the guys how to take a grid bearing and apply that to the ground.  Once at the top of No4 Gully the guys were impressed to see some of the North face and the relatively large cornices.  After a brief explanation of how cornices and rime ice are formed, we made our way up to the cairns on the summit plateau where I gave the guys the opportunity to take bearings and walk on them from cairn to cairn, Darren seized this opportunity to learn a new skill and under close supervision, navigated us firstly to three cairns marking the top of Gardyloo Gully and then to the summit, good effort!  Once on the summit we took some photos before making our way back down the mountain path, even spotting a ladybird at the Red Burn path junction!  A massive well done and thanks to Chris and Darren for a great day on the mountain, Cheers guys!

Chris and Darren, half way up!

Darren checks his bearing

Navigating on the summit plateau

Darren and Chris at the summit of Ben Nevis 1,344m

Ladybird at the Red Burn!

Almost down with great views of the Mamores 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

14.05.13 - Ben Nevis via the mountain path

Today I was working for Lochaber Guides, guiding Nick on the mountain path.  Weather and conditions today were very variable with the only constant being very poor visibility.  There has been a lot of recent snow fall and as we ascended, we first encountered snow on ZZ2 with ZZ3 being completely under snow.  Nick had previously attempted Ben Nevis twice before but had turned back at about half way on both occasions as he didnt feel confident in his navigation skills, todays poor visibility created a great opportunity to teach Nick some nav skills which he then used to nav off the summit in a complete white out (which briefly lifted) under close supervision.  A great effort by Nick ensured that this time he was able to stand proud at the summit, thanks for a great day and a very well done!

smiles as we turn windy corner
starting to find some snow on Zig Zag 2

Nick enjoying white out conditions!

Nick standing proud at the summit of Ben Nevis 1,344m

sandwich time!
The pea soup clearing as Nick navs off the summit

Nick navigating off the summit plateau using the cairns 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

12.05.13 - Ben Nevis via the mountain path

Today I was working for Adventure Nevis, guiding Frankie and Dagmara on Ben Nevis.  The weather today was fairly decent if a bit claggy which soon deteriorated quite rapidly as we hit the 1000m mark.   Conditions underfoot on the mountain path today were very good with soft snow making life a bit easier.  Once on the summit plateau the wind picked up considerably and visibility deteriorated to zero, out came the map and compass.  Ben Nevis did not make it easy for these two young women to summit today and they should both be very proud of their efforts.Thanks gals for a great day of banter and a massive well done on climbing the Ben in challenging conditions, you definitely earned it!

Dagmara and Frankie smile before setting off!

Quick pose in front of the Red Burn

Frankie and Dagmara on the summit of Ben Nevis 1,344m

not hanging around on the summit today! 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

5/5/13 - Hardraw Force Abseiling

Today, with the weather gods still messing with me, we had decided that some abseiling in a very atmospheric location would fit the bill quite nicely.  The location chosen was Hardraw water fall in the Yorkshire Dales.  The water fall itself boasts to be the highest unbroken water fall in England at a height of 100ft and was even used as a setting for the 1991 film 'Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves' starring Kevin Costner.  Access to the waterfall is through the Green Dragon pub in the town of Hardraw,  Admission costs £2.00 and this goes towards maintaining the footpaths and apparently also the water fall ...yeah. A great days abseiling was had by all, enjoying both the exposure and the beautiful surroundings of this wonderful place.  Todays abseiling was a great cap to an excellent trip which was as enjoyable as it was productive, and even on the long drive home England's outstanding natural beauty had on last treat in store for me

John, Jonny and Donna in front of Hardraw Force waterfall

Smiles as John heads off down 

Donna (who's scared of heights!) not only remains calm but might even be enjoying it!

Jonny (just too cool to hold the dead rope) heads down

view from the flank of Hardraw

The most beautiful view in the whole of England

4/5/13 - Learning to Lead!

Today the original plan was to go to Brimham Rocks and look at rigging and gear placement as well as getting some good gritstone climbing done, however, the weather gods didnt play ball and at 0500hrs I woke in my tent to the unwelcome pitter patter of rain drops.  Plan B was to utilise Harrogate Climbing Centre and teach John, Jonny and Donna how to lead climb.  After a good warm up climb in the bouldering area and really focusing on movement skills and technique, we started a series of progressive exercises designed to teach and give a good idea whats involved in lead climbing.  The guys progressed through these exercises very quickly and so we continued with more advanced exercises which culminated in all of group completing their first ever lead climb.  One more step towards autonomy! well done guys you should all be very proud of yourselves, I certainly am!

the weather gods sent me some rain ...thanks

John sets of on the sharp end with Jonny belaying and Donna backing him up

Donna on the sharp end!

29/4/13 - 2/5/13 North Wales Rock!

On Monday morning, Dave and I started the long drive South to North Wales to get on some classic multi pitch routes at some legendary venues.  Our first stop seen us scaling Western Slabs VS4c on Dinas Mot, this 3 pitch route was very enjoyable, even so after a very long drive and the last crack pitch on this route was as interesting as any!  After a slippy, greasy abseil down the Western Gully we pitched the tent in  Llanberis Pass and while enjoying our evening meal, gazed up in wonder at the sights of Dinas Mot and Dinas Cromlech.  The next day we decided to go to Gogarth and in particular South Stack (Castell Helen).  This was the first time either of us had done any big sea cliff climbing and it was a truly esoteric and most enjoyable day with some cracking pitches of climbing, bagging Lighthouse Arete Direct VS4c, Poseidon/Blanco HVS 5a, and Pel VS4c, each of which was an absolute classic.  The next day we decided on a trip to Tremadog, bagging Merlin Direct HVS 5a and One Step in the Clouds VS4c before a quick hit to Eric's Cafe for a chip butty to refuel before heading back out on Christmas Curry with the Tree Madock finish which at VS4c was a total sand bag.  We spent our final day on Idwal Slabs and made a very enjoyable ascent of Heather Wall VS4c and finished up Original Route VS 5a.  Our descent route The Easy Way Off, has got to be one of the most hellishly serious and polished descent routes I can immediately remember.  All in all a very productive trip bagging 9 multipitch routes in 3 and a bit days!

Dinas Mot

Myself leading off on P2 of Western Slabs

Dave ab's off at Gogarth

Dave seconding P1 of light house arete direct 

Dave high on P1 of Poseidon/Blanco 

P2 of Merlin Direct

Eric's Cafe!

Dave heads off on P2 of Heather Wall

Idwal Slabs