Posts tagged Aonach Mor
Avalanche Training
As part of the process to become British Mountain Guides as well as Mountaineering Instructors, it is essential that we know about avalanche awareness and stay on top on current thinking and techniques from the experts.  So this is one course I never get tired of going to.  I tend to participate in an avalanche course every year and each one is different.  Unfortunately there was no interesting snow too look at but the class room session was useful and has armed me with some new methods in teaching and information sharing.  The course was funded by the Chris Walker Memorial Trust.

Another Anonach Mor Double hit
Alan on Left Twin
Today I was out with Alan for his first winter day this season.  We have had a few days out this summer but his last winter route was Two Step Corner (V,5) on Ben Nevis back in March 2015.
The forecast was very benign, low winds with a little cloud cover and cold enough temperatures.  Alan has been suffering from a  chest infection for the last 3 weeks so a short walk in was best suited.
Despite having a chest infection I still made him coil the ropes
Alan emerging from the crux
Abseiling back down Left Twin
So we took the gondola up and the Quad chair lift leaving us with a 40 minute walk to reach the corrie rim where we would abseil in.  It was nice and sociable whilst we were gearing up with Al, Ian and Dave all heading in for a bit of personal climbing as well as two other chaps.  The best part was that Alan and I got to do Left Twin (III,4)  first the abseiled back down and climbed Right Twin (II).  So we did two routes, 6 abseils, 6 pitches, 6 stars and Alan got a nice big shower of snow on his head...I can imagine who or where it came from!?
In Right Twin

The snow could have come from anywhere! ;)

 MORE PICTURES HERE on my Facebook page
Mixed and Ice
Heading for the corner (photo: Steve)

Today I finally got to go climbing on some winter routes.  It was brilliant!  Very wintery conditions with barely a breath of wind.  This meant Steve and I enjoyed winter climbing in mellow temperatures and absolutely no suffering.  We went up to Aonach Mor, nothing like a bit of mechanical uplift to help blow out my cold I picked up in the Alps, and made our way down Easy Gully. 
I think I had a knee bar in there (Photo: Steve)
A few more moves to go (Photo: Steve)

 We started off on Sterling Bridge (VI,7) which was a great pitch of climbing.  Short but very entertaining and a nice route to get things going this winter.  We made it to the top at 11.30am so with plenty of time left we opted for another route.  Given that Steve hadn't done a route on the crag I showed him the abb points and he led us up Left Twin (III,4).  
Steve approaching the belay on SB

Unfortunately the idiot in the group (me) left the ice screws in the back at the top so Steve was faced with a lonely lead with a head of useless metal work as everything was choked with ice.  He did sling a couple of pretty useless ice columns but it was not a problem as the route was well within Steve's climbing grade, there was a good ice pillar right at the crux more fortunately.  So all in all, a great day out to blow away the skiing legs, a mixed route, an ice route and a nice finish back to the van at 2.30pm.  Happy days.  Back to work tomorrow...I think I will go back up there, great conditions.
Steve leading to the top of SB
Steve setting off without ice screws
Ice screw would be useful here...

And here!

Curved Ridge and North East Ridge of Aonach Beag
A sneaky view of the moor
Love this route!
I have just spent two days out with Grahame who has been keen to climb some scrambling routes, to spice up his Munro ticking campaign.  He had already walked both munros on Buachaille Etive Mor but has had a burning desire to climb Curved Ridge so this was our objective for the first day.  A little surprised to see a deserted ridge on a Sunday but the forecast was pretty poor however it turned out pretty nice (not constant rain and some beams of sunlight).
Crux corner
Hero shot
We made steady progress up the ridge, chatting away merrily, rarely stopping other than to take some pictures when the views opened.  We arrived at the top of the ridge and nipped up Crowberry Tower for some excellent views of cloud to the north as well as the south!  With a press onto the summit we finally became exposed to the winds, we locked up our hoods, had a wee break on the summit then headed down into Corie nan Tulach.  A nicer day than expected.  Tomorrow on the North East ridge Aonach Beag will be mint....

Looking at what we have done
Orchids bring light to a gloomy day
Today Grahame and I took the Aonach Mor Gondola up to the top station then plodded up to the summit of Aonach Mor for some fantastic views of the clouds.  Just white and grey.
Descending into An Cul Choire, axe and cramoons!

I suppose I was a little apprehensive as I have never climbed the North East ridge of Aonach Beag but it was on Grahames to do list and the weather was to improve at midday, somewhere near the crux.  Views, sunshine and no rian!  Cant wait.  Well it did clear at about 6pm!  On the whole route we endured constant rain, thick low cloud and incredibly greasy rock.  I would strongly suggest to any folk off to try this route that they save it for a dry day with good views.  I would say it turned into the hardest days work this summer.
Mellow mountaineering
Abseiling off the crux section to bypass it

 We were both very relieved to get past the crux section which involved quite a bit of rope trickery and an assisted hoist.  Grahame did incredible well as every footstep was like soap and most handholds were the same.  We had thought about bailing earlier but we were holding onto the forecast that it would never did.  I suspect it is a great route in the dry in a fantastic setting, I am really keen to get back in more suitable conditions.  In winter, I suspect it will be amazing.
Greahame relieved to be at the top

Me tired and relieved.  
Winter Skills Weekend with the Austrian Alpine Club
The Team

Great winter environment on Aonach Mor
 This weekend I have been working with some member of the Austrian Alpine Club who signed up for a winter skills weekend.  Our group had a wide variety of experience covering 2 or 3 generations and a variety of mountaineering experience.  To optimise to teaching time and skills we opted for some mechanical assistance and got the gondola up to Aonach Mor, bringing us out in the snow.  As the weather was more desirable we opted for more of a journey and to get up high, so armed with the appropriate skills we set off for the summit station.  Unfortunately, time evaporated and we didn't make it to the true summit, sometimes the case when there is lots to teach.  We made our way back down avoiding all the pistes and back to the comfort of the gondola to save some knees.

