Problem Setting at the Beacon

I spent a great day setting boulder problems at the beacon. It has been about a year since i last set any routes or problems on a wall. I hope they are OK. It was hard as due to my time walking my arms are as much use as a chocolate teapot. So where as usually I will know that I can climb different problems of different grades, at the moment I can barely climb black, so all I know about the few routes I set at that grade is that I can actually get up them, although I can do most of the moves.

Anyway, there are now 9 new problems from me and a few routes from Streaky.

Tomorrow I have an admin day, including sorting my kit out for scotland round two, picking up washing, trying to get to the conway centre to fill in a eRCB form (Enhance Police Disclosure for working with Young People), it seems that you have to fill these in about a thousand times, one for each centre at what seems like every year. After that I am not sure what I’ll do with my day, other than rest.

Keen for the Lleyn with Llion

Looking into Pen Y Cil,

On my way back down last night, I was asked wether I was keen for the Lleyn, Hell Yes! I have been walking around for too long, and I needed a climb like a junkie needs crack. Its just that the crack was looking for is more socially acceptable!

So we went for a VS and some V grades, in a king of V for Vendetta kind of a way, we worked out that Gullimots Groove on the VS stood for a very nice pitch follwoed by a very scarey one. I got the scarey one on a kind of medium that I can only best describe as a cross between playing giant jenga and rock climbing.

We then head to Porth Ysgo, were we reminded ourselves that we are as young as we once were. Although Llion and Katie have obviously been secret training as he flash popcorn party, and Katie did the Incredible Shacking Woman from a stand up. As for me after what seems like months without bouldering I manage to climb Jawbreaker V5. How do I feel now? sore!

LLion is up on the cliff somewhere, although a bit like stop the ball!
Llion on Gullimots Groove - Pen Y Cil
Katie powers up the Gullimots Groove
Topping out in the Sun - So unscottish it felt good!
Llion on the Porth Ysgo Classic - Closer V3?
Easy Slab at Porth Ysgo
Dirty Porth Ysgo crimpers
Classic Slopey Mantelshelf
Another Porth Ysgo Classic, I really need to dig out that old Guidebook sometime
Katie having it on The Incredible Shaking (Wo)Man
Llion on The Incredible Shaking Man
Jaw Breaker *** Classic
Funky Holds on Popcorn Party
A fine position

Yesterday on The Ben

Awesome Weather looking out of an Temperature Inversion towards Ben Nevis

Well, I spent my last day in Scotland for a few days by heading up Anoach Mor, you can’t beat a bit of mechanical uplift, I then headed up towards Carn Mor Dearg via the awesome east ridge. Which was a near perfect alpine snow ridge from about 200m up it, I then turned left to the CMD Arete, again spectacular.

I got a little inspired by Uli Steck the other day, so tried to go Uli on its arse. I ran bits and bounced along the ridge, from a perfect inversion. (I hope you like the piccies BTW. Alway good to here if you do). Then back into the cold cloud before emerging for the final slog up to the summit. Again lovely weather so I thought I’d walk about nesr the rim to try and get some good shots of climbers topping out. Unfortunately, as I was looking I saw a walker disappear into rapidally rising clouds. Before I could get the  map out of my pocket all visibility was gone.

So I had an exciting 20 minutes as I relocated the main path and then the top of No. 4 Gully, I was going to reverse down No. 3, but having got myself into a navigation pickle, the best way out of it was No. 4 gully, mainly due to the large sign to be found at the top of it. Which I happily found, which meant I wasn’t lost on top of the Ben!

Anyway, the Uli trick, meant I was down by 2pm, thanks to Andy Townsend from JSMTC, otherwise known as Unpronouncable, who gave me a lift back down the Ben track.

Today on The Ben

Approaching No. 4 Gully

Well my final day on the hill with PYB, and I was heading up No. 4 Gully with a team of Mountaineers. The weather started off good and got better. Hopefully the photos will convey just how good it got. The wind which you can’t se was little to non exsistent.

