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

Friday 25 November 2011

Is this winter?

Could this be the start of winter we have all been waiting for? Well it looks like it is going to warm up a little over the weekend but the general trend is for it to cool down over all, in fact some forecasts are predicting large amounts of snow to fall in the mountains over the first few weeks of December!

With the likely onset of winter I have managed to time it badly with a injury! However a visit to the physio has told me that my Achilles is strained and nothing worse so a few days rest and some rehab exercises and I should be fine for when the snow comes.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Crag Problems

Will showing the strain!!
Bill and his team abseiling past a knot
Will lowering a client past a knot
I have spent the last 2 days out with the 3rd year students from West Highland College looking at crag problems and solutions. I was teamed up with Will and Lauren, we headed to Glen Nevis on Thursday and used the Pinnacle Crag area to look at escaping the system (anchors in reach), unassisted and assisted hoists in the system and lowering past a knot. It was dry up till lunch but then the heavens opened! On Friday with the rain lashing down in Fort William we headed east to Huntley's Cave were it was dry! After a short session looking at escaping the system anchors out of reach we then spent the day setting up some scenarios for Will and Lauren to solve with what they had learnt over their 3 days of coaching. Another great day with some really motivated and keen students, thanks guys.

Ripping up the Trails

A last minute change on Tuesday night meant I was working on the bike on Wednesday rather than rock climbing, variety is the spice of life and all that! I spent the day biking with a group of 2nd year students from West Highland College and Mike Pescod. Mike know much more about the trails around Lochaber being a local and so I really just followed his lead for the day which was great. We spent some time in the morning doing some maintenance and coaching skills before heading down Glen Nevis to ride some of the natural trails down there.

It was great to be on some new trails and watching someone else run some sessions. Great weather, spicy trails and awesome fun!

Tuesday 15 November 2011

1st Aid Course

Over the weekend I have been on a 1st Aid Course that was being run by Bill Strachan for Outwardly Mobile. It was a very good 2 days and I can recommend Bill and Outwardly Mobile if anyone needs to re do their 1st aid qualification.

12,000 Years in a Day!

For the last day of my IML training we spent the morning out with Keith. We spent the day heading out to the green lochan doing a circuit looking at what we would have found in the area up to around 12,000 years ago just after the ice finally receded and then applying this to what we might see in the Alps and further afield.

It was then back to the lodge for a few final lectures on using alpine huts, the winter training and the summer assessment. It has been a great week and I am now looking forward to my assessment this coming summer out in the Alps.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Chains and Flowers!

For day 4 of my IML we had a split day between the mountain environment and uising fixed gear on routes. After a session indoors in the morning looking at some of the theory of Mountain Environments we headed out for a day on the hill. With the groups split into 2 I spent the morning with Keith looking at various points of the environment, this was really interesting and whilst I think I have a reasonable knowledge of this topic already there is still certainly much to improve on! In the afternoon we joined Nancy and Jon to look at using fixed equipment to look after clients in an exposed area with just a rope, 2 krabs and 2 slings.

It has been dry all day although at times it has been fairly windy and a quite cold. The last day tomorrow looks like it is going to cover some more environmental info plus a few other lectures.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

A theory day

Day 3 of my IML training has been a bit of a theory day. We have spent most of the day inside looking at Medical issues including cold problems, heat problems, drug use and dosages, altitude issues and then a ropework session in preparation for tomorrow.

A good day but quite classroom heavy! Back outside tomorrow though.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Windy day in the hills

We were out on the hill today for the second day of my IML training, after a 45min session of translating our route for the day from German! My group headed into Corrie an t Sneachda with Nancy looking at the environment, having a re-cap on navigation and then looking at some of the technological tools used for navigation i.e. GPS and Altimeter. We also spent sometime discussing emergency issues and how we might deal with these in different locations in the world.

It was then back to the lodge for a few lectures on 'Working for Trekking Companies' and 'Marketing'.

Another good day and it stayed dry all day although it was very windy in the mountains.

Monday 7 November 2011

IML Training - Speed Navigation

I am at Glenmore Lodge this week, but this time as a student! I am doing my International Mountain Leader Training (IML), this is the award needed to lead other in rolling Nordic type terrain elsewhere in the world.

