The winter weather of 2015/16 will certainly be a remembered; although I fear, for the wrong reasons. So far this season we have struggled to maintain a consistent snowpack for snow sports. Any success has revolved around mixed climbing (snowed up rock climbing) with little in the way of descent ice conditions. The winds have also been ferocious with recorded speeds of 144mph ontop of Cairngorm Mountain just last weekend. The warm winds coupled with torrential rain and localised flooding have made business a little slower than usual but nethertheless I have enjoyed a few great days out with clients and personal climbing with friends.
Following my recent back injury I was keen to get climbing as soon as I got the green light from the specialists. Psychologically I knew the first few outings would be difficult as I had to trust that I was ‘fixed’ and there wouldn’t be a recurring problem with my disk. Ken and I climbed Crest Route in Glencoe as an early test of will, and a test it was. I was pleased my fitness had remained healthy given the recent amount of inactivity but my head needed allot of convincing to get on with the tough moves on the upper pitch. Thankfully Ken was patient and held the ropes whilst I made slow upward progress. During the descent I recited Mathew Syed’s book, Bounce; to ensure I picked the positives out of the day rather than dwelling on the hesitant mind set I had experienced on the route. The book is excellent and highly recommended to anyone interested in sports at the highest level of performance. Since that day in Glencoe there have been a few minor niggles but overall I feel the operation has been a total success and a real game changer.
As I have already mentioned conditions have not been great recently but many people have been enjoying a good battle with the weather; something I strongly believe is part of the Scottish Winter climbing scene. As instructors, we certainly don’t want to put people off our cherished sport and so it is important to ensure clients have a good experience and learn as much as possible even in adverse weather conditions. Recently the vast majority of my work has been introductory winter mountaineering and skills development, which in some ways is the most important role we can play as instructors and guides as the skills we teach will be the foundation of their climbing for years to come.
It still feels like the season is yet to get started which is strange considering it is now February – fingers crossed the most recent storms will leave us with some nice ice to climb during the coming weeks!