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If you don't want this for a time, please comment it-Fabian !Next Ice Climb
Manchester Indoor Ice Wall
Friday 1st December at 8:30am
If you don't want this for a time, please comment it-Fabian !Next Climb
Nottingham Indoor Wall Monday 16th October 4pm
[This is all a bit disjointed, as we were divided between two bunk houses, and then all doing different things during the daytime. Can people please fill in the gaps for me? Ta.]
Thursday: We set off for Scotland in high spirits, taking two minibuses and one van. There was some drama concerning the booking of the Tipsy Laird bunkhouse, double bookings, mattresses on floors, £200 going walkabout and nearly half the group having to stay in a youth hostel in Aviemore. The drive was long and fraught with roadworks and average speed cameras… but at least the chip shop in Penrith was still 'active' when we got there this time! The lack of snow seen on our way up was slightly disconcerting, but those of us who were still awake when we reached the Cairngorms were relieved to see lots of the white stuff. Annette played Peatbog Faeries (now renamed by Rob as "leprechauns on acid") on the last leg of the journey to stay awake. Despite the van not having a speed limiter, they still managed to reach Kingussie about 2 hours after the rest of us. Someone spread a rumour that they got lost in Preston, having chosen to rely on twatnav...
We notice that Phil keeps smiling, with uncharacteristic frequency... something is afoot...
Friday: Having got to bed at 3am, we were rudely awoken by Phil at 6.30am telling Brannock to perform administrative duties whilst still in bed. We reached Aviemore at 8.30am, to find the boot hire shop still shut (till 9am), despite advertising 8.30am as their opening time. Doh. There was also a slight epic trying to locate the guides. We attempted driving all three vehicles to the Cairngorm Ski Centre, but the road became impassable due to snow and ice. Some ar*seh*le driving an estate car jammed on his anchors right in front of the van, necessitating sudden breaking, which send the van skidding sideways across the road. Fortunately Rosie was skilled enough to prevent the van from careering off the road, which would have led to far too much paperwork. There was a bit of an epic getting the van turned round, but eventually Rosie got the van back down the hill. It turned out that the tyres on the van were completely bald- hence the skidding. Oh, and the van was rear wheel drive... Much credit to Chris, Rosie and Emma for getting the van to Kingussie in one piece! MWIS forecasted whiteout with high winds and blizzards. It turned out much better than that, with it being clear for most of the day. There was lots of snow in the gullies but much easier to walk on than the waist-high powder we encountered at New Year!
Climbers: Having parked the minibuses at the big orange gates further down the hill we walked to a fantastic gully which had lots of snow, complete with cornices and icy slopes perfect for sliding down. :) We practiced ice axe arrests, using crampons etc, as we were all a bit rusty, not helped by the fact that most of us were half asleep, having only had 3-4 hours kip the night before. We learned how to construct various snow belays, abseiled off a snow bollard and then trudged back to the road, badly in need of food, beer and sleep.
Walkers: Walked from the snow gates to the car park at Coire Na Ciste. We learned how to walk about on hard snow by cutting steps, and were duly attacked by reindeer when eating lunch (it did happen, they are formidable when in their natural environment). Reindeer molested Matt Styles and followed Alex around. Kicking snow around, more cutting steps, frolicking in crampons... Practiced ice axe arrests- Dean disappointed by low velocity descent on said slope. Reindeer came back for more- they took a particularly keen interest in Alex. Some who were boosted by confidence attempted climbing up and down small steepish slopes of ice near the alpine road, before retreating through the snow all the way back to the snow gates.
Everyone not on a course: Briefly considered walking to Corrie An T-Sneachda, then thought sod it, lets go skiing. Hired Telemark skis off some Russian bloke and tried to ski around a track in a forest. Occasionally had to jump out of the way of huskies pulling a sled, to avoid being mauled. Lots of falling over and generally failing to get the hang of the skis- except for Mat Savage, who has thighs of steel and was caning it around the track at a significant rate of knots, or so I have been told. Spent the afternoon hanging around in a cafe. Sean took photos of huskies getting it on [evidence please!]. Brannock and Greg tried dry tooling up a tree, got scared and backed off… or rather the tree got Brannocked and retreated to a safe distance.
