Sunday, 31 January 2010

Northern Corries - The Cairngorms

Climbed in Coire An t Sneachda today, amazingly good conditions with good neve although it was cold with the winds. It was not so very busy and climbing teams soon disappeared up their various climbs as it was not a day for prevaricating!
Above is Sandy R. on Spiral Gully a two star grade II . It was first climbed in winter by Tom Patey in February 1959

Saturday, 30 January 2010

IRATA assesments

A friend sent me this photo of the Northern Corries of Cairngorm which was taken around lunch time today.The day was better than expected as it seemed a wild weather forecast this morning on TV. Today, Neil and Martin were instructing in my absence as I was at HRAI Group's rope access training centre, with four trainee rope access technicians... it was an OK day, but there was one chap who had worked really hard but was still not up to his IRATA level 11 standard, so it makes life tough for him and the assessor when I had to tell him the bad news... but oh, standards are set and made to be maintained for very good reasons.. so sometimes it's not such a nice job, but someone has to do it. IRATA have a number of highly experienced rope access assessors and we have to be independent of the training companies and technicians we assess. A list of assessors and other interesting tit bits can be found on
No worries though, the chap new his own weaknesses, so, he just has to do a few more days training and he will sail through his next assessment.
Me, I will be glad of a days climbing outdoors tomorrow!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Rope Access

Assessing rope access technician at Talon in Aberdeen. Standards were high and everyone passed!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Braemar ski touring

Jamie nearing the top of Fortunes Gully, Coire Loch Kander.

Members of BMRT walking on water!!!: Loch Callater is quite well frozen, ( But do take care and check, check and check again before you venture out on it, and only with skis!)

Yesterday we had great ski-touring on Carn Chrioaidh which is North of Carn Aosda.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Cairngorm Mountain ski day

Together with Hannah we've had an outstanding ski day on Cairngorm Mountain, the link road is still closed but access and skiing is really good.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Winter climbing - Cairngorm National Park

Ewen on Fingers Rodge, all photos by Alan!

A wintry experience climbing in the Cairngorms today, great fun with ace companions!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Indoor ice only!

Cyril on one of the climbs at the Ice factor: Check it out n

Well we tried to get up Cairngorm mountain today, but higher up the winds were wild and yoi can see a good photo on the SAIS blog which says it all. We went to The Ice Factor instead, arm pumping good!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Technical day - Cairngorms National Park

Over the past two days we have had really strong winds with lots of spindrift which has made the climbing pretty unpleasant. (Conditions are amazingly good though!) Also today regardless of all their hard work the Cairngorm road was blown in again and later this afternoon there was at least two feet of snow laying on the road, it's doubtful if it will be open tomorrow! Today we settled for a technical day, covering subjects such as belay skills, abseiling from ice and snow bollards, roping up and taking coils, crevasse rescue and ascending ropes! Later in the afternoon we retreated to Inverness climbing wall. The route setters has been doing some good work there and there are some interesting new problems to destroy ones ego on! The trick is to stay positive, maintain an internal smile and climb on!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Cairngorm winter climbing

Above: View from the plateau over towards Glenshee, on the right you can see Carn Etchican and Shelter Stone crags, on the left is Stacan Dubha.
Central Gully

In Aladdin's Couloir.
The team working at Cairngorm Mountain has the main road clear and by the close of business tonight it seemed that they had at long last managed to dig out ( yet again) the link road. The climbing conditions are pretty amazing, the avalanche risk remains in some areas and you really should consult the SAIS web site.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Introductory winter week

All the ice has fallen down but it's a great place to practice some abseiling skills!

The pass of Drumochter, the highest point on the British Rail network.

A nice little summit!
Cyril B ( above) is a French journalist and lives between London and Paris and while I know it's hard to understand, he has never been to wonderful Newtonmore, oh la la!!!
We could not get up to Cairngorm today at a reasonable time as the road was still blocked , but we had a great day on An Torc otherwise known as the Boar of Badenoch. We did some winter skills such as walking and self arrest with ice axes, avalanche awareness , belaying and anchoring on snow and so on. The A9 was closed for a while last week as an avalanche from Creag nan Ubhal blocked the South bound dual carriage way for a while. The debris are still there to see! We then visited a local crag in the hope of finding a remaining ice smear to climb on, but at road side altitudes any icicles that are left are thawing and crashing to the ground! We did some rope skills and Cyril is ready for his first winter climb tomorrow! Lets hope the staff at Cairngorm Mountain have dug out the road and are serving their outstanding hot chocolate drinks from their T bar Cafe! The SAIS N. Cairngorm blog indicates that there are positive things happening up there.

Friday, 15 January 2010

HRAI rope access

Another IRATA assessment day today, this time in Alness at HRAI's training centre.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Morrone on skis.

This is a nice ski tour out the back (South West) of Braemar. Not much to see higher up the mountain though, but gave some interesting navigation practice to locate the Mast today!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


It was a pretty horrible overcast day today, strong winds with a combination of sleet and snow. A slight warming has settled the snow a bit but more snow and colder temperatures are returning tonight so its going to be ideal for snow sports, avalanches activity may well increase though, so take care and check out Sport Scotland's , Avalanche Information Services web site-(SAIS).

Sunday, 10 January 2010

IRATA Rope Assess in Baku, Azerbaijan.

A busy weekend for me but even busier for those photographed below as they were all being assessed for their IRATA rope access qualifications to work offshore in the Caspian Sea and beyond! Pictured below is the RBG Limited Rope Access manager for Baku, Steve Black (white T shirt) with some of his team! It was a 100% pass rate on this occasion, well done guys, and best wishes and I hope you reach new heights!

RBG have an interesting new safety campaingn at the momment

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Carn a' Gheoidh, Glenshee

A nice snow ridge and corrie rim going towards Carn nan Sac (920m)
Good views down the Alt a choire Dhirich

A few stones still protruding above the snow, something to avoid catching your ski bases on! Never the less, what a wonderful summit and day out on the skis!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Road side views: Red Deer at Braemar

Lots of snow and low temperatures here which is bringing the animals down to the road side!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Glen Sheil & Kyle of Lochalsh

Glen Sheil offers amazing views, some outstanding climbs, and is far from the madding crowd. The climb photographed above is Silver Edge on the West Face of Druim Shionnach. It was First climbed by Andy and Gill Nisbet on the 24th December 1995. John and I got it wrong (or inadvertently added a variation!) at the top and took the line of a steeper but equally interesting chimney! It has been a windless day with continued low temperatures, the climbing conditions are good, lots of wind slab and several weak layers in the snow pack, so care required in getting to the base of the climbs. As you can see the views are wonderful. Just another day in Scotland.