Glen Shee

After I headed back up from down south yesterday Nettle and I were keen to get out in the hills today to blow the Christmas cobwebs away.

Nettle enjoying a Christmas snack under the summit of Creag Leacach.

Nettle enjoying a Christmas snack under the summit of Creag Leacach.

We headed for Glen Shee and very hopefully took ski touring gear thinking there was a small chance we might be able to link snow patches for a quick tour. The skis stayed firmly in the van and we headed out for a walk over Glas Maol; out and back to Creag Leacach, around to Druim Mor and up to Cairn of Claise. This took in three new Munros for Nettle and a new top for me and fitted the day well.

Nettle with Druim Mor behind.

Nettle with Druim Mor behind.

There were quite a lot of snow patches around higher up. The snow was generally wet and soft, but was firming up at height as the day wore on. The ground was saturated and above about 1000m some of the turf was still firm. Early on in the day it was raining continuously with this falling as sleet above 900m. The rain eased off early in the morning with just the odd hail or sleet shower in the afternoon. Strong southerly winds through the day and these were increasing in strength to above 50mph at height as we descended.

Thaw

The last week or so has been somewhat frustrating from a winter climbing point of view with several climbing trips having to be cancelled due to the unseasonal warm temperatures leaving the crags black and reducing the snow cover.

It’s meant I’ve spent a couple of days in the Falkirk Community Trust Base doing things like sharpening axes and crampons, a strangely pleasing task and worth thinking about at this time of year if you haven’t done it already.

Sharpening winter tools.

Sharpening winter tools.

Ivor and I resorted to an afternoon of skiing at the SnowFactor at Braehaed last week. It was the first time I’d skied there and well worth a visit.

SnowFactor Braehead. Ivor is the speeding blurin black.

SnowFactor Braehead. Ivor is the speeding blur in black.

Here’s hoping for some conditions more like this in the near future.

Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis in blue sky conditions.

Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis in blue sky conditions.

Ski Touring in the Lawers Range

Today was the first day of my winter season. I was out with Andy and Martin from East Lothian Council who are soon to be running ski touring courses for young people and adults.

We spent the day in the Lawers Range near Loch Tay looking at teaching key skills such as kick turns and avalanche rescue techniques. The minor road was not passable so we skinned from the main road. There was a good quantity of snow up high although it was hard to tell how much as the visibility was very poor.

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CWA EICA Ratho

I was working on the second day of a Climbing Wall Award Training course today at EICA Ratho. Alasdair, Inga, Lynda, Neil and Will did a great job of staying attentive throughout the day, particularly given the low temperatures in the arena. It’s definitely worth taking a belay jacket and hat, gloves etc. if your visiting Ratho at the moment. My job was made much easier by having a group with a genuine interest in climbing and/or working with groups in a climbing wall environment.

Winter climbing conditions further north looked like they may have been excellent today as there was a hard frost in Edinburgh this morning and a good dusting of snow on the Ochils.

British Mountain Guides AGM

This year is the 40th anniversary of the British Mountain Guides. At the weekend I was in North Wales at the AGM and dinner celebrating this. On Sunday we completed a very informative day looking at various aspects of risk asseement related to the role of a Mountain Guide.

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