Mountain Trainin Picture

Mountain Trainin Picture

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Orkney Outdoor Learning Programme - (Week 1) 25th - 29th May 2015

For the last week I have been based on Hoy, Orkney, where I will be working for the summer (3rd year in a row!).

During this week myself, Dave and Mick have been instructing pupils from Kirkwall Grammar school who have made their annual pilgrimage to the isle of Hoy to partake in a residential programme. This week has seen the pupils participate in sessions from coasteering to gorge walking and climbing wall tower to tyrolean
Tyrolean crossing...

Climbing wall tower...
1 week down and 9 to go for myself. Lets hope the weather improves...

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

CWLA Assessment...

Today (22nd may 2015) myself, Andy, Jack and Selena participated in a CWLA assessment course run by Mark Garland of Channel Training.

Aspects of the assessment included:

Personal belaying...
  • Introduction to centre facilities.
  • Risk assessing.
  • Session planning.
  • Warming up strategies.
  • Personal climbing (at F6a) and belaying.
  • Progressive teaching of falling and best practice.
  • Running a learning to lead session with mock students (teaching clipping, lead belaying, falling, catching falls etc).
  • Practical discussions.
  • Review of test paper and discussions on various results.
  • Individual feedback.
  • Results. 

Teaching a method of clipping quickdraws...

Massive thanks to Mark for running the assessment and thanks to the 6 mock students who volunteered for the day.
Massive well done to everyone who passed.

[Photos taken by Mark Garland]

Monday, 11 May 2015

Climbing for all CPD...

This Saturday just passed (May 9th 2015) I participated in a Climbing For All CPD workshop which was run by Graeme Hill. Graeme is the team manager for the GB Para-climbing team an is an avid enthusiast for the inclusion of all individuals within sport regardless of physical and psychological ability.

Aspects of the syllabus included:

  • Appropriate and inappropriate language.
  • Hoisting systems.
  • Types of harness.
  • Sight assisted climbing.
  • Wheelchair abseiling.
Wheelchair abseiling...

Sight assisted climbing...

An informative course and highly recommended for coaches working with individuals/groups with additional needs.

Until next time...

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Morocco - April/May 2015...

On the evening of Tuesday the 28th April 2015 a group of ten of us touched down in Marrakech airport, Morocco. We were met there by one of our Moroccan fixers who organised our transport to the village of Imlil. Once here we swapped vehicles and all piled in to a death-trapesque minibus which had only three conventional seats. Following a ten minute journey up terrifying mountain tracks we finally arrived at our hostel for the night in the higher region of the village. We were treated to some tasty Moroccan soup and bread and lamb tajine before winding down for the night.

Myself on the trek to the Toubkal Refuge...
Day 1 - Imlil to Toubkal Refuge (1,740 - 3,200 metres): 

We woke early in the morning and were greeted with bread, jam and some morning tea to set us up for the long trek ahead of us for the day. Once finished we helped the muleteers load the mules with our rucksacks and equipment before they disappeared up the valley out of sight.
The trek between Imlil village and the Toubkal refuge is a very gradual trek with a distance of roughly 10 kilometres and a height gain of 1,460 metres. The group done the trek in roughly 5 hours, allowing a gradual increase to a higher altitude.
Once we had all arrived we were treated to copious amounts of food for both lunch and dinner before resting for the next days walk.
Refuge altitude...

Day 2 - Toubkal Refuge to Mountain Pass High-point (3,200 - 3,680 metres):

Ben nearing the col high-point of 3,680 metres...
On the 2nd morning we planned to have an easy day. This allowed for the whole group to acclimatise slowly and for some members of the group to get a feel for wearing crampons and using an ice axe. It was agreed that we would head for the high-point of 3,680 on one of the many mountain ridges in the area. Myself and Ben, feeling comfortable, made quick progress  and reached the col where we waited for the rest of the group to arrive. Enjoying the view and taking the obligatory tourist photos we headed back to the refuge before the snow had a chance to soften in the early afternoon sunshine. Once back at the refuge we made the decision to rest and to ascend Jbel Toubkal the following day.

