Posts tagged Norway
Norway Ice climbing 2019

Back in Scotland, if you blinked you missed it! The ice came and went over about a week. I managed to grab a couple of days ice climbing but then it seems like this year is the never ending November!

Fortunately Norway delivered it’s ever reliable ice. It was however, leaner than usual which left myself and fellow guides scratching our heads for some alternative ideas. For the first time in 8 years of visiting here, we went on the hunt for dry tooling options, mountaineering objectives and even some rock climbing crags. Fortunately out of the 10 guided days, only 3 days we didn’t ice climb. Over two weeks our 3 teams climbed 7 new lines and many really cool ice routes. We retreated of some due to the heat wave and rotten ice but still managed to cover lots of pitches.

Fortunately, just before we left, it went cold again and we had a brilliant 3 days of ice climbing to wind down with.

Check out Moran Mountain if you’re interested for next year’s courses or alternatively HERE if you would like some private guiding.

Alpine part 2 (and 3 - 6)...when will the season end?

This winter, what a season!  April has started and here in the Alps, it doesn't look like it's slowing down...or warming up as we would expect or hope for.  Even back at home it is looking to be a superb season and with no signs of slowing down either.

Since my last post there has been quite a lot going on.  In February I jetted off to Aurland in Norway working for Moran Mountain.  I had some of my regular clients along and working alongside some great friends made for a brilliant trip.  Ice climbing is always good fun.

Skiing in the Alps has been close to non stop.  Im just back from two hut to hut tours where we found some great snow but some rotten weather sometimes.  Before that, I was observing guides with their clients, helping out and trying to learn as much as possible from them.

Rock climbing season doesn't seem that far away so I have managed to squeeze in a couple of cragging sessions in after hopefully remind myself of how to do it!

The winter season is very close to the end for me.  My final winter challenge is to pass my ski test.  This is a 6 day assessment based in the Alps.  Hopefully, the next time I post, I will be back in the UK with a big smile on my face.  Results on the 20th April.

After that I will be back in the UK working my socks off before I go into the final stage of becoming a fully certified IFMGA Mountain Guide.

Here are a few pictures...but in no particular order!

Tom topping out on a brilliant WI4

Day off with Donald.  Always an adventure.  Unfortunately we DNF this route.

Katya making her way up to join me on the first ascent of this route

Natcho bring some colour to yet another first ascent

A super WI5 with the strong Irish youth Neil

The WI5, mega route

A spot of leading for Neil (the youth)

Natcho and Neil organising themselves whilst leading Dambusters WI3

Natcho on the sharp end

Dream team from Alpine Guides.  Just before we set of on the Silvretta tour

The hut is this way....honest

More like it...

Good snow, good skiers, good times

Lori contemplating where to go next

Deserted ski resort in Val Stura in Italy

Neil pausing to take it all in

The team join me ready for the freshies on descent

Another day, another blank canvass

Great snow

Freshies, an overused but relevant word this season.

We found a hidden bunker...took some digging to get in

Filling the gaps

They were arguing about who gets to go next...there was plenty for everyone

a snowpack evaluation session

When the bed bugs hit!

Powder in Italy

More powder in the 'magic woods'

Vallee Blanche team

Skiing down to Italy with my mentor Andy Nelson

The client get to lead

Winter season has come to an end for me
Pink Panther
Despite climbing hard, Murdoch is such a baby!
I did my first every winter climb 10 years ago when I was 18.  10 years on I have just finished a decade of continuous winter seasons in Scotland.  Am I tired of it? chance!  Each year brings it's own dimensions and challenges and this year has been no exception.  I have so many highlights from this season, a list too long to name them all.  Both work and personal days have been very memorable as well as all the days spent with great people.  I have been very fortunate to climb with many regular clients who I have spent alot of time with which is great.  One of the best days at work was climbing the brilliant 'Nordwand' on NW face of Ben Nevis with my regular client John.  Everything about that day was brilliant.
Rose, Phil and I in Norway
Ade, Katya and I after Ledge Route
Rose, me and Phil in Norway

 Other work highlights have been spending two weeks in Norway climbing beautiful ice falls with clients, mostly climbing route's I haven't done before and in some cases new routes.  It's such a great place to work with motivated clients.

Winter skills weekend for the Austrian Alpine Club

Claire descending into Number 4 Gully
For me, what makes my winter season, is the personal climbing I do.  It is so important to me that I can get out with keen folk, not need to look after them and have a great laugh.  So a massive thanks has to go to Murdoch Jamieson who I have done quite alot of climbing with this season.  He has been patient when I have cancelled last minute and other times when I have been a wee bit tired after working for a big stink.  Thanks Murdoch, you keep me entertained on the hill.

