Thu 6th Feb - Sun 9th Feb, 2014
Alex Mac Hut - Glencoe
Members present: Clay Conlon, Steve Graham, Stuart Hurworth, Bob Kelly, Jamie Ledingham, Gergana (Geri) Mihalkova, Carolyn Mills, Emily Pits, Andy Stratford, Emma Timmis, Gareth Williams, James Williams. Roger Daley and Colin Maddison had initially booked to attend but had to drop out for various reasons.
Most members arrived on Thursday night, though Bob had already been up for a few days whilst Jamie and Carolyn couldn't get Friday off work, so arrived a day after the masses.
Friday 7th February
Bagger Bob was off ticking, today Sgurr a Choisti from Ballachulish. Meanwhile a team of climbers set out for Stob Corrie nan Lochan in Glen Coe. There was so much snow that the boulder field in the corrie floor was utterly buried -- not a rock in sight. Even the crag itself was having a hard time showing itself through the deep snow burying it. Clay, Steve and James climbed as a three, exploring options across several routes before finding a combination of pitches with conditions that would actually let them climb to the top. I believe it was 2 pitches of Twisting Grooves and a pitch of Twisting Gully that brought them to the top, with some cornice-smashing fun to top off their Grade IV day. Andy and I went to try Crest Route (V,6) but after half a pitch found it unclimbable in the conditions: completely buried in deep, soft, powder snow. Compare page 30 of February's Climb magazine with the photos on the KMC website.
Emily, Emma, Geri and Stuart were all booked onto a winter skills training course, organised by Steve Graham on behalf of the KMC. The also headed up to Stob Corrie nan Lochan, where they spent time learning and practising skills such as ice axe arrest and building snow bollards. They all arrived back at the hut clearly having enjoyed the day.
The meet's communal dinner was tonight, consisting of cottage pie followed by trifle and cheesecake. The meet's most amusing moment also occurred, as Bob's jaw hit the floor when he learnt of Emma's plan to run across Africa later this year:
Bob (serious tone): I need to get out training more for my run.
Emma (interested tone): Oh, can I train with you sometime?
Bob (sensitive tone): Er, well, it's for a 100 mile run you know?
Emma (casual tone): Oh, is that all?
Bob (cautiously intrigued tone): Why, how far are you running?
Emma (even more casual tone): Oh, about 3000 miles.
Saturday 8th February
The conditions hadn't improved overnight, and in fact it rained/snowed for much of the day. I took a rest day, but Bob remained keen to bag. He attempted Meall Mor from Ballachulish. After a promising track turned out to be a dead end, he turned back before reaching the summit. Later in the day he departed for Glasgow to visit family.
The winter skills team were put through their paces on Carn Dearg, learning about bucket seats, body belays and T-axe belays. Carolyn, James, Jamie and Steve set out for a mountaineering day on the Inglis Clark ridge of Creise. But on finding the approach to it buried, they instead opted for the NE ridge of Sron na Creise. A great effort in the conditions.
Even more impressive, Andy and Clay had set off to climb North Buttress (IV,4) on Buachaille Etive Mor. They made good progress on the route, and after completing it in good time they descended by abbing the line. It had been snowing wet, heavy flakes all day, making the approach slopes very difficult to descend. They arrived back to the hut a bit later than expected but after a very enjoyable day.
Sunday 9th February
The conditions still hadn't improved, and it remained raining. The four winter skills trainees were almost the only ones to head out, and even they may have only done so because they'd paid in advance! Andy, Clay and Steve went gear shopping in Fort William. Carolyn, James, Jamie and myself drove to Kinlochleven. Jamie went for a walk, whilst Carolyn, James and I had a go at the indoor bouldering.
It wasn't quite the weekend we'd been hoping for, but thank you to all members who came along and made the best that we could of it. Particular thanks to Steve Graham for organising the winter skills course.
***UPDATE:*** All spaces now taken, this meet is full. 6/2/14
This 3-night meet is unique in that we are arranging formal training for winter skills/Scottish mountaineering as well as a meet at which experienced mountaineers can do their own thing too. Read on for further details.
We have 12 spaces booked (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, £9 per person per night) at the superbly located Alex MacIntyre Memorial Hut in North Ballachullish, halfway between Ben Nevis/Anoch Mor and Glencoe. An ideal meet for those wanting to get their eye in ahead of the forthcoming CIC Hut meet and the likely Norway ice climbing meet, as well as a chance for those wanting to attend a 3 day winter skills/Scottish mountaineering training course. Plus there are ample opportunities for winter walking (or skiing) for those who are confident in the hills in winter, but don't want to climb. On top of all this, there are classic mountaineering challenges close at hand, such as the Aonach Eagach ridge or the Ring of Steall.
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, and we can also consider investigating alternative accommodation if there is demand. Watch this space. 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 - details of which will be circulated to the membership via email. Only full and associate members are eligible for training. Exact training costs are yet to be confirmed but it is unlikely to exceed £125pp for 3 days tuition. bargain!! Hut accommodation, food and travel are not included in this training fee.
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 BMC participation statement (top of the Meets list page, http://www.karabiner.org/weekend/comingup.php) 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 email@example.com.