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

Saturday 30 April 2011

Airbags and Avalungs

An interesting video of the use of Avalungs and Airbags.

The music makes it all sound rather jolly I am sure that is not what was going through the skiers mind at the time!

ML Expedition

For our 1 night mini break Bill and I took our teams to the mountain north of Loch Leven that we had been looking at all week from the hotel. On day one we headed up Mam na Gualainn and then across to the col just south of Doire Ban (Spot Height 405m) for the camp. A night time ascent of Doire Ban had us looking at night navigation and and then the next morning we headed back to the road via Tom Meadhoin.

The aim of the trip was to look at camping skills, issues and ideas plus lots and lots of navigation! This area was great for that as there are plenty of slope angle changes, contour shapes, ring contours etc etc.

The weather was again kind to us and it was a great end to the week and ML Training run by Scotch on the Rocks Guiding, thanks Bill.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Emergency Scenarios

Day 4 of the ML Training had us looking at emergency scenarios. We spent the morning in and around the classroom, looking at a number of scenarios before discussing equipment that should and should not be carried by a mountain leader. This lead us into looking at common medical situations that we might be faced with and then how we might deal with them. Finally we spent sometime looking at river crossings before heading off to pack for our 2 day expedition that starts tomorrow.

Needless to say it has been another stunning day here on the west coast.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Mountain Leader Ropework

Another glorious day in Lochaber, I could get used to this!

Today we were looking at unplanned use of the rope. We headed to Buachaille Etive Mòr and the ground to the east of the Coire na Tulaich approach. We spent the day looking at anchor selection, ropework systems for getting clients up and down rock steps, abseiling and some confidence roping. This day often has lots of different challenges for different people depending on if they come from a climbing back ground or a walking back ground, however the team did really well.

Looks like the weather is going to continue to be great! 

Monday 25 April 2011

Steep Ground and Group Managment

It has been a lovely day across here on the west today. The plan of action for today was to look at some steep ground skills and managing a group through this sort of terrain.

We headed to Meall an t-Suidhe and the ridges that drop down towards the normal route up Ben Nevis. On the way in we looked at using a 1:25,000 map, timings and the usual navigation structure. Once on the steeper ground we spent sometime looking at coaching movement skills, spotting and what is in and out of remit of the Summer Mountain Leader Award. We headed up and down the one of the ridges before heading back to the hotel to have an evening session on ML ropework in preparation for tomorrow.

Sunday 24 April 2011

ML Training and some Micro Nav

I am working for Bill Strachan this week in Glen Coe on a Summer Mountain Leader Training course. Today was day 1 so we spent sometime indoors looking at the ML Scheme and what is involved and then we headed to Torcastle to use the orienteering maps of the area to introduce map reading and how we coach it. The evening was then finished off with a talk on weather and nutrition in the mountains.

Sorry no photos today.

Back to Work!

Now back from the Alps it has been back to work for me. This started with a Bronze D of E training in the Calendar area. The weather was warm and sunny on Friday which actually made for quite hard work for the group and after 6.5 hours they were happy to make camp. Over night on Friday the weather changed and it was a damp morning on Saturday, however the group made the end of the journey on time at Brig O Turk.

Next up is a Summer ML Training course in Glen Coe.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Tuesday 19 April 2011

A return to Summer

It has been a while since I posted mainly because I have been traveling back home and generally doing one wants to hear about that!

Laura and I had one more day skiing since our trip to St Grand Bernard unfortunately my foot swelled up and it looked like I may have given myself a stress fracture, however with 7 easy days and a few drugs it seems to have gone back to normal, fingers crossed.

This is a good thing as well as I am back to work on Friday with a D of E trip and then straight up to Glen Coe to work on a Summer ML. Summer has started in the Highlands and I often find this one of the best parts of the year as the mountains are quiet, the midges are not out yet and it is often dry. I have a bit of availability in June and July, so if you are interested in some instruction or guiding please just drop me a line.

Monday 11 April 2011

Skinning, Monastery and soft crusty snow!

I headed up to the St Grand Bernard Monastery last week with Laura, Matt and Chris. The skin up was nice and relaxed on Thursday, although a little warm it was technically easy and a good firm track was in place all the way up as it is clearly a popular location. It is advisable to start early though as there is some steep ground either side of the track that could slide. The monastery is a great location and not like a normal alpine hut, we had a 4 person room to ourselves, enjoyed a look around the museum, had a short presentation on the history of the monastery, a great meal and a good night sleep!