John walking off the top of Nordwand
Coaching lead climbing with Dunc from the Torridon MRT in Norway
I have had loads of great days out with loads of other folk over the season so thank you to everyone I have had days on the hill with - Kenny and Rhona Grant, Laila Duncan, John Sutherland, Donald King, Blair Fyffe, Paul Swail, Iain Small, Uisdean Hawthawn, James McHaffie, Nadir Khan and many brilliant clients.  I think if I was to name one personal highlight of the winter season...I would have to say the 'Shield Direct'.  It came into condition, I had a day off, I climbed it with my flatmate, the climbing was really interesting and the weather was great.

A moment of contemplation on Liathach
Blair loving a wild day on Ben Nevis.  Great Chimney
Now I shall be going out to the Alps for a month of skiing and climbing.  The reason for the lengthy trip is because I am hoping to gain enough experience to apply to become an Alpine Guide.  It will be a great journey.  Also this winter I have been very fortunate that Millet have agreed to sponsor me as the brand relaunches into the UK.  It will be great working with this very successful brand and I'm really looking forward to using their equipment in the mountains.  Winter is still here in Scotland, make the most of it while it is still here!  Enjoy and safe climbing.
Murdoch showing me what can be achieved if you eat well and train wise.

Great day skiing with Rhona and Kenny.  Love these days!
 When I get back from the Alps I shall be straight up to Skye for a stint on the Cuillin Ridge.  Im almost fully booked in May and most of June so get in touch if you want some adventures in the mountains.

Norway Ice Climbing
Another brilliant week out in Aurland this week working for Moran Mountain.  I was working on the final week of courses in Norway for MM and it was starting to feel that we were just in the nick of time.  Unfortunately there was no ice low down but we found fantastic ice higher up from the fjords.  I was climbing with Rose and Phil, both fantastic clients in their own right.  Both strong and keen and willing for anything steep and solid.  All week we never climbed under WI4 unless they were leading, we climbed some good pitches of WI5 and found the limit of their abilities and set them up well for doing some great leads on the final day.  We visited new crag everyday and as the rest day was to be very snowy, I decided to go skiing rather than climb an ice route.  Dave Kenyon and I skied at Voss resort with some fantastic very Scottish weather.  Glad to be back in Scotland.  I'm just down from |Nevis range where I have had a morning ski and now I'm packing for the Alps.  Back on the 13th.

Norway with Torridon Mountain Rescue Team
Spot of footwork training to get started
Initial thoughts when I was flying out to Norway were that we would probably get more ice climbing done in Scotland than Norway as conditions out there haven't been great.  Fortunately, around Aurland, we did find ice to climb and had a great week training members of the team.  With 11 members out with me, we spent a couple of days at crags where I could keep an eye on everyone, answer questions they had and show them things they didn't know.  Then we all broke off and did our own thing.  We had to stay high to find the best ice which was always a battle with the vast amounts of snow out there but we felt we won most of the time.
Mark getting tuck in up at Vetlebotn
Easy top-roping at Vetlebotn
Team sessions at Vetlebotn
 Our first day was spent driving around looking for ice to climb.  The usual suspects were looking a little bare.  We ended up using our rest day on the first day of the trip as a recce around as many places we could.  Many of the large ice falls were incomplete and anything low was running with water.  Around Stondallen was good and above was also climbable ice.  The amounts of snow made it hard to move around to the crags but with a large team we put good tracks in.
Evening entertainment

Duncan doing his first winter lead.  2 pitches of WI3 (Eiger Ron Belaying)

Dunc having it

Dunc leading the second pitch.  Jenny and Eiger Ron belaying

Charlie enjoying steep ice

Mark doing laps

Mark leading, Greg abseiling
 Last year I made the first ascent of this great gully, which my clients Kitty and Suzanne called '2 bangs and a slap WI4.  We had 4 teams on the route over two days and had great climbing all the way up.  We had multiple teams in Stondallen and a team on a WI4 at Grimsete (just below the Stondallen tunnel) which had great ice.  As we left the weather went super cold so the next few weeks will be shaping up very well.  One of the team has stayed out for another week and I shall be back out at the end of Feb.
Greg and Arjan following me up on the 3rd ascent of '2 bangs and a slap'

Great gully climbing

Arjan abseiling

Scottish conditions in Stondallen

Greg doing more leading.

Norway Ice
Day one
 I have been out in Aurland, Norway working on a Technical Ice climbing course for Moran Mountain.  We climbed lots of steep ice in a place that makes Rjukan look like Kingussie crag!  A truly stunning place with hundred's of ice falls which have never had axes swung into.  Anything from roadside to over 1 hour walk ins if you wish.  Single pitch to huge 8-10 pitch routes.
Day 2 Kitty seconding our First Ascent '2 Bangs and a slap' WI4

Suzanne getting stuck into '2 bangs and a slap'

Scottish conditions followed me to Norway

Suzanne and Kitty happy with our new first ascent

Another abseil down a brilliant 5 pitch WI4

Hanging out

Brilliant WI5 'scottish stylee' gully

More steep ice!

Cool features