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

Monday, 30 January 2012

Winter ML Training

Giles tackeling the cornice out the ski area!
I am at Glenmore Lodge this week working on a Winter ML Training course. After the usual intro and discussion about kit, the programme and the scheme we headed out onto the hills to look at some movement skills and set the scene for navigation and avalanche assessment.

We headed out through the ski area to the foot of the Cas and then dropped down onto the moraines and then headed around to the flat ice in Coire an t' Sneachda, before heading back out again. The winds were much stronger than forecast and there was alot of snow being deposited on west through to North East facing slopes. The climbing teams reported wind slab building very quickly on many of the routes in Sneachda.

More winter skills

I was out again yesterday with Lancaster Uni. We headed into Sneachda in stronger than forecast winds discussing avalanche assessment and building on what they had learnt during their theory session the night before. We then headed up on to the ficail ridge at the toe to look at some more cramponing skills and then look at some winter ropework. From hear we headed over to the moraines to look at some avalanche assessment pits before heading back to the car park by going over the ridge and in to the ski area.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cairngorm Stunner

I have been out in the Cairngorms today with Lancaster University Mountaineering Club who are up for a weekend of winter skills. We have had a great day looking at boot work, axe skills and cramponing plus some avalanche awareness.

It has been a stunning day in the mountains with no wind, below freezing and sun. Lots of people out enjoying themselves on foot and ski. Back out again tomorrow with the team. The weather looks good but not as good as today!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Creagan Cha-No - My Turn!

Well it seems like everyone else has been going to this new (ish) crag Creagan Cha-No so Mike and I decided to go and have a look. There had been a fair bit of fresh snow in the Cairngorms over night after the thaw yesterday and it was cold as well. We were not the first to arrive with a few teams already there (thanks for sorting the ab anchors!) and just as we got there Mark arrived with his clients. We abseiled in down Anvil Gully and then went looking for Jenga Buttress which we missed and ended up on the ground to the right of it. We then went and did Chimney Rib which gave a great pitch of IV4 and finally we went back and did Jenga Buttress III4. It was a busy day at the crag with lots of other teams out but there is plenty to do and there looked to be even more ground to explore if you head south from recovery gully.

Looks like the good weather is going to last over the weekend which is nice as I am out with Lancaster Uni at the weekend and then at Glenmore Lodge working on  a Winter ML Training next week.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Wild Avalanche Weekend in the Cairngorms

Probing for a body.....I think there is one in there!
I have been running an Avalanche awearness course for Glenmore Lodge over the weekend in the Cairngorms. Saturday was wild with gusts of 114mph on the summits. We spent the first few hours inside discussing avalanche theory, forecasts, snowpack structure and the recipe needed for avalanches to occur. We then headed up to the Ciste West wall to have a look at the snow pack and the tools we can use to make decisions on stability. I was wild up there but we managed to have a good session and with new fresh snow being put down there was lots to look at.
On Sunday the weather was not nearly as wild, thankfully! The team were a mixture of skiers and snow shoers and they were keen to look at Transceiver and companion rescue techniques. We spent the first few hours re capping Saturday and then looked at Transceiver searches in the transceiver park at Glenmore Lodge. We then headed into Sneachda carried out some search exercises before looking at probing techniques and tactical digging. We then rounded the day off with a few more stability test and thoughts.
A great weekend with new snow being put down in the Cairngorms, gully lines are still very thin and buttresses are turing white but at present it is mostly cosmetic. Fingers cross this snow continues.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Great weather and conditions on Ben Nevis

Andy Spink coming down Tower Ridge

Bill and Andy happy in the sun at the top of Green Gully

Starting up the last steep step on pitch 4 of Green Gully

I have been across on the west for the last few days. On Friday and Monday I was at the Nevis Range working on the skis as I log some hours ready for my next BASI course, there is still some skiing there and it is not too bad were the snow has been broken up by the groomer. However the climbing conditions are definitely better!

Over the weekend I was on Ben Nevis, Saturday was a workshop being run by Rich Bently, Alan Kimber and Mike Pescod for the AMI. We were looking at using the ben in bad conditions or when it is very busy, I spent the day with Alan, Andy, Ian and Simon on the far side of Tower Ridge. On Sunday it was a days play so I met up with Bill and Andy and we headed up to the Ciste area with no real plans just to see what was free! I was very surprised so see very few people there and Green Gully free, I had never done this before so we nipped up this (it is in good conditions if a little thin at times). We then came down Number 3 with a short abseil over the cornice and then went up Central which was steep for the grade but great.

A great day out with great conditions. A few days off now before an Avalanche course at Glenmore Lodge. Looks like there is going to be some new snow put down in the Cairngorms this week which is great news.

Thursday, 12 January 2012


Dreaming of more skiing and lots of snow! Well off to the Nevis Range tomorrow for some work and then a weekend on Ben Nevis before a few more days at the Nevis Range, it might be like below you never know!!!!!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Winter ML Ropework and Lochain

Testing the strength of a bucket seat!
Coire an Lochain showing black buttresses:(

Stomper Belay

I was out yesterday working for Pete Hill on the Ropework day of a Winter ML Training, with the lack of snow around we had to give some thought to were we could go as there were a few teams out and about with the same idea as us! My team and I headed into the side wall of Coire an Lochain as there was a large build up here from the westerly winds. We spent the day looking at Bucket seats, horizontal axes, reinforced axes, bollards and stomper belays. Although the snow was damp it was actually quite strong and at the same time easy to dig in, a real bonus!

There were a few other teams out around the twin burns area but apart from that the coire was quiet, not surprising as the buttresses were black and there was not much snow in general. Teams from Sneachda reported even less snow with almost all the gully lines broken. Looks like it is going to get colder again over the weekend but not much snow is forecast.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Avalanche Weekend

Now back from the Alps and it is back to work! I have been across on the west this weekend working for the M C of S running two Avalanche Assessment days. Saturday was windy but at least cold and today was windy, warm and wet! Still we had two good days looking at various was to assess snowpack stability and options for when you are concerned about slope stability. We managed to get the gondola up both days at the Nevis Range however we had to walk back down both days! Photos to follow when I am home.

Back at the Nevis Range tomorrow but this time to work on the skis, fingers crossed for lighter winds.