Wednesday, 27 February 2013

guest blogger

I have been in the flat white polar wastes for 4 months and have just got back. I had the choice the other day of driving to the M6 and either turning right - which would take me to the Alps - or left - to 'Di's Bootcamp' up in Northshire. I turned left. Result!!!

Day two of blue skies, no wind, and great skiing. Yesterday was a perfect introduction with a bit of uplift and LOADS of fact so much cake, at one point I felt sick....Today was always going to be a bit of a shocker....the photo below shows my desperate attempt to get team turbo to shorten the route and find some mechanical no avail....

Today involved Munro' legs are now hurting after the most ascent I have done since October...and to add insult to injury, while I was sucking wind and incapable of making conversation due to being hypoxic through trying to make upward progress, Di and Heather were way ahead, mincing along and chatting like they were out for a walk in the park...the injustice of it all.

A most excellent day out with great company - muchos gracias to team turbo of Di, Heather, Derek and Kathy. Aint Scotland brilliant :-)

NB - It was a low cake-intake day today, but the Haribo's got hammered! 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

the touring continues - but do you blame me?

I have a few memories as a kid but still hold onto some of my early skiing days.

We are talking nearly 33 years ago, but I remember leather boots; funny wire bindings; the tow rope that the tractor used to run in the field at the bottom of the lecht road when we couldn't get the cars up the road and the brutal jerk that the eagle button would give as it propelled me up hill.

I also remember the people that used to help my mum make my childhood as fun as possible.

One of those people is/was Jim Duncan.

Jim was a skier but for some reason abandoned the skies for the board.  

Jim has been responsible for the timings with Skimo Scotland so it wasn't that hard to persuade him to come out onto the hill with ski mountaineering equipment.

A fantastic tour bagging Cairngorm, skirting the edge of the northern corries before heading down Lurchers Gully.

I think Jim might be blowing the cobwebs off the skis.

Oh, the other chummer is Cats who having been in the deep south for the last few months has bailed north to boot camp with Gilbert :)

Monday, 25 February 2013

A weekend of skimo racing

The west coast without doubt delivered everything this weekend.

On Saturday, we headed to Glencoe Mountain Resort for what was later described as a "brutal" course - without doubt our biggest and most challenging race to date.

A 6km course with 780m of ascent and descent, 5 transitions and our first boot pack.  

Paul Cornforth covered the course in a very impressive time of 50:23.

Unfortunately the conditions prevented us coming down the Fly Paper, so instead racers descended the Spring Run.

On Sunday, we headed around to Nevis Range for the first Vertical race of the series.

This was a 1.85km couse with a 545m ascent.  Once again Paul proved to be the man to beat (27:58) but just 30 seconds faster than Anthony Roberts (28:25).

For those that haven't made the connection yet, Di Gilbert Mountaineering is also rather integral in Skimo Scotland :)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Bynack More via The Saddle

When I travel in the mountains, the 3 most important things in my rucksack are:

1. a shelter of some kind
2. a down or synthetic jacket
3. a mobile phone.

However, with yesterdays knowledge of conditions, the 3 most important things in my rucksack today were:

1. pair of ski crampons - I would be very impressed if anyone managed to get up the Fiacaill a'Choire Chais with just a set of skins on.
2. a pair of trainers for the 6 km walk out - if anybody has tried walking any distance in a pair of touring boots, you will know that it is an excellent way to spoil a very good day.
3. lots of liquid - it was going to be another sweaty one.

With another stellar forecast, we thought that we would go and bag Bynack More.

The same start to the journey as yesterday but instead of heading west along Loch Avon, we headed East, before heading up to the Saddle, onto the demoted Munro A'Choinneach before reaching the summit of Bynack More.

Our descent line followed the Allt a'Choire Dhuibh right down to Strath Nethy before admitting defeat and replacing touring boots with trainers.

For the record: I still carried my normal 3 important items - it is Scotland after all :)

Monday, 18 February 2013

4 star touring - beinn mheadhoin

In the SMC book Ski Mountaineering in Scotland, this tour is given 4/5 stars, and today it was worth every one of them.

Our adventure today took us up to 1141m at the top of Fiacaill a'Choire Chais before the fantastic descent down Coire Raibeirt.

 Perfect spring snow, a (very nearly) complete gully - just one hole to avoid - and amazing views.

Neither of us felt brave enough to ski across Loch Avon, so a quick skate around the side of the loch brought us around to the start of the skin up to Beinn Mheadhoin.

From the summit, we headed into the Creag Dhubh and being very careful not to catch an edge, enjoyed the ever steepening slope back down to Loch Avon - definitely not spring snow on this north slope.

Thinking light thoughts, we were brave enough to ski across the loch this time and headed back up to the saddle, onto the plateau, where we joined the masses for the final (and without doubt) the worse descent of the day - the piste.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

getting away from it all

I have a friend called Heather - somebody that I regard in high esteem when it comes to the mountains. To me, Heather is a friend, a fellow adventurer and bloody good company on the hill.

This past week Heather once again has unquestionably given up her experience, her time and her knowledge for others who share the same passion for the mountains that she does.

However, this weekend Di & Chris took Heather to the hills for another of those completely unforgettable weekends and for some well earned rest - it's all relatively you know.

From the end of the Callater Burn, the objective was Creag nan Gabhar, before an unexpectedly pleasant descent down to the Callater Stable and the amazing hospitality of Bill, Janette, Ian and Craig at Lochcallater Lodge.  It's not often that I wake up from a bothy with a slightly fat head, but I did this morning.

Chris had insider information about an aircraft wreck just off the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and if it wasn't for the girls 'politely' complaining (otherwise known as just skiing off), he would probably still be there sniffing out more wreckage.

The clouds cleared in perfect time allowing us a sweet descent down the north flank before traversing around to Loch Phadruig and by following the burn line, we managed to keep our skis on until hitting the land rover track just a couple of km's from the car.

Spring snow is here ...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

the monadh liath mountains

A few years ago I had tried to ski the Monadh Liath circuit but got the snow level all wrong and probably ended up driving back home with my tail between my legs.

Being inspired by Team GB in the ISMF World Championship's this week, and having no-one to climb with a few days ago, I made attempt number 2.

I am a complete convert to light weight equipment, especially when it comes to skiing and you don't have to be racing to see the benefits of a light weight set up.

It was bitterly cold  (3 layers, a buff and goggles all day) and grateful to have the reserve not to have to stop - it wasn't a "dwaddling day".

5 hours later and 2 hot spots, the lack of training over the past 5 weeks showed.

Monday, 11 February 2013

lunch time

Unless I am off the hill, lunch never happens when it should.

At least I am consistent - doesn't make any difference what-so-ever if I am working or playing.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Ledge Route

Big smiles from Gordon today as he climbed Ledge Route on the Ben.

Big smiles from everybody else on the route who took full advantage of the girl putting the track in - and who wouldn't do exactly the same?

Obviously the camera wasn't impressed by the views from the summit today ...

Sunday, 3 February 2013

a lesson in suffering

There was absolutely no way the camera was coming out on todays climb - would have ended up in Braemar.

Literally got blown up the route and blown off the mountain.

Good old Scottish winter.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

3 things

There were 3 things on my mind today:

No 1: John needed mileage.

No 2: To avoid the crowds.

No 3: The correct route choice.

I think we succeeded on all 3 counts today.

Friday, 1 February 2013

meggie 1 climbers 0

Too much snow for us today :(