Lunch shelter 

Interesting terrain to blow away some cobwebs

Prepared to head into the 'Ping Pong ball'

In the ball

 Day 2 there was a strong desire to make use of the mechanical uplift again however the strong wind's didn't allow and the gondola was off all day.  So instead we opted for a drive over to Glencoe and headed up Coire na Tulaich on Buachaille Etive Mor to pick up where we left off.  As the winds were high today we stayed sheltered and opted for a more static skills based day covering any aspects we didn't have time for yesterday and equipped the team with enough tools in their tool boxes to go out and have a save and fun day in the hills.  The team were great sports and put great effort into everything, Mike put in a great effort trying to break the sound barrier on his ice axe arrest runs and I was very thankful of the Sloe Gin from their hip flask at the end of the day.  A great couple of days and the weather wasn't too bad either.
Steve sporting equipment older than me.

Steve's wooden Stubai axe.  Lovely piece of equipment.

The team in Coire na Tulaich

Avalanche CPD
Working as an independent MIC it is great to have opportunities to further my knowledge and understanding with a group of other independent providers and hill enthusiasts.  The day was put together by the Chris Walker Memorial Trust.  This charity provides funding for expeditions to greater ranges and also helps mountaineering instructors to attend courses to further their knowledge and understanding, helping avoid further incidents and pass on crucial information to clients.  The day was split into two, we had a classroom morning looking at the theory of avalanche awareness and how we can teach this to our clients, followed by a hill based afternoon showing how we can utilise the mountains and teach clients exactly what they need to know.  As a member of the Association Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) it is important that we attend these CPD courses to make sure we stay current and in-line with modern ideas and thinking.  A fantastic day ran by Graham Moss from the SAIS.

Avalanche forecasting
Blair looking for a snow patch.  Aonach Beag behind.
After the last two day of being bed ridden and sick, I decided to gather some strength and make it into the hills today.  Especially as it was such a beautiful day.  Fortunately Blair was out avalanche forecasting and at this short notice I could tag along and not be a burden to him.  As well as learning alot of science and improving my knowledge of avalanches I had a great day on the top of Aonach Mor.  Fantastic views all around with great clarity.  Great day to be out. Am I fit to go climbing tomorrow??
Work cancelled today so I went skiing
Looking very snowy on the North Face of Ben Nevis
 Unfortunately John was unable to make it out today, so after a failed attempt to find someone to climb with, I grabbed my ski's and skins and headed up to Aonach Mor.  I skinned over to Aonach Mor summit and then over to the col between Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag for lunch.  I could see ice forming on Aonach beag, things like Stand and Deliver were thin but looks like a good start.  Aonach Mor East face was plastered, large cornices hang over the tops and reports of huge avalanche debris on the coire below.  Climbers topped out of the West face reporting good conditions.  After this Back over to the pistes for as many runs as my legs would allow.  After an impressive fall I called it a day.
Spot the crown wall...released under its own weight


Only me and this chap at the col

WE need a wee thaw and a good freeze and then conditions will be amazing!

Sgurr Finnisg-aig Falls
Smoking the White Owl - Yuk!
Alan swinging to glory
Back out with Alan today who has had a good old rest after our day out on Monday.  Blue skies, cold temperatures and light winds was what everyone in Lochaber woke up to. It was great to be out climbing a frozen waterfall.  I have never climbed this well talked about route.  Named 'Smoking the White Owl' (IV,4), it was a great route on water ice which had some really good climbing and some tricky pitches. Last week I heard that there were 10 teams on the route which would have been carnage, on arrival to the climb we had the whole place to ourselves and after a pitch, Al and his client turned up to make the most of the accessible ice route.  It didn't take long to climb the route so Alan and I enjoyed lunch at the gondola station watching all the skiers work their magic   The pistes look brilliant and they were pretty much deserted.  Many 'Saga' members around who have got the Gondola up for the 'mountain experience'.  I over heard one phone call where they were saying that they were half way up Ben Nevis....I didn't break the bad news to them but it was tempting!  More blue skies, minimal winds and amazing ice routes to climb tomorrow.  I think its going to be busy in the mountains over Easter!

Me at the top of the steep pitch

A deserted ski area
Left Twin

Today John and I froze our fingers off on the chair lift at Aonach Mor.  The pain was worth it as we were able to rest our legs a little bit by having a shorter 'walk in' day.  Johns third day on was all about ice.  We met Rich and his team at the bottom who were planning Right Twin.  That was good so we still had plan A all to ourselves   We were psyched for Left Twin (III,4).  Then, out of nowhere like some stealth giraffe, Mike strolled past us with sharp elbows and went for our chosen route!  All in good humour though.  Mike decided to abseil down the route so we decided to zip down Easy Gully and check out the rest of the routes.  This would give Mike a chance to get up a pitch.  So John and I built a snow bollard and abseiled in to find plenty of snow which was stable where we walked/waded.  There was plenty of ice forming on the Ribbed walls, nothing steep was quite there such as White Shark and Aquafresh but the mixed routes looked good.  Left Twin was in great condition with Siamese Twin nearly there.  There was a team on Stirling Bridge and I think that was it.  John led the last pitch up to the cornice via a nice little mixed step which Mike and his client put tracks through.  A fantastic day followed by some great soup and coffee in the cafe.