Mountain leader training.
This week Sally and I are training a new bunch of mountain leaders. This is the Mountain Training scheme of Summer Mountain Leader Award and it is a six day training course. Yesterday we started by chatting through the scope of the award, equipment to carry and started the navigation training. We also did a session on the weather and reading synoptic charts and discussed a couple of group leadership models. The days are long, ten hours each day, to make sure we have enough time to get through all the content of the syllabus.
Today the focus was on leadership. Starting with preparing group members for the walk in advance, assessing them on the day, teaching core skills and leading them on all different types of terrain. We started up the Ben Nevis pony track from Achintee as far as the wooden bridge, then turned back on ourselves up open grass and steep broken, rocky ground on the SW Rib to go up Meall an t'Suidhe. On this steep terrain the leader needs to manage the group very closely and carefully, choosing the best route, safeguarding each group member and keeping them all secure.
The summit of Meall an t'Suidhe gives a great view of the pony track and a good oportunity to talk over how we can minimise our impact on the mountain, or in fact make a positive impact by clearing litter, unblocking cross drains in the path and educating our groups to do the same. These are the kinds of things that Nevis Landscape Partnership can help with as well on their workshops. Have a look here at what is on offer.
Cuillin munro bagging.
Life on Skye this week was pretty good. The rock was dry, the views immense and the company was excellent. We reached all eleven Cuillin munros in four days and threw in a few bonus extras as well!
You never know who you will end up with on a shared experience such as our Cuillin Munro Bagging trip. It normally works out pretty well, but this time it worked out very well indeed. James, Kev and Jimmy are from different parts of the country and different backgrounds, and they also have different experience of walking and scrambling in our mountains. Despite this, we all got on very well and were matched very evenly with pace and technical ability.
Our first day was in the southern end of the Cuillin. We walked up to Coire a'Grunda and gazed into the sparklingly clear water of the loch before walking up to the end munro, Sgurr nan Eag. Heading back north we went over Sgurr Dubh an da Bheinn to go out to Sgurr Dubh Mor. This has some nice scrambnling on excellent rock and gives a brilliant view of the whole ridge. We went back in and skirted the southern cliffs of Sgurr Alasdair to reach the gargoyles and climb Sgurr Alasdair via the Bad Step. It was a cold day in a strong breeze despite the sunshine and after we'd walked down the great stone chute and back to the campsite we all had a good mix of sunburn and windburn on our faces. At least the midges were blown away from the campsite.
On day two we went straight back up into Coire Laggan but this time we went up over the An Stac Screes. This got us onto the ridge and a lovely ridge scramble over to Sgurr MhicCoinich, a brilliant vantage point and a very airy summit. We went back and climbed straight up the front of An Stac to reach the Inaccessible Pinnacle. This we climbed by the east ridge and abseiled the west ridge. The most iconic munro did not disapoint and it was a great place to learn how to abseil for two of our guys! The walk up to Sgurr Banachdich was pretty chilled out as was the walk down to Glen Brittle afterwards.
We left Glen Brittle for the third day to reach the northern three munros. We started with the West Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean via the nicely exposed pinnacles and the superbly exposed gas vent breccia higher up. Heading back down we went over to Am Basteir and enjoyed the journey down to the nick next to the Basteir Tooth before going underground and abseiling out of Kings Cave Chimney. This involves two abseils, the second of which is really cool! A short walk got us to Bruach na Frithe before a long walk out to the pub and a welcome cold beer (or two).
The last day was our bad weather day. There was a little cloud and the chance of a shower in the evening. We took this in our stride though and did the shortest of the four days, up to Sgurr a'Greadaidh and Sgurr a'Mhadaidh. It turned out to be a popular choice so we didn't go straight up to An Dorus; instead we went over to the Thuilm Ridge of Sgurr a'Mhadaih and climbed this fantastic narrow crest to the summit. This is very worthwhile, a very impressive ridge in a stunning position that is actually quite simple scrambling. We went over to the last munro, Sgurr a Greadaidh, enjoying saying hello to the other teams but never getting in each other's way and soaked up the quiet peace on the summit for a while before heading back down to Glen Brittle.
When it's good, it's the best place to be in the world! The Cuillin on Skye are quite unique and absolutely wonderful. I'm so glad we had such a good week to enjoy the place and delighted that we had such a good group to spend the time with. James, Kev and Jimmy all did so well on the routes and the company was excellent. Let's hope for more of the same on our next Cuillin Munro Bagging trip on 24th to 27th September 2019.
Sunny Ben Nevis days
Scotland has been putting on quite a show lately with plenty of sunshine, and it looks like it is set to continue until the end of the week at least. We have been making the most of the weather with two beautiful days on Ben Nevis. There are still a few patches of snow on the summit plateau but they have softened up nicely in the sun and make for a good bum slide on the way down!
The tops of Tower Gully and Gardyloo Gully are still corniced so make sure you stay well back from the edges if you are planning on heading up Ben Nevis. We will be up there again with our Ben Nevis Group Walks on Wednesday and Sunday this week, as well as making the most of the dry rock for the rest of the week. Hopefully you have some fun mountain adventures planned for the week ahead too!
Mike and I have climbed most of the classic V.Diff and Severe rock climbs at Poldubh over the years, so today we went to find some of the less well known and less well traveled climbs. We started with a classic though, Cross 3 at Hangover Buttress. This is a Difficult climb going between huge overhangs, a very impressive place but surprisingly simple climbing. The bracken has not come up yet so it is a good time to be at Poldubh. Walking to the buttresses is easy enough and you can see the rocks. The trees are in leaf now but with so many of the crags clear of trees at their bases now, the rock is cleaner, drier and will be less midgy once the little biters are out.
Across on Tricouni Buttress we climbed Black Slab and Dolly's Delight. Both of these have some very nice climbing, underneath the heather and moss somewhere deeply hidden. I did my best to weed the routes as I led up them, and even this small effort gave us some excellent holds and protection. With a bit more concerted effort these climbs could be cleaned up completely and made into very nice climbs, worthy of stars. The ground is very dry and the heather has not started growing much yet so it is a good time to clean crags. Remember, we have the blessing of Nevis Landscape Partnership for this kind of work. Take a look at the film below.
After Tricouni Buttress we went across to Repton Buttress where we climbed Tyke's Climb and Repton Ridge. This V./Diff / Diff combination is very good with two nice pitches. I've not climbed Repton Ridge before but I will be back, it's a nice route with some fun moves. The rain started to come in once we finished this climb so we left it at that for today. We have a few more cold showery days to come then high pressure looks like it will settle on the UK giving sunny and progressively warmer days next week. Go on up Glen Nevis, admire the excellent work of Nevis Landscape Partnership, and enjoy the excellent rock climbing.
Nevis Landscape Partnership is an innovative collective of environmental organisations, local and national, working together to protect and enhance the land. Our team is taking a hands-on approach to deliver fun and engaging projects all over Glen Nevis and Ben Nevis. From path building to archaeology, botanical surveys to tree planting and community engagement to art in the landscape, we've delivered 19 projects over 5 years and we're keen to keep up the good work.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.