Monday, 29 February 2016

Mid winter catch up. Weddings, tests, training, sunshine, Gemini and Skye

Dramatic day in Glencoe
With a busy few weeks out of the way and another couple starting, I have just about managed to sit down and write about my last few days out.  Since I was last up in Torridon I attended the lovely wedding of Jamie and Claire in Glencoe.  Before the drinks started I dashed off and arrived in Aviemore for the briefing of my final induction course for the British Mountain Guides.  This was the third and final induction for me.  Now that I have completed they are happy for me to precede into the training.  So I am now a Trainee British Mountain Guide.  Happy Days!  Only 3 more years until I become an Alpine Guide.  Day one I had to prove I could climb Scottish Grade 5 so I sealed the deal by climbing a Grade 6, Shark Fin Soup on Mess of Pottage.  I was totally sandbagged by my assessor, it was harder than that!  So pleased that went well, the following two days we did some training as a group, looking at how the guides operate which was very interesting and informative.  
Ledge Route

Great conditions shaping up on Ben Nevis
After the induction I was straight back to Fort William to meet Sean, who I was climbing with for 3 days and introducing him to Scottish winter.  We have 8 days planned in the summer so it was a great opportunity to test out the hill legs.  We started off in Glencoe on Buachaille Etive Beag for some skills and two Munro's in Stunning weather.  Then came Ledge Route followed by Curved Ridge, again in stunning weather.  Sean totally lucked out...3 days...wall to wall sunshine!  You can come again!  A great 3 days with great company.  If you are reading this Sean, unfortunately I have caught your cold, nothing substantial yet but will hit me if I have a rest day!
Ledge Route

Chopper searching the NW Face
Curved Ridge
So I had a day off on Saturday so I organised with Andy and Will to head to the Ben for some ice.  I was so psyched for Gemini (VI,6) that I persuaded them to meet at 4.30am so we could be first on the route!  Grrrr we were beaten by 3 minutes!!  Must get up earlier next time!  Anyway, we climbed it anyway and had a nice sociable day with plenty of teams on the route and the rest of the mountain.  That was my 4th route this season in my own time...unreal!  Usually Im up to 30+ by March!
Me heading up the crux pitch

Andy leading after the hard pitch 
Will 'off the couch' loving the steep ice
We had to get down in good time as I had to head up to Torridon for staff briefing and then meet the clients for their briefing and kit check.  With a stunning forecast, we opted for a day on the Cuillin Ridge.  Not the whole thing but a great section.  A brilliant day out.  I'll do a round up of this week at the end.  

The mountains and winter conditions are shaping up great and I'm looking forward to some great ice climbing conditions on Ben Nevis when I'm home in March.
Skye generally being amazing!

Regulars Katya and Aide on their final summit of the day

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