Quick Hit in to Corrie an t-Sneachda

 

 

28th/12/2013

www.elements.gb.net

What a stormy festive time it’s been over the past week, but at least it’s setting the Scottish mountains up with some excellent winter conditions. If and when it calms down over on the West coast the conditions should prove to be excellent and there not too shabby just now over here in the Cairngorms.

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A couple of Transition Extreme climbing wall hits in Aberdeen, a quick bouldering session at Portlethen and a Christmas day run up Scolty Hill above Aberdeen helped keep me away from eating and drinking too much over Christmas.
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This was quickly followed by a tour up and over a large roofed chimney in the left side of the Hidden Chimney called Technicoloured Dream Crack V,6. A great wee pitch that Ian cruised up, giving some steep moves on good placements away from the masses!

 

 

 

 

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Here we go Again!

www.elements.gb.net

Not sure how long I’ll keep the blogging going this time but might as well put up some pics so folks can get an idea of how it looks in the Northern Cairngorm’s just now.

The following photos are from Friday 20th of Dec whilst we were out on staff training with Glenmore Lodge. Our mission for the day was to locate new venues that would work well on Winter Mountain Leader courses as well as Winter Skills courses and Mountaineering courses. I would say our mission was a success.

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Looking South into the Larig Ghru

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Some of the deeper snow accumulations

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If you cant fight the wind you might as well have fun in it!

Today (22/12/13) I was working for Cairngorm Mountain Guides with two clients, Haydn and Liam. Our goal for the day was to climb something without being blown away or getting stuck in a snow drift!

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Walking into Sneachda today in blue sky’s and strong winds. Not bad weather conditions in the morning though.

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Looking across the Mess o Pottage, with climbers on Opening Break, The Message and you can just see Scott G on the Haston line.

Lots of snow on ledges and lesser angles today but the rock was quite dry and black. There is snow and ice blocking up a lot of the cracks though.

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Moving up into Hidden Chimney.

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There was a wee bit of suffering going on today!

If anyone is looking for any winter Instruction or Guiding over the holiday period I still have some availability, feel free to get in touch.

info@elements.gb.net

Happy Christmas everyone. Chadders :)

Its Feb Already!

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Kenny and Will having a blast in the Valley Blanch on the 31st of Dec

 

A good time was had by all on our Guides training out in the Alps, ten days in total of training, techniques and a ski induction. Fourteen days in a row on ski’s with a couple of days on Ice to finish us off at the end. I think my legs have only just about recovered!

An incredible three days of ski techniques training at Leysin to start the new year with.

An incredible three days of ski techniques training at Leysin to start the new year with.

Since returning to Scotland a few weeks ago I have been mainly busy working for Glenmore Lodge and it has been super WINDY, just about every day. I’ve had a good spread of work at the Lodge with some winter ML reassessments, tailor made GL winter safety courses, MIC training and some guided winter climbing.

Bruce Goodlad working a snow profile at La Grave.

Bruce Goodlad working a snow profile at La Grave.

I was out today working for myself (Elements) with Gian, he’s always wanted to climb Fiacaill Ridge, this is the winter grade II ridge that splits the two Northern Corries of Lochan and Sneachda. It was all going so well until three climbers got avalanched down in the Corrie and we decided to go and help.

Gain enjoying the very cold but excellent Fiacaill Ridge

Gain enjoying the very cold but excellent Fiacaill Ridge

Rescue 137 moves in to up lift the final Cas.

Rescue 137 moves into up lift the final Cas.

Who would have thought, roadside Scottish water ice.

Who would have thought, roadside Scottish water ice, last weekend. 

Road side ice in the morning, clipping bolts at Moy in the afternoon. Scotland's got it all!

Road side ice in the morning, clipping bolts at Moy in the afternoon. Scotland’s got it all!

Dream Team! All the boys from the 2012 BMG intake.

Dream Team! All the boys from the 2012 BMG intake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mornings Quick Climb

http://www.elements.gb.net               29th/12/2012

JJ Keeping the faith and stomping in to Sneachda, had to admit I had my doubts.

JJ Keeping the faith and stomping into Sneachda, had to admit I had my doubts.

