Friday, 23 January 2015

Another brilliant week in the North West

Ice axe arrest practice
I always look forward to winter and when it arrives I always look forward to working and climbing in the North West.  Why, because of its vast variety, lack of people and sheer beauty of the mountains.  I have been blessed with two healthy clients, one is an iron man competitor and the other is just young so a pretty good combination.  I have also had Mike shadowing for 4 days as he prepares for his Winter Mountain Leader award.  Day one was our skills day where we headed up to Fuar Tholl and did much slipping and sliding, digging and assessing, burying and tieing and then finished the day by climbing a grade II gully called Access Gully.
Martin's team heading up Access Gully ahead of us.
Windy but nice day
Wild topping out of Access Gully
Our second day was the nicest of the week so we thought we would get up high, put some of the skills into practice and grab some great views.  We headed up on to the Liathach Ridge with our high point of the day being Spidean.  A great Munro with stunning views.  We didnt traverse the ridge as this was the teams second day in crampons but it gave them a few things to aim for in the future.

A front coming in from the West.  Beinn Alligan looking great.
Team on the summit of Spidean
The day
Heading down, we turned left here and went the long way down as it was such a nice day.

 Day 3 turned out a wee bit poor so as a wee rest day we went to a local training crag for some more skills before getting back to plan and pack for a overnight snow hole expedition.  The weather was ideal.  Super cold and with plenty of snow there were sure to be some good snow hole sites.  We climbed the Forcan Ridge, which was in stellar conditions.  We summited at 3ish and started digging just after.  We had a palace by 6pm and ate and drank all evening.  It was a great night, snow holing conditions were great.  Digging was easy so we made a comfy hole and made a nice large cold sump for the cold air to sit in whilst the warm air stayed tight.  The second day we exited early to get onto a nearby Munro at sunrise.  It would have been spectacular but unfortunately the clouds were rolling in but was still stunning non the less.

Plenty of Navigation
Plenty of mountaineering

A spot of abseiling

Alot of eating and drinking
Lovely morning views
The the cloud came in

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