So I saw loads of action as I wandered about, firstly I spent the day with the Dave Macleod, so I can now say along with 12 people from Cotswolds that I have soloed a route with Dave Mac on the Ben. Sadly, well thankfully it was only grade one. It was interesting to note that he took his mixed climbing axe with him. It has been noted that a growing number of grade 1 gully climbers are taking to using Nomics Axes, which has resulted in a national shortage, however I believe that they are living up to the name, as these highly technical axes are now in the hands of climbers who do No Mixed (No-mic) climbing.

We saw that youth greg boswell (sic?) tearing up Apache Wall, as well as Inis and her partner trying to repeat one of Greg new hard first ascents. Rumour has it that there was some air taken by the team. Although Inis was overheard saying that “Das conditions are Uber!”

Anyway here are some piccies f our awesome day, suffice to say that the clients were over the moon with the day that Plas Y Brenin provided.

Greg Boswell on Apache Wall
Exiting No. 4 Gully up the slot of thinness
The final head wall
Not your typical Punter running up a gully with a state of the art mix tool! Dave Macleod what a punter. Not!
Inis climbing partner goes for the top of Greg Boswell's recent new route, just as the whole world above him starts thawing.

Plodding to the summit
Snow Bunting on teh Summit Trig point
Summit and Glory
Not a day for Pink wellies! Nice to see they have total tools in Scotland as well!

The Hurt Locker – Part 2

Well spent another day out with Stu Mac from PYB, observing a Mountaineering Skills Course, we headed into the Corrie of Pain, Stob Corrie Nan Lochan, and made our way up the left ridge, via a small gully. The snow condition had improved from a climbing point of view, as it was now bullet hard. However it meant that Stu was right on top of the group when it came to footwork. It was good to see the change in leadership style as we entered into some exposed places, as well as how he managed the group over the few step little steps on the ridge.

After a pleasant sandwich on the top, it was so not very scottish winter up there, as although we had plenty of snow, we did have a view and virtually no wind. I did notice that the who team got out there synthetic down from Mountain Equipment, and all complained they were too hot!

When we reached the bowl again, we did some Snow belays. A buried axe and bollards. Again really good to revisit this stuff, and I got some ace top tips for teaching these skills of Stu. It been a great 5 days, and tomorrow is my last day of observation. The benefit of this week will hopefully show in my assessment next month, more importantly I feel it has helped me greatly, and in a way allows me to tick the box on teaching winter skills and the emergency use of a rope. although I feel I should take a rope out and put myself in a position of retreating down some Grade 1 gullies with the aid of a rope.

I can’t thank all the staff at PYB Scotland enough for there time, encouragement and advice, fingers crossed it and a bit more practice and it will hopefully all be reet! Here are some piccies from today.

Buachaille Etive Beg – The People’s Mountain

K2? No Buachaille Etive Beg

It had always been a bit of a mystery to me why so many of the Brenin Instructors referred to Buchaille Etive Beg as the people mountain. However over the past few days I have come to realise that just like Crimpau or the Flanks of Moel Siabod back home this hill is great for basic winter skills but also popular, especially if you run it out to the true summit. As group after group file past each other like passing ships, it becomes extremely social.

Anyway today we were up there again, this next three days Stu MacAleese one of the instructors from the Brenin, and my mentor back when I did the Instructor Scheme at Plas Y Brenin, has allowed me to observe his Scottish Winter Mountaineering Skills Course. Again great to see not so much a different way of teaching winter skills, but a different form of delivery. It was also good to see him talk about snow and avalanches on the hill.

It was a little surreal up there today, as about five or six group from Cotswolds/Mountain Equipment course seems to take over the mountain in a sea of ME gore-tex, soft shell and various other garments. Interestingly no one got cold, but it was +1 on the summits. Tomorrow promises to be colder.