That evening in the absence of the VP at the Tipsy, Phil cooked sausage casserole which was exactly what we all needed after a long tiring day. His generous use of tabasco sauce was particular well received. Alex was observed drinking a mysterious herbal concoction with his dinner- which may help explain why the reindeer took such an interest in him! Only 11 of the 18 people staying at the Tipsy Laird made it to the pub that evening and fortunately everyone was far too tired to do karaoke. Jonny declared his enthusiasm for Sheepshagger Ale while Matt told everyone that he shags sheep. Heather discovers a 'perfect' quote in some local guidebook: "I had a little whisky and water as the people declared pure water would be too chilling"- Queen Victoria, 1859. Couldn't agree more.
Saturday: Climbers: Stu, Annette, Rosie and Steve climbed up an unnamed mixed route up the side of Fiacaill ridge (I think). We were frozen solid by the Arctic winds, but otherwise had an awesome day- thank you Jonathan for putting up with our ineptitude! Chuter, Tim, Jonny and Chris battled their way up a lot of snow nearby, getting much practice at digging bucket seats. Jonny constructed a rubbish buried axe belay, which promptly failed, so Jonny fell out of his bucket seat to the amusement of those present.
Walkers: spared the walk in from the snow gates, they walked down from the Ski Centre to a gully out of the wind, where they built several emergency shelters in small teams. Some were then merged into one large emergency palace (a la Ice Hotel) and banquets/sandwiches were held/eaten in each palace/snowhole. They then tried out using ropes, digging snow bollards, bucket seats, ice axe belays while avoiding rather large cracks in the ice which some people fell in, and practised abseiling without harnesses, using sling harnesses (Dean still thinks that the sling wouldn't fit) and some basic belay knots. A certain steepening slope turned out to be a short vertical drop, causing some angst.
Captain Brannock, Sean and Mat Savage climbed Red Gully at Coire An T-Sneachda (120m II **). Sean had Achilles tendon issues when standing of front points. Much suffering from hot aches. Digging through son and ice to find gear placements.
Greg led a walk. [participants? details?]
Phil & Ben: Fiacaill Ridge (130m II *) Had to walk across an avalanche slope, through a whiteout, otherwise uneventful. Phil reports that the ski centre cafe does an awesome hot chocolate, but you 'must' have marshmallows with it.
Phil cooked chilli and rice for dinner- which was much appreciated! There was a slightly better turn out at the pub that evening, but the Sheepshagger ale did not flow as freely as the night before as everyone was flagging visibly.
Sunday: Rosie, Steve…[ andwho else?] learned about crevasse rescue. Sean, Annette, Alex, Hamish and Brannock went skiing on Cairngorm. Alex turned out to be a ski-prodigy and zipped down the black runs with minimal effort. Annette skied for the first time in over a decade and somehow didn't fall over or break anything, even when goaded down a red run by Alex. The pistes were in excellent condition, although a bit short for those of us used to skiing in the Alps. Well worth skiing there before global warming stops all the fun! Luke led Red Gully (II) with Greg seconding and Pete led Goat Track Gully (II) with Mathew S.
Ben lead Alex S, Sarah, Dean, Matt and Matt to the summit of Cairn Gorm, tempting fate by ascending from the Ski Centre up a red run (almost devoid of skiers and snowboarders). Much posing with Gordon the Pineapple was had in front of the weather station, because Ben said the capsule opened every so often to collect data and he wanted to be there to witness it. After a short period of time the idea was as frozen as the horizontal icicles on the weather station so the group descended by the route of ascent, with notable attempts at bumsliding all the way back to the car park resulting in the walk getting back to the warmth of the cafe just after midday.
Stu, Jonny, Jes, Tim and Rob went climbing. An epic was had- which I will leave to those involved to report.
The van left at… 2.30pm-ish with most of the gear but no stores key. Luke and Annette set off with one minibus load of people at 5pm, driving back via Perth to get fish and chips, and Tom Yates' house in Tadcaster to get keys for Luke's house. Everyone else arrived at the chippy in Aviemore at 9:45pm, fifteen minutes before it shut, after said epic had drawn to a close, and left Aviemore at 10:15pm, arriving in Nottingham just before sunrise at 7am ready for lectures. The M6 at 3 in the morning is completely devoid of all traffic and highly recommended!