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

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Last day of Sun.............................and then more SNOW!!

Laura on her way up!

On the col resting before heading down!

With today being the last day forecast to be sunny (as the snow is returning) of our trip Laura, Chris and I were keen to get out touring again today. We headed to the Grand St Bernard area, as did it seemed the rest of the skiing world! Not to worry there was plenty of terrain and snow to go around we skinned up into the Combe de Drone and onto the Col du Bastillon, before heading down again. The snow was a little more sun affected than yesterday and below 2400m it was crusty, however it was a beautiful spot to ski in and I am sure we will be back.
More snow forecast over the next few days so I think we will be turning our attention to playing in the powder!

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Blue bird powder day

Another blue sky day in the alps with fresh powder to still be found!


Chris, Laura and I headed to Arolla today to make sure we could get high as the temperature was on the up and we had had a tip off of there still being plenty of powder on offer! We headed up to the Pas de Chevres first which still had great snow on it as it spends most of the day in the shade. After this we headed up to the Col La Forcla. The snow at the top of this was a little sun affected, however once we got into the shadow of Plan Tsardon it was nice and light again.

Another great day out on the planks.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Christmas Ski Boots in Switzerland
Laura enjoying a Christmas day ski
Santa has been good to us in Switzerland filling our ski boots with presents and  producing a blue sky day with some lovely fresh powder. I hope everyone else out there had an equally great day. Happy Christmas.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Fresh snow for Christmas Eve

The light snow fall that was predicted last night and this morning turned into a little more than forecast with about 15cm being put down at around 1500m on a reasonable westerly wind. Laura and I headed up towards and past Solalex, however after we got above the tree line the wind was not very pleasant so we turned around and played in the fresh snow amongst the trees. There is a light crust from Thursdays warm weather but it is not too unpleasant to ski on as long as there was fresh powder on top.

Merry Christmas to everyone, I hope Santa is good to you tomorrow.

Friday 23 December 2011

So much snow!

Retreat back up the piste after the power cut!!!
Laura finding her way to through some tricky terrain
Looking towards Martigny over the cloud inversion
Laura on the way home at the end of the day.

There is certainly plenty of snow out in the Alps at present although it looks like it has stopped now! For our first day out we headed to Chris's local ski area Villars, it snowed all day and the lift team were struggling to open many of the runs due to unstable snow however we had a good day warming up the legs on and off piste. That was until the whole of Villars had a power cut so the lifts stopped working, not great when you are at the bottom of a run waiting to go back up, never mind skis on rucksack and a good bit of exercise walking back up the piste.

Today Laura and I had a day at Verbier as Chris was on a course with Alison Culshaw across in Chamonix. The weather was stunning high up on the slopes at Verbier and there was loads of very deep powder to be found. We spent the day skiing our self to a stand still, awesome.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Short Roping CPD

I was back at Glenmore Lodge yesterday for the final day of staff training. We headed into the hidden coire between Sneachda and Lochain to look at short roping as an MIC and how we teach it on MIC Training courses. I spent the day in a small team of 5 looking at issues and different solutions to short roping, what is possible and what is not. A great weather day with sun and no wind.

Now down in Edinburgh for a early family Christmas before heading out to what sounds like a very snowy alps, looking forward to some powder skiing and touring:)

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Snow Anchors

I have been at Glenmore Lodge today for some staff training. We spent most of the day out on the west wall of the Ciste looking at different snow anchors and testing them to destruction. It was a breeze day but not too wild where we were, some new snow falling and below freezing all day.

Back out again for more staff training tomorrow and then off to the Alps for Christmas and New Year.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Mountain Rescue Training and Mountaineering Work!

I was at Glenmore Lodge for most of this week just gone, on Thursday and Friday it was the Glenmore Lodge Mountain Rescue Team training. The weather was wild and we spent most of the time around the lodge low down, over the two days we looked at radio work, client care and packaging, stretcher work, first aid scenarios and some cable ways. A very good few days although the sort of skills you hope you don't have to use!

Over the weekend I was working with Kevin Rutherford on a Winter Mountaineering course for Glenmore Lodge, this was my first winter work of the season and a great weekend to start on. The weather on Saturday was awesome and Sunday's was almost as good. We spent the weekend looking at personal movement skills on steep ground, ropework, navigation and avalanche awareness. A great weekend with a keen team.

Avalanche Workshop

I was out last Wednesday with Mark Diggins from SAIS on a workshop for the AMI. The workshop was aimed at the latest thinking on avalanche assessments for instructors. We spent part of the morning looking at the theory and some updates in statistics before a quick session on transceivers in the grounds at Glenmore Lodge before heading out to Coire an t Sneachda to look at the process the SAIS observers go through and to discuss the pros and cons of different stability tests. A very good day with some interesting points and a great start to the winter.

Friday 2 December 2011

Winter in the Cairngorms

I spent a short day in the Cairngorms today with John and Monty and it was definitely winter! We headed into Sneachda across to underneath Ficaill Buttress then across to point 5 gully and up onto the plateau before heading back along the corrie edge to 1141 and back to the car.

There was plenty of snow in the corrie with quite a lot of drifting going on due to the strong westerly winds, which were also helping the rime to start building. The turf that we crossed was not frozen, however good conditions reported on Fingers Ridge by a team of 3 that made a fast ascent. There were also people climbing on The Runnel, Genie, Original Summer Route and The Message however we did not chat to these teams so can not report on conditions.

Looks like more snow is going to be put down in the next few days and it looks like it is going to stay cold next week as well.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Profesional Development

Cairngorm Ski Area this morning
The start of December is normally CPD time of year for Mountaineering Instructors and this year is no different. Yesterday I was at Glenmore Lodge for a Report Writing workshop, although not the first thing you would think of for a Mountaineering Instructor it is actually a very important part of the job for NGB courses. Saturday sees me at the MLTS Providers workshop, Wednesday at an Avalanche workshop, Thursday and Friday is Mountain Rescue Training at Glenmore Lodge. Followed by my first winter work and then some more training. So all go for the start of the season. In between I hope to get out and play in the snow that is now falling!