Sandy Paterson Mountaineering

This is a blog of my personal and work climbing along with all the other things I do in the outdoors. Please feel free to have a look at my main website.

Over winter I will try and blog at the end of each week, however I will aim to tweet each day so feel free to follow me @SandyPMIC

Thursday 31 March 2011

Powder to be found!

Laura and I are now out in the Alps after a great few days catching up with Family. We were a little concerned with all the reports we had been hearing about there being no snow and it is looking fairly lean for the end of March, however for a warm up day today we headed to Les Grand Montets and managed to find some good powder to ski before lunch on the Rochers Rouges off the top of the Bochard. After lunch things did get a little damp however it was a great first day. Laura can be seen above warming her legs up in the powder and enjoying skiing in her new helmet!!!!

It is rainning (so snowing up high) as I type this although looks like the temperatures are going to go very warm on Saturday. We are going to head over the boarder to Switzerland tomrrow for a warm up tour before meeting up with some Friends on Saturday. Fingers crossed the temps drop a little after the weekend.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Back on the Planks

With just 3 days work left before heading out to the Alps for some Ski touring I thought it would be good to get out today and have a little warm up. Monty and I headed to Cairngorm and took advantage of their new Ski Mountaineering lift pass that gets you up to the top lift. From there we headed up Cairngorm, off the back of this were the snow was fairly wind affected and then along the tops of the Northern Corries before skiing down Lurchers (which was the best snow of the day) before skinning back to the car park.

A great short day out, now looking forward to getting out to the Alps. I just hope they have some more snow!

I am off to the west again this weekend so will report back on conditions across there.

Let is Snow!!!!!

I was joined last weekend by Rebecca, Rob and Martin on a winter skills weekend. The forecast was for it to snow (a lot) so I decided to get a full day in on the mountain on Saturday to cover as many skills as possible. We headed up to the top car park and up towards the Cas area, there was a mixture of neve and windslab around so some careful route choice was needed. We looked at boot work, step cutting, route choice, ice axe arrests and general issues with kit. From the Cas area we headed around to the restaurant and then back down to the car park. As we got to the car park it was clear all sorts of things had been going on as the ski area had closed early due to the weather and there were a number of damaged cars at the side of the road.

On Sunday I woke to a good 15cm of snow in Aviemore and the news that the ski road would not be open all day! Not that is made much difference as with the amount of snow that had fallen over night (and was still falling) any movement off skis in the mountains was going to be very difficult. We decided to stay low and looked at avalanche searches and transceiver work, plus snow shelters and some avalanche awareness. It was a great day and was still snowing hard as I headed home at 6pm that night!


Sron na Lairig

For the last day of Gareth and Andy's course we headed to Glen Etive to do Sron na Lairig which is a grade II ridge on the south side of Glen Coe. After a good walk in and some awesome trail breaking from Sam (thanks Sam) we geared up and headed off. The 3 of us soloed the first 50 meters before Andy and Gareth put the rope on and lead 4 pitches themselves. After these 4 pitches I jumped on the rope and lead the team to the top, although Dave (another Jagged Globe Instructor) had done the hard work of breaking trail up the ridge, thanks Dave!

Once on top we had a quick conference and decided we did not like the look of the usual decent route that heads back north so we descended south to Glen Etive with Dave leading the way and taking us straight back to the cars.

A great end to a great week with Andy and Gareth. They guys have done really well and are well on the way to being independent winter climbers.

Thursday 10 March 2011

Ice Factor Day

It was truly wild this morning when I drove to work and so a plan was made to head to the Ice Factor! We spent the morning looking at some ropework and dry tooling before having a spot of lunch and then climbing on the ice wall. Although it is always a shame to spend a day inside, the guys learnt loads and also got to work the arms lots!

Another windy forecast for tomorrow but we still hope to get out in the teams last day of there forecast.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Lots of Fresh Snow

With more wild weather today forecast and snow down to 200m this morning I took Andy and Gareth to do the east ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn. The guys were keen to get on the sharp end so after I had lead 2 short pitches up the hardest line as a warm up I came off the rope and let the team lead 3 pitches with me along side to add some advice. After this time was ticking so we took the rope off and soloed by an easier line to the summit.

