Monday, 6 February 2017

Recharging in the mountains

Have I mentioned before that I love my job?  I really loved my job this weekend.


Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team have been earning their rescue points this week with various call outs so on Friday night there were a few weary looking guys when they turned up at Tulloch for their annual personal skills training.  Most people would look forward to a relaxing weekend with family and friends recharging the battery, but not these guys - they recharge in the mountains. 


On Saturday the majority decided to have a warm up on Creag Meagaigh - Rich took a smaller team to Aonach Mor to drop people over cornices by the sound of it.  The Creag Meagaidh circuit is normally an 8 - 10 hour summer walk so to do the circuit in full on winter conditions - and we are speaking about full on winter conditions - in about the same time was pretty impressive since there was a lot of instruction along the way.


For some more recharging we star bursted across the mountains on Sunday - we do like to keep our environmental footprint down.  A team on the Aonach Eagach, a team on the Ballachulish Horsehoe and 2 teams on Golden Oldie.  Happy times ...


Oh it does go without say that there was recharging / hydrating on the Saturday night.  This was made worse by the fact that Callum and Kenny were absent which meant that the one remaining bottle of beetroot wine (specifically reserved for this weekend) had to be consumed by Matt and Di.

Huge thanks to Richard Bentley, Matt Stygall and Mark Scales for being awesome people to work with and making this weekend a big highlight in my winter calendar. 

Monday, 30 January 2017

Into the deep

I am one very lucky girl because I get to meet some awesome people.


Ronny is off to attempt Lhotse this spring and Di is off to attempt Cho Oyu this spring, so 8000m peak training is the name of the game.


What does this actually means?  Mileage. Mileage. Mileage.


After Ronny sussing Di out and Di sussing Ronny out, we went off for a mini break.


In short: 3 days - 2 x routes (one with a ridiculously heavy pack on), 2 x munro's & 1 x bothy night. 


I am now topping up with Vitamin I and rehydrating with the vino tinto.  It is very important to stay rehydrated.


We are lucky enough to have one of the worlds best playground on our back door and the big skill in being in the right place at the right time.


These few days were one of the few when everything clicked together, especially when the fierce South Easterly winds picked up and blew us off the hill.


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Missing the one vital ingredient - ice

Oh for goodness sake, it even has ICE in it's name.  I should have known better having been to GREENland before and one thing that it is not, is GREEN.


However, if you don't take some gambles in life, it would be a very boring existence indeed.  Obviously winter is somewhat sparse in Scotland and the options in Norway weren't too appealing so we thought that we would go proper exploring.


We joked with the local Icelandic guides when we asked if they knew of any hidden gems where by magic the ice might have formed.  Their response was "You are 25 years late"!


With the only ice to be found in the glass tumblers we embraced Iceland Mountains to be rewarded with some truly amazing views as far as the eye could see.  Would I go back - absolutely!


Thursday, 19 January 2017

The turkey blubber

I love working with motivated individuals who are super keen to learn.  I've been lucky enough to be working on some the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust courses and the Mountaineering Scotland winter skills courses these past couple of weeks.


I feel that I am now pretty competent at seeking out dribbles of snow, being imaginative about routes and done enough ice axe arrests for the season.  I feel that I have burnt off the turkey blubber and would like to get onto steeper terrain now.  Which is a good thing really because from now I will be mainly on steeper terrain.


For those in the know, I had to cancel the Glenshee Skimo race this weekend which is really an excuse to cover myself in marker spray and ring a bell all day.


So instead of cheering on the nutters who call themselves Skimo racers I have a free weekend.  A bonus weekend.  A completely unplanned anything weekend.  The big question is what do 'normal' people do during the winter over the weekend?  Suggestions on a postcard ....


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Men in Black

Without doubt the best thing about my job is meeting people that you would otherwise never meet.  This weekend was no exception.


Wearing my Mountaineering Scotland wooly (err....) hat I had the pleasure of taking the mick out of 5 guys who wore black - enough said.


Black.  All they wore was black.  Black as coal.  Black as the ground we walked on.   Black.  Absolutely no use whatever for photographs!


Without doubt, the quote of the weekend:

[group walking out trying to link as many puddles of snow as possible.  2 ptarmigan woddle by.]

Di:   Look, some ptarmigan ....

Greig:  Oh, are they not white doves?

Di: [to herself, obviously unbelievably professional, WTF!]

Greig:  Oh, I was told that they were white doves ....

Di:  [snigger - failing miserably at being professional]

So, the Ptarmigan Restaurant will now always be known as the White Dove Restaurant and I will always snigger to myself next time I see those beauties.


Oh yes, and that is without doubt a can of Budweiser!


A massive thanks to the guys who made my last 2 days rather fun.   We might have learnt some cool stuff but it's all about the White Doves for me :)

Friday, 6 January 2017

The days are just fun packed

This is Divyesh.  Divyesh is keen.  On Wednesday he travelled up from London to Edinburgh to listen to Heather Morning passing on her years of wisdom for staying safe in the hills, as part of the Mountaineering Scotland winter lecture series.


On Wednesday evening, he travelled from Edinburgh to the Spey Valley.  On Thursday he met Di, who literally walked him into the evening.  In my eyes, if you want to get good at navigation there is no way better than navigating in the dark.  Especially when it's winter, cold and windy.


On Friday he spent all day playing on the ice getting very familiar with jumaring and fixed rope techniques in preparation for climbing big mountains.  As I am just about to relax with a glass of the red stuff, I think about Divyesh who is driving back to the Lakes and then after a few hours rest, returns to London.


Divyesh is keen.  Are you keen?

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A New Year

My, how time flies ...


The 5th Skimo Scotland race series kicked off against all the odds on the 28th December when the thought of putting skis on was far from anybodies mind.


I can never decide when a New year starts whether I should set myself a challenge since I normally always break it.  However, this year I am going to do my 2017 challenge.  Now, this could be to eat 2017 jelly beans (far too easy), drink 201.7 bottles of wine (challenging but possible) and to laugh 20.17 times (too easy) so instead my 2017 will involved biking, running and swimming.  Now this I think would be fairly easy without actually getting too much in the way of life.  However ...


I am just about to embark on the busiest 3 months of work and then it does actually look like this year I will mainly be living in a tent at ridiculously high altitudes so my 2017 challenge is going to be exactly that - a challenge.  However, if that's the only challenge I have to face this year, I really have it easy.

Happy New Year if you are actually reading this.