This week I have been joined by Liam, Stewart and Allan. The plan was to deliver a three day Winter Mountaineering Course for Abacus Mountain Guides and although it hasn’t been very wintry so far we have managed two productive days in the mountains.
Yesterday we walked into a very black looking Ben Nevis, but I was feeling optimistic and sure enough there was still lots of snow in the big easy gullies for me to do some teaching in. We refreshed some movement skills before heading higher to practice bucket seats and snow anchor, the guys then each led a pitch up No.3 Gully using their new found skills. I took us over the top and onto the plateau which is pretty steep with hard, old snow at the moment. We had planned to descend the Red Burn but the lack of snow made it uninviting. A quick jaunt down the ZigZags and over some very boggy ground concluded a productive first day.
Today’s forecast was looking miserable with storm force winds and buckets of rain due to fall it was surely going to be a wet one! I took the guys to The ZigZags on Gearr Aonach, the plan was to look at rock anchors, moving together and the tactics of taking and dropping coils. This short and sheltered route lends itself to practising these techniques perfectly, whilst it was terribly wet on the way up (more like canyoning!) we did stay sheltered from the winds for the majority of the day. To make the most of it we then looked at moving together in descent before throwing in an abseil for good measure. We each saturated four pairs of gloves, even my rubber showa gloves filled with water as rain found its way down my sleeves and back into the gloves – very wet, but all good fun! Alas – a drop in temperature and some snow tomorrow…….