Wednesday 9 March 2011

Mentoring day and the wild winter weather returns. March 7th & 8th 2011.

After the busy period last week, Iain took the weekend off and then on Monday met up at Coire Cas car park with UKClimbing members Paul Calton and Jon Barrett - who had agreed to act as mock clients for Iain during his day out with James Thacker MIC.

Iain had contracted James in for a day to give him a workout with regards to the mountaineering day that Iain will undertake during his MIC Assessment at Glenmore Lodge next week.

Iain wanted to cover all aspects of the likely syllabus during this day - short roping, short pitching, snow belays and doing it all moving up down and across grade one ground and we did all of that and more during the day.

James firstly asked Iain to short rope the pair up and down the snow at the head of Coire Cas, we then went over to windy col and Iain short roped the pair down under Mesa Pottage to the foot of Jacobs ladder - leaving the pair "stacked" whilst he ran out a rope-length to the first rock belay. We then pitched 4 rope-lengths to the top of Jacobs ladder all on rock anchors apart from the last belay - a buried ice axe done in bullet hard neve and an indirect belay.

After a hike over Stob Coire An T Sneachda, James asked Iain to get the pair down the steep snow slope into the head of Sneachda. Iain belayed the pair down on a Scottish stomper belay before commencing more short roping down and then across the back of the corrie then up on to the col on the Fiacaille ridge. We then headed up to the top of the ridge using the techniques of ledging; although apart from pitching up the crux grade two chimney, there wasn't much ledging to be done.

The first three photographs taken by James show parts of the final scenario he set Iain; and that was to get the two clients off the plateau via .5 Gully. One of them had "lost" their crampons, so short roping wasn't an option.

Iain wanted to try lowering from a bollard leaving the clients attached whilst he abseiled (from the bollard) to them. He had a vague idea of what he would do but James showed him a much better method - this is how we did it.

First, find an already dug bollard and make it suitable for use, the clients have been left attached to a nearby boulder.

Take the rope, find the mid point and put it at the back of the bollard, bring both sides of the rope together below the bollard and link together with two overhand knots on the bight and join with an HMS krab.

Attach yourself to the knots with a cows-tail and untie from your end of the rope which can then be dropped down the slope. You will have probably about 20 M of rope available on which to lower your clients/abseil yourself.

Attach the clients live rope to the HMS with an Italian Hitch and ask them to approach you taking in the rope as they do so. Get the middle client to self belay just below you and lock off the hitch. The back client can be lowered to below the middle person by using an Italian hitch/HMS attached to the middle person's isolation loop. Once both are tight on the rope, unlock the hitch and lower away!

The clients must have been briefed on what do do when the rope comes tight - ie cut out a platform for their feet and ram in their axe shafts uphill wrapping the rope between them around the shafts (self belay). Once this has been done you can attach your belay device below the knots to prepare to abseil on the doubled rope. Lock it off of course whilst you untie the knots; and remove the HMS, then abseil!

Once at the clients, Iain set up another Scottish stomper and was able to lower the pair almost 50 M before they had to self belay again. One more of these brought us on to walking terrain and the end of the training session.

Thanks goes out to James of James Thacker Mountaineering for a really useful and enlightening

Yesterday, Iain, Jon & Paul were out again and the good weather of the Monday had been replaced by gale force winds; and in Sneachda, a maelstrom of whirling snow; although the temperature was above freezing.

It was another one of those "Gawd! What are we gonna do today?" days - especially as despite the lousy weather, there were a great many others out and about; although it turned out that most of them were probably winter skills parties.

Paul was keen to get on grade IV and Jon reckoned that he would be ok with that. Neither wanted to attempt lower grade routes and so we decided to go for Patey's Route IV'5 only to have been pipped at the post by two climbing teams from The Lodge.

In photo four, the lodge clients can be seen "stacked" whilst instructors Phil Sanderson & Carl Harberl each ran out a rope-length to the rock anchors at the foot of Patey's Route.

Photo five shows Paul approaching Iain at the stance above the ice pitch of Mirror Direct IV'4 which Iain had just led. Iain then lowered Paul back to the foot of the pitch and as Jon had decided not to do it, Iain then abseiled back down to the pair.

Paul has a month to go before starting at Glenmore Lodge on the night watch scheme - regarded as being a very good start for anyone wanting to pursue a career in the outdoors. Iain & Paul had first met in January when they ascended Tower Ridge together. It was indeed a shame he couldn't stick around for a few more days to partner Jon on a few more adventures but hopefully, we'll catch up again soon.

Back at the foot of Mirror Direct, Jon wasn't feeling so great and, as the weather was really was not good, the trio made the decision to descend to the corrie floor and head back out. A pair had been waiting behind us and in photo six the leader takes a crack at the pitch above, which was, as always, steeper than it looks here! It was, however, well pocked with axe & foot placements and in great condition. Hundreds of climbers will have been up it this winter season.

Today, Wednesday, Iain is not out on the hill. Paul has left, Jon wants a day to recuperate and the other UKC bod coming to climb got the dates mixed up - so is not coming after all. Oh well! It's snowing here anyway & the forecast ain't that great but Iain & Jon will hopefully get back out for a day tomorrow.


Woodland Solutions said...

Sat in an office in Llangollen that all looks very appealing! Good luck for next week Iain :)

Iain Gallagher said...

Hmmm! Cheers. With the weather being the way it is - I'll probably need all the luck I can get!