Wet and Wild Weather on Dartmoor

This pony was as small as it looks 

 A lovely evening

Yesterday we left Princetown and the groups walked north through some wet weather and over a few tors. After lunch the weather improved and it was a pleasent stroll into the wild camp in the afternoon. The evening was fantastic until shortly after dark when the rain came back in. In the early hours of this morning we got batter by wind and rain but the tents held up and all survived the night.
This morining we headed north again until finishing at Okehampton at lunchtime.

Dartmoor Expedition

Well I am back working for Bridgwater College with the Uniformed Public Services students and this week we are out on Dartmoor for their assessed overnight expedition. Today we had a quick revision on navigation and dealing with emergencies before they are let loose on the moor for a wild overnight camp tomorrow evening. I hope the weather holds out for us as it is looking like it may be wet tomorrow evening.

Valley of the Rocks

Today I headed to Valley of the Rocks at Lynton to go through a few things with a friend before her SPA assessment next month. We looked at gear placement, top ropes, rescues and releasable abseils. The weather was great and it is nice to be back on Exmoor after a few months up north.

Glencoe Skiing

Alex and I

Showing off my new Ski Boots

Julie and I

Julie on our Off Piste Adventure

Desperate to try out my new Scarpa Maestrale Ski Boots I joined Alex, Dom and Julie at the Glencoe Ski resort for some sliding action before I head back down to south in the next couple of days. We spent the day sliding around in some very sticky snow on Red, Blue and Green runs on the upper mountain before I suggested we ski back to the bottom station for lunch. This was a very deep, unpisted, sticky powdery affair which I enjoyed immensely but not so sure about the others. After lunch it was back up top for some more sliding before the lifts were turned off. Alex. Dom and Julie took the chair back down but I couldn't resist the idea of a race and shot off down the hill on snow, ice and grass to beat them to the bottom. Maximum vertical descent today from summit to carpark of 760m over 3km.
It was reasonable weather today but was warm and wet in the afternoon meaning the lower run to the carpark was thawing very rapidly.

UPDATE: Alex says he did enjoy the unpisted run to the carpark.

Meall an t-Suidhe

Me being "confidence roped" by Jake

Jake in a Bucket Seat

Abseiling from a Snow Bollard

 Carn Dearg from Coire Dubh

Today, continuing the theme of short rehab days on the hill, Jake and I headed upto Meall an t-Suidhe 711m a little used peak on the way up Ben Nevis just above the halfway lochan. As Jake is going for his Winter Mountain Leader Assessment soon he wanted to look at snow belays and rope work. As soon as we hit some snow Jake "confidence roped" me whilst I deliberately slipped over a few times to make him work hard keeping me on my feet. Higher up the hill we found a good patch of snow to look at Snow Bollards, Buried Axe, Buried Rucksack and Bucket Seats as well as a bit of personal abseiling. A quick walk over to the summitt cairn and a bimble down the main Ben Nevis tourist track saw us back at the car in good time. The weather was nice today with plenty of sunshie, however there were a few powerful gusts of wind to keep us on our toes.

The rehab continues


Jake in some old avalanche debris

Today Jake and I headed up the path to Stob Corie nan Lochain in Glencoe to see if we could do a route called Eastern Slant on Far Eastern Buttress. We choose this route as it has a short (but steep) walk in, however as we were walking up it became obvious that the route was not in proper winter condition. There were a number of teams heading up into SCNL including an MIC Assessment from Plas Y Brenin and a team from Jagged Globe.

"Sink-chronised" Rehab

 Looking across at Nevis Range and Ben Nevis


The Hungy Caterpillar


Jake and I have both suffered over the last few weeks, me with injury and Jake with illness but today was forecast to be great weather and we decided to go for a rehab walk. Not exactly the biggest hill at 445m and 9km round trip but enough to get us back on the hill. As we were happily walking along we both in perfect synchronisation disappeared up to our knees in an unseen bog so spent the rest of the walk with one very wet foot each. The weather today was amazing and exceptionally warm.

Still confined to the sofa

Looking upto Stob Corie nan Lochain, Glencoe

Pap of Glencoe

 Ben Nevis North Face
I am still off the hill through injury and have been for week now. There has been alot of snowfall over the last few days and inbetween physio sessions I have managed to have a drive round and take a few pictures. All three were taken this morning.

