I'm currently on my way to Antarctica for another season guiding on the ice. I'll be working on Mt Vinson & Last Degree South Pole expeditions for ALE. Plenty of photos from last season on Flickr. back in the Uk for the cracking Scottish winter we've all been promised!
This weekend I've been working with Ryoko and Anthony, the former who has big plans involving skis on Mt Vinson and Denali. Not sure I can help her much with the skiing! so it was all about giving her the mountaineering and expedition skills to enable her to get up and down the mountains safely and look after herself in an extreme enviroment. Saturday was spent in a wet Stob Coire Nan Lochan focusing on crevasse rescue, ascending and descending fixed lines and avalanche avoidance. A better forecast for sunday tempted us up on to Ben Nevis which has had a surprising amount of new snow. Arguably the best grade II on the mountain is Ledge Route which is similar in technical difficulty to Mt Vinson although it is currently in very easy condition with all the rock steps banked out. Some good navigation practice got us off the back and down into Red Burn for a quick look at cold weather survival skills and emergency snow shelters.
This weekend myself and Nick Cannon-Jones have been working with Rockhoppers Mountaineering Club running a Rescue for Climbers course. The Saturday was spent braving the elements at Sandale Quarry developing the members climbing systems to proactively prevent problems in the first place. We then looked at some of the simple building blocks such as escaping the system and assisted hoists which can be used to solve many of the common problems which may occur
Sunday was a far nicer day and we enjoyed some dry rock (& the cafe1) at Shepherds crag in Borrowdale which allowed us to take problem solving into a multi pitch environment. Ascending and descending ropes were covered in detail before we moved on to a number of scenarios as we made a mass ascent of Jackdaw Ridge. Thanks to everyone present for some great input despite the conditions and fingers crossed you'll never need to use any of the techniques in anger.
It definitely feels like spring has arrived in the Lakes. Today was a gloriously still day out in the Northern Fells. I was working with Karin who is just about to depart on a big Greenland expedition. Her team are attempting to circumnavigate the ice cap with a Windsledge as part of a bigger project. This was her final chance to look at crevasse rescue and develop a system for retrieving 1000kg of sledge from a crevasse if the unthinkable should happen. We began with jumaring and abseiling and developed these skills to include freehanging transitions. The afternoon was spent looking at a variety of hauling techniques up to a monstrous 12:1 ratio.
The Windsledge Project looks very interesting. It's already been tested on a number of expeditions but this will be the biggest challenge yet. Kite skiing is an amazing way to travel but you are limited in the amount of kit you can tow behind you in a pulk. This new concept opens up some intriguing possibilities.....