I drove West yesterday for my first winter work. Needless to say that as soon as I hit Spean Bridge, the window wipers were activated.
Despite the wind and the mizzle, I had such a cool day working with a group of trainee Ski Patrollers for BASP. To work with such a keen bunch of folk was an utter delight. I got so carried away I never took any photo's - most unusual.
I am still waiting to get my first route of the season done but since it's warm as a warm thing this morning, it won't be happening today :( Patience Di, patience ...
I honestly can't remember the last time I went on a proper ski holiday so it's a complete joy to be sitting in our little rabbit hutch apartment with extremely tired legs.
Last year was a bad ski season for me, having bust my (good) knee on practically day one and then having to ski like a very nervous granny to survive the season.
Why is it that we don't ski for nearly 8 months of the year and then just expect to jump on a set of planks and become the next Glen Plake? Well, as the years go by I am slowly learning that I need to build up my ski legs.
So, I am over joyed that I have survived 3 days of skiing now without blowing a knee.
The other good thing about skiing near the piste's is that there are hot chocolate stops. Really looking forward to tomorrow because I will be skinning in the most inappropriate clothing just to get that line.
For anybody who has led a big expedition, will know what they past 4 days have been like.
The house turned into a bomb site; I had to retrain myself in manners and acceptable behaviour in public (i.e the phleming and remembering that it is ok to put loo paper down the toiler); adjusting back to Western food; getting over the jet lag and remembering that you can actually put on clean socks and pants every day. Don't even get me started on the backlog of emails, enquiries and the onslaught of Skimo.
I met Heather last night - and if there is one person who will give an honest and frank synopsis on what conditions have been whilst away it's Heather. According to the oracle, I never missed much. Yeh, OK a few routes have been climbed and there's been a few folk out skinning, but generally not much. The winter season is long and hard so if I'm a few routes behind at this stage I'm not going to get overly stressed.
On a very positive note though, ever since I have been home there has been snow in the garden. I received a very cool box from Scarpa and Outdoor Research from the kids at the Mountain Boot Company. Probably the most eagerly waited is the new Scarpa F1 Evo boot - the latest edition to the stable. Excited, so excited that it's nearly worth a walk in the snow just for for the hell of it.
There's been loads happening in the world of dig - il - bert mountaineering but time is precious and no sooner is one bag unpacked, the next is packed.
Well, looks like I'll be ok on the boob holder front if my kit bag goes missing:
Trekking in Nepal is a somewhat strange experience. Here we are, 4 members who are about to embark on climbing Ama Dablam but for some strange reason, we have to have a Sherpa at the front and a Sherpa at the back of the group. I think they are slowly learning that we are competent and we are capable of following an extremely well worn path, littered by porters, trekking groups, horses and yaks.
So we have been trekking for 2 days up to the capital of the Solu Khumbu, Namche Bazaar, where we have had a relaxing acclimatisation day. Phurba is obviously happy with us, because he was confident to let us walk up to the Everest View Hotel armed with a quality Nepalese map:
Today we managed to see our peak for the first time. Needless to say that the group are having to contain their excitement.
If technology works, next update will be from Ama Dablam Base Camp. If technology doesn't work, keep up to date via the Adventure Peaks Ama Dablam page.
For the last 4 hills days that I have had, I haven't been brave enough to take the camera out of its bag in fear of it physically drowning. So, it is with a very light heart that I think the next time I will be on a hill it will be in Nepal.
This really is a good job, since after yesterday it is going to take the whole winter season to dry my summer hill walking boots out.
So, for the next 2 days I will be ensuring that crampons straps do fit over Scarpa Phantom 8000 boots; sterilising a pee bottle; deciding how many pairs of pants I really need to pack for 4 weeks; deciding how many pairs of socks I need; deciding what music to upload onto the iPod; putting on silly autoresponders onto the email and eating as much cake that is humanly possible before making myself sick.
I will be envious that my friends will have the first turns of the season without me and will have probably ticked off the first few winter routes.
I on the other hand am bracing myself for spending far too much time on the toilet;
thinking that I am going to die;
and will be eating food that I wouldn't normally be eating.
When will I be too old to enjoy the adventures that life throws at us? Probably never :) Can't wait ...
For most people, this type of Expedition requires a big build up to allow normal life to continue with minimum disturbance. In typical fashion, I have 3 weeks to get my life in order.
This is normally not an issue but considering that I am coming up to the busiest time of the year i.e. winter and have not only got to organise everything Di Gilbert Mountaineering but I always have to organise Skimo Scotland which continues to grow each year. Knowing that I will be returning to Scotland when winter could be in full early season condition, I am having to get everything organised now.
I have been asked once again to be one of the MCofS speakers for part of their Winter Lecture Series and as part of this I had to send off a small bio for the website. I included the following:
"Di's number of outdoor boots far outweighs the number of stilettos she has and has far more rucksacks than handbags."
So since I had to find these, to ensure that they still fitted my feet (*phew*), I thought that I would start to winterise my kit.
Really, how many rucksacks do I need for winter? By the looks of it, 5.
I know it's silly but every rucksack has its own job.
Deuter Guide Lite 28 SL - the old style with no extension to the hood. My smallest, lightest and most compact rucksack which is perfect for autumn type walking and personal winter walking (i.e. I don't have to worry about taking all the kit that I need to carry when working).
Deuter Guide Lite 28+ SL - with extension to the hood. I can just squeeze all my winter climbing equipment in this (except crampons) so it is perfect for winter mountaineering and climbing.
Deuter Guide 30+ SL - much heavier fabric than the Lite rucksacks so perfect to stand up to the abuse that winter throws at us. I can easily get all my winter climbing equipment in this little puppy and all my group equipment.
Deuter Freerider Pro SL - its pink, what more can I say? Seriously, my ski touring rucksack when I need to access things at different stages in the day depending on what I'm doing - there's loads of different compartments.
Deuter Guide 40+ SL - perfect sack when away for multi day adventures and I need to carry the kitchen sink.
Don't get me started on ski boots:
or mountaineering and climbing boots:
So, I really do have more rucksacks than handbags and more boots than stilettos.
Very big note to self: Miss Gilbert, looking at the boots second in from the left. Absolutely horrified at the state of these boots, must have been a quality last day of the season for these in the bog. Next time, remember to clean!
I am still adjusting to the single figure temperatures - seriously, how can you go from 28.5 degrees in the morning to 1 degree in the evening?
I suppose it can be related to winter in many ways. In winter we spend all our time waiting for the snow to arrive and then when it does arrive, we spend hours scraping it off the buttresses. In summer, we spend all our time waiting for the sun, only to complain that it is too hot and seek out the shade.
The great thing about going on holiday as a pair, is that you get lots of climbing - but loads of bum photo shots. Nearly all our photos are of headless climbers or arses :(