Saturday, 31 March 2012

Lacs Merlet Tour

A hot afternoon climbing the Petit Mont Blanc (2680m)

After a day on the piste at Meribel to get the rust out of our skiing we headed off on our first tour around the Aiguille du Fruit. A descending traverse from the uplift brought us below the Roc Merlot and a good descent to the Refuge des Lacs Merlet. After dropping off our bags we skinned up the Petite Mont Blanc (2680m) in the sunshine. Conditions on the descent were a wee bit tricky with a breakable crust and a very heavy snowpack. The following day gave us a great skin up to the Col de Chanrouge and the long descent back to Meribel.

Tricky conditions on the descent from Petite Mont Blanc

The climb up onto the Col de Chanrouge

Touring around the Aiguille du Fruit

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Escaping the sun for some ski touring!

The final day of the Haute Route from 2010

Having finished another Scottish winter season I'm heading off to the Alps for some ski touring in the Vanoise. Hoping for the same high pressure conditions we currently have in the Lakes!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Everest 2012 Season

Sunset on the north side of Everest

This time last year I was gearing up for my own Everest expedition. I'm not back on the mountain this year but there's plenty of activity...

My Everest co-leader Chris Szymiec is heading back up leading for Adventure Peaks. Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton who I've had the pleasure of climbing and training with is on the south and keeping a detailed blog.

Over in Nepal Adele Pennington is heading for Lhotse with Jagged Globe as the next stage of her 14 x 8000m peak challenge.

Colin Wallace has a great website following the British attempts and history at Everest 1953.

A midnight bimble up Skiddaw!

The birthday party heading up!

Light pollution over Keswick

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Lads Leap Fell Race (English Championship)

Ladies winner Emma Clayton

After a 9 day stint on the hill to finish my Scottish winter season the legs were a wee bit tied so I was just out supporting at the first race of this years English Fell Racing Championships - Lads Leap. A fast muddy course with a fence to jump after the final descent made a very photogenic race. Lots more pictures on my Flickr page.

Eden Valleys Kim Collison on his way to 14th

Opting for the safer but slower stile option

Should have gone for the safer but slower stile option!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Final day of the season on Curved Ridge

The crux corner on Curved Ridge

Climbing through the cloud with the steep Rannoch Wall behind

Minimal snow left on the Buachaille

Friday night film - Himalaya Speed Pt 2

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Aoncah Eagach

A grey & soggy day on the ridge

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Tower Scoop & Gardyloo Gully

Thin ice on Tower Scoop (III)

Entering the tunnel under the chockstone in Gardyloo Gully (II)

The current exit from the Gardyloo Gully tunnel

Rime forming down as low as the exit to No 4 Gully

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Good Friday Climb

Tower Ridge rising out of the cloud

A very similar forecast to yesterday meant there was only one option for today - back up the Ben looking for ice. We joined a long crocodile of folk heading up in to Observatory Gully including a large group on their MIC assessment, all looking for grade III ground. There was far less rock and ice fall today and as the teams headed for various options we found ourselves behind one other group at the foot of Good Friday Climb (III). We'd seen a team make an ascent yesterday from our viewpoint on Tower Ridge and today we found thin but good conditions on a great little climb that brings you out directly on the summit. Other climbers were on Gardyloo gully (II), Smith's Route (V), Tower Gully (I), Upper Tower Cascades (III), Tower Scoop (III) and Tower Ridge (IV) and amongst the walkers on the summit there were the usual jeans and trainers!

This week I'm working for Adventure Peaks on a guided winter climbing course

Simon enjoying good ice on Good Friday Climb (III)

Final few meters of Good Friday Climb and a group topping out on Tower Ridge

The top! - just a few meters from the trig point

Cloud inversion over Loch Linnhe

Monday, 12 March 2012

Cloud inversion on Tower Ridge

Indicator Wall with a wee bit of ice still hanging in there

This week I'm working for Adventure Peaks on a guided winter climbing course. With the promise of a cloud inversion we got the week off to a good start with an ascent of the classic Tower Ridge (IV 3). Winter arrived a the foot of the Great Tower where we put crampons on to enjoy the solid neve and dry rock which gave an alpine feel to the top half of the route. We'd climbed out of the cloud on the Little Tower and were able to enjoy a number of fog bows and brocken spectras before traipsing round to the summit in the sun. After a stunning sunset a quick descent down No 4 gully took us back into the gloom and the surprising sight of a gentleman with a monster rucksack walking into the CIC Hut in his big boots and boxer shorts!

A fog bow or white rainbow

A team on Good Friday Climb (III)

Climbing in to the sun on the Great Tower

A Glory, Brocken Spectra & Fog Bow from Tower Ridge

On top of the Great Tower

A team topping out on Comb Gully Buttress

The final gully on to the plateau

Pulling on to the Ben Nevis plateau

Cheesy summit photo!

Stunning cloud inversion

Aonach Mor & CMD framed by Tower Gully

Sunday, 11 March 2012

BMC Club Rope Skills

Steve well dug in in a bucket seat

For the second day of the BMC Club Training Program we headed into Glencoe and the stomp up to Coire nan Lochan. Today was ropework day and we worked through bucket seats, buried axe belays, stompers, direct belays and abseiling off snow bollards plus a quick emergency snow shelter. The remaining snow was well saturated and stable and we saw a couple of large rockfalls.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

BMC Club Training Program

Enjoying some steep snow on the Nid Ridge

This weekend I'm working for Adele Pennington Mountaineering on the BMC Club Training Program. With a fast retreating snow pack we opted to use the Aonach Mor Gondala to reach the reliable snow fields around the Nid Ridge. The day was spent developing and perfecting many of the skills of a winter mountaineer focusing on footwork and movement skills or step, slash, stomp, slip, slide & stop (before splat!)

Friday, 9 March 2012

Howling Howgills

Cautley Spout

I'm just back from a couple of days out in the Howgills with students from the University of Cumbria. Cloudy conditions gave us plenty of oppurtunity to develop their navigation skills while a wet camp in Langdale tested their campcraft. Just the one boot was left outside to fill up with water! Our route took us past Cautley Spout, over the Calf and down into Langdale. Friday started with a stiff pull up Hazelgill and over towards Green Bell in some very windy conditions.

Scrambling below Cautley Spout

Perfect conditions for navigation practice

Friday night film - Himalaya Speed Pt 1

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Expedition Medicine

Using a red smoke flare (photo from ExMed)

Today I've been working on Expedition Medicine's Lake District course for expedition doctors and medics from across the globe. After a full morning in the class room the group were eager to get out in to the sunshine and look at some basic ropework, casevac options and navigation. We finished with plenty of discussion on opportunities for work and some case studies just as the rain set in.

Winching a casualty (photo from ExMed)

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Smiths Route

Smiths Route (V 5) in better conditions

For the final day of their Adventure Peaks course Patricia & Sheila were out with Paddy Cave and after a good overnight freeze were able to make a return to winter climbing with an impressive ascent of Smiths Route (V 5). In a week in which winter disappeared before our eyes they ticked an impressive haul of classic routes including No 3 Gully Buttress, Curved Ridge, the North Buttress of Stob Ban, the Aonach Eagach, Castle Ridge and Smiths Route.
On the Ben the high level ice of Tower Scoop (III) and Good Friday Climb (III) were also in good condition with new snow down to 900m

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Papped in Glencoe!

Belayed on the Aonach Eagach Pinnacles

Ptarmigan on the Aonach Eagach

Enjoying the exposure on the Aonach Eagach.

A cloudy Glencoe from the Pap