Saturday, 31 January 2015

Poking around in the snow

Working as an Independent in the Great Outdoors can sometimes seem a lonely affair, so I jumped at the chance to shadow Mike, from the Avalanche Geeks, on a AAA Level 1 course.

Absolutely no shortage of the white stuff for once.

Must confess to getting slightly distracted by the Reindeer who seemed in their element this afternoon - I really am very shallow.

Not too much 'geeky' chat but lots of interesting things to see. 

And yes, my new Black Crows skis do actually glow in the dark - pure genius.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

I am a climber once again

There is something very nice about walking into the cic hut in the evening.

It means that you can get a route done the following day and get back home in daylight.

Needless to say that my camera decided it was too cold outside, so spent the day inside :(

Blue skies and fluffy snow - not often you see Lochaber like this.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The growing world of lycra

I think we've come a long way from our very first Skimo race 3 years ago when 18 racers lined up on the starting line.

© Mr Drew Photography

This past Saturday, we had 48 including the GB Skimo Captain and the GB Female Champion.  I'm not quite sure what is funnier, watching the non lycra clad ninjas looking at the lycra clad ninjas or the bystanders who gaze in amazement at a group of people who are about to embark on running around a ski centre.

© Mr Drew Photography

Not impressed that my climbing tools have been gathering dust and I'm genuinely missing hearing the scratching of metal on rock and the swish and thunk as the tools bite into perfect neve.

© Mr Drew Photography

As Scotland starts to embark on the big freeze/thaw cycles, I'm pretty confident that the skis will be pushed to the back of the cupboard and the tools will be activated once again.

© Mr Drew Photography

Once again, why do I do it?  Well, I obviously enjoy myself and moments like these stay with you for a long time.

© Morrocco Media

Thursday, 22 January 2015

A change in the weather

Well, it couldn't last forever which is a shame since it's been quite nice chumming around the hills without having to look at a map.  We saw a confused cornice - instead of forming on the lee side of the hill, it had obviously formed and then formed again on the opposite aspect.

Needless to say that the views were far from perfect - great for navigation practice.

The skiing wasn't fab to be honest - survival tactics deployed in the zero visibility with the odd break in the weather allowing a few turns to be had.

Milly dog found the soft snow problematic and despite the best attempts to get her into a rucksack - obviously not impressed with that - she seemed pretty happy getting carried along.  Must try that tactic when I'm feeling tired on the hill.

Looks like normal service is going to resume tomorrow.

Monday, 19 January 2015

A very special day

This morning didn't get off to a great start.  The car gear box objected to the -8 degree start and then an accident on the road meant that I was late.

Nonetheless, today was one of those very rare days.  Not only was there Heather to play with, but Duncan was kicking around and then we also had Manny.

Not only was their people to play with, the weather was perfect and the conditions couldn't really get any better.  I'll just let the photo's describe the day.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Skiing in the sun

This was the second day of our Mountaineering 4 Skiers course.

It is always hard finding a venue - especially with the weather that we had -  to look at the many skills required to be a good ski mountaineer,  However, I think we succeeded.

Susan & Janet are particularly interested in getting stuck into the steeper lines that Scotland has to offer.  However, the first challenge is accessing the line so today we spent a lot of time sharpening up their navigation and route finding skills.

The great thing about getting to the top of a mountain is that you get to descend the whole thing.  So, for a second day there was numerous *whoops* as we enjoyed Scotland at its best.

Back to school with some more technical steep ground training before numerous *whoops* finally took us back to the cars.

Di & the Avalanche Geeks have one more Mountaineering 4 Skiers course in March - come and learn cool stuff.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Mountaineering 4 Skiers

I'm not quite sure who laughed more today: Janet, Susan, Mike or Di.

This is the first time that Mike from Avalanche Geeks and I have worked together.   It took our combined experience and knowledge (aka Luck) to ensure that the sun was shining (which we managed to avoid all day and froze our bits off) and that the lush snow was found.

We successfully avoided the crowds and tried desperately (failed) to suppress the *whoops* crying out from inside.

More importantly I'm loving my new Scarpa F1 Evo booties.  Bring on more of the same tomorrow.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Making the most of the conditions

If you didn't know better, we could have been in some Arctic country today:

And then the reality check - yup, still in Scotland:

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The white stuff has arrived big time

I was supposed to be heading up to the CIC hut tonight, but considering how much snow there is in the valley that isn't going to happen.  Flexibility is the name of the game.

It's the first time this season that I've been able to get the skinny skis out.  Must confess that I wasn't quite prepared for the blizzard that awaited us on the golf course.

I think there must have been about 2 inches fall today at the house so far - this is probably all the snow that is getting blown off the mountain.

There is so much snow in the garden now even our friendly family of pheasants have taken to the garden shrubbery.  Needless to say that productivity in the office has dropped slightly.

I think the biggest challenge tommorrow will be getting to the destination.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Batten down the hatches

This weekend saw the 25th Anniversary of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors - my professional body - a weekend of stuff happening out of Glenmore Lodge.  Not only did they let me loose on the workshops, they let me prattle on in the evening about all things Skimo.  Didn't get heckled too much ...

There has been a theme this winter and it has all centred around the weather.

There has either been no snow, turbo thaws or storm force winds.

The next few days are no different by the look of things.

Absolutely no point in getting depressed about it.  So as much as I would love to be outside now, I'm stuck indoors.

Great news is that my skis have been mounted for my new Scarpa F1 Evo's so big shout out to the guys at Cairngorm Mountain Sports who, once again braved taking a drill to my match stick skis.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Love is ...

... walking Munros when you know you could be ticking Corbetts.

I had written today off a few days ago when I saw the weather forecast and seeing that it is blowing 80mph at the top station on Cairngorm, I'm not sad to be inside at all.

I call these days enforced rest days with the crux of the day clearing the backlog of emails. 

This is probably a very good thing since on Saturday I'm the after dinner speaker at the 25th Anniversary AGM for the Association of Mountaineering Instructors.  I've always said that I would never speak to my peers but since it's all about Skimo Scotland, an exception to the rule must be made.

Looking forward to a good heckling ...