Talisman Vimeo Videos

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Carpe diem, lean conditions provide unique Cairngorm climbing opportunities!

A good freeze so exploring several easy winter and alpine rock lines.

The power of the internet, Guided group on Rampline not Central!

Carpe diem, it's probably all gone now ;-)

I've been guiding in the Cairngorms for over 25 years and despite all the nonsense talked on online forums by the Facebook generation, erratic and lean winters are not that uncommon especially in the UK.
I remember the great winters in 1963 and in 1981/82 and more recently but I also remember the poor winters in the late 80's and mid to late 90's when folk were saying it was the end of the ski industry and most of the local village ski schools had to close.
At that time the National Outdoor Centre had to cancel or postpone many of the Winter Mountain Leader and Mountaineering Instructor Certificate courses The skiing and Mountain Ski Leader courses were particularly affected over a number of years.
I especially remember this period as I was preparing for a number of demanding and expensive mountaineering assessments, which had to be postponed or cut short until the following year, the same happened the year after and again and yet again!
However during this period I was fortunate to have some of the leading local 'lodge' instructors take us to an assortment of venues to make the best use of the limited but available snow.
We also had the use of the Cairngorm chair lift for easy access into the back of the Cairngorms.
As preparation for my Winter ML and MIC, I spent a lot of my time bivvying or snow-holing near the El Alamein refuge and at Ciste Mhearad, so got to know the area really well.
For my MIC, I would often use the eastern slopes for general instruction and guiding, away from the far too busy and in consequence, IMHO dangerous more popular venues.
Recently following several fatalities and near misses that I've witnessed, some caused by human error, I now stay clear of many of the popular routes at peak season.
Many, so called, experienced folk have been saying there's no snow and no winter climbing and have been resorting to indoor ice venues or roadside dry tooling or even worse climbing and logging on UKC, loose rubble strewn climbs in the Northern Corries.

Yet, if folk opened there eyes, studied the weather and avalanche forecasts, looked around and used a bit of common sense and imagination, they would realise there's a whole new world of exciting alternatives to standing around in queues being hit by rocks/ice, below a clearly bare but starred guidebook route!
For many what is lacking is the ability to make logical and rational judgements about the world and their surroundings without resorting to generally unreliable or skewed information on the internet, then trying to climb a death route because "computer says.." it's "got three stars" along with all the other lemmings.
Without being able to make adaptable, logical and rational judgements based on experience and learning from the past, not only will it impact on your personal climbing, but it will influence the type of political leaders we all get and our future!

I climb for the fun and adventure, the video above was taken yesterday on a non existent route, non existent venue, on non existent snow - it's not a classic starred Grade 5 but I certainly enjoyed it, had the  whole crag to myself and had a great adventure ;-)

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