Catalogue Poses R Us
Lightweight Alpine Push for the Summit - To Hell with the human cost!
Catalogue Pose No. 2 - The group essemble
The Final Headwall!
Another ME team hot on our tail
The summit Ridge
Stu MacAleese digs a snow profile

The East Ridge of Ben A’ Choarian

Loz of East Ridge of Bein A' Choarian

This is a little know ridge by most people, although quiet popular amongst the winter instructor Fraternity. I was recommended it a few weeks back, and again last night by a few of the Plas Y Brenin Instructors. So this morning bright and early, breakfast was at 6.20am!, Lawerence one of teh PYB Centre Assistants and I headed a little way back east to find this mythical ridge.

As we walked in the forecast of heavy rain and snow on the tops looked like it was bang on the money, as we switch shells from soft to hard. After a short slog up through the woods with an occasional glimpse of the ridge, we emerged into the wilderness, and before us was one of the finest mountaineering ridges I have seen in a long time. The bottom was a bit of a damp wade, but after the first 100m of ascent the snow started getting better and better and the ridge finer and more exposed.

A total *** classic day out, although the weather at the top was a total “White room”, we did managed to Nav doen avoiding the corniced edge. Although When I let Lawerence take over the the last leg down off the plateaux, I didn’t check his bearing as he had been right twice already. So I let him get on with it. It was only when I thought about it on the way down that I realised he was on the wrong bearing, as we were heading west not south!

It wasn’t too big a problem, as fortunately there was a path off from the valley he got us to!

The Horror of it! The early mornings that is!
Looking down the East Ridge of Beinn A' Choarian

Review and Link: Steep Scotland

Well I had been tipped off about this video before I caught someone in the act of skiing down No. 4 Gully. Basically two ski instructors come back from the alps in may and tear down some of the steepest and most intimidating gullies in Scotland. This video has so much action it seems never to stop. My favourite quote was, “Don’t Fall, I am right on your heels”, just as the camera man drops into the gully after the lead man, and pursues him down capturing the action.

Anyway I think I have said enough, here is a link to the YouTube video.

Coire Nan Lochan

A group from Plas Y Brenin tackling the main left hand ridge

Well it was the last day for the first group of Cotswolds Trainees, so we headed up Coire Nan Lochan to do a traverse over the top. I can’t remember the name of this peak, but it is a nice one. The weather was worse than predicted, but it is a weekend, so I guess it was the work experience boys turn to make up the mountain forecast at the Met Office. So we had some rain on the way up followed by misty, damp but quite still conditions, and freezing level of just above 1000m.

Another good day of observation for me, with a little sliding session. Again good to see that my thoughts on teaching sliding reasonably sound. I guess if you put a little effort in, I did spend a rest day writing down some lesson plans, mainly as I find it a good way to try and organise my thoughts. I will have to amend and review them after this week observing PYB, as it is a good to see how others teach it and borrow the ideas that will work for my style of delivery.

Anyway I headed back down the track early with a client with shoes that were a little too small for her. So no summit shots today. Not that you’d see anything from the top today. I did see to young kids, they looked too young to drive, but they had just climbed there first grade one gully, and were buzz. Was awesome to see there enthusiasm for the winter, I tried to steal some of it, or hope some of it rubbed off on me!

The Team entering Coire Nan Lochan
Looking Across at a Moody Annoach Eggach Traverse

Bear Grylls again

Well I looked at my blog stats last night, and was pleased to see a massive increase in traffic, so I tried to hunt down the source as that increase doesn’t happen overnight unless there is a powerful link. My suspicions were a UKC link, that seemed to be coming from the forums. It took me a while and a bothering email to Mick Ryan at UKC HQ.

It seems that firstly there was a post about my video of skiing down Ben Nevis. Secondly though there was a another thread (Thanks Mick) on BMC insurance premiums that I hadn’t seen that was linking back to a an article I wrote a while back on Bear Grylls, the BMC and Us. Which reemerged after some debate over recent increases in premiums. I find it interesting that in the thread Dave Turnbull the BMC CEO actually mentions a £210000 Antartic Rescue (Bear Grylls?!).