Posts tagged Curved Ridge
British Mountain Guides Winter Training
Mountain Guide Paul Warnock and fellow trainee Jack Geldard on Tower Ridge

Just finished a great week of being a client.  It was brilliant to be on the receiving end of some experienced guides and to be taught more.  Part of the process of becoming a British Mountain Guide is a winter training course where we are taught how to look after folk in winter.  Even though I work alot in the winter it was great to learn some new tricks, receive some confirmation that I was doing the right thing and also give me some prep for the assessment which I will be doing in the Alps.  We had pretty good weather for the week with two days ice climbing on Ben Nevis, a day of mountaineering on the Buachaille and 2 more days of snow craft and mountaineering back on Ben Nevis...where most of the snow was.  I enjoyed taking a break from my camera this week so only have a couple of shots.

Todays trainer Paul Warnock.  Smith's Route behind

Descending Number 3 Gully
Curved Ridge
Simon was up for Curved Ridge.  To be fair we had both hoped for a winter ascent of Curved Ridge but as the topsy turvy winter continues to stip the mountains, we had to settle for a summer ascent.  Warm and wet, it felt like July.  Fortunately for simon, he had limited scrambling experience and we made a great day of scrambling skills and Simon did some leading up the route.  Andy Hogarth was out behind us with his two clients and Grant was out with his group bagging some summits.  So a pretty quiet day on the hill.  I couldn't see into the corries in Glencoe as I drove through but there is snow still up there in the gullies.  Still a couple of days until it gets cold.

Excellent summer or luck of the draw?
The start of another successful Cuillin Ridge Traverse
Two is the magic number. In this occasion, two is the amount of times I have put on my waterproofs whilst at work since April.  And I have been working in Scotland and Wales.  First time was half a day in Snowdonia and the second was for half an hour on the ascent to the start of the Aonach Eagach.  Now this is not to say it hasn't been raining, it has, I have managed to avoid it.  Being at the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, this next week should see my waterproof usage double if not treble!

Father and son James and John put in a great performance...
...and provided some great whiskey
 To kick off I had a successful traverse with John and James, the hardest part was finding water for our bivi.  I ended having to drop off 300m and carry 10 litres back up hill.  The weather turned the following day from clear and humid to cloudy and humid but we still made it.  James was keen for a third day so we went and made a quick ascent of the Cioch.
Highlander moment coming soon
Is a cow a suitable navigation feature?
 Between other spells of work and days off, I have been working with SSE.  Their request was some navigation training which included evening theory sessions and practical hill days.  Over the course I worked with 20 folk with different roles within the company, all with the common likely hood that they may have to walk over the lowland hills in Scotland.
A nice change from the big hills
Usual Scottish conditions on the Great Ridge
 As the weather has been quite good it was nice to go out with regular Grahame.  He is keen for adventurous hills and happy to move away from his usual munro bagging routes.  So with his two gift vouchers he needed to redeem, we took the short ride over the Corran ferry over to Ardgour to climb the Great Ridge on Gars Bheinn.  It was a fantastic climb on beautiful Gneiss, a must for any who haven't ventured here.  The rock climbing here is amazing.  We then ventured down into Glenfinnan, more rain dodging and more fantastic scrambling in a very peaceful location, only the noise of the steam train broke the tranquility

Big smiles down Glenfinnan
I have also managed to squeeze in some personal rock climbing into this time with a couple of hits down in Glen Nevis, a day climbing with the legend John Lyall at Creag Dubh and a Tunnel Wall session with Blair.  With many damp evenings I have also made use of the brilliant new climbing wall in Fort William, The 3 Wise Monkeys.
Andy enjoying some great after work conditions
Brain and Martin trying to decide if this was a good idea!
 Ossian's Cave.  If you have ever driven through Glencoe you will have seen it, high on the hillside, a tall, dark, damp slot carved out of the North Face of Aonach Dubh.  Martin had this idea bubbling over the fire for years and we organised a day out to put it to bed.  Martin brought Brian along and between them, did a great job where they both dug deep.  Given that neither of them have a great deal of experiance in the hills it was always gonig to be a tough objective and initially we saw it as a training day rather than to get into the cave.  But with plenty of coaching we all made it to the base of the cave and I made it right inside but climbing into the cave was a few moves too far for them.  We already have plans in place for a rematch next year so I hope we have some more nice weather.  It felt great to climb the first ever recorded route in Glencoe

In the cave!!

