approaching winter fun
Mon, Dec 1, 2008
I’ve just upgraded the downstairs dept., which was showing its age. New boots and crampons, perchance a report once I get out and use them, which should be pretty soon as there is heavy snow forecast for most of this week up here. Can’t wat! I also had another look at my old climbing logbooks and realised Gardyloo Gully is actually a Grade II (the IV is for earlier in the season), which feels right, looking back on it. It was my first winter climb so no doubt I was overawed by the surroundings of the north face of Ben Nevis! Add in Observatory Gully (which I’d missed out) and that only leaves a couple of Grade Is to climb this winter and I can think of going for Winter ML assessment. Next winter though. This winter I want to get the navigation just right and maybe get a couple of nights snowholing. Not consecutive mind you. One night is bad enough, without having to simulate an assessment over two nights. I’m booked on the MLTA subsidised winter nav course at Glenmore Lodge next year, which should be good. The instructors there are top notch.
This time of year is good for easing back into the winter mindset. Heavy boots. Heavy pack and monitoring the weather reports each day, to get a feel for how conditions will be on the chosen route. Wind persistently from the SW all week? Possible windslab and avalanche conditions on E-NE slopes. That sort of thing. I’ll also get the shovel out and play around in the coires digging pits and poking at the layers.
It’s also a good time to get used to really wild weather again but without the threat of cornices, though with the forecast, it won’t be long before they start forming. The wind is set to play a major part in winters to come apparently.
So a few trips being pencilled in. No. 4 Gully on the Ben, up to the summit and down via the Carn Mor Dearg arete and maybe even a bash at the big Grade I on Beinn Alligin that leads directly up the face to the summit. I also fancy the sound of a remote camp below Ben Alder with a circuit of the summit via the two Leachas routes, both Grade I ground. Up the Long and down the Short.
Although graded winter routes are not in remit for the WML, they’re in your logbook to show competence on that type of terrain, in case of emergency. As always, if you’re leading people, especially in winter, you need a store of personal skill well above that of the remit of the award and hopefully above that of your clients. So if you get caught out, where they see white hell and nowhere to go, you can confidently rope them down steep ground.
If I can manage all that I’ll be a happy bunny and ready for Winter ML assessment next winter.