On Friday we skied a short distance back down the track and then cut off towards the Col de Barasson. Ski touring is all about being on the right slopes at the right time for both skiing pleasure and avalanche safety. On the way up to the col it was clear that the snow higher up on north facing slopes did not have a crust to support skis and we were a little concerned about the slope stability. This lead us to cut the ascent short and head down a little early, the ski down from 2600m to 2300m was unpleasant but below 2300m was excellent, nice firm spring snow. Not far from the car we came across a large avalanche that was not there the day before that had crossed the tracks we followed on the way up, a good indicator that an early start is a good idea.

Although the ski down was not as good as we would have like it was a great trip and I am sure I will be back as there are lots of options from the monastery and it is such a calm and peacful place to spend a night. 

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Ski Coaching

I spent today at Les Grand Montets with Matt, Laura and Chris being coached by Alison Culshaw. Although the conditions were not great, ice in the morning and slush and soft in the afternoon it was perfect at us as we wanted to work on skiing in bad conditions for when we are out touring. We all had a great day and were worked hard by Alison who is a great coach.

Sorry no photos today I was too busy working on my skiing! We are off to the St Grand Bernard area tomorrow to spend a night in the hospice so I will put up and update on Friday when I get back.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Spring Touring

Laura skinning up

A stop to take pictures of the French Army!

On the way down

Yesterday was a wash out with rain up to 2700 for most of the day, so we had a lazy day watching DVD's. However today has been totaly different with a good freeze last night and a few mm of fresh snow above 2100m it was the perfect day for a quick tour. Matt, Chris, Laura and I caught the Les Contamines lifts to col just north west of the Aguille de Roselette, we then dropped off the south side and headed towards the Rochers des Enclaves. One option had been to ski up to the Col de la Fenetre but we did not fancy the East facing slope the otherside and they have now closed the Gorge Cable Car which would have meant a boring walk back to the van! So we headed out to the col between Rochers des Enclaves and Tete de la Cicle. The ridge from the Enclaves back down to the ski area did not look great, lots of rocks poking through so we just headed back the way we had come and cut down to the ski area before our original starting point.

The snow was in great condition taking ski weight but not boot and as we headed down around 11am it was nice and soft on the surface, awesome. There were a few other teams out including a big one (30 plus people) from the French Army who seemed to be practicing ropework things on the way up to and down form the Col de la Fenetre.

Off to Chamonix tomorrow for a day with Alison after we re-arranged the day from yesterday!

Sunday 3 April 2011

Les Contamines

Laura and I have joined Matt, Kate, Neil and Chris for the next ten days. Today we went to Les Contamines and had a great morning and early afternoons skiing in the sun. Although it is warm the skiing is great untill around 1pm on the slopes and the resort has done a great job at keeping the slopes in a good shape.

We are heading up to Chamonix tomorrow for a day with Alison Culshaw to work on our technique so I am predicting that we will have very tired legs tomorrow.

Friday 1 April 2011

Plan C!

Looking down on Martigny - Early morning cloud

New Helmet team!

Point release avalanche

Days in the mountains rarely go exactly to plan and I am always telling my clients to not have there plans set in stone. Today was one of those days, Laura and I got up early and headed into Switzerland and Bourg St Bernard. The plan was to catch a bubble car up to the Col Nord de Menouse then ski down to the Plan de Tcholeire before skinning up to the Col de Barasson and then back to the car. We were a little late leaving, but not to matter we would still be there for 9am and the first lift. The only problem was that when we got there the lift was not running (and did not look like it had done in sometime) even though the website says it is running till 16th April 2011! Plan B skin up the route to the Hospice du St Grand Bernard before cutting off up to the col de barasson. Unfortunatly by the time we had broken off the beaten track to the hospice the snow was getting a little too soft. Plan C, skin as far as possible before the snow becomes too unpleasant and then ski home!

Plan C was not a bad option at all and we had a good day, blowing off the cobwebs and getting in some good turns. Lots of fresh avalanche debris around now as the weather has gone very spring like. The touring is still good with firm spring snow on most aspects, however by midday you want to be back at the car or hut so some early starts are needed.