Training

Given the circumstances I’m having to train in order to keep climbing specific fitness for when the current lockdown is eased. My motivation is normally more towards doing and less towards training, so it’s been really helpful that Euan has been sending Ivor and I a training programme six days a week. This has brought structure, accountability and a team element, which has definitely assisted me on the harder days.

Improvised weighted pull ups.

I don’t have the home gym equipment that Euan and Ivor have, so the exercises have been tailored to my improvised kit. It’s a pull up and dead hang heavy programme, so Euan is careful to include exercises for core and antagonist muscle groups.

Raised feet press ups.

For the cardio element I’ve been running. Although I live on the edge of a city I’ve found off tarmac paths pretty quiet provided I go early or late. A real bonus has been seeing things such as a sparrowhawk hunting, goosanders catching fish, curlew, skylarks and hare all within a few kilometres of home.

Cammo Tower on one of my running routes.

I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Glen Coe

This week I’ve been based in Glen Coe. I was delivering a Winter Mountaineering Foundation week for Joint Services at Ballachulish, this was curtailed early on Thursday for obvious reasons. Thanks to the group for a great few days, always good to be out with an enthusiastic team.

Summit photo on Stob Coire Raineach.

Over the three days we visited Meall a’Bhuiridh, Stob Coire Raineach and Aonach Mor. There was precipitation on all three days with snow at height and snow being moved around on strong westerly and south-westerly winds. It was frosty overnight in to Thursday and Friday with lots of sunshine softening the snow pack during the day. There are some huge cornices around, which require thought and care as well as some wind slab at height on mostly north-west to east facing slopes.

Solar radiation affecting the snow pack an lots of cornices.

Pentlands Navigation

I was out today in the Pentland Hills delivering a navigation course for The City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education.

The group planning a navigation leg in the shelter of a wood.

There were patches of residual snow in sheltered areas at height in the northern Pentlands. The ground is very wet at the moment and paths in the area are muddy. We stayed low to avoid a cold south-east to south-west wind. Wilf.

Meall nan Tarmachan, Cairngorms and Glen Shee

On Wednesday I was out with John and a Falkirk Outdoors Mountaineering team of Alan, John and Neil climbing McKay’s Gully and descending Easy Gully on Cam Chreag. Older snow on the crag was refreezing, but windslab was building throughout the day on a strong south-westerly. Unfortunately, due to a user error on my part with my camera I don’t have any photos from Cam Chreag.

Looking down the lower part of Anvil Gully to Jim.

I then headed to Aviemore and met up with the Ashbourne/Balfron/Stonehaven team. On Thursday Jim and I headed to Creagan Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully and True Blood, whilst Chicken, Murray, Nick and Rob ski toured in the Lurcher’s Burn area. Strong winds and snow on Thursday morning was forming windslab on North and East facing slopes and cornices were building noticeably.

The team above The Tiger this afternoon at Glen Shee.

Today, having been joined by Andy, we had a very pleasant day ski-ing at Glen Shee mostly in sunshine with low winds and generally good snow on the pistes. Away from pisted areas there was an icy crust on scoured slopes and windslab in sheltered areas.

Bridge of Orchy and the Cairngorms

The last three days I’ve been climbing with Gregor as part of a Falkirk Outdoors trip for climbers, skiers and walkers based in Newtonmore. On the way up we climbed the classic Salamander Gully in Creag Coire an Dothaidh before taking in the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh. Although the crag is west facing it still had a fair depth of soft snow on easier angled ground.

Gregor high on Whaleback Ridge.

Yesterday we chose a low venue to avoid the winds and headed for Creag na h-Iolaire. The main crag was bare of snow and we climbed a short, but good, winter line on the north facing side of he coire before climbing a summer version of the winter line Left Flank, Right Ridge. This gave some very good climbing, but unfortunately with a lot of loose rock. Today we headed for Creagan Cha-no. The thaw and rain overnight had stripped most of the buttresses, but there was plenty of snow on easier angled routes and on northern aspects and the turf was frozen solid. We climbed Whaleback Ridge and Plasma Gully with a left hand finish. The snow was firming up whilst we were there and we had a number of snow showers during the day on a strong south-westerly wind.

Creag Coire an Dothaidh

John and I headed to Creag Coire an Dothaidh today with a Falkirk Outdoors climbing team of Doug, Kim, Merelle and Steven. Even this relatively low west facing coire had a fair amount of soft snow and approaches required a degree of wading.

Steven on an optional icy step near the top.

The coire was busy, with Salamander Gully being the popular choice. We climbed Centigrade with a little optional step of Grade IV ice near the top. There was soft semi consolidated snow on easier angles, some good icy sections, turf was well frozen and there was rime on the rocks although this was stripping when in direct sunlight. East and North facing slopes were holding large amounts of snow.

Glen Clova

John and I were out today with a Falkirk Outdoors Introduction to Winter Climbing team of Cat, Kieran, Olesya and Tam. We headed to Glen Clova to find some scoured west facing crags and to get away from the snowier weather in the west. This worked almost too well with the bright sun stripping the rock on our intended route of Boustie Buttress on the west/south-west facing side of the The Snub. Instead we climbed the easier route to the right called The Snub, which was holding more snow. We took harder variations where possible. See the SMC 2015 Journal for more information on both routes.

The team in sunshine on the walk in.

East and north facing slopes in the area were holding plenty of snow and cornices were visible above coire rims on these aspects. There were quite a few sun wheels around with the warm sun melting snow of rocks and causing small cornice releases. See the ClimbNow Facebook page for more photos.

More Pentlands Navigation

I was in the Pentlands again today delivering a navigation course for U3A (University of the Third Age). The wind was a cold south-westerly and paths were icy in the morning and very muddy as the day progressed.

The group heading back to the Snowsportscentre.

We made use of the cafe at the Snowsports Centre at the start and finish of the day to talk about things in the warmth and shelter. Thanks to the group for keeping the enthusiasm going in the cold conditions.

Pentlands Navigation

After a few days down in Derbyshire I was out today in the Pentland Hills running a navigation course for The City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education. The weather was relatively kind to us staying largely dry with just the odd wintry shower, but with a fresh south-west to southerly wind.

The team getting to grips with bearings in a sheltered location.

There was a dusting of snow high on the hills this morning and it was snowing at the ski centre when we finished the course. Thanks to all on the course for keeping enthusiastic in the cold.

Glen Coe, Aonach Mor and Glen Feshie

This week I’ve been working on a Winter Mountaineering Foundation course based out of Ballachulish. We visited Stob Mhic Mhartuin on Monday with soft snow on the hill, which we used for movement and arrest teaching. There were graupel showers during the day. On Tuesday we headed to the Nevis Range ski area and looked at crampon work on harder snow and ice and an intro to transceiver searches. Windslab was forming throughout the day.

The team in the white room at the summit of Carn Ban Mor.

On Wednesday we made an ascent of Stob Coire Raineach to use some of the skills we’d learnt and continued the ongoing theme of avalanche awareness and avoidance. It was snowing on strong south-westerlies in the morning with rain above the summits later on. On Thursday we headed over to Glen Feshie and dug snow holes before heading up Carn Ban Mor in driving snow on a south-westerly and poor visibility followed by some night navigation. It was raining heavily as I headed south today. An enthusiastic group who were keen to learn made for a very enjoyable week despite some fairly challenging conditions.