Wednesday 18 February 2015

Winter Climbing & Winter Mountaineering Courses with Kendal Mountaineering Services. February 7th - 18th 2015.

Some time ago, we advertised that we would be in Scotland to run a number of Winter Skills, Winter Mountaineering and Winter Climbing Courses on the west coast.

The response was reasonable and we ran a Winter Skills Training Course firstly for returning clients Alison Laws and Darren Willis in Glen Coe. We spent the first day on Stob Mhic Mhartuin near to the Devil's Staircase looking at step kicking and Ice Axe Braking. The pair had a great time as can be seen in photo one. Here, Darren is having another go at Ice Axe Braking whilst Alison looks on.

Day two of this weekend Winter Skills Training Course in Glen Coe found us on Buachaille Etive Bheag on a col well noted for being suitable for Winter Skills Training Courses where there was a fair amount of snow to be found.

Here, we looked at step cutting using ice axes and techniques for moving up, down & across steep snow as well as finishing off our Ice Axe Braking techniques. We also looked at the construction & use of snow belays before finishing off looking at snow shelters. It is a rare occasion when Iain appears on the blog but here he is ( in the red jacket) having a conversation with Darren who had just constructed this snow shelter.

On day three, our focus shifted from Winter Skills to the techniques required for Winter Mountaineering. Winter Mountaineering requires one to be conversant with the techniques learnt on a Winter Skills Course; and then additional ropework techniques are applied where a slip on steep ground could turn into something more serious.

Darren had already attended a one day course with Iain in the art of Scrambling with a view to coming on further courses. So, Iain put him on the sharp end of the rope on an ascent of the Glen Coe classic mountaineering route - The Zig Zags on Gearr Aonach. Darren guided Alison and Matt up this route whilst being coached by Iain (photo three). Here, Darren is seen using "short roping techniques" on the lower part of The Zig Zags although there were several pitches to pass along the way to the summit where we used a number of belaying techniques including indirect belays from buried axes and direct belays using the rope as security around solid rock spikes. Darren did a really good job today bearing in mind that he had only had one previous day of scrambling coaching with Iain.

On day four, Darren was once again put on the sharp end of the rope after we had all walked into Coire An Lochan to attempt the climb - Dorsal Arete.

Dorsal Arete is a great little winter training climb used by many local Mountaineering Instructors. There are plenty of good belays and anchor placements; and usually a fairly good covering of snow & ice giving it the feel of a real winter climb. The "sting in the tail is towards the top of the route where the route changes from being a broad, friendly buttress to an exposed knife edged arete. Darren once again did a great job of leading the whole route and we emerged from cloud into bright blue sky and sunset at the top. A great end to another great day!

Darren departed from the course at this point returning to work in The Lake District. Iain, Matt & Alison had two further mountaineering days in Glen Coe - an ascent of Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor (read the facebook report here) and after a rest day, a traverse of the Aonach Eagach.

The Aonach Eagach is regarded of one of Scotland's classic winter mountaineering routes - being a technical grade III traverse along a 3km ridge bordering the north side of Glen Coe involving abseiling and scrambling. The most exciting part is a traverse of "the pinnacles" seen here in photo five. The route took the whole day, but was a fitting finale to Alison & Matt's winter week with Iain.

This week, so far, has seen Iain out with Simon & Annika Hatfield - returning clients who have attended both Navigation Skills Training Courses and Rock Climbing Courses with us in the Lake District in the past.

Annika and Simon fancied three days learning the winter skills required to allow them to venture safely in to the mountains in winter. So, Iain ran a Winter Skills Day for them in the same area as the previous Sunday. You can read a report from that day on our facebook page here. The course should have been of two days duration as the previous one, but due to the fact that the weather was due to deteriorate seriously today, it was decided that the winter mountaineering day booked for day three would be carried out on day two. Iain took the part for a hardcore winter mountaineering day on the Ben Nevis classic - Ledge Route (photo six). The weather was due to deteriorate during the day and it did, but we managed to complete the route  and escape via Number four Gully

Now, after a day off, Iain will be joining trainee Mountain Guide Dave Sharpe and his mate John Crooks to attempt Crest Route (V'6) in Coire Nan Lochan in Glen Coe tomorrow. The winter work is over for the time being, so, it's playtime instead!

For full information as to what we are doing at the moment please visit the Kendal Mountaineering Services Facebook page as this is updated on a daily basis where possible - unlike the blog at the moment!

For anyone interested in undertaking a Winter Skills Training Course, Winter Mounatineering or Winter Climbing Courses in the Glen Coe.Ben Nevis area, Iain hopes to remain in the area until the end of February so he can be emailled at or give him a call on 07761 483364. Winter Skills Courses start at a price of £60 per person per day (minimum of two persons) and Winter Mountaineering & Winter Climbing Courses £90 per person per day (minimum of two persons). Helmets, harnesses ropes, rack & instruction by this experienced Mountaineering Instructor are included in the price. You will need to provide your own climbing axes, Crampons & Winter boots.

Iain looks forward to working with you!


Unknown said...

Perhaps you should look at an easy ice trip to Cogne next year

Iain Gallagher said...

Matt Cox - get some accommodation purchased and we can certainly look into it!