Day 3 - Toubkal Refuge to Jbel Toubkal Summit (3,200 - 4,167 metres):

Ben, Lou and myself on the summit of Jbel Toubkal...

We woke just before 5am, had breakfast and were ready to leave the refuge at roughly 5:30am. We left as a group of 10 and progressed up the normal route of ascent as the morning light extinguished the need for our head torches. By the time we had reached the bottom of the broad ridge leading to the summit we had separated in to 3 distinct groups. Myself, Ben and Lou led off and reached the narrow ridge which leads up to the summit. Weaving our way between the ridge the 3 of us reached the summit of Jbel Toubkal, 4,167 metres  at 9:20am. Here, we took more obligatory  photos whilst we waited for the rest of the group to arrive. At roughly 10:15am the whole party was on the summit for the group photo. Once completed, myself and Ben descended quickly down the ridge in an attempt to beat the sun which would soon be turning the snow underfoot in to wet slush. We arrived back at the refuge after a successful ascent and descent at 11:48am. Our first peak over 4,000 metres in the bag we relaxed in the midday sun before tucking in to more Moroccan cuisine.

Day 4 - Toubkal Refuge (3,200 metres) to Ras n-Ouanoukrim (4,088 metres) and Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim (4,083 metres) Summits:
The 'nutcracker stone'...

Having arrived back at the refuge early the previous day we had adequate enough rest to have another early morning and another mountain day. This time, myself, Ben, Lou, Ben and Jon had breakfast at 5:30am and left the refuge at 5:50am. The objective was to reach the summits of both Ras n-Ouanoukrim and Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim. The 2nd and 3rd highest peaks in Morocco. Ben led off and we made quick progress arriving at the high col at 7:30am. Ahead of the estimated guidebook time. We headed up past the 'nutcracker stone' and reached the East Ridge which we scrambled to reach the summit of  Ras n-Ouanoukrim, 4,088 metres at 9am. After a few brief minutes enjoying the view from the summit we descended to the bealach and started heading up towards the summit of Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim. We made quick progress up the easy angled ascent and arrived on the summit of Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim, 4,083 metres at 9:39am. We had a quick look at the queues amassing on the ascent of Jbel Toubkal through the binoculars and decided to descend. We made quick progress on the descent and arrived back at the refuge at 11:57am. Another successful day and for myself, Ben and Lou another 2 peaks over 4,000 metres in the bag.

View of Jbel Toubkal from Ras n-Ouanoukrim...

Day 5 - Toubkal Refuge (3,200 metres) to Aguelzim (3,650 metres) summit and Azib Tamsoult (2,250 metres) Refuge:
Myself  under one of the waterfalls...

On this day we planned to ascend Aguelzim (3,650 metres) and then trek to the Azib Tamsoult refuge. We had a late start this day having breakfast at 7:30am and leaving the Toubkal refuge at 9am. We left the bulk of our equipment with the mules and set off along the track which makes a gradual ascent just below the Aguelzim ridge before arriving at a high mountain pass. From here, a handful of us headed further along the ridge and reached the summit of Aguelzim (3,650 metres) at 11:30am before returning to the rest of the party. Now altogether we made the long trek down the valley through some stunning terrain and passing several waterfalls before arriving at the Azib Tamsoult refuge at 15:20pm. Here we were treated to fresh salad, omelettes and Moroccan mint tea . Having eaten copious amounts of food and packed our bags we had some rest for the following day.

Day 6 - Azib Tamsoult Refuge (2,250 metres) to Imlil Village (1,740 metres):
View looking back to the Azib Tamsoult refuge on
the trek to Imlil

As planned, this was to be our last walking day of the trip. We had breakfast at 8am, left our equipment with the mules and left the refuge at roughly 9:50am. We trekked through more stunning terrain and finally reached the village of Imlil after roughly 5 hours of trekking. Here, we enjoyed some lamb tajine and mint tea before we were driven to Marrakech where we would spend the night before travelling back to the UK.

All in all a very successful trip for the whole group. Special thanks must go to the 2nd year degree group who allowed us to participate in their expedition. Thanks also go to Ben and Jon.

Group shot outside the Toubkal Refuge...

Until next time...