After getting back from the cinema and Inverness yesterday evening and having a look at the forecast I was struggling to get the motivation to commit to climbing the next day. 100mph winds, warm temps and needing to sort and pack a lot of stuff for heading out to the Alps, but some how Jon managed to convince me.

Amazed to see how much white stuff had held on Faciall Buttress.

Amazed to see how much white stuff had held on Faciall Buttress.

As we walked in, the early morning gloom showed black crags ahead and what looked like black crags in Lochan. It’s fair to say I was dragging my feet as we walked in, questioning why I’d gotten up at 0620 to take a heavy bag for a semi wintery walk.

With only one runner in my 35m pitch, every time you hit turf it came as a welcome placement.

With only one runner at 5m in my 35m pitch, every time you hit turf it came as a welcome placement.

The climbing was good, if not a bit run out on my middle pitch. There’s loads of ice about, it’s still not quite bomber, more a mixture of ice, snow and crud.

Looking into a semi stripped No.4 Buttress

Looking into a semi stripped No.4 Buttress

Our route 'Rampant' IV-5*, heads through the whitest of ground on the buttress. You can see a team following our clearing!

Our route ‘Rampant’ IV-5*, heads through the whitest of ground on the buttress. You can just about see a team following our clearing!

A better view of the route.

A better view of the route. 

So from car to car 4hrs 15mins, back before 1130, with a nice route in the bag. The joys of living in Aviemore.

I’m off out to the Alps for two weeks for some Guides training, 3 days of ski techniques, 1 day ski induction / test, 5 days of avalanche training and a days ice climbing teaching. With a few days off to enjoy New Year, ski and maybe climb some ice.

Hope everyone has a great New Year and all the best for 2013.

Cheers

Chadders :)

 

 

 

A Day Out West

http://www.elements.gb.net       28th/12/2012

 

Looking out the window today at the Northern Cairngorms it’s a great day to be inside looking out! It’s wild and windy up there and has been all night, 100mph gusts and freezing level above the tops. Not for long though with a return to wintery hill conditions tomorrow.

Accessing the first pitch of our route. Ideal winter conditions.

Accessing the first pitch of our route. Ideal winter conditions.

I had a phone call on the 26th just before I went out ski touring, inviting me over to Glen Coe to have a look at a direct finish to a already stunning climb. How could I say no.

Jon Jones, getting us warmed up in the first pitch  of the route.

Jon Jones, getting us warmed up in the first pitch of the route.

A 0530 alarm soon had me picking up Jon J and winding our way out West, driving through some rain and a bit of wind low down we were all a bit unsure as to what we might find condition wise higher up?

JJ and Andy Nelson following the second pitch. I maybe should have tried harder to find gear rather than running it out!

JJ and Andy Nelson following the second pitch. I maybe should have tried harder to find gear rather than running it out!

Luckily we were in the company of local talented climber and all round good guy, Andy Nelson. He soon had us standing at the bottom of a very wintery, stunning looking lump of rock.

Andy showing us how it should be done!

Andy showing us how it should be done!

The route had a pitch for everyone, with each pitch getting steadily harder. Andy’s intention was to go direct on the top final pitch. This was an education for Jon and myself in super thin hard climbing, which unfortunately resulted in an education for Andy as well, with some good air miles clocked up!

Andy checking out his options. How can he hook and stand on nothing and make it look easy?

Andy checking out his options. How can he hook and stand on nothing and make it look so easy?

The direct finish was not to be today, with Andy muttering something about needing 5mm verglas rather than 2mm, for someone so stable he is quite nuts!

Pulling through the final roof to finish back on the original route.

Pulling through the final roof finishing back on the original route.

The direct finish was not to be today but Andy was keen to be back on it soon, once the verglas fattened up!

Glen Coe Mountain Rescue sledging the stretcher down the Glen to the waiting Rescue 177.

Glen Coe Mountain Rescue Team sledging the stretcher down the Glen to the waiting Rescue 177.

After walking near enough back to the road, we met members of Glen Coe MR heading back up to assist a walker who had a lower leg injury and called for assistance. We politely offered to help and they unfortunately (for us) accepted our offer. So off back up the hill we shuffled to almost the area we had just finished climbing in. The mantra on the way back up was “it’s burning off the christmas excess”! Luckily Rescue 177 could land halfway down the hill, so even though the carry was tough in the snowy conditions we did not need to carry all the way out.

