Thursday, 11 February 2016

More North West exploring

A new week dawned, a new set of clients and a new course started.  This week I was working on the Technical Winter Climber course for Moran Mountain and I was blessed with two brilliant and psyched clients Jon and Davy.  They both brought their own levels of experience and back grounds and worked very well together.  A pleasure to work with them both.  And what a week we had.  Day one we went up to the local hill behind our lodge and climbed Right End Buttress (III,4), Fuar Tholl to get the week started.  The guys led a couple of snow pitches to get back in the zone before I took over and led the difficulties.  Again it ticked all the boxes for our first day and great for me as it was more on-sight guiding. Pretty windy and wild but still good fun.
Davy found ice on George
Jon leading the home pitch
Day two I went back to the local favourite of George (III,4) where Jon and Davy did the leading whilst I climbed next to them.  I led the crux pitches as they were a little thin giving us all two pitches of leading each before they led themselves down the knee busting descent.

Jon showing Davy that it only take 2 attempts to climb! ;)
After looking at the forecast, we knew that our last two days would be big so we opted for a crag training day where we did some improvised rescues and a good couple of hours of dry tooling.  Great for resting the legs and frazzling the brain with knots, ropes and carabiners.  It was a worth while rest.
Myself and Davy pretending we know what the mountains are called
Team red gears up
Big Wednesday dawned at 04.45.  Porridge, toast, tea and bacon butties in the van.  Drive for 1.10 hours.  Walk. Keep walking.  A beautiful day dawned and we were all excited to climb The Resurrection (III,4)****.  A Cold Climbs classic, a 3 hour walk in, a 350m face, a mini Alpine North Face, a route that finishes on the highest mountain in the NW Highlands, a summit cairn belay and perfect weather.  And a route none of us have done before, perfect!  A wise climber would bring a guidebook for an area they have never been before.  In the insomniac state I was in at 5am I picked up the wrong guidebook and brought it with me leaving us with no description.  Fortunately we worked out the line and had a great days climbing finishing on the summit of Sgurr Mor (1110m).  The route had everything we could hoped for.  The best part is that it never looked that hard but it certainly did pack a punch.  From the summit it was a long walk out and we opted to leave the neighbouring Munro for another time and returned to the van just as it got dark.  A fantastic 11 hour day, the perfect winter day out.

The 1st pitch of The Resurrection (photo:Jon)
High up on the route (Photo:Jon)
Team Red
Davy being a tool
Me looking for gear before i pull over the sugary cornice

Highest summit in the NW Highlands
Big Thurday dawned at 5am.  Porridge, eggs, tea.  Unfortunately Jon was feeling pretty tired after The Resurrection so opted for a day with his wife Anne, who was here for the week biking around the coast and mountains.  So myself and the legend that is Davy took our armoury of gear and a lightweight rope and went to Skye.  We had seen pictures of the Cuillin and they looked stunning.  We had to visit.  The icing on the cake was that Davy had never been to Skye before.  I wanted to give him a taste of this amazing playground, plant the seed, open his door to a lifetime of fantastic climbing and mountaineering.  I opted for the Clach-Glas Blabhein Traverse (IV,4) for 3 reason.  Firstly it is probably one of the best single days of mountaineering in the UK, secondly it provides the best view of the whole Cuillin Ridge, (ready for a winter traverse, I did it 3 years ago, go and do it) every peak, every 'nook and cranny' especially with its winter coat on.  And finally, it has been high up on my guiding 'to-do list' for a long time.  I have done it many times in summer, it was a pleasure to guide in winter.  A complex and serious ridge.  The best part, we put down fresh tracks all the way.  From the summit, the cloud rolled in so we made our way down which wrapped up a great and varied week of technical winter climbing.  A real pleasure to be out with Jon and Davy and I wish them all the best in their future adventures.  See you in the mountains.
The objective

The dream
Davy loving the route

Top of Clach Glas

Techy descent, stunning views

1 comment:

Jon said...

A brilliant blog post Guy. The FOMO kicked in after reading about Blabhein and Clach Glas. Thanks for being an excellent instructor for the week. It was a tough week but great fun. I wouldn't hesitate to repeat the experience. Felt like I learned lots and was great to have Davy there on the rope too especially helping with those lap coils. Some work needed there I think.

I hope you've had a good week this week so far and see you again in the mountains one day.

All the best,