Emergency Rope Work
Summer mountain leaders don't plan on using a rope but in the event of an emergency they need to know how to secure members of their group on steep broken ground. This was today's subject on our training course and we went to Glen Nevis to do it. Persistent rain and strong winds were forecast for the afternoon so we stayed low down, going up and down Scimitar Ridge near Poldubh.
We selected and graded lots of anchors of different types, used them to secure the leader to belay the group members down the steep ground and then used the rope to safeguard the leader as well. We got lots of practice on the many short steps of the ridge in descent - it's hard to think of an emergency in which you'd need to go up some steep ground so we did all the practice in descent. It did turn into a wet and wild afternoon and it looks set to continue through tomorrow in the same way. The weekend looks a bit more settled though.
Leadership in the Mountains
Day two of the Summer Mountain Leader Training Course was all about leadership. We went to Glencoe and went up into the Lost Valley before climbing Gearr Aonach and dropping back down into the back of the Lost Valley. This is a route with all sorts of hazards including drops off the side of the path into the gorge, steep ground and scree as well as strong winds, rain, separation of the group, getting lost and hypothermia. We discussed and practised a wide range of leadership styles and techniques to manage all of these hazards while keeping the flow of the day.
We have some very autumnal weather at the moment! Low pressure systems are battering the west coast bringing rain and strong winds with them. The colours are changing too with reds and browns coming out more and more every day. It's a wonderful thing to see the seasons change in the mountains and it means it's time to get excited about the coming winter. Have you got your winter plans sorted out yet!
We started our Summer Mountain Leader Training Course today on behalf of Mountain Training for six people local to Fort William. We are based at Three Wise Monkeys Climbing but quickly went out to the orienteering site at Torlundy to go through a wide range of navigation training. We started out running around cones to demonstrate a few key ideas before going to find all sorts of points with a variety of tactics. Sunny weather and no rain mad a nice change to the torrential rain of the weekend. The rivers re full and the lochs are high after a wet weekend and there is more mixed weather to come this week.
The Path to Nirvana
The path to Nirvana is steep and rocky. It's hard work and seems to go on forever but it comes good in the end. This particular Nirvana lies way up the path to Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe and we're very grateful to National Trust for Scotland for maintaining the path so well. Far Eastern Buttress was the destination for Mike and me today and Nirvana Wall was certainly worth the hard work to get there.
The first pitch is bold and slabby mostly, the second steeper and with better holds but the third pitch is the real winner. The crack continues straight up the blank wall on the highest part of the crag and heads for the overhangs at the top. The moves are really nice and the position is fantastic. The climb has a big feel to it and requires a positive approach. Nirvana Wall is well worth seeking out. Well done Mike, another great day on Aonach Dubh.
Nevis Hill Walking Club has a very active programme of walks for members of the club right across the Lochaber area and beyond. Like minded people get together to share the experience of the walks as peers and there is a good culture of self reliance. So they all understand the need to be able to navigate and today we went for some navigation training for some of the members. This was great timing for me since I was at a workshop for teachers of navigation on Monday with Nigel Williams of Glenmore Lodge and I was very keen to try out some of the ideas.
We went to the north side of Loch Leven and walked from Callert to the col at .446 and Tom Meadhoin. We spent some time doing exercises around cones up on the hillside before putting it all together in 3D navigation ... Direction, Distance and Description. The new methods of teaching I learned went down really well and seemed to simplify the process greatly. Who knew you could follow a bearing without needing to use a number or even turn the dial on the compass? We successfully found our way round some contour features before heading home with amazing views of Glen Coe. It was a lovely day which was good news for us as well as for the Skyline Scotland Ring of Steall Race and No Fuss Events Braveheart Triathlon. It was a busy day in the mountains of the Outdoor Capital of the UK!
Ben Nevis by the Pony Track
Every Wednesday and Saturday in the summer months we run guided group walks up Ben Nevis by the regular trail from Achintee. Today I had the pleasure of the company of Vera, Jim, Helen, Lynford, Mike, Sandra and Jean. I really enjoy these walks because I get the chance to tell visitors to the area all about Ben Nevis, the geology and botany, about the summit observatory, driving the Model T Ford up to the top, Dun Deardail vitrified fort, the hopeful community purchase of the Rio Tinto land and many other things. There were lots of other people on the trail today, especially in the first half as we weaved a way through the broken steps below windy corner. Nevis Landscape Partnership will manage the rebuilding of this section of path very soon and it will be much more pleasant to walk on.
The team did fantastically well and we were rewarded with fine views and cool clouds for most of the climb. Unfortunately the summit just got shrouded in mist as we got there and we did not see a golden eagle. Despite these things we had a lovely time but we all agreed that coming down is just as hard work as going up and possibly more sore on the legs as well. Climbing Ben Nevis is a great undertaking and whether your challenge is a classic ice climb in the winter or to walk up in summer we're delighted to help anyone.
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.