Posts tagged Bouldering
A week in Wales
After wrapping up in the Alps for the summer I decided to head straight to North Wales for an annual 'working holiday' there.  I had a few reasons to go.  See important people, do some work, climb some routes and hopefully climb a particular line I have been hoping to do for a long time.  The way it worked out, I did about 80% of that...the particular line will have to wait!

Crags don't get much better than this

After arriving back I teamed up with my regular client Sean.  We have had a trip to Wales in the past and managed to escape the weather but this time luck wasn't on our side.  A forecast nobody really wanted to be out in, so as we had the option we chose to go to the Beacon Climbing wall which served its purpose.

Thumbs up for greasy, tech big boot climbing!
Sean happy to be high
 Our second day wasnt much better.  Anyway, we got stuck in.  On a previous trip we climbed Original Route on Idwal Slabs but this time we opted for the harder Hope.  I had only done this in dry conditions so it was great to seek it out while it was soaking.  It went fine, our big boots did the job, however I do remember having to do quite a few strenuous moves to advance up.  A strong effort by Sean to dispatch this.

Katya, an IML, gets stuck into rock climbing
Rope shortened, Katya leads to glory...in the rain
After this followed a spot of personal climbing, surfing and catching up with friends.  Before I knew it, I was back out working with Katya and Aide.  We have done heaps in the past, mostly in winter so this time they were keen to advance their skills rock climbing.  So day one they swung leads on Original Route on the slabs (in the rain) in their big boots, put alpine skills into practice to scramble off which was packed with some good laughs and piss taking as we always do...and obviously some technical input! ;)
First time on the sea cliffs...Check out the power pants!

Aid negotiating the crux of Lighthouse Arete
Day two they were sold on some sea cliff climbing.  So an early start saw us abseiling into Castle Helen before anyone else had turned up.  I led them up Light House Arete, Rap and Pel before we shifted over to Holyhead Mountain so they could do some more leading before we called it a day.  As this seemed like the last day of nice weather, my mate John drove out at warp speed to meet me after work so we could stretch the arms and do a couple of pitches in the fading light.  A mint day.
Hanging out at the seaside
A rare shot of Aid smiling and not swearing.  A classic Aid quote 'Put my foot up there?? Im not a f#@king gymnast!'

My last day, I was climbing on the Orme with the Evans.  It was a multi activity day.  Sport climbing, Trad climbing, bouldering, falling off and good craic.  I do quite like Wales...I always feel like moving there when I'm on my working holidays there.  Maybe one day.  Anyway...back to Scotland...hopefully in time for an Indian Summer!
Setting up for the summer
They might be small but The Lake District has excellent crags and mountains
With my planned winter work well out of the way I'm now looking forward to the transition into the summer season.  With winter still stubborn in the mountains I will still be carrying axes and crampons on some of my objectives.  No light weight summer bag just yet.  I have been looking forward to 2016 I turn 30.  As do several of my friends and between two birthday weekends last month, one at a beer festival in Stuttgart and a surprise party down south, I have been trying to regain some rock climbing fitness, see friends and family and do a little exploring.  Whilst being in the Lakes we managed to get some days climbing at St. Bee's, Langdale, Borrowdale and near Thirlmere.  The nice weather has been surrounded with wet days so I have made use of The Ice Factor, Kendal Wall, Keswick Wall and Ratho.  Unfortunately, I'm weak as a kitten after winter.  The new wall opening in Fort William might help build up a little strength for the coming climbing projects this summer.
Can't go to a German beer festival without wearing a Leiderhosen and drinking a few Steins
Another course done, another signature in the book
Whilst in the Lakes, I embarked onto my first training course (after the inductions) to become a IFMGA Mountain Guide.  The course, Rock One Training, focussed on all aspects of British summer mountain guiding.  It was a great week with a wide range of fellow candidates, some with instructing and guiding backgrounds and some new to the concept of managing and guiding novices.  I have been asked to write a course report on the week which will be put on the new British Mountain Guide website soon so feel free to have a read.
Mountain cragging on Pavey Ark
We had fantastic weather

The milestone of turning the big 30 this year will be marked with some interesting climbing trips with friends, family and clients, both old and new.  I hope we all have dry rock and full chalk bags.  I left my camera up north so only have a couple of picture of my phone.

Bouldering ayt St Bee's whilst the crag dried
We were pretty lucky with the weather
Got very close to this little fella

Autumn catch up
It has been a wee while since I have had a sit down to write a wee update, which is great as it has been such an action packed few weeks.  I guess the brilliant weather has helped.  Fortunately I haven't had to travel around too much as the rock has been dry and work has been local.  A couple of visits to Brin Rock and Tunnel Wall helped kick of Sport Climbing season, given that I haven't had a great summer of rock climbing, I felt I was doing ok.  Really enjoyed the routes I tried.  Really pleased to climb Uncertain Emotions in Glencoe after a couple of visits.  I also made the most of some nice days with cragging at Creag Dubh, bouldering at the Skeleton Boulder in Glen Nevis and mountain biking at Wolftrax  before work kicked in.  I have just finished my 3rd week working at the Joint Services Mountain Training Centre in Ballachulish (the military version of Plas y Brenin and Glenmore Lodge).  I have been working on a host of instructor training courses, two weeks of rock climbing instructor training and assessments and a week of Mountain Leader Training.  We visited a whole host of single pitch climbing venues, some with a lengthy drives but worth it for the dry rock and the climbing.  Its been great working Monday to Friday 8am-5pm, feels like a 'real job' with time to spare and weekends to catch up with folk.  With an upcoming trip away sport climbing on the Greek Island of Kalymnos I have been trying hard to build some fitness to get the most of the trip.  So a few trips to Ratho (best indoor wall in Scotland...if not the UK!) and mid week bouldering have been doing the trick.  This week I am working on Mountain Leader Assessment so will be out on the hills for the week which will be great, before flying out at the weekend.   I'm hoping that when I return at the start of December I will be straight into winter climbing so watch this space.
Brin (Zed Buttress) with Mhairi and Murdoch


Good views in Glen Nevis (above Skeleton Boulder)

Creag Dubh...beaut day!

