The last few weeks have been fairly hectic for me. I've had lots of fun up in Scotland, but managed to write off my van. Fortunately I managed to source a replacement very quickly. Then it was a mad dash back down to the Southwest to instruct on a Walking Group Leader training course on Dartmoor, then a long journey up to the Lake District for some mountaineering/navigation training. Conditions were fabulous, with clear skies, cold temperatures and frozen ground. It was so sunny that I really should have been wearing sunscreen!
Then it was another long journey North to continue my preparation for my Winter Mountain Leader Assessment. I went into Corrie an Lochan, one of the Northern Corries of Cairngorm, today with friend and trainee British Mountain Guide, Ben of Vertical Frontiers. Ben has an assessment at the end of this week and was keen to use me as a 'mock' client. Since my two weeks in England, there has been a lot of snow disappear, but conditions are still good high up. We bagged two climbs, Astroturfer and Andromeda, before handrailing the corrie rims of Corrie an Lochan and Corrie an T-sneachda to return to the Cairngorm Mountain ski area car park. There were very few people on the hill compared to the usual busy weekend traffic. It was also the first time I have climbed with 'leashless' ice axes and this took a bit of getting used to, although I could see some of the advantages. It will just take time for me to adjust to not hanging from leashes attached to the axes by my wrists.
Check out Ben's gloves. These are "Chamonix Bin man" gloves and no self-respecting climber should be seen without a pair. Definitely the things to be wearing this season!
There was a tunnel through the cornice at the top of the climbs, which provided an amusing end to proceedings, although Ben thought that the fact that I had left my van lights on and flattened the battery, was funnier. So I made him push it to get it started (Thanks also to member of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service, who also gave assistance and mickey taking!
Apologies for a short blog. I have had lots of emails and enquiries regarding climbing in Cornwall to respond to this evening. I have also got to post details of my journey into the Fisherfield in Northwest Scotland. Two days in a remote and very beautiful part of the world, in the company of a true mountain man, Heavy Whalley.