Friday, 28 February 2014

No ice in Setesdal

This really does sum it up:

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

It ain't Scotland

Found some ice today.

This was after taking 45 minutes to walk 200m - 5 minutes in the guide book.

Will be armed with sense of humour pills tomorrow when we embark on our 45 minute approach.  

The most dangerous thing I will do today, is to attempt to have a pee in the middle of the night:

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Sometimes I ask myself ...

... is it really worth it?

Tuesday:  packed van.

Wednesday: worked on hill.

Thursday: drove Nevis Range; met up with ski patrol and discussed/altered course for Sunday; got wet.

Friday: drove Glencoe; redesigned course; got wet.

Saturday: drove Glencoe; redesigned course again; got very wet; cancelled race; dried out; got wet.

Sunday: drove Nevis Range; cancelled race; stayed inside and never got wet.

The future i.e. tomorrow: unloading van; unpacking 2 race days' equipment; book hire car; find passport and bail.

So, is it worth it?  You bet it is :)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A small weather window

It's hardly surprising, but today I forgot to put on sun cream and I forgot my sunnies.

If MLTS gave out short roping badges, today I would have been awarded one.  Up the Fiacaill Ridge, before down the Goat Track.

Followed by lunch (duly reminded by Zoe that we hadn't had any by this stage) and then back up Aladdin's Couloir.  I did suggest back down again but the lure of a nice walk out over the plateau seemed a nice novelty.

Skiing conditions in the corrie would have been awesome today - but that isn't my story.  A couple of guys will have an awesome story to tell - hopefully it will appear here :)

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Finally, a nice day

After a training day yesterday, it was time to put it all into practice today.

Euan and Scott were treated to one of the nicer days that this winter season has produced.

It's amazing how short my memory is because for one day, I completely forgot what a brutal season it has been so far.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Normal service did resume

Well, we managed to ski until about 2 o'clock today before we admitted defeat.

It then took me 3 hours to drive a pathetic 55 miles back home.  Maybe I need to take my own advice, and just as I get people to practice the magic 3 times training when it comes to transceiver, shovel and probe, I should probably do the same when it comes to snow chains.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Better than they said it would be

Due to the result that some of Glenshee is buried, it was like having our own little private ski resort today.

For once, the weather was far better than predicted and by far the most harrowing part of the day was driving through in the morning.

Didn't have to dodge any rocks, boulders, heather or burns and skied a perfectly smooth blanket of snow all day.

Big grins all round :)

Sunday, 9 February 2014

MCofS Student Winter Climbing Meet

Well it was hardly the worlds best venue but needs must.

Great couple of days with Adam and Hugh as part of the MCofS Student Winter Climbing weekend.

Of note, yesterday was by far my wettest day of the season - my gloves and boots and still drying out - hopefully they will be dry for Friday.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Change of tack

This morning Bob, George and Di walked 3/4 of the way into the corrie only to turn around and walk out.  Don't get me wrong, there are definitely routes to be climbed, but if you have very specific objectives in mind, sometimes you just have to reschedule.

I knew that Heather was going to be heading out in the afternoon to do some research for the next 2 days and I thought that if I got a shifty on, I could drive home, unpack, repack and head back to the MCofS office.

There really was absolutely no way that I was missing out on a wind free day especially with fresh snow.  We decided to head (back) into the corrie, tidy the MR box before setting off on a mini afternoon tour. 

Up to the summit of Cairngorm to be rewarded by some mighty fine views - you really could ski anywhere over 600m.

A quick descent for a hot chocolate (definitely never took enough liquid today) before heading back up the hill to be rewarded with some even better views, before the skins were put away for the final time.

"Whoops" all round by the girls.

Second day in a row that the 110cm underfoot skis were on - completely unheard for me [Jim, you will be very proud of me].

Since normal service will resume tomorrow, I can glow warmly inside knowing that I made the most of today.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Fat versus Skinny

Well, it must be good because today I left behind my race skis and boots and took the 110cm underfoot onto the white stuff.

Will be perfectly honest and say that it felt as if I was dragging up an entire small nation behind me - really not used to skinning with heavy skis (its all relative you know).  My friend Lesley will say that it is all good training :)

Really had to bite hard from shouting lots of 'whoops' when coming down coronation wall and again when skiing into Sneachda.  There must be some up's of dragging the fat skis uphill.

I wonder if I can persuade the next 3 days work to swop the climbing boots for ski boots?

Probably not ...

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Shadows, something that has been lacking this season.

However, don't let them fool you - they weren't out for long.

Zoe & Di headed West today for a change of scenery.  Sometimes, plan A's don't work, but no day on the mountain is a wasted experience :)

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Knowledge is King ...

... or in this case, Queen.

I have been working as a full time MIC for over 13 years now, and I would like to think that I know one or two things about snow.

I would certainly never call myself an 'expert'.  Somebody once said that "you can only call yourself an expert, when you have spent your whole life in the mountains and are now on your death bed due to old age".

Part of my job is to educate individuals about the dynamics of snow and its effect on the mountain environment.  It can be the most amazing medium to work and play on, but it can also be a ticket to meet the "white reaper" unnecessarily quickly.

To remain updated over the years, I have attended numerous avalanche refresher courses which have all been very worthwhile and re-emphasised things that I was already doing.

However, thanks to Sandy Paterson, wearing his CPD co-ordinator hat for Jockland members of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors, he managed to tap into a new resource.  This resource came in the form of Mike Austin from Avalanche Geeks and Andy Nelson from Infinity Guides.  Mike is an American Mountain Guide Association Ski Guide and a Pro Member of the American Avalanche Association (AAA), a collective group of dedicated professionals engaged in the study, forecasting, control and mitigation of avalanches.

So, for the past 3 days, I was joined by an equally passionate group of MIC's, as we sat the AAA Level 2 course.  This is the first time that a level 2 course has been run in the UK and I cannot recommend this enough.  A structured course working to a established syllabus, demonstrated how little I actually knew about the white stuff.

If I am brutally honest, it made a mockery of our award scheme by highlighting how little time is actually spent on this extremely important subject.

Hey, I want to "shred the pow" as much as everybody else but as the title said, Knowledge is King.

Thanks to all for such a fabby course.