Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Dry, sunny, where's the snow!?

Back home to a very sunny, dry Scotland, where there is currently a lack of snow. I was out in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms yesterday hunting for the white stuff........
Coire an Lochain--the snowiest of the corries at present!!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

International Mountain Leader

I have spent the last two weeks out in the Bavarian Alps, Germany, preparing for and then taking the final (Winter) Assessment to become a fully-qualified UIMLA International Mountain Leader (IML). This is the highest qualification for leading trekking groups anywhere in the world, including Nordic-type terrain on snowshoe in winter. I am pleased to say I passed, after a tough assessment that covered many aspects of the syllabus including group leadership, navigation, snowpack and avalanche awareness, transceiver-shovel-probe use for avalanche rescue, winter belays and emergency rope-work, as well as lots of focus on the winter environment (trees, animal tracks etc). The award has taken the best part of three years of work after gaining the UK Summer Mountain Leader award, which is a pre-requisite for entry to the scheme, and includes separate weeks of summer training held in the UK, summer assessment held in the Alps, winter training held in the Alps and winter assessment in the Alps. So I am now qualified to lead treks anywhere, including in the European Alps, where the award is often legally required. So if you fancy a trip round the Tour du Mont Blanc, or along the walkers' Haute Route from Chamonix-Zermatt, or any other trip get in touch!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Allgau Alps

Currently over in Germany in the Bavarian Alps. After a slow start to the Alpine winter it has arrived with a vengeance and the last few days have seen some heavy snowfall. This is beautiful to look at, but makes for hard going on the snowshoes. Interesting avalanche conditions too, Category 4 out of 5 on some aspects and elevations today, with new wind-slab sitting on top of old, faceted weak layers. Looks like plenty of snow has fallen at home in the Highlands too, let's hope winter is here to stay this time!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Topsy Turvy and Happy 2017

 Happy  New Year, thanks to all those that have shared the hills with me in 2016 and here's looking forward to 2017.  It's been a strange December, with a few colder spells, but none that really lasted, "blink and it's gone". Now to start the New Year an Arctic blast has brought something more seasonal, and the Cairngorms are already starting to look much better. There is still relatively little snow, and it is of course unconsolidated, but it's an improvement. There is a suggestion of colder weather further into January too, so hopefully this is the start of the  "proper" winter.