Monday, 31 January 2011

Scottish Fun

On Saturday I attended the Association of Mountaineering Instructors AGM at Glenmore Lodge. I joined an avalanche transceiver workshop to brush up on my avalanche rescue skills and play with a variety of transceivers and search methods - hopefully I'll never have to use these skills! It turned out to be a nice day in the mountains with a stunning cloud inversion.

Practicing probing for buried victims. Nice cloud inversion over Glenmore.

On Sunday I got out for a morning of skiing on Cairngorm before the winds got too strong and they shut the lifts down.

The forecast for the week ahead in Scotland is not so good - it looks like we have a week of storms coming our way. Wind on the Cairngorm plateau was forecast 75mph today with that increasing to 90mph on Wednesday! So today I avoided the worst of the wind with a stroll over Meall a' Bhuachaille - a nice hill overlooking Loch Morlich and Cairngorm. Tomorrow I might brave the weather and try and get a route climbed in the northern corries.

 View from Meall a' Bhuachaille to Loch Morlich and the Cairngorms

Friday, 28 January 2011

Snowdonia Mountaineering in Scotland

Well I'm settling in to my new digs in Aviemore - my cousins house (thanks Al!) - relaxing in front of the fire with a glass of wine. Its been a pretty hectic week instructing on a mountain leader training course at Blue Peris. This included a rather cold night out in the Moelwynns on Wednesday night.

So I'm already trying to work out what I've forgotten and one thing that I have left is my camera so I might not get too many pictures up on the blog.

Tomorrow I'm attending the Association of Mountaineering Instructors AGM at Glenmore Lodge over the weekend which will be a great chance to catch up with lots of other instructors, discuss a few topical issues, sink a few beers and maybe even go for a climb!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Snowdonia Mountaineering at the Outdoor Show

I had a great time down at the Outdoor Show in the ExCel centre in London. I spent 2 days down there running workshops for the Association of Mountaineering Instructors on the DMM stand. It was awesome to meet lots of new people and introduce them to the skills of place gear and building belays - hopefully I will see some of you up in Snowdonia this year!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Snowdonia Mountaineering at the Outdoor Show

From Thursday to Sunday this week the outdoor show will be running at the ExCel centre in London's Docklands. The Outdoors Show is the largest consumer outdoors show in Europe, annually attracting in excess of 30,000 outdoor enthusiasts. 2011 sees The Outdoors Show move to ExCel, London, where the show will locate alongside The London International Boat Show and the newly launched London Bike Show.

There will be loads of stands, exhibitions, films, talks etc to check out. You might even be able to pick up a good deal on some climbing gear.

I am going to be working with the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) running workshops on building anchors, placing gear and tying knots - all basic rock climbing skills. So come along, say hello and get yourself on a workshop. You can find us on the DMM and Beacon Climbing Wall stand.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Rock Climbing in Snowdonia - My Favourite Routes

I've been sitting at home feeling sorry for myself as I can't go out winter climbing with one hand in a cast so I thought I would write a wee blog about my top 5 favourite rock climbs in Snowdonia. These are routes which I can go back to again and again and still enjoy them as much as the first time. They aren't necessarily the hardest or scariest routes I've done, or routes that I have been most proud of climbing but routes that I will hopefully still enjoy in 30 years time!

Christmas Curry Micah Finish - HS, Tremadog

This was probably my 3rd ever lead and I can still quite vividly remember the feeling of balancing my way up the top arete with the gear well beneath my feet and an amazing feeling of space around me. Its a great little climb - its probably best done in 2 pitches with the second pitch containing the meat of the route.

Outside Edge Route - VDiff, Cwm Silyn

This is my favourite VDiff in Snowdonia. Its tucked away from the main climbing areas of Snowdonia and is a great place to go to seek a little solitude. It takes an impressive line up the left edge of the great slab of Crag yr Ogof in Cwm Silyn. I love it when a route goes through terrain that looks far harder and steeper than the grade suggests. Its best climbed on a sunny afternoon once the sun has come round onto the slab and the views down the Llyn Peninulsula can be enjoyed to the fullest.

Cemetry Gates - E1, Dinas Cromlech

I have lost track of how many times I have climbed this route now. Its a bit of a rite of passage for me every spring. Dinas Cromlech is a massive fortress of rock that towers over the Llanberis pass and is home to probably the most famous route in the UK - Cenotaph Corner. Cemetry Gates takes a series of cracks up the right arete of the corner and will thrill you with steep moves, big holds and plenty of exposure!

North West Passage - E1 Castell Helen, Gogarth

Sea cliff climbing is probably my favourite genre of rock climbing. Nothing beats hanging out on big holds with the sun on your back over the sparkling sea. North West passage can be found on Castell Helen - one of the more friendly of the Gogarth cliffs. A steady first pitch leads you to a perfect belay ledge where you can chill out and enjoy the awesome coastal scenery. The second pitch then follows a traverse line right before climbing up the headwall on big holds and solid rock with the Irish Sea along way beneath your feet. Perfect.

Comes the Dervish - E3, Vivian Quarry

The Slate route that started a revolution. This awesome line can be seen from Llanberis and the crack it climbs was originally cleaned out using a knife from Pete's cafe prior to its ascent! I first climbed it back in University and it was a bit of a milestone for my climbing. I like it so much as its a route that just calls out to be climbed - the more you look at it the more it sucks you in and before you know it you will making those first tentative moves upwards in search of that first piece of gear...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Winter Mountain Walking in Snowdonia

Yesterday Jen and myself took a quiet winter walk up into the Carneddau. It was a great day to be out with excellent views and light winds the sun even made an appearance late in the day. We headed up the East ridge of Pen yr Ole Wen and round to Carnedd Dafydd negotiating some large patches of old snow. We donned crampons on the ridge leading upto Carnedd Llewelyn as the snow patches got bigger and the consequence of a slip became more serious.

Its sometimes difficult to know when to put on crampons in patchy snow conditions - do you leave them on to walk across bare patches or stop each time to take them off? Crampons are fine to use on bare rock/ground for short periods but are uncomfortable to walk in. Generally if the ground is fairly flat with patchy hard snow and the consequence of a slip just means that I bump my backside then I'll leave them off. However is a slip could turn into a slide or a drop off a cliff I'll put them on and will happily walk across the odd bare patch.
From the summit of Llewelyn we headed down to the Llugwy resevoir and back into Ogwen. A great day out - the hardest thing about the day was working out which of my clothes fitted over my cast!

Winter Skills Courses


Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

Enjoying Cave Gully on the Trinity face last Feb

Hope you all had a good night! Its due to get cold again in North Wales over the next few days with possibly a bit of snow on the tops arriving on tuesday. Not much snow left but a good freeze should see the easy gullies up high giving some good sport. The Trinity face on Snowdon and Cwm Cneifion will be the best places to check out. Be carefull out and about the snow will be very hard!

I wont be out and about as my hand is in plaster as my sore thumb turned out to be a broken one - no action for me for a few weeks!