Annoach Mor

Looking across at Knoydart I think, one of the last true areas of wilderness in the UK!

Well we had an easy top today, by utilising the uplift from the Anoach Mor Ski Area. Gondolas to 650m result. It reminded me of the classic tale of the Llanberis Community meeting, where it was suggested that we get some gondolas for the lake. One local pipes up in a strong welsh accent, “Its all very well us getting these Gondolas, but who’s going to feed them in the winter!”. Priceless.

Anyway I was back on the hill with Dave Evans, we seemed to grow in numbers, so we did some consolidation of the winter skills we did the previous day, this time of quite real terrain, in that we got a good layer of hard neve to practice step cutting in, and walking in crampons. The weather was awesome as well for a Scottish Winter Day. It seems this first group from Cotswolds have had a great couple of days training.

I had a chat with the Head of Training for Cotswolds, and it seems that along with the explosion of stores, they have also taken the expansion to help develop the staff, and now run regular training weekends out on the hill with a variety of Manufacturers from tents to clothing, like Mountain Equipment on this winter skills course. A million miles away from the days ten years ago when I worked in Cotswolds Rock Bottom in Betws, I was too scruffy for the Royal Oak STore!

Massive thanks again for PYB allowing me to tag along.

Cotswolds Staff Training Team on the Hill
Chris the Mountain Equipment UK Sales Manager, enjoying his time out of the office
We enter the White Room for a short while.
One of the Cotswolds Staff practicing his nav for White Room conditions
Dave and the group on the Summit of Anoach Mor
Conices the objective danger that out good navigation avoided
Several Teams amassed at the top of Easy Gully. One AMI workshop on working on the Ben and Anoach Mor and the Local rescue team
Practicing the sliding position
Looking across the Carn Mor Dearg Arete to the Summit of the Ben

Winter Skills Coaching

Dave Evans introduces the Ice Axe to the group for cutting steps

Well I have spent the day out with Plas Y Brenin observing them teach the staff from Cotswold winter skills. It is part of a joint training week with Mountain Equipment. So the day was very surreal, with more ME logos and clothing than you could shake a very large stick at. I guess it will really help both companies on the one hand you have product testing and new skills to help out the staff.

It was great for me to see a few more examples of how to teach Winter Skills, one of the elements of the assessment for my Winter ML. I was interested to see that my thoughts that the EDICT model of coaching skills was used by the staff from Plas Y Brenin. Basically EDICT means you Explain, Demonstrate, the group imitate, the coach/instructor then corrects any mistakes and then the students try again. It was also good to see that the few planned strategies I have been thinking of using for different elements seem to work in real life. I also picked up some more great nuggets of knowledge for introducing the skills in a progressive and structure approach.

A massive thank you for Dave and the Brenin letting me shadow him.

Kicking Steps
Do Do Do, come on and do the Conger! Follow my leader or using the EDICT Model of coaching
Phil Dothwaite teaching dome Sliding
Dave Evans showing the group how to use the Ice Axe to stop a slip becoming a fall.

Alpine Day on The Ben

Ben Nevis in the early morning light.

Well I drove over at 6am this morning to see if I could catch the staff at PYB Scotland before they head out staff
training, mainly to say hi, and see whether it was worth me tagging along. As it was I teamed up with Stu
MacAleese who wanted a more mountaineering type of day, so we headed up Ledge route which was about grade
1 in the current condition and then headed down No. 4 Gully.

I had a few firsts today. Number 1 I actually saw the summit of Ben Nevis from more than 6ft away, secondly I had
my first Scottish Inversion, and thirdly I got sun on the summit. As well as a great mountaineering day, and I must
thank Stu for choosing such an amazing route, Stu also gave me some really good handy hints for me to work on
in the weeks leading up to my assessment. In particular a strategy to have a structured approach to answering
question posed on avalanche hazards. I will have to ask him if he minds me putting it up online, and besides I
want to have some time to practice with it.

We also saw, well help really a local lad Ski the No. 4 Gully, as the cornice was rather large so we had a good time
rigging a abseil for bth him and us. I will edit the clips I have of him skiing the gully and get it on line if I find the
time up here. Anyway I have a few photos to accompany this blog, I hope you like them.

Again thanks to Plas Y Brenin for the oppotunity

Looking out to the North. Truly Stunning
Stu Mac either at the Base of or Half Way up Ledge Route

More Looking North

Looking up across at NE Buttress, the CMD Arete and Beyond
Me at the top of the Ledge Route
Some surf hoar starting to form.
Stu Mac Abseiling over the Conice!
In case we didn't recognise it from the Top No. 4 Gully
Ron Greenwood from DMM enjoying the Ace Weather
Abseiling into No. 4 Gully
Intrepid Skier
Stomping down No.4

Back to the White room

Well just got down frtom another day in the gorms white room. I headed up Sgoran Dubh Mor and Sgor Gaoith
from rothiemurchus forest. Att long day along att long ridge.

I thought it was just going to be att day of plodding, as the visibility was good. However the gorms didn’t
disappoint as it was back into the white room from Dubh beag to the second top and then back again to find a
ridge that lead down to glenfeshie.

I then had a torturous time heather bashing trying to find the path back to rothiemurchus.

Getting ready to head west, which i am assured is ‘Best’ by james thacker amongst others.

Thanks also go to my lovely hosts in the east. Rocio and owen of ibex guides.

For the next seven days i am off to do some observation of teaching winter skill withplas y brenin

USA: Selling there National Parks

I was watching the news and the whole USA esculating debt. In particular how in order to balance the federal budget and drawn in those purse string, and what large strings they must be, and just imagine the size of the excell spreadsheet they have to balance and validate.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that the USA owe China a cool one trillion dollars. Mwahahahahah!

According to the guys i taught in Chile, the chinese were not stupid. As they took the whole US National Park system as a collatoral on the loan. A loan that i’d imagine the US struggle to make the interest repayments.

So i don’t know whether i look forward to visit Yosemite NP, after its been rebranded by the chinese. Although if they keep borrowing money, china will literally own the US’s arse. So what will homeland security down wheb the homeland is repossessed?

Anyway just ponderings. What do you think will the US be out of debt to China in our lifetime?

Planning Scotland Phase 2

I took att rest day today to try and sort out phase two of project scottish winter mountain leader. Having spent att while out on the east coast cruising around the cairngorms focusing mainly of navigation in winter, i am head out west.

I have been extended a chance to observe a few days with my main welsh employer, Plas Y Brenin. I count myself very lucky being allowed to follow them and see how they deliver winter mountaineering skills, i’ll also get to catch up with several friends that i haven’t seen since september last year.

So i have propbably a day left on the east before i head west.


On my way down the hill todayn as i was driving out of the ski area i saw a odd looking black bird, with rather striking red eyes. I thought nothing of it, until the capercaillie was on the news.

It looked strikingly similar to the bird i saw. Att quick look on the rspb website and they are pretty much confined to the cairngorm area.

Maybe i saw a plain black grouse, i think it was a rare capercaille. Anyway i learnt something today about these little and sadly rare creatures.