Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Nevis range, Aonach Mor

We climbed Tunnel Vision today, a three star grade 3. The Scottish Avalanche Information Service {SAIS Lochaber} had forecasted "a considerable" for that aspect and their forecast was bang on target. One may well ask,what was a guide doing guiding an ice climb on such an aspect with such a forecast? On reading the forecast carefully it did mention isolated pockets of unstable wind slab, and there was not as much new precipitation overnight as forecast. Occasionally there was a small 4 centimeter crown wall along the scarp slope, but early this morning the debris were all along the bottom of the climbs so with all this obvious information on the ground it was safe enough to select the climb.. local knowledge helps and as long as one read the terrain, avoided rather obvious pillows, belayed in safe places and moved efficiently it was reasonable enough. In Bruce Trempers book, "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" which is a pretty good, interesting read and someone I hold lots of respect for, he emphasises the importance of good route choice, path finding and reading the terrain. One chapter of the book starts with a quote from C. Stethem, " Don't trivialise the importance or subtlety of terrain. It take a a life time to get a handle on reading terrain - maybe two lifetimes." Man, this annoys me a bit as I have friends who like me are guides and we carry out that skill every day! So, while I may be rather aged, as far as I know I have not been around for two life times yet and most of my pals guiding here in Scotland, or in the Alps and ski guiding in Canada are also far from ancient. I am certainly no expert but I do wonder why folks throw out such comments. I certain that my time for another life cycle will happen at some point.... or are all the instances of Deja Vous telling me something I am too dumb to understand yet? Ha ha, no, you do not really need to comment really, but I am interested to know what folks think of the two lifetimes thing....

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