Posts tagged ice climbing
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.

A week of winter climbing on the West Coast of Scotland
Shake down day. Mountaineering

Shake down day. Mountaineering

After what has felt like a very ‘on-off’ Scottish winter, this week provided Sean and I with some good climbing. On Sean’s previous trip we did a day of winter skills on Buachaille Etive Beag, then climbed Ledge route and followed that with Curved Ridge. This week Sean was keen to introduce to mixed climbing and ice climbing so day one required a bit of a shake down. WIth plenty of snow around I opted for the East Ridge of Stob Ban. This is usually a grade II or III but I like the ‘sit-down’ start which warrants grade IV and requires some stiff pulls.

High up on North Buttress

High up on North Buttress

Day two we went and climbed North Buttress IV,4. Many teams only do a few pitches and abseil off but the upper section has some fantastic mountaineering terrain so we pushed onto the summit. Again we had great conditions and this 3 star route was in its prime.

Day three we went onto Ben Nevis and climbed the uber classic ‘The Curtain’ IV,5. As it was mid week we decided to call it a day after topping out on the route and as the weather was coming in, we didn’t see the point on pushing onto the summit on this occasion.

Sean on his first ever ice route!

Sean on his first ever ice route!

Day four we went to Beinn Udlaidh and climbed some chewy ice. A two route day with South Gully of the Black Wall IV,4 (brilliant by the way!) and Quartvein Scoop IV,4, also brilliant! This was Sean’s second day ice climbing and he was really getting the hang of it…and loving it!

Ice, ice baby!

Ice, ice baby!

Our final day was a no brainer. Into the Ice Factor for ice climbing in the freezer and dry tooling on the rock walls. A brilliant way to hone in some technique and get the forearms and core working really well…next time we will be stronger and we’re already planning some classic grade V routes.

Until next time Sean!

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 skiing...to 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

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
Happy New Year!
That time has come again, another year passes us by and another year full of memories and adventures.  I would personally like to thank everyone who has made this year great...clients, friends and family.  I look forward to 2017 and hope that we all have a great year in the mountains.  If you haven't got plans in the mountains then you need to make some.  Here are some pictures from 2016 and there are heaps more on facebook HERE.











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 snow....in 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.