Monday, 16 February 2015

Back up North again...

No sooner had I got home from Ullapool last week, but it seemed I was out the door and heading back up the road to the Far Northwest. This time I was heading up to Torridon to meet up with Jim Sutherland from Nineonesix Guiding, for a spot of shadowing in the winter hills. Spending time with other outdoor professionals is a great way to keep skills current and to learn new ones, especially when they have the wealth of experience and superb mountain venues that Jim and his company have to hand.

Enjoying the view from Beinn Eighe
And so it was that I found myself heading up on to Beinn Eighe on Thursday morning, with Jim and his two lovely clients Gavin and David.  It was pretty clagged in, and mild, but high up in Coire An Laoigh we found enough snow to look at the basics of self belay, arrest and safe movement before heading up on the the ridge for the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach. On the way down, the mists parted, and we were treated to fabulous views of the Torridon peaks and a golden eagle flypast. We stomped back in to the coire, taking a bit of time to look at bucket seats and some basic ropework on the way. This was a fun day for all and Gavin and David were quick learners, hopefully this is the start of many more winter days in the hill for them.  There is a bit more about this day up on the Nineonesix Blog too.

Gavin and Dave looking comfy

Friday was a rest day for me and my pal Reuben came down that afternoon for a spot of bouldering.  I'm not much of a boulderer, but even I was well impressed by the quality of the rock around Torridon- dry, clean, and solid, with grades of problem to suit everyone.  We went to the Celtic Jumble and enjoyed a few hours clambering about in the cool winter sunlight.

Bouldering at the Celtic Jumble
That evening I headed east, to be in place for some more shadowing with Nineonesix- this time on a winter skills course for the SYHA in the Cairngorms. Directed by Dunc Maclennan, this was a two day intro to the basics of winter walking for a team of five clients.

The great white room on the Cairngorm Plateau
They were keen to do plenty of navigation, so we spent a day working our way up on to the plateau from Coire na Ciste, experiencing the full drama of a Cairngorm whiteout. On the second day, strong winds kept us low down on the mountain, providing us with a great opportunity for some practical skills work in a sheltered gully system in Glen Feshie.

Dunc proves that navigation is fun.

Ice axe braking and sliding practice.
Big thanks to Jim and Dunc from Nineonesix for sharing their skills and time with me as well as letting me loose on their clients.  It was superb experience and great fun. They are based in a fantastic part of the world, and have an encyclopedic knowledge of some of the finest mountains and mountaineering that Scotland has to offer.

No comments: