Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Autumn into Winter

It's been  very full Summer and Autumn with  trip to Scotland to run an ML Assessment on the Isle of Rum and then holiday time, Mountain First Aid in Bavaria for JSMTC and more MLs and First Aid courses. 

When we returned to Wales we hit the ground running with 6 First aid courses, followed by one in Leeds,  trip working in Iceland, an ML Assessment in the Lakes, two Mountain First aid courses for the Military and then two days of Geography Fieldwork for Oswestry School. 

Saturday, 4 March 2017


Our Winterskills courses are becoming more popular with 7 people signing up to this year's events.

We based ourselves in the Cairngorms as being the most reliable area for snow (although it was a nail-bitingly close call with the snow arriving the day before the clients!)
In fact on the Friday we were reccying the decent snow patches on the Cairngorm plateau having watched the snow disappear the week beforehand!

Day One saw us heading up to Coire Mer  via the Coire Cas ski areas where snow was accumulating in the driving wind. It was a good chance for people to get used to walking on crampons in a safe environment and slope.                                            
We were able to practice using ice axes to cut steps and look at some impressive snow holes that ML groups had dug. We also bumped into several Mountain Rescue Teams training in  the area including our own, Llanberis MRT and Northumberland and Killin. Everyone was converging on what was one of the best accumulation areas for snow.

Day Two saw us heading into Coire Cas for some unexpected persistent snow (definitely not forecast as can happen in mountain environments). Again we were able to do further practice walking in crampons and cut stepping. We also looked at the Avalanche risk and how it was developing due to wind driven snow. There was time for a little play at ice axe arrests but the slopes which were safe (non-avalanche slopes) were not quite steep enough so we had to improvise.

The weather came in unexpectedly with persistent heavy snow around lunch time so we hunkered down in the group shelter for lunch before heading to the summit of Cairngorm. On the way down we played with the avalanche transceivers and did some small searches.

heading up the ski slopes in search of decent snow
Day 3 was wild; even the Lake District Mountain Rescue dogs headed down to the forests for search training and hardly surprisingly there were not many vehicles in the top car park bar ourselves and an RAF Mountain Rescue team. Valuable lessons were learned in how hard it is to navigate in strong winds, and how exhausting and debilitating strong winds are. (and how puny we are in comparison). At times we experienced full on white out which was a useful experience for everyone. A challenging but rewarding day.

The day before and brown hills. Where's all the snow?!

Luxury accommodation inside (not dug by us; probably by a Winter ML group

Step cutting; steeper slopes without crampons

Time to get the crampons on

Definitely white hills now!

Cluanie enjoying the snow.

The snow arrived

Practising ice axe arrests in case of a slip

some of the group enjoying better weather

Unexpected (unforecast) persistent snow on Day 2

Heading for the summit of Cairngorm

The Summit photo

taking respite in the Ptarmigan

A wild and windy day with gale force winds

We survived!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Winter Fun

Steve and I have just returned from a two week slot in Scotland. Some was personal training and pleasure and some was working (still pleasurable!)

We got some really decent Scottish winter conditions and several decent Mountain days in. The snow arrived at just the right time for us and our first day out was up Ben Tee, a delightful Corbett just north of the Great Glen.

We then headed across to the Cairngorms for the Mountain Training Winter CPD based at Glenmore Lodge.

After that we had several days to ourselves so we climbed Corriehabbie Hill by Morton's Way (very apt for me); a long walk from the east but with easy gradients, but as you can see the choice of walking was pretty much deep snow on tracks or deep heather.

We also climbed a Graham and a Corbett., Leana Mhor and Ben Iaruinn in Glen Roy, famous for the Parallel Roads of which there are three. These are different height lake shores. A glacier blocked the exit into Glen Spean and the melting ice from Glen Roy was damned back. The lines you can see are the former lake shores as different lake levels drained or overflowed. You can read up on it on the Scottish Natural Heritage website.


This day felt truly Scottish Winter with strong gusts of wind knocking me off my feet several times which meant gusts in excess of 50 mph, and redistribution of snow as spindrift. Never underestimate Corbett days. Although the mountains are smaller than Munros, the walk ins can be longer and often there are no paths or what paths exist can be indistinct which makes for hard going.
Mortons Way, Corriehabbie Hill

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Play time in the snow.

At last some play time!

The sun is out and so is the snow (although quite a lot has melted already with temperatures above freezing to atleast 700 m today).

We decided to go out and blow the cobwebs away and they were definitely blown away by the winds which were blasting at 30 mph plus.

We headed up Carnedd y Filiast and onto Mynydd Perfedd for stunning views. We had intended to carry on to Elidir Fawr but decided with the strength of the winds and gusting, it would be nightmarish on the large boulders so we retraced our steps.
 There was significant drifting in places behind the walls and the beginning of cornice build up could be seen in the Carneddau in the distance (hardly surprising with those winds; snow redistribution was bound to happen).

The snow it self varied between being soft where shallow to having a hard break-through crust where deeper.

It was noticeable how much snow had melted lower down the mountain in the two and a half hours from when we set off, however with clear skies and freezing temperatures forecast overnight for the next few evenings, we can expect more icing of the top of the snow and crampons would certainly be advisable if going high.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Busy, busy Autumn

Liathach from Beinn Eighe
Sorry for the lack of recent blogging. Autumn has been extremely busy with twelve REC courses since mid September, two ML Assessments, one ML Training course, and an ML Refresher, one week's work in
Iceland for NST. (a rather interesting trip with very mixed weather and a coach crash; thankfully no one was injured)

We also managed to fit in a glorious one and a half weeks in Scotland, mostly spent backpacking in the far North West and Knoydart.

Meanwhile if you check out our Facebook page you will find a Walk of the Month series I am running where each month I try to write up either a backpacking expedition or a Day walk in the UK to give people inspiration to #GetOutside. Have a read and get inspired!

Monarch of the Glen
 One of our backpacks was into Attadale where it was sad to see the effect of the new HEP schemes which seem to be springing up all over Scotland and other upland areas. However Attadale Estate is so friendly with a bothy where walkers are welcome and there is even firewood laid on. Despite it being Stalking season, the Estate workers were very friendly and seek to work with walkers rather than against.
Beinn Eighe ridge. one of the best!

Megaidh making herself at home in Attadale Bothy

Ben Aden: the rough Bounds of Knoydart and a real jewel.
Torridon, the Far North West, Knoydart and Glen Shiel areas are definitely my favourite areas of Scotland (and Glen Affric) as I love long mountain ridges where I can stay high all day and be treated to superb views (providing the weather is playing ball, which on this occasion it most definitely was!)

Meanwhile, winter is now showing its face in the mountain regions of the UK and some of my upcoming blogs will be looking at walking in winter and giving tips.
in the mean time check out UKHillwalking website where several of my first aid and walking articles have been published with more to come.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

New Addition

Since my last blog we have a new addition to the family. She is a sweet natured and lively border collie who is Steve's new dog. Megaidh is related to Cluanie (great niece, I think). She is already out and experiencing the mountains and we are attempting to teach her to swim now the weather is hot. She is not quite as keen on this idea!

Welcome back

Seems a long time since I last blogged; partly down to computer problems and trouble uploading photos and internet problems. Hopefully now that all is sorted I will manage more regular posts.

The aim is to post useful and interesting information for trainee Mountain Leaders and anyone else interested in the outdoors and the mountains.

In the mean time we have an extremely two months coming up with a Mountain Leader Training course, a Mountain Leader Assessment course, several bespoke Mountain Leader refresher courses, several overnight sunrise walks on Snowdon, five first aid courses and I'm also working for the Field Studies Council at Rhyd y Creuau on two school trips.

Meanwhile we also have dog training and Mountain Rescue team training!