Winter returns to the Highlands

Although I have been off the hill for the last two days, a small amount of snow fell on the tops yesterday but today it has been snowing (though not really settling) at sea level. With the temperatures dropping and more snow due over the next few days I am hoping for good conditions for my final 2 weeks up in the Highlands. Back in the South West of England, friends of mine are reporting they are out rock climbing in the sun just in T-Shirts and although I am not quite ready to hang up the axes yet, that does sound appealing.

Rock Climbing in Glen Nevis

Jonny on Tyke's Climb VD

Looking for gear on Three Pines S

Repton Right Wall VD

Chris approaching the top of Right Wall

Today as Jonny and Chris decided against a long walk up into the snow and ice, they opted for some Rock Climbing in Glen Nevis instead. As Jonny is working towards his SPA he led Tykes Climb VD, Three Pines S and Right Wall VD on Repton Buttress at the Polldubh Crags. They climbed well as a pair with only a small amount of input from me. I dangled around on ropes and abseiled down looking at gear at various points of the morning. I then soloed Right Wall alongside Jonny and found it to be a very enjoyable route at the grade.

Forgotten Twin, Aonach Mor (again)

Jonny and Chris approaching the top



A patchy descent down the ski runs

Today I took Jonny and Chris up on the gondola and chair lift for an easy access route. After I lowered them down easy gully and abseiled down to join them we wandered round to find something to climb. There was a team just starting Tunnel Vision (which I was hoping to do) so we continued round to The Twins area and as there was a team starting up Left Twin and some guys heading for Right Twin we took the middle line of Forgotten Twin which although I did it last week was enjoyable enough. We climbed it in 3 pitches and had a cramped stance at the peg belay at the end of the second pitch.
Visibility wasn't great today and the camera only came out to capture the top out. It was definately colder than the last few days have been so maybe winter is still hanging on up high.

Ledge Route, Ben Nevis

Starting up Number 5 Gully

Enjoying the sun

Approaching the top

Chris at the summit

Today we headed up to Ben Nevis as the weather forecast was for a fantastic day. Unfortunately Jonny didn't feel like joining us today so it was Chris and I with Jake tagging along. We headed for Ledge Route II and got up it in under an hour and a half as Chris was moving well. It was very sunny and hot at times and I was doen to a micro fleece. Ledge Route was in winter condition today but had a few holes in the snow cover. It was possible to keep to snow with the odd rock step. Hopefully next week's snow will fill in the gaps. Once at the top I handed over to Jake who lead us to the summit and then back down Number 4 Gully.
There is currently a lot of helicopter activity up on Ben Nevis and I have received information of a climber being rescued from Point Five Gully. I hope they are OK!

Aonach Mor Snow Skills

Jake on Aonach Nid

Jonny and Chris

A Ptarmigan

No snow on the lower ski runs

 Today I took Jonny and Chris up to Aonach Mor to "Winterise" their summer skills in preperation for some mountaineering over the next few days. We looked at foot work with and without crampons, axe skills and limited visibility navigation out to the summit at 1221m. We were joined today by Jake who is preparing for his Winter Mountain Leader Assessment in a few weeks.
We saw a couple of Ptarmigan who didn't seem at all bothered by our prescence and the weather today was kind to us with low winds but the low cloud limited our views. The ski hill is looking barer day by day but there is still good skiing on the summit rund and the upper goose.

Run away from Aonach Mor

Views of Ben Nevis

Descending Easy Gully

 Buttresses thawing and going black


Today Geoff and I took the gondola up to Aonach Mor to get a route or two in. On the way up it seemed ok but once we abseiled into Easy Gully it suddenly got very warm and the temperature shot upwards. As we were gearing up at the bottom of White Shark IV the cornice above Aqua Fresh next to us started to collapse and throw snow down at us. I decided we would be very quick but by the time I was about 6m up the route the cornice above us started collapsing and after being hit by some blocks of snow I down climbed and we ran away. Within minutes of leaving the bottom of the route I looked back to see considerable cornice debris falling down where we had been. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour we headed for the climbers col to get away. At least 2 other teams (one of whom had been knocked out of Tunnel Vision by falling snow and slid a full rope length) were running away with us. There was some cornice collapse in Right Twin but Kenny got up Left Twin with his two clients safely and a team were climbing on Morwind though it was with bare hands not axes as it was not exactly in condition.
Once back on top, Geoff and I strolled out to the summit of Aonach Mor at 1221m before heading back down. The ski hill has been stripped quite badly and there is no cover on the lower slopes.