UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
That’s a rough outline of my movements over the past two weeks. A couple of weeks ago, I was running a Winter Mountaineering Course for Moran Mountain, in the North West Highlands. Despite a mixed week of weather, with some strong winds thrown in, we managed to climb Access Gully on Fuar Tholl, The Forcan Ridge in Glenshiel, Deep Gully South on Beinn Alligin and make a rapid traverse of all the tops of Liathach.
The following day, I flew south and made my way to the French Pyrenees for the final chapter (and assessment) of my International Mountain Leader Assessment. The week focused on leading groups with the use of snow shoes in Nordic terrain, with an emphasis put on environmental knowledge, route choice, avalanche and snow pack analysis, avalanche transceiver use, navigation and emergency rope-work. It actually of a far less technical nature to the assessments I’ve undergone in the UK (Mountaineering Instructor Award & Certificate, what do you mean ‘what’s the difference between an award and a certificate’?! Confusing terms I know, but this might help: Qualifications Explained), but a very useful qualification to finish, particularly with regards to working overseas.
I arrived back on Saturday, so after a day of catch-up, I was back out working on the Scottish hills today with Ryan, who I’ve been out a few times over the past couple of years. We’ve climbed some great routes together, including Avalanche Gully on Gearr Aonach, Hadrian’s Wall on Ben Nevis, Sinister Prong & George on Liathach, East Buttress on Beinn Eighe and Cobalt Buttress on Meall Gorm, so I was looking forward to another adventurous week. We kicked things off with a visit to Buachaille Etive Mor, and climbed North Buttress, a good option given the amount of fresh snow and windy conditions. Ryan made short work of the 4 pitches, and we abseiled back down the line rather than sticking our heads above the parapet today.