Home by 2230 last night, with ever so slightly cramping legs. Now enjoying looking out at the ming from the comfort of my warm house!

 

Boxing Day Snow

http://www.elements.gb.net              26th/12/12

 

Christmas day light in Banchory

Christmas day light in Banchory

Still a snowy covering in Sneachda today. A few climbers out and about today, Looks like quite a bit of clearing off the beaten track!

Still a snowy covering in Sneachda today. A few climbers out today, looks like quite a bit of clearing off the beaten track!

Some climbers enjoying the evening light at the end of the day.

Some climbers enjoying the evening light at the end of the day.

Views in to Carn Etchachan, looking good.

Views into Carn Etchachan. Looking good.

A couple of the classics cleared on No. 4 Buttress

A couple of the classics cleared on No. 4 Buttress

Deziree enjoying the powder descending down the side on Corie an Lochan

Deziree enjoying the powder descending down the side on Corie an Lochan

Winter views across Lochan.

Winter views across Lochan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we go again!

http://www.elements.gn.net          23rd/12/2012

If your looking to climb some great winter routes or ski some fine Scottish winter days, please drop me an email at:     info@elements.gb.net    (I have dates free from the 26th of Dec to the 29th of Dec)

I’m rubbish at up dating my blog, but still folks seem to follow it! I’m going to try over the next wee while to be better at it. Ha, well see if that happens!

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Naving across the Plateau in poor vis during a search.

I think I’m going to try and make it a more picture based Blog now that I’ve worked out how to down size my photo’s thus uploading them SO much faster!

 

Skinning back up from Strath Nethy last weekend.

Skinning back up from Strath Nethy last weekend.

Since my return from Antalia in Turkey about a month ago I’ve been working on a Climbing Wall Award, helping set up and run the final of the STS dry tooling comp at Glenmore Lodge, running a series of Student Winter Safety Lectures for the MCofS around Scotland, worked a Four Star Sea Training over on the West Coast, lots of Glenmore Lodge staff training days, had four wisdom teeth out (ouch), assisted on a couple of local rescues, had a days dry tooling at a new venue in the North East, had some good skinning and skiing action but as yet no recent winter climbing. Boo!

Setting out for a days sea paddling on the West

Setting out for a days sea paddling on the West

Deziree enjoying the views North

Deziree enjoying the views North

Bit of night time skiing action

A bit of night time skiing action after work (got to get your hill hits any way you can!)

Conditions today looking into Sneachda

Conditions today looking into Sneachda

Conditions out on the hills today around the Northern Corries are wintery but with some high winds and temperatures plus some rain, it’s an ever changing picture. The rock in the Corries still held a large amount of the white stuff, unfortunately some of this white stuff is falling off and has avalanched in places.

It’s not great or safe climbing conditions by any means just now but is looking better towards and after Christmas.

Skiing today was good, if not a wee bit wet and windy. OK cover from the ski car park to the mid station, from mid station up the cover improves greatly. The snow on the Plateau was icy and crusty but we did ski some enjoyable spring like snow down into the Ciste Gully. Beware though the avalanche conditions are considerable in places.

Views to Sneachda today as we skinned on by

Views to Sneachda today as we skinned on by

 

 

Turkish bolt clipping in Antalya

Drinking fountain on the road to the climbing areas

Thats me now well settled in to day five of a nice limestone climbing, bolt clipping holiday out here in Antalya, Turkey.

Before I left to come out here I had an opportunity to deliver an after dinner lecture on my adventures to a packed audience of students at Glenmore Lodge on the MC of S, Student Safety Seminar. I always get really nervous about speaking to a large audience even though my job involves a large amount of classroom and lecture based delivery. The inner belief that I will some how totally mess it up often overrules the confidence of knowing I can do the job.

Despite all of this inner angst, what ever happens happened and it seemed to go down really well. Speaking about times in your life that have strong and enjoyable memories always makes the job so much easier. I kept folks entertained with stories and photo’s from the Old Man of Hoy, a winter traverse of the Cuillin Ridge, skiing the gullies in the northern Corries and the North Face of the Eiger. This was closely followed by a fun and entertaining evening in the Lodge bar.