Today after a chat in the classroom discussing the plan for the week, we had to do a speed navigation test. To do this course you have to have passed you Summer ML and so a test of your navigation is carried out over orienteering style course using ML style navigation legs. There is a time limit to this worked out at 4kmp and 1min/contour, although this sounds easy it is actually quite challenging as it does not leave much time for mistakes, poor route choice and some fairly unpleasant terrain that you have to cover. Each course is around 3 hours long and thankfully I came in with 1hour and 1minute to spare!

The rest of the day was spent in the classroom looking at the remit of the award, professionalism, legal issues and alpine weather.

It has been a glorious day here in the Cairngorms but I don't have any photos sorry too busy rushing around whilst out!

Saturday 5 November 2011

Performance Rock Climbing Clinic for WHC

I was back at West Highland College yesterday to run a performance rock climbing clinic for some of there students. With a damp forecast on the west Ben and I decided to take our 4 students to Kingussie Crag across near Aviemore. The drive was worth it as we stayed dry for most of the day, although the rock was a little damp.

Andrew and Adam had done a little bit of outdoor climbing, lots of indoor climbing and had spent the previous clinic looking at gear placement and belay construction so were keen to look at actually leading routes. We had a recap of gear placements and belay construction and introduced them to some new ideas for this. We then spent some time looking at self protecting an abseil and a set up for this before getting them on the sharp end for some leading, albeit with a ghost rope as the crag was a bit slippy by this stage after some rain.

A great day out and both Adam and Andrew have now started their careers as lead climbers.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Dry in the West!

I was working across on the west yesterday with the 2nd Year Students from West Highland College. The day was a hill assessment for them which has a large element of navigation plus emergency procedures and equipment. My team and I headed up to the top Ben Nevis car park and headed up towards Meall an t-Suidhe looking at navigation and burn crossings. We then had a chat about emergency procedures and equipment over lunch before finding the return path to the CIC hut which we headed down for a while before crossing the Allt a' Mhuilinn and heading back to the vans to meet the other teams. My group did well and all passed their assessment, well done.

Today I have been at Glenmore Lodge helping out as a casualty on the WEMSI Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician  course, which was great fun.

Back to West Highland College tomorrow for some rock climbing coaching.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

7 Stanes Mountain Biking

With Laura having a week off for half term it was too good an opportunity to escape to miss, but what to do during a time of year that is traditionally wet, windy and cold! Simple go mountain biking, so we hired a cottage down in Galloway sorted some biking friends and set off with the plan to cycle as much as possible in 5 days. It was a good plan until I came off my bike at speed on the 1st trail of the week, this was followed by a trip to the minor injuries unit at Newton Stewart to have my lower leg glued back together. I was told I had healthy skin though by the nurse!!

Thankfully I only had to sit one day out and after that was back on the bike. During the week we cycled at Dalbeattie, Ae and Kirroughtree. The trails are excellent, well maintained and something for everyone. We were though a little disappointed by the support infrastructure at the centres with the cafes closing early or being no existent in the first palace! Still and awesome week and a recommend it to anyone into mountain biking more info at

Summer Mountain Leader Training

I was working across on the West coast the week before half term with Bill Strachan, we were running a Summer Mountain Leader Training course based out of West Highland College. It was a full course with 12 keen clients, which was good as the weather was not the nicest! During our 6 days we visited a number of different locations and looked at the main skills that are required to be a Summer Mountain Leader. If you are interested in training to become a mountain leader then have a look at the following page dates for next year will be online very soon.

Hot Rock - Toulon

At the beginning of October I flew out to France to spend a week climbing with my friend Luke who is based in the Engadina teaching. With winter approaching in the Alps he was keen for a last fix of sun and I was keen for a first taste of sun from the summer! We decided to use the new rock fax guide to the Cote d' Azure and headed for the Toulon area (home to the French Navy!) although Toulon is not the most attractive city the surrounding area is lovely, lots of limestone which on the whole is well bolted and very few other people. We spent 5 days climbing at a different venue each day and generally enjoying the sun, at times it was a little too warm with the daytime temperature never really dropping below 25 degrees and one day it reaching 32 degrees, hot for a Ginger Scotsman.
There is loads to go at in the area for all standards of climbers and after a flick through the local guide books there is much more to see than what the rock fax have in. A word of warning though the grades are tough! The locals laughed when we mentioned this as suggested that the rest of the world was wrong and they were right, however they did agree!

An awesome holiday and great to catch up with Luke and Anne before Baby Boon is born.