It was wild on the summit with white out conditions and strong winds, but this allowed us to do some pacing across the summit to find the decent. A good day out with lots learnt and loads of new snow.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Wild on the Lochan

The plan for today was to look at some steeper ground around grade 1 and some of the ropework skills you can use in this sort of area. I took my 3 man team up to Stob Coire nan Lochan with the aim of finding some snow which was sheltered from the strong winds that were forecast. I was also a little concerned about the amount of snow that was forecast to fall and the knock on avalanche risk.

It was windy on the approach however the freezing level was much higher than forecast with it not starting to snow till 950m. I headed up into Broad Gully and we spent the some time doing 3 short pitches up this with the team leading and me soloing along side helping out if needed. With lots of bucket seats and horizontal axes dug we then descended via 3 abseils off snow bollards before doing a lower off a spike. Then to get us back into the corrie floor we looked at stomper belays.

It was not as windy as forecast and not as much snow fell however it looks like it will be windy and snowy tomorrow.

Warm up on the Nid - Monday

I am across working in the west coast this week for Jagged Globe on a Mountaineering Course. Today Sam and I took our groups the Nevis Range to use the Gondola to access the snow as quickly as possible. We headed around to the Nid area to refresh the basic skills and introduce some ropework. We spent the day looking at boot work, cramponing and ice axe arrests as well as getting into some steeper ground to do some movement coaching. Once up on the main ridge we looked at descending using snow bollards before heading back to the gondola.

The snow level is around 800m at present but there is still plenty to play on. The freezing level was above the summits today and the winds was around 40mph. Looks like it is going to be a little wilder later in the week.

Thursday 3rd - Leading in the Lower Gorge

Rob and I swapped clients for our last day on the ice so I was climbing with Simon and Paul. Paul had already done some leading and Simon was keen to lead his first water ice route. We started off on a 2 pitch WI 3 with Simon simul leading the first pitch and Paul leading the second. The boys then sorted the abseil retreat. Paul then lead the first pitch of another WI 3 with Simon simul leading the second. It was then Simon's turn to get on the sharp end so we found a WI 2 that took us back up to the road for him to lead, which he did in style. Finally Paul thought he had one last pitch in him so we head to the Vemok Bridge area were Paul lead a pitch of WI 3+.

A great day to finnish on and both Simon and Paul did really well. Off for a days skiing tomorrow before catching an evening flight home.

Friday 4 March 2011

Wednesday 2nd March - Armeringsjernfossen

Climbing with Mick and Jason again today. To build on the skills we learnt yesterday we went to do the 3 pitch WI 3 route Armeringsjernfossen which is near the Ozzimosis area. After parking the car on the road we then walked 10 mins back down it around a hairpin bend to the climb. We warmed up with a quick pitch of WI2 to the left of the route and then abseiled off a tree. We then climbed Armeringsjernfossen in 3 35m pitches to finish back on the road above and next to the cars, true road side ice.

The team then drove the car around to the base of the route and I abseiled back down it to find a dropped ice screw! With the day not over we headed to the Vemork Bridge area and climbed Tungtvann.

Tuesday 1st March - Susses Veil

I was climbing with Mick and Jason today and we headed up to the Susses Veil area above the Vermok Heavy Water Plant. The area is just down as one WI 2 in the Rock Fax guide book however you could get at least 5 lines between WI 2 and WI 3+ and they can be up to 60m long!

We started the day looking at multi pitch skills on the left hand side of the area when we climbed the WI 2 in 2 30m pitches, after one long abseil off we looked at V threads before heading over to the righ hand sector and climb a single pitch WI 3. At the top of this we constructed another V thread and abseiled off it back to the ground. I then set up a top rope on the steepest part of the crag and we did some more specific movement coaching before finally doing one more WI 3.

A great day were the team really improved there movement skills ready for the some multi pitch action tomorrow. 

Monday 28th - Warm up Day

I am working with Rob Johnson this week out in Rjukan Norway on an ice climbing week. Today as a warm up day we headed as one big team to the Ozzimosis area. There has been a fair bit of snow last week and the temperatures have been low so after a bit of clearing in the odd place the ice was excellent. I climbed a WI2 with Jason and Simon to blow the cobwebs away before getting on some steeper WI 3 and 4. We also set up some top ropes so that some coaching of movement technique could be done whilst I could see the boys climb.

With 5 routes climbed the arms and legs were begining to get tired to we headed home via the supermarket in Rjukan to stock up on suppies, an expensive experience!