Sunday, 27 February 2011


Yesterday we were paddling around Glen Uig. The weather was quite a contrast to the day before, with blue skies, sunshine, a light breeze and only the occasional shower passing over. We looked at some basic skill in the bay before setting off for a trip round the coast. On the way we stopped off pretty frequently to play in amongst the rock, finding some very fun little passages and practicing timing the swells to get though them. Great fun although at one point Callum did misjudge it slightly and ended up suspended on 2 rocks, about a foot above the water! (sorry Matt but there may be a few new scratches on some of the college boats!)
After this we headed back to the bay to demonstrate our rescue skill before calling it quits for the day.

Today was our final day of our 3 star and we were out Loch Eil Outward Bound. The only thing left for us to cover was map/ chart reading and navigation. After a quick session in the classroom discussing the differences between OS maps and marine charts we set off for a short journey to show off our skills. We headed down the narrows to Corpach, picking out features and points on the way before a quick lunch stop to enjoy the sun then back to the boat shed.
At this point Claire told Callum and myself we had both passed so we headed off and left Keith and Joseph practicing their rolls (the only part of the assessment they still needed to complete). Hopefully they've both managed to nail it!

Friday, 25 February 2011

In at the deep end!

Today i've bee out with Claire Knifton on the first day of my 3star sea kayak training and assessment. This is the first time i've been out in a sea boat since the summer (6 months ago!) so needless to say i was a little rusty to get going! We headed out to Lochilort hoping to get a decent length sea trip in for the 1st day as a nice introduction back into it all! Instead we got a rather challenging day in some interesting conditions!

We had a nice trip up the shoreline to the Peanmeanach bothy heading straight into the wind, eddy hopping to stay out of the wind as best we can. The conditions were challenging for a 3 star. Force 5 winds and some big swell breaking round the headlands. This made for some great surf on the return trip!

Before finishing for the day we had a quick look at hanging draws and Callum and myself got out rolls out of the way early!

Back out again tomorrow.

Back to School.

Ok, so once again i've been a little tardy with updating this thing but we're back now! Last Friday i was out with the college. Matt and Matt took us all to the Ben to look at the bio mechanics of moving on steep ice. We headed to an area known as the Gulch. There was some steep single pitch ice which was perfect for practicing and analsying different movement styles. We also had a look at some 'ice bouldering' games and coaching tips for improving footwork.

This made for a nice short day out. Hopefully i'll get the chance to get back out climbing soon the recent freeze thaw should leave some excellent conditions high up.

Monday, 14 February 2011

New Toys!

Today me and Gwilym headed up to Nevis Range. The original plan had been to do some ski mountaineering, climb something on the West face then ski back down from the summit but with all the fresh powder and rather worrying avalanche reports we decided to just have a day up the slopes. The conditions on the higher runs were excellent with good powder over a solid base, although lower down was a little bare.
The highlight of the day for me was that i finally got to test out my new ski setup which i've been gradually putting together for the last few months, and i can happily report that they performed excellently!

Unfortunately there was a bit of a downer to the day when i watched Harry, who i did my BCU level 1 with had a bit of a disagreement with a rock. Me and Gwilym helped out as best we could until he was stretchered off the hill with a suspected broken leg. Hopefully he makes a quick recovery and is back on the hill by the end of the season!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Busy Busy!

Time for another long overdue update!

Nevis Range
Its been a busy week! Kev and myself headed up to Nevis Range on Monday for some rock dodging and grass skiing! While the snow was a little thin there was some nice powder on a few of the runs and dodging the big icy patches is what skiing in Scotland is all about isn't it? The weather was rather wild as well with some pretty fierce winds and whiteout conditions most of the day! Apparently skiing blind is just as hard as you'd imagen it to be! A good day non the less!

Aonach Mor West Face
Tuesday saw me and Kev back on Aonach Mor, this time for some climbing! Conditions weren't too bad, although they weren't exactly great. There was a fair bit of fresh snow and not all the turf was fully frozen. Plan A was to do Western Rib II/III which i had tried last season and backed off of after the 1st pitch as Paddy who i was climbing with was feeling a little rough around the edges! Sadly the second attempt didn't go much better! From the bottom of the buttress i lead up a short but pretty steep icy corned which felt at least III4 of not harder! Topping out of this i found very thinly iced slabs with no worthwhile gear to be seen! After a while faffing around trying to decide the best route i decided i probably wasn't where i was supposed to be and lower (very gently!) off a slightly suspect looking ice thread!
Deciding to leave Western Rib for another time (again!) we headed for Gendarme Ridge II with the intention of soloing it to the top. Unfortunately this didn't go to plan either! About 3/4 of the way up we opted for the steep, direct route up the buttress rather than the easy ramp to its right. Near the top of this, after some rather stiff climbing for a II on semi frozen turf i hit a bit of a stopper! A steep powder covered corner. I really didn't like the look of soloing this and just as i thought this a few meters below me Kev asked if this would be an awkward moment to ask for a rope. As it turns out it was! In my infinite wisdom i had stripped off my harness etc at the bottom of Western Rib so ended up dancing on a very small, insecure feeling, sloping ledge trying to put a harness back on and flake the rope out. After a few cheek clenching minutes we were back on the ball and decided that today clearly just wasn't our day and rather than carry on we abbed of an insitu nut and descended the gully at the side of the ridge.
Sadly this wasn't the end of our day! We now had 45 minutes to make it back along the valley and up to the gondola station from the bottom of Gendarme, before the last gondola! After legging it back we both collapsed into the gondola feeling very tired and with seconds to spare!
Not our finest day!

Thursday however proved to be a much more successful day! Craig, G, Jamie and myself headed over to the Cairngorms in the hope of finding good conditions and we weren't disappointed! We left the car park at the ski center and made the short walk in to Corie an t'Sneachda. This is the 1st time i've climbed in the Gorms and the novelty of a short, almost flat walk in didn't go unappreciated! In the Corie we split up and me and Craig headed over to the bottom of Invernookie, a three star grade III4. The route its self turned out to be brilliant. We soloed the 1st pitch, set up a belay and Craig lead up the 2nd pitch to a big corner. From here i lead a steep wee corner, then up a short chimney on good hooks to a cave belay. Here Craig led the final pitch. A short traverse then a shallow snow chimney to top out into the glorious sunshine!
A lazy walk around the top of the corie, enjoying the views and stopping to chat with other teams then down through the ski center brought us back to the car park in good time! Brilliant day out!

The 1st corner
Catching some rays!
Craig just after topping out