Karn House including Winter Training course
Thu 12th Jan - Sun 15th Jan, 2017
Attendance: Elliot Brown, Clay Conlan, Steve Graham (training co-ordinator), James Hall, Colin Maddison, Craig Marsden, Phoebe Marsden, Thomas Marsden, James Meakin, Geri Mihalkova, Ben Slater, Andy Stratford, Jim Symon, Emily Thompson and Gareth Williams (meet leader).
This was the first winter meet of the season. The meet was fully booked with a waiting list (note to members: book early next year!). Karn House is an excellent hut, so modern and well-equipped that it feels much more homely than many huts in Scotland. Other clubs were also making use of the facilities, so the hut was packed to bursting point. Steve and James Meakin had already been in Scotland for a few days, and were staying on after this meet too.
The days before the meet saw mild temperatures with minimal snow cover, but as the meet approached the temperature dropped and we were blessed with a large dump of snow. This, combined with windy conditions meant careful choice of crag was necessary for those hunting for routes that were in condition (if lean) yet without risk of avalanche.
Most, though not all, members arrived on the Thursday night. Travel to Aviemore was uneventful for most, the exception being Elliot, who had to make a detour into Glasgow to purchase the one thing he’d forgotten – a sleeping bag!
Thanks to Steve Graham, the club had organised a winter skills training course (run by a fully qualified professional) which Elliot and the two James's were booked onto (so too was Phoebe, but she didn’t arrive until tonight). This was the first day (of three) and the trainees reported that it was very well received. James remarked that the windy conditions meant lots of faffing was necessary, to which Colin responded that one can learn this just by watching Andy, no need to go on a course!
For most, it was a day in the Northern Corries. Andy, Jim, Ben, Geri and Emily walked into Coire an t-Sneachda. When breaking trail, Andy disappeared up to his waist, bear-crawling out and exclaiming ‘it’s a valid technique’. As the team sheltered behind a rock to put their harnesses on, Geri and Emily decided that they were dangerously dehydrated and ought to retreat to the café to re-hydrate. Andy, Jim and Ben braved the conditions to make an ascent of Red Gully (II).
Steve, Colin and Gareth walked over to Fiacaill Buttress, hoping to aim for The Seam (IV). However, it was so windy on this side of the Coire that they retreated back to Fluted Buttress. Here, Colin too suffering from dehydration, headed back in search of a pint, whilst Steve and Gareth climbed Broken Gully (III).
By now the Marsden team had arrived, but the weather wasn’t the only thing that was cold: poor Phoebe was suffering at the hands of a cold of her own. Not well enough to take up her day’s winter skills training, she made a brave conquest of Café Direct (Wi-Fi variant). Craig and Thomas walked into the Northern Corries, had a look around and walked out again. Café Indirect! Also braving the urban scene was Ben, who spent the day in Aviemore, ultimately buying some leashes.
Clay and Andy headed off to Creagan Cha-no, a little known crag. They went with an open mind as to whether anything would be in condition to climb, which was a good thing, because nothing was in nick. But a good looking crag scoped out for another day.
Colin, Steve and Gareth walked into Coire an t-Sneachda for the second time this weekend. Fingers Ridge (IV) was the target, and by a miracle all the teams ahead of us on the walk in peeled off to different routes, and we found ourselves first on the route. As other teams arrived shortly afterwards, Colin decided it would be unfair to make others wait for our team to climb as a 3, so he decided to leave the route to Steve and Gareth to climb as a pair. He wasn’t too disappointed about this, having climbed it 3 times before, and quite possibly being in need of a bit more rehydration too. Fingers Ridge is a stunning route, well worth its three stars, and Steve did an excellent job leading the exposed top pitch around the fingers.
James, James and Elliot continued their winter skills training. Another good day, but James Hall did report needing a long sit down in a bucket seat belay thanks to a little too much rehydration the previous evening.
Emily and Geri went for a walk, summiting Bynack More (1090m) from Glen Moore via the Ryvoan Bothy. Wet snowy conditions were reported, but ever optimistic, the pair reported the day was ‘ideal for practising navigation’.
Jim had thought he was going to have a rest day, but that was until he realised there was a communal meal planned for the evening. Unfortunately, cottage pie for 15 means quite a few spuds to be peeled, and Jim did us proud – both peeling the spuds, and then doing more than his fair share to make sure all was eaten later! Spud-bashing aside, Andy did the lion’s share of the cooking, and we were all grateful for his efforts – thanks Andy.
Various people went off to the pub in the evening to enjoy Aviemore’s Saturday night ambience.
Our luck with the conditions had expired – this morning it was milder, with dampness in the air. Everyone was put off climbing, and several people decided to head for home. Undeterred, Andy persuaded Jim and Emily (both reliant on him for a lift home!) that it would be a good idea to start the drive home and knock off a couple of the Drumochter hills. 20 minutes after setting off from the hut those that remained recived a phone call from Andy: “I’ve left my work bag in the hut, please can someone bring it back to Manchester?” Another 10 minutes and the phone rang again: “I’ve left my walking poles, please can someone bring them back to Manchester?” A few minutes later and, you guessed it, Andy on the phone again: “I’ve left my handheld GPS, please can someone bring it to Manchester?” Several comments were made that perhaps Andy should have a device to keep track of his belongings, but then, he’d almost certainly lose the device itself!