Kingussie Rock training

Group abseil

Setting up climbing at Glen Nevis

Team at Kingussie

Where is the Loch?

Inversion on the Buachaille

Mountain Leader ropework

Walking out of the Buachaille

Good navigation training in Glencoe

Dream team loving learning new skills

Training at Dave Mac's wall
Bouldering in Italy
We got a tip-off that there was a bouldering festival in a place called Mello Blocco.  So we went.  We bouldered.  We got stickers.  We got freebies.  We met celebrities.  We ate.  We drank.  We partied till the early hours!

First ice route of the season




....For both John and I.  Unfortunately it was only indoors but was still great fun.  Great to get the tools and crampons out after sitting dormant since the Alps.  So after a good Latte, we spent a good 3 hours in the ice wall refining technique, trying new challenges and finding ways of being more stable and relaxed on the ice.  John was showing massive improvement from his classic bloke 'all arms' technique to a more elegant and thoughtful ice master...!  After plenty of laps we moved out to the cafe for another Latte and a well filled Panini, just what we needed for an afternoon of bouldering so we could work on John's rock climbing technique.  With plenty of lactic acid in the arms we called it a day and headed back to a wet Fort William.  Tomorrow will be spent out cragging putting John's new found technique into practice.  Although I worked at the Ice Factor for 4 and a half years, I forgot how good it is as a training facility to get ready for some steep winter climbing or even to test out your new kit, worth going!  Good vibe down there as Alan was in working his magic as well.
Back in Wales


Today I was back in Snowdonia and out with Ben who was keen for some mileage.  The aim of our two days out was to do plenty of multi pitch climbing and scrambling and looking at the transition between the two, useful for Ben's future alpine trip.  We headed on to Idwal Slabs and started off on Ordinary Route (D) where I started off leading then Ben taking over for a bit, looking at belays, rope management and ways of using systems more efficiently.  We then carried on up onto Lazarus (S) and then onto Continuation Crack (HVS 5a) which was brilliant little route.  After all of this we headed back down to the base, climbed up two pitches and looked at multi-pitch abseil descents, how it can be done safely and efficiently.  Finally to finish I guided Ben up Hope (VD) and we decended off the left via the scrambling decent and back to the car for 5.  This evening I met up with John, Caff and Calum for a wee boulder at the Gravestones then onto the Cromlech boulders.
Glen Nevis Hit

Today was another stunner in Lochaber so I headed down Glen Nevis armed with my bouldering mat and chalk. On arrival I bumped into Neil at the car park who had the same idea. We headed up to Heather Hat and climbed until our fingertips were no more. Neil was telling me how he had attempted Storm the other day but didnt get to the top due to a wet top pitch. So we went and got out the rope and rack and went and climbed Storm (HVS 5a). I was then keen to climb the bold and brilliant Fang (E2 5b) to finish off the day. Its a fantastic wee route with barely adequate gear but great climbing.
Ruthven Boulder
Today Blair and I headed away from a wet Fort William to another wet part of Scotland! On arrival to this boulder on the south side of Loch Ness we were met by a pretty substantial rainfall. After some cursing and some sandwiches, the rain stopped and we were able to make our way over to the rock. There is a nice overhanging section which mostly stayed dry but unfortunately Blair wasn't able to do his uber link up as some crucial holds were wet. So he did laps on the sections that were dry. I also tried to do laps but unfortunately I needed to work on the sequences and moves before I could go crazy. So after a good workout and one problem ticked, we headed home, pumped and content!
Glen Nevis
Today after arriving back home from Skye, I met up with Kenny and we headed down the glen for a few hours bouldering. We started off at Heather Hat boulder where I surprised myself with what I could pull on. All this training in the bouldering wall has been paying off over the winter! We then went up to Sky Pilot and had a sesh on some of the cool problems there. Unfortunately I found out that I am still a weak as a kitten! Must get stronger!!
Is winter back?



Yesterday wasn't feeling very wintry, however today was a different story! Stephen, Andy and I headed into Glencoe and ascended the Zig-zags on Gearr Aonach. The snow line was about half way through the route but it was all slushy and wet so we were able to make a rapid ascent. It was a good option today as it remained pretty sheltered from the westerly winds, sleet and snow. It was Andy's first time out in the mountains so we wanted to give him a little variety in terms of something hands on but also give him the opportunity to pick up some important winter skills for the future. After walking along the top of Gearr Aonach we nipped into the corie and covered lots of winter skills which the guys were eager to learn. We looked at moving around with and without crampons, ice axe arresting, moving on rock and snow and plenty of digging into the snow pack to develop their knowledge of avalanche awareness. Several teams out today, Dorsal Arete had an ascent, a couple of walkers on the NE ridge of SCNL and I'm sure there was much more going on! Finished off the day with a good session in the bouldering wall.