A stormy start to winter!

It seems that every new year sees me starting back into the blogging with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, partly due to the arrival of the winter season, and this year is no different….let see how long the notion lasts this time!

Since my last post things have been fairly busy, with a bit of work on Skye during the spring, trips to Lofoten and Iceland over the summer, and a good mix of rock climbing and mountaineering work around Ireland in between.

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Immaculate granite in the stunning Lofoten Islands

January saw me back in Scotland to kick off my winter season with a bit of work for UCD mountaineering club. Our first couple of days together were spent looking for snow, and hiding from strong winds, it wasn’t exactly a great start to the season! Thankfully the weather began to play ball and the next few days were spent enjoying reasonable snow cover and blue skies…..things were looking up!

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Winter skills in the Ciste

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Blue sky mountaineering on Fiacaill Ridge

After a quick trip back home for a few weeks rope access work it was back out to Scotland to start my 5 week stint. With conditions shaping up so well a few weeks ago it was bound to be even better now, wasn’t it?? Unfortunately in the time that I had been home things had gone a tad topical, it seemed like winter had left just as quickly as it had arrived!

Thankfully I didn’t have long to wait before things started heading in the right direction again, and managed to squeeze a day of climbing in before starting work with Queens Mountaineering Club.

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John cruising on the 3rd pitch of Pot of gold

The theme for my four days with Queens was stormy! With winds of over 140mph recorded on the Cairngorm summit, not to mention snow down to valley level, finding suitable venues whilst still maximising on winter mountaineering learning opportunities was definitely a challenge!

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Sheltering from the winds in coire na ciste

We spent a few days looking at a variety of winter skills and winter mountaineering techniques before putting it all into practice and finally getting a glimpse of the plateau on the one day of light winds.

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Arriving onto the plateau after climbing Fiacaill ridge

The light winds didn’t last long, and the following day they were back to storm force, if you didn’t laugh you’d cry! After a day of sitting out the worst of the winds I headed to the east ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn with Jerome to try and find a little shelter from the westerly’s.

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The sun made a welcome return on Beinn a Chaorainn

Simon joined us for Jerome’s second, and final day on the hill. We headed into t-sneachda and climbed Spiral gully which was in excellent condition. A great day on the hill to round of my first little chunk of work.

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Simon enjoying the bomber snow ice on Spiral Gully

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