PYB Scottish Winter kick off

On February 7, 2013 by Tim Neill

So, the official start of PYB courses has swung into action up north. A busy mix of Mountaineering, Hillwalking, Climbing and of course the Winter MLs and MIC courses. I’ve been doing a nice mix of stuff and always enjoying old favourites and new climbs (to me) depending on the variables that get thrown at you each day. Mostly they’ve been thrown at us on some pretty hefty winds….so lots of red faces and stories of crawling along the tops.

It’s been cool to go climbing with some of the future MICs coming through, and see them excited about working in the winter.

Anyway, with the predominant weather being cold and snowy ( but with old school rapid freeze/thaw) things look really good in the long term….might be an ice climbing feb instead of scrabbling around on mixed. Lets see.

MIC training on great Nevis ice......not the Twin Ribs:-)

MIC training on great Nevis ice……not the Twin Ribs:-)

Winter work with Mountain Equipment

On February 1, 2013 by Tim Neill

An annual early season fixture for PYB is some events with http://www.mountain-equipment.co.uk/home.asp (PYB clothing sponsors) and Cotswolds shop staff. We take folk out for 2 x 3day courses in hillwalking,mountaineering or winter climbing. To say everyone is well kitted out is an understatement!

The weather has been ideal in a perverse kind of way…..wintry and very windy…so everyone felt well tested and with some good adventures. I took some folk climbing for 3 days on the Ben,Buachaille and at Bridge of Orchy, then after a day off work climbing on the Ben with Keith, I got involved with some windy mountaineering in Glencoe for a couple of days then finished with a wild trip up Ledge Route, Ben Nevis.Fittingly, on one of the evenings I showed some pictures and movie of climbing Fitzroy, Patagonia!!

Top of West Buttress, Ben Doithaidh. Very windy!

Top of West Buttress, Ben Doithaidh. Very windy!

 

Sidewinder

On January 29, 2013 by Tim Neill

Sidewinder, Ben Nevis.   29/01/13

 

Had an amazing day climbing Sidewinder on Ben Nevis with Keith. This was luckily our day off between courses for PYB/Mountain Equipment/Cotswolds. Weather was perfect, as were conditions. The mountain was busy with visitors from the Winter Climbing Meet in Fort William. Our route on the Trident Buttress was very good climbing….could be a good first route of the grade for anyone who loves good, modern style climbing with amazing hooks, meaty lock offs and perfect pro. Rapid descent for afternoon coffee.

Not ledge shuffling!

Not ledge shuffling!

BMG Winter Training Course

On January 25, 2013 by Tim Neill

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABMG Winter Training, Scotland.  23-25th, Jan, 2013.

 

I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to run the course this winter for the BMG. Even more lucky was that we had good conditions on the west coast. Gavin, Mike and I set off to the Ben on day 1. Hard snow lead us up to Green Gully, some fast climbing, then some fast abseiling down Comb Gully. Even faster back up that, and down for dusk. Next day we went mountaineering on the west face of Aonach Mor via a nice ridge called Golden Oldie. Then over the hill and down to the foot of the NE ridge of Aonach Beag. As it does everyday, darkness ensued near the top, allowing some good navigation along the plateau and down via the ski fields. Finally a stormy, but wintry day sent us to the Far East Buttress of Aonach Dubh in Glencoe. The guys fired up Orient Express and Eastern Slant in some Burly conditions.

Thanks to Gavin and Mikey for being awesome. All the best for your Test in March. Cheers.

Flanders Summer in Winter

On January 22, 2013 by Tim Neill

One day in Wales between Alps and Scotland and Nick Bullock and I hook up for a perfect day of winter action. Dragging Nick past Llech Ddu, we drop into the Black Ladders and wade up to Flanders. I’ve done the original winter version of Flanders before, so this time we wanted to make a repeat of the full summer line (FWA Si Frost and Dave Garry….both wads), in Winter. Anyway, we did a direct start and blasted up the line to perfect views of a beautiful Snowdonia on the top.

