Whilst I dislike having to turn the bedroom light on in the mornings when I wake up, it’s quite exciting to notice a little chill in the air!
Although winter is a little way off yet, it’s hard not to start thinking of winter climbing and mountaineering. We are running a few courses up in Scotland this winter and I hope to get lots of personal stuff done too.
Scotland is transformed in the winter to an absolute playground for people who like the white stuff. There are additional challenges to playing in the summer, avalanche risk, different equipment such as crampons and ice axes, even harder navigation, shorter days and the cold. To be self sufficient in the mountains in winter conditions is quite an achievement.
We may even get lucky in Wales this year and have a really cold one, that’d be ace!
But I don’t want to get carried away! I have a couple more months of trad climbing and training to be done before I head off to Spain for a few weeks of sport climbing in the sun, psyched!
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 Arête 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.
The end of our fourth Mountain Month is upon us and the sun’s been out to finish it off in style.
We’ve had another great month, this time joined by Anne Rebecca and Carol. The course is always bespoke to the clients and this time it’s been a fairly even mix of mountain days with a Mountain Leader focus and rock climbing, whilst we’ve kept the Single Pitch Award scheme in the back of our mind, the main focus of the climbing has been to get lots of leading done.
Anne Rebecca and Carol have been navigating us around the hills, micro navigating their way up and over Moel Siabod, getting us safely across Crib Goch, walking on bearings over the Glyderau plateau, amongst many other days out on the hill.
On the climbing front they progressed from me leading them up climbs like Ordinary Route on Idwal Slabs, to them leading me up routes such as the mega classic Crackstone Rib and Skylon on Carreg Wastad. We have visited loads of great crags around North Wales, including the cliffs on Anglesey, Bwlch y Moch and Upper Tier at Tremadog, crags in Ogwen, crags in the Pass, the slate quarries, even sport climbing on the coast.
Both of them have now completed their SPA training so will now need to get out climbing as much as possible to consolidate their new skills with a view to working towards an assessment and all that’s left is the official ML training which takes place next week
They’ve both done really well and have been a pleasure to work with throughout the month! A big thank you goes out to the other instructors who have played a part in the month too – Terry, Mike and Anthony.
Moving into our third year of running this course, the next one we have running starts on the 29th February and we have already got one client signed up so there’s only on space remaining, get in touch for more info and take a look at our Facebook page for loads of photos of what we’ve been up to and have a look at the Instructor Training page for more info.
September is super busy!
Our Original Mountain Month is in full flow with our two clients Carol and Anne Rebecca already improving lots. They been navigating in the hills, leading on the cliffs, improving their technique indoors and mountaineering on the East Face of Tryfan. Lots more to come too!
I was also directing a Brian Dent Single Pitch Award assessment last weekend with 8 candidates, the weather was super kind to us and I really enjoyed the weekend, as I always do.
Last week Terry looked after the mountain month for us, whilst I was working with an MOD group down in Dartmoor. We had an awesome week of good weather and had fun biking, climbing and a mini expedition. I had a brilliant group who learnt a lot and developed many skills, as well as providing top banter.
Loads more to come this month, so I’m thankful my new puppy Oreo is sleeping better at night!
As usual, check out the Facebook page for loads more photos!
Whilst I’m really enjoying my six weeks working in Kurdistan, we work every day and even when we have a quiet day, we can’t just go out for a climb or scramble – even running is restricted to a certain area of the camp. This results in not much opportunity for blogging about routes of the week or particular courses that I’ve been working on..!