Realisation that the hills in Glencoe are not a walk in the park!
The following day I was straight out for another Glencoe classic.  The Aonach Eagach.  This was with some members from the Connersville Walking Club.  With 8 signed up for the ridge I enrolled Andy Hogarth, to help guide them along.  We were also assisted by Andy Hauge, a MIA-trainee looking for some experience, who helped out making our life a lot easier.
Cloudy but dry
Andy organising a wee descent
 After the Aonach Eagach, only 3 were keen for the final day on Curved Ridge.  Again we were lucky and made a really nice ascent to meet the rest of the club on the summit.  It was nice to see a few other teams out and about.  Shame about the ropes hanging off Rannoch Wall.  Looks a bit of a mess!

Andrew, Alan and Sean
Getting to grips with it all now
So after a great few weeks in the hills I can look forward to more adventures.  A week on Skye, a two week boat trip out to the Western Isles and St. Kilda, 23 days in India then off to Snowdonia to prepare for one of the many assessments I have to pass to become a British Mountain Guide.  Eeek it will be winter soon!?
East Face of North Buttress

Today I was back out with Alan and we were after some sun kissed rock.  Original plan was the East Face of Aonach Dubh but on arrival it was shady and looked cold.  So we nipped round to Buachaille Etive Mor and head up to the East Face of North Buttress.  Plenty of folk were out today, many teams on Rannoch Wall and Curved Ridge and many out just to bag the Munro's.  We had the whole crag to ourselves and got a couple of great routes done.  We started off on Shackle Route (severe) which was brilliant, the rock is so good with great friction.  After abseiling off we jumped on Crow's Nest Crack (VS 4c) which is very sustained for the grade.  It was perfect for today because it kept Alan warm and brought all his climbing experiences together to make an (almost) clean ascent.  After abseiling back down, instead of heading back down to Curved Ridge to descend, we traversed off and had a look over at Slime Wall and descended down the North flanks of North Buttress.  A brilliant day in the hills!
January Jigsaw

Today I was back out with John who has recently fell in love with Buachaille Etive Mor but more specifically Rannoch Wall. After climbing Curved Ridge last week, he was really keen to climb a route that breaks through the steep wall. As the sun was shining and the routes were dry, we opted for January Jigsaw (Severe) which gives 4 great pitches of exposed climbing which becomes more and more exciting as you get higher. It was bitterly cold today so we didn't really want to be hanging around so after we topped out we descended down Curved Ridge and back to the bags. We had, what seemed like, the whole mountain to ourselves except one team was on their way up Curved Ridge as we were leaving. Another fantastic day with John who now has seen lots of other routes he wants to climb on the mountain. Watch this space to see what we get up to next time.
Curved Ridge

Today Katy and I headed into Glencoe armed with sunglasses, an axe and crampons and hit Curved Ridge (III). I had thought (or hoped) that it had an ascent yesterday and put a nice tracks in, unfortunately there wasn't, so today required a lot of digging. Fortunately I remembered where most of the spikes were and some of the cracks. Katy was keen for leading too, so she got on the sharp end a couple of times which was great. Saved me doing all the digging! We didn't see anyone else on the route but saw some tracks on the summit. There was lots of avalanche debris around the bottom of the route but every part of the route was nice and solid. Going up behind Crowberry Tower was fine too. From the summit of Stob Dearg, we had a look at Coire na Tulaich but as there was quite a lot of soft snow at the top. So we headed down the ridge, which allowed Katy to practice some winter skills coaching and route finding for her forth coming Winter Mountain Leader Assessment. Great colours on the Aonach Eagach whilst we descended!