Me disappearing into the depths of the cave roof

This is is my first trip out to Turkey and it’s not been disappointing, so much climbing, on so many crags and all with-in walking distance of our flat.

Olive harvest time

The first four days of climbing have been good, with many fine routes up to 7a getting climbed. The only thing holding me back is the fear of falling off. I had been working on this quite a bit back in the UK taking good falls at the wall and getting my head into taking whippers. It appears that it does not transfer that well (for me) to the outdoors!

Greig getting some good air miles!

After a rest day today, there’s going to be no excuse, I’m just going to have to get on it!

Greig cranking hard through some steepness

The walk to the crags

After each good days cragging we deserve some of this……

 

 

 

Gordon Strikes Back

Ptarmigan gathering in the base of the Corrie

http://www.elements.gb.net           06th/11/2012

On Monday Gordon and I headed back into Coire an t-sneachda with the plan for Gordon to experience a tech 6 mixed climb. Gordan has climbed many good ice routes on the Ben up to grade 5, water ice out in Norway up to WI 5 and mixed routes up to grade 5. So with his list of routes and grades there was only one obvious way to go and that was up, grade 6 here we come!

Gordon going large on the top moves of the crux corner

What can I say other than he tackled the climbed with the usual consistent determination and even seemed to enjoy it at times, well once we topped out anyway!

Gordon on the ‘The Message’ IV-6***

Gordon is one of life’s genuine inspirations and not just for climbing The Message. Having only learnt to climb a few years ago he’s been out every winter since getting the bug. He puts most of us to shame being in his mid 60s, trains hard every week and all that on the back of having a life threatening illness thats effected his life for the last ten years.

A view to match the good feeling as we walked off the hill

It was a real winters day on Monday with some strong winds, snow falling and cold temperatures through out the day. Compared with the busy day on Sunday, we had the crag to ourselves and only saw a couple of teams off in the distance.

I was back working for the Glenmore Lodge today, running an MIA problems solving refresher day. We spent this day at Huntlys Cave coming up with solutions to many scenario based crag rescues. Got to admit that I was glad of the warmer conditions today, hanging about on the crag.

Scot and Andy mid rescue……

It’s proper turbo melt down now on the hill, winter has been and is now in the rivers and lochs around the hills. It looks colder again this coming weekend but not enough for any more white, shivering, suffer’fest, climbing missions. But the next round of winter suffering can’t be far away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First day of winter climbing work

http://www.elements.gb.net      04th/11/2012

 

Another fine day in the Northern Corries

Sometimes I wonder at the start of the season ‘will I enjoy this season as much as the last, will I be bored of the Northern Corries by now, will the routes still inspire or just feel repetitive’?

I can safely say that none of this has happened or will happen for sometime to come. Don’t get me wrong, I love the wildness and remoteness of places and climbs away from the common, well traveled honey pots. Some of my best memories burned into my mind through shear enjoyment of the climbs, views and experiences have been remote, off the beaten track days out with friends or work. Many folks give the Northern Corries a hard time due to their popularity and that’s true it is a busy venue on the right or wrong day.

Gordon in action

But this also adds something to the day if your in a sociable mood and the conditions are plentiful. Gordon and I met a number of good folks today walking-in, on the belays and walking out. Many folks I already new, which was good for a catch-up and some we did not know but we were happy to chat with. This on top of the excellent climbing and conditions, gave a welcoming and memorable day out for all the right reasons.

Gordon at the top of Hidden Chimney Direct IV-5

Gordon and I climbed Hidden Chimney Direct IV-5 today and up into Hidden Chimney. This was Gordon’s first day out winter climbing this season so we took it nice and steady, dusting off the summer cobwebs and getting gordon’s head back into the joys of mixed climbing, “it’s not like ice, you know”!

Topping out on Hidden Chimney

As we walked-in today we chatted about routes done and routes that Gordon wanted to do. High on the list of winter targets for this season was climbing tech 6 mixed. So after todays leg and arm stretch, tomorrow should see us on some steeper ground…….

Gordon has timed his two days up here perfectly, with tomorrow looking like the last cold day before temperatures rapidly go up on Tuesday. Here’s hoping we get something good done.