18th January 2016

Scotland Part 1: Snowy hills and an icy van.

This winter I’m spending quite a bit of time in Scotland logging days towards my Winter Mountain Leader qualification and this means I’m spending a fair bit of my time living in the van with my 7 month old spaniel Oreo. Queue mornings waking up to frost on the inside of the windows! As much as I enjoy van living I can get a bit fed up trying to clean pans full of porridge and it’s a little depressing when the coffee is already cold by the time it has brewed in the cafetiere…

I’ve already made a few improvements to the van and hope to get a few more done before I head back up.

I have been climbing too, but I’m trying to be strict with myself so I’m fully prepared for the upcoming assessment. I followed Stu up a VI, 7 on Aonach Mor called Stirling Bridge (It was absolutely nails! It was super thin for the feet, with slightly rubbish ice, it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done..), Mynd am Aur which is a 7a sport route in Llanberis with a tough head height rock over and Goose Creature at E3 6a in Llanberis where I got lucky, just beating the rain!

The conditions in Scotland have been a bit mixed so far, currently there is shed loads of powder lying around which makes progress a little slow going and hard work, plus it’s lead to lots of “considerable” avalanche forecast making route choice a bit more limited. It could all do with a bit of a thaw and a refreeze to bring the climbing into really good nick.

I started off in Aviemore with a couple of decent days in the hills, including a really challenging weather circuit on the Cairngorm Plateau where me and Russ practiced what we taught walking accurately on long bearings for a good few legs. After being valley bound for a couple of crap weather days I had a stella day going over to Ben Macdui in almost perfect weather conditions (unfortunately for Russ this was the day he had to head home!)

Oreo has been getting out with me some days, when the routes and weather have played ball, he’s done the traverse of the Grey Corries and even got up the Carn Mor Dearg ArĂȘte on Ben Nevis! He loves being out and about on the hills but looks a bit grumpy in this shot ‘cos I made him sit still for more than 30 seconds!

After a couple of weeks away I’ve come home to Llanberis for a week and this weekend was the Association of Mountaineering Instructors AGM which was a great event and I was voted on to the AMI committee too. I’m pretty excited about being able to do my bit for the association and hope I can do the role justice!

I’ve got back into the training already at home, I don’t want to let all the hard work over the last couple of months fade away with all the snow plodding, sadly decent walls are few and far between in Scotland, although there is an awesome project going on in Fort William, so hopefully there’ll be a great facility later this year.

For plenty of photos etc. check out the Facebook page as always and if you’re keen to check out the Association of Mountaineering Instructor’s exciting new website click here!