On the way back we met Ian Parnel and Jon Winter who’d just repeated Central Route on Llech Ddu ( a line Nick and I put up a few winters ago). They said it was ace, and more importantly, didn’t downgrade it…phew!

Nick doing what he does best...

Nick doing what he does best…

Swiss Route, Courtes.

On January 20, 2013 by Tim Neill

Finally managed to get out with Jon Griffiths for a climb in the mountains. He’s a very accomplished Alpinist and fantastic photographer too. We’ve met lots of times, and our date was a long time coming. He’d suggested a day climb in the Argentiere basin like the Swiss Route on the Courtes, climbing with skis on our packs for some aerobic training!. 1st lift…ish to Grande Montets, a bit of skiing and skinning to the ‘shrund saw us soloing together up primo snow ice. The huge benefit of his approach skis (and his ability to ski in light climbing boots!) had me regretting my big touring skis that we’re now adding to the unroped experience. Thankfully, Jon was polite enough to wait as I did my best to keep up. A baltic and windy summit was reached, then a climb down towards Col des Droites. I down climbed a fair bit lower than Jon before exchanging crampons for skis, and after some “terrain” a highly enjoyable ski on great powder down into the Talefre basin, and the hugely popular headtorch ski down the Vallee Blanche and the home run. Like I said, Jon’s a great photographer  http://www.alpineexposures.com/blogs/chamonix-conditions/7214620-courtes-north-face-swiss-route , as well a mega fit! Cheers Jon….awesome.

Jon cruising with his kid's skis!

Jon cruising with his kid’s skis!

M6 Solar and Cogne

On January 16, 2013 by Tim Neill

Had a brilliant couple of days climbing with James Thacker. Day 1 was a trip on skis to Pointe Lachenal and a climb up the classic M6 Solar followed by a rapid ski back down to Chamonix. A great day out on some well protected ice and mixed, with a bit of Scottish powder to make us feel at home ( on the route, not the descent ).

Next day we drove through to Cogne and a couple of classic icefalls. Coyote and Tuborg. Great conditions, and consequently quite busy but fantastic climbing!

Other than this, ice climbing on the Rive Gauche sector above Argentiere, plenty of skiing in and around Chamonix……mostly with Dave H, Mark and old pal, Owain.

Chilly M6 Solar.

Chilly M6 Solar.

Super Couloir

On January 14, 2013 by Tim Neill

Super Couloir….good route name. After the little recce on skis the day before, Dave Hollinger, Mark Walker and I settled in to the Abri Simond hut for a night of cordon bleu jetboil meals and itchy blankets. An early coffee, then some headtorch skiing saw first light near the ‘shrund. A little bungling around trying to find the Gervasutti start (it’s fallen down or something…), delayed our kick off on the Direct start. Intimidating, but good gear lead to a horrific (awesome lead by Mr Walker)

The Dudes, Direct Start, Super Couloir.

The Dudes, Direct Start, Super Couloir.

overhung snow plug barring access to the main couloir, then rapid progress in the amazing cleft to the end of the steep climbing. Neither of us being purists, and “when in Rome”, we dived back down via rapid rapping to arrive at our skis a little after dusk. The ski down the Valle Blanche to town was aided by piste like conditions, a clear evening and the miracle of bright headlamps. Woop, woop!

Breche Puiseaux

On January 11, 2013 by Tim Neill

First day out on skis for a while…..Dave H, Mark Walker and I took a tour of the climbing options on the Vallee Blanche and Jorrasses area. We skied under the Tacul to see what was in good condition, then down the right side of the glacier and took in the classic ascent over the Periades and skied the Mont Mallet glacier below the mighty Jorasses and down to town.

The skiing was awesome, although quite early to be skiing in that area (good cover, but not without interest). Some great turns and inspiring landscape made it very good outing for beginning of Jan. Looks like we’re going up to the Tacul next for some climbing…yippee!

Homeward bound!

Homeward bound!