Friday, 13 January 2012

High Pressure Winter Mountaineering!

Teamwork to polish the slide for ice axe arrest practice!

I'm currently working for the University of Cumbria of a Scottish Winter Mountaineering course based in the Cairngorms. With a great forecast but limited snow cover we headed in to Coire Nan Lochain to explore the basic skills of Step (footwork), Slash (step cutting), Stamp (using crampons), Slide (self belay), Stop (ice axe arrest) if an effort to prevent Splat! The University's brief described how 'good mountaineers are in the right place at the right time and on their feet' - a perfect model for what we were trying to achieve. We continued up the ridge above the Twin Burns in glorious sunshine. The crags were in great condition and a strong team were on Daddy Longlegs (VIII 9). We continued across the plateau until we could descend an icy Goat Track which introduced the art of daggering.

Good technique for ice axe arrest although looking away from the adze would be better.

Putting it all in to practice to stop a tumbling backward slide

Perfect weather & perfect neve in Coire An Lochain!

Practicing American technique on crampons

Not an urban myth anymore - Raised ptarmigan footprints!

Typical Scottish winter mountaineering conditions!

Identifying a pocket of soft windslab as predicted by SAIS

Greg Boswell on Daddy Longlegs (VIII 9)

Another view of Greg Boswell on Daddy Longlegs (VIII 9)

Stunning rime ice crystals on the Cairngorm plateau

Group photo above Coire An Lochain

Descending an icy Goat Track into Coire an t-Sneachda