Various members sent me reports of their doings on this last day of the meet, which I reproduce verbatim here:
Elliott writes: “Myself, James M and Guy went over to do Fiacaill Ridge on Sunday. Weather was pretty grim, getting blasted with high winds and cold rain on the ridge. We were practising moving as a pair roped up and different ways of protecting each other and best ways to move over difficult terrain with a partner. Guy was out of the system providing advice and teaching us different techniques as we went. Once we had finished, we descended down the goats track and had a play about cutting steps as we moved down.”
Geri writes: “James Hall and me went up to Meall a' Bhuachaille on Sunday, thanks.”
Steve writes: “Hmnnn.... Sunday, a tough day. Sat back & chilled whilst the majority of KMC members departed. I then did some hut cleaning, hoovering etc. followed by a trip into town for a wee stroll.
Then after James' arrival back from his final days winter skills course, we headed off to the Cairngorm pub for the Liverpool v's United game. 3 pints of Guinness enjoyed before the full time whistle blew. (a 1-1 draw). About to then leave, however the live music kicked in and being keen to support the local talent a 4th Guinness was ordered. The hours then passed, several more pints of Guinness goodness enjoyed (we think maybe 8 in total?) but having missed dinner, our friendly barmaid Karen provided several rounds of bread, from which some whole hearty crisp butties were savoured.
11pm we finally left for our hut return, were upon arrival we chilled with the Pinnacle club lasses, no doubt talking a whole lota gibberish.”
Karn House, Aviemore
Thu 12th Jan to Sun 15th Jan, 2017
**UPDATE DECEMBER 19TH (evening)**
The exra space is taken, the meet is now full again.
**UPDATE DECEMBER 19TH (afternoon)**
Due to a cancellation, a space is available on this meet -- contact the meet leader ASAP if you are interested.
**UPDATE OCTOBER 30th** This meet is now full. However, we are considering trying to obtain additional bedspaces in the hut. Watch this space.
Karn House, Aviemore
Thu 12th Jan to Sun 15th Jan, 2017
**UPDATE OCTOBER 17th** So far, seven men and two women booked into the hut for this meet, meaning we have one female place and two places for either men or women available in the hut. Two places remaining on the training course, but to take advantage of the training course, you also need a place in the hut.
Karn House, Aviemore
Thu 12th Jan to Sun 15th Jan, 2017
This 3-night meet is unique in that we are arranging formal training for Scottish winter skills/mountaineering as well as a meet at which experienced mountaineers can do their own thing too. Ideal preparation for the forthcoming winter season. Read on for further details.
Karn House is the FRCC's newest hut. See http://www.frcc.co.uk/venues/karn-house/ for further details. As a Kindred Club, we are fortunate to have been able to book 12 places in the hut for this meet: 3 beds in the female dorm, 4 beds in the male dorm and 5 beds in the mixed dorm. The 2016 hut fees were £9 per person per night and we have not been informed of any increase for 2017.
Aviemore lies at the foot of the Cairngorms with easy access to the Northern Corries. For the more adventurous, and those seeking to escape the crowds, the Loch Avon Basin may suit better. For those willing to drive about an hour, Creag Meagaidh is available. With all these premiere winter climbing destinations so close, what more could you want? Well, perhaps climbing isn't your thing, in which case there is plenty of skiing (both downhill and touring) and stunning walking. Finally, there's the gear shops and cafes of Aviemore.
Provisionally, there are 4 spaces for those on the training course, and 8 spaces for folk who don't want to take up the training. The balance might change a little depending on exactly who signs up for what.
To reserve your place in the hut, whether you're taking up the training or not, contact the meet leader, Gareth Williams (see handbook for contact details). If in addition you do want the training, you also need to get in touch with Steve Graham (see handbook for contact details), who is coordinating it. More details of the training including cost have been distributed to the membership via email. The meet (both use of the hut and the training course) is open to full and associated members only in the first instance.
When signing up to the meet, you may like to indicate what your hopes for the weekend are. Conditions permitting, there will be a number of members aiming to climb winter routes at a level that does require some experience. Do bear in mind, particularly if you're new to the club or to winter climbing, that an assumption that you will be able to join in at this level, might lead to disappointment. Instead, why not first have a friendly chat with the meet leader to discuss your aspirations and what you can hope to get out of the meet. As ever, you should remember the participation statement (http://www.karabiner.org/meets/) applies, and acknowledge that you are ultimately responsible for your own actions and involvement.
Demand is expected to be high, so please get in touch with Gareth Williams sooner rather than later to reserve your space. Members will find Gareth's contact details in the handbook: if you don't have access to this, register your interest via firstname.lastname@example.org.