Climbing

Work and Play in the Peak District

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Lucy: Things are getting quieter here on Arran and as usual November is the month that we can catch up with ourselves and begin our winter preparation. With less work in the diary and the nights drawing in, it can be hard to keep active at this time of year, and this is one of the few periods when I have to consciously push myself outside to exercise. After a busy year it is of course good to rest, but we also have one eye on winter, a time when we need to be at our fittest! Last weekend I was working on a Lowland Leader Training for Adventure Expeditions all the way down in the Peak District so we both decided to head south and add a bit of rest and relaxation on to the trip in the form of riding bikes and rock climbing as well as spending time with friends.

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With a cold wind forecast on Thursday, we headed to Rivelin Edge for some rock climbing. The crag is sheltered and south facing so it was agood choice. It is also relatively quick to dry, which was a bonus as the day started damp. Some of the greener crack climbs stayed slimey all day, but we enjoyed some delicate face climbing. It's a long time since either of us have played on grit so Wally was very happy with his lead of Left Edge (HVS 4c).

The Peak District is also a great place for road cycling, and we enjoyed a spin amongst the showers, with obligatory cake stops on friday, and Wally who is keen as mustard on the bike,  was out and about on his bike while I was working over the weekend.

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The Lowland Leader Award is a Mountain Training walking and leadership award for people taking groups out in lowland terrain in the UK.  It's part of the Mountain Training leadership pathway and benefits from a structured training and assessment process, with candidate experience consolidated and recorded along the way. Our friends at Adventure Expeditions are providers of this excellent award and this is the first Lowland Leader Training course that I have worked on and I can't wait to do more. Training future leaders is an interesting and rewarding process!

Vacances dans la ForΓͺt

We've reached the end of our busy season at last, and last week, we took a much looked forward to break with friends in the Forest of Fontainebleau, France. It's a regular escape for us, a heady mix of bouldering, nature and pastries. This year we took our bikes as well as our bouldering mats which was a good shout for when it rained. Here are a selection of our snaps from our week in the magic forest.

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Sociable climbing on the Mess of Pottage

A personal day climbing out east for us today, which paid off with a fun outing on the Mess of Pottage in Coire an t-Sneachda in the Northern Cairngorms. We approached the Coire with fairly open objectives but it quickly became clear that the most straightforward option with the snow (esp cornice) conditions would be a climb on the Mess of Pottage. We headed for Hidden Chimney, a superb route that we have done before and knew would be good value. However, the route was busy with several parties and a with a bit of a bottleneck developing in the chimney we headed out right on to mixed ground. A series of steep litte steps and grooves at about grade II/III (a wandering line that we think is the harder variation Jacob's Edge?), brought us to the summit in good time.

Snow was lying deep on the easier angled terrain on the route, and there was no ice to speak of.  Happily there was lots of gear to be found to protect the steep sections.

A busy weekend...

Lucy writes: Its been a busy three days for us!  It began on Friday, with me working in the East on the first day of a winter skills workshop for Nineonesix Guiding in partnership with the SYHA. This great wee course was supposed to have been delivered in torridon, where the stunning scenery and remote location ensure an special and unique experience.  Sadly our reluctant winter has put paid to that, and the course was relocated to the Cairngorms, where more reliable coonditions ensured a quality outdoor classroom was available.  We had a great day, covering some navigation (despite the good vis) and avalanche avoidance,  as well as movement skills with and without crampons.

Meanwhile....Wally was having some fun with a personal solo day out on the East Ridge of Beinn A Chaorainn, a grade I winter climb and a fine easy mountaineering route.

Saturday saw Wally doing a CPD Avalanche Avoidance refresher on Aonach Mor with the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, and generously supported by the Chris Walker Memorial Trust. Like first aid training, keeping these skills up to date and fresh is an important part of staying current as a winter leader, and so we grab every opportunity we can to learn from experts in this field. Worth remembering though that whilst its easy to get geeky about snow, the basics are simple- knowledge of weather, snowpack, terrain and human factors form the basis of good planning and decision making, supported by forecasts from the SAIS avalanche if available.  Meanwhile, on the mountain next door, I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides, helping to guide a team of seven intrepid lads to the summit of Ben Nevis as part of a winter Three Peaks Challenge.

Finally, yesterday Wally and I were working together, this time for Reach The Peak, on an introductory winter skills day on Ben Vorlich, near Loch Earn. Our team of ten intrepid hillwalkers certainly experienced the "Full Scottish", with spindrift, high winds, and deep snow. We managed to get lots of learning in depsite the weather!

High Stakes on the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach

A personal mountaineering day for us yesterday, on the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Mheadonach.  Its a stunning ridge, on the north side (facing Aonach Mor) of the horseshoe that includes in the Carn mor Dearg Arete and the summit of Ben nevis. The route was not in great condition. In fact, thanks to the recent mild weather and only a cosmetic covering of snow, it was a tottering pile and a great deal of care required! A thaw is due tomorrow, and then hopefully a return to more wintery conditions. Fingers crossed for a bit of consolidation up high. The mountains (and those that love them) need it!