Sunday, 28 February 2010

Fiacaill Rodge, Cairngorms

A wonderful day today with lots of fresh snow and a high avalanche risk. It took a while for Cairngorm Mountain to open the road but you can hardy be surprised as there is really just an amazing amount of new snow and the storng winds have filled in every nook and cranny! They are really working hard up there and while its frustrating waiting for the gate to open, as one drives up the road a bit you soon realise how much snow they have to move to to clear it!
Walking wise, it's really hard going underfoot and trail breaking requires a huge team effort. Eventually we got in to Coire an -t- Snechda today and the crag aprons were very unstable on all aspects. We manged to move from island of safety to island of safety as there is also cross loading, but got onto the Fiacaill and climbed that. Conditions are good, but the climbs are really plastered. There has been huge avalnches on both sides of the Mess of Pottage and round towards Aladdin's Couloir- The SAIS report says it all!!
On the plateau visibility was poor and it's great for navigation training, Cornises are huge ofcourse. By 4.00 pm it had cleared up a lot and we broke trail to the summit of Cairngorm and enjoyed great views all the way back to the top car park, the skiers appeared to be having an outstanding day!

Friday, 26 February 2010

An Irata day

It took me 6 hours to drive to Talon NDT, Bridge of Don, in Aberdeen last night to carry out an IRATA assessment today, but today the snow plough drivers, snow blowers and gritters were out doing an outstanding job, so the return journey was much better.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Land of contrasts

It really was not so grand ski-touring in our local Cairngorms today compared to previous days. However it gave good navigation practise and the good news is that there is a lot more snow on its way. The avalanche risk is high and of course there is also cross-loading in the swirling winds. Mountaineering, here in Scotland is probably the best training area in the world! Ski and climb here, and you are ready for anything! Also the Squirrel Cafe at Glenmore and Cairngorm Mountain do provide ace hot chocolate when you feel you need a reward!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Amazing Cairngorm

Back on to the plateau at Coire Raibert

Above: Great descents!
Below: sking along Loch Avon.
The ski touring is really great right now, perfect weather with interesting snow!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Perfect Day again in the Cairngorms!

Met Alex and Michelle at the top of one climb!

Red Gully
A variation finish near Hidden Chimney

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Amazing Cairngorm

Amazing ski and climbing conditions here today!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Another day in Paradise

Stellar Day, James free hell skiing between Glas Maol and Cairn of Claise.

and this is simply good fun!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Snow instabilty test...

Alan and I did a glide test today at 1000 meters on an easterly aspect today. Localised instabilities are clearly seen in this Rutschblock (Glide Test).

Outstanding ski-touring conditions

Surface hoar crystals.

Great ski-mounatineering conditions around Glenshee.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Cairngorm winter climbing

Rebecca climbing in Spiral Gully
Father and daughter!

Nearing the top!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Winter climbing

Rebbecca and Bruce
Nice day today with some snow showers . We climbed a nice line on the buttress between Central Gully and The Runnel in Coirie An-T- Snechda, Northern Corries, Cairngorms!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Rope Access- the new Petzl Rig

Candidates undergoing an Irata assessment's today at Talon, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen

Is this at last an effective replacement for the STOP? ( above image: the Stop is Blue, the new "Rig" is black)
In industrial rope access we have been using the Stop for over twenty years and it's been a very reliable piece of equipment. However we have been looking for a replacement and I think this is it. Like the Stop it is also designed by Petzl, the" Rig" is a self braking descender ( Certified to EN 12841: 2006: Type C and also NFPA 1983 (2006 ED) and is a type C rope adjuster used to descend the work rope. The "Rig" is a braking device for on the rope and allows the user to manually control the speed of descent and to stop anywhere along the rope by releasing the handle.
It's a great user friendly device and exactly what we now require in Industrial Rope Access.. remember, you read about it here first!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Interesting crystals!

Poor visibility on the summits today, the sun almost came out for a while but it closed in again. So, no good views, never the less, what lies beneath the skis is rather interesting... "yes my precious, lovely crystals!"

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Wonderful ski days

Ski mountaineers heading for Glas Maol.

Off and on-piste the skiing is wonderful at Glenshee!

Route choice is always important, especially on steeper convex slopes!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Glide-test or Rutschblock .

Information gathering with the ski patrol.

Field testing:
The Rutschblock (or glide-block) test is a slope test developed in Switzerland in the 1960s.

The Rutschblock is a good slope test but it is not a one step stability evaluation. The test does not eliminate the need for snow profiles or careful field observations nor does it, in general, replace other tests.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Fluted Buttress Direct

Sorry , you have to turn your note book on its side to view the vid.... my excuse, I am a mounatin guide not a camera man, but I learn fast, so next time it will be the correct way up!!! This is Dot climbing Fluted Buttress Direct. It's a 135 metre IV,5 in Corrie An T- Snechda which was first climbed in winter by A. Fyffe and S. Crymble in 1978

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Introductory winter climbing course

Chris lead the way as he navigates us back over the Cairngorm plateau after a days climbing.
Left to Right. Guy, Chris and Chris B. at a belay stance.

Guy and Chris climbing up the first pitch of Red Gully.

We climbed the Aladdin's Mirror and then Red Gully today. Conditions for climbing remain good but visibility was very poor.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Glas Maol

With some of the rescue team on the summit, what a contrast to yesterday. Never the less, later in the day blue skies appeared and the ski-touring is outstanding!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Glas Maol- Ski touring

The ski- patrol opening up the upper runs on Glas Maol.

A windless day on Glas Maol summit (1068m)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Mountain Gurus

Bill Smith and Alan Dennis on Glas Maol ( 1068 m)

Today I was working in Glenshee with Alan Dennis of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (Sais) On our way back to the office after digging our snow profile and while continuing doing our observations we met the ski patrol who were busy with the piste machine drivers preparing to open the higher ski runs on Glas Maol. Ski patrollers are members of the British Association of Ski Patrollers (BASP) which was formed in 1987 to standardise training and grading of ski patrollers. They are also un-sung hero's of all the Scottish ski areas, starting work early in the morning and finishing once we all go home after a safe days skiing. Many of the ski patrollers are excellent first aid trainers and you can find out more about their excellent courses on
OH, by the way: The off-piste skiing ( and on-piste too) is really great!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Hidden Chimney, Northern Cairngorms

Dot on Belay
It is better to wear your goggles rather than carry them in your backpack!

She cannot see but she can breath!