Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Mountain Equipment Guide Glove Review

Mountain Equipment have a long history of producing very good mountaineering kit, and the Guide Glove is no exception. Mountain Equipment describe the guide glove as being a "work horse glove for all round mountaineering".  It features a waterproof lining, nylon outer shell, a nose wiping thumb cover and a fibre pile and fleece lining.
These were the first gloves I ever bought for winter climbing in back in my first year at uni and I'm now on my third pair. Needless to say I really like them! I have used other gloves too but in the end I always come back to the Guides.
Guide Gloves being put through their paces on Sioux Wall
The insulation on these gloves seems to be a nice compromise between warmth and finger dexterity. Yes you will have more movement in the fingers in thin gloves and you'll be warmer in more insulated gloves but you need to find a balance between using fingers and feeling them. The guides seem to have done this very well.
I also like the little nose wiping patch. This wont work for er... a big pay load, but it does suffice to wipe away the shrapnel.
One of my first attempts at tooling  in Guides back in second year, not sure why I needed to woolly hat 
They also come with elastic wrist leashes. These are very useful for not accidentally dropping gloves half way up a route! We've all seen this done on the Ben haven't we. Don't be that person! Keep them attached to you at all times.
Guide gloves on the summit of Bein Bhan a long time ago!
Another useful feature for a winter glove is a hard wearing outer. Winter climbing ruins gloves but the guides do seem to stand up to a fair amount of abuse. The nylon shell seems to work well for this.
Used on Cornucopia too!
One bad aspect of these gloves is their waterproofness, or rather lack of. They just don't seem to really stay dry. This however has been a problem with all gloves I have ever used. Maybe its because my hands sweat too much. Who knows.
Last but not least is price. These gloves are quite cheap by winter gloves standards. You can usually find them at about £45. Seeing as you will go through gloves so fast I think it is a good idea to get relatively cheap ones. I have never found a pair of gloves which are as good as guides and this cheap!
I give Mountain Equipment Guide Gloves a rating of 1 thumb up, but it is oh so nearly 2! A top notch all round gloves!
Sorry about the pictures but its hard to get pictures of gloves. I am wearing the gloves in all of them, honest.
You can buy ME Guide Gloves from Outdoorkit.co.uk with 11% off!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Ben Nevis Winter Conditions 21.11.13

I made my way to the Ben with Dan Tait yesterday. The plan was to climb Cornucopia, but I suspected this would change as I got more scared on the walk in.
The first sight of the North Face showed some nice white looking upper cliffs, but the lower buttresses were still black.
The view from the hut was even better!
The Douglas boulder didn't look in. No easy short walk in options at the moment.

We walked up further into the corrie with cliffs getting whiter as we went higher. I managed to remain psyched for Cornucopia so I aimed for that. Sioux wall looked in a good lean condition, and The Secret looked in about the same condition of the cool picture of Andy doing the first ascent.
The weather was really nice all the way up being still and clear. This was until we reached No.3 Gully where the wind seemed to be funneled up it. I managed to flake the ropes up hill!
Pitch 1 of is supposed to be a steep snow pitch, but it was far from this. I had to mantle onto a stein pull, not a usual snow climbing technique. 

Pitch 2 is the crux pitch with what I have heard is supposed to be a bit of a perplexing crux. Despite getting hot aches just below the crux moves it didn't go down to badly. There are loads of small features for the feet and a nice fat crack for good gear and torquing. Despite a bit of glove faff Dan did well seconding this pitch, although he did fall off at the crux. Im quite impressed seeing as the previously hardest mixed he has climbed is Moonshadow (IV) in SCNL with me last year. 

The 3rd pitch was a cool little chimney. After the first few meters it felt quite secure so I just ran it out a bit to save time. We had taken a long time climbing this route so in the end we were both using head torches. 
Mixed things look good at the moment, especially high up. Winter is definitely here!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

SCNL Winter Conditions 19.11.13

Today I went to Stob Coire nan Lochan with Dan Tait and Helen Rennard with the intention of making the second ascent of Twisted (VII,7). The forecast looked good (really cold, not too windy) so waking up at 3am for the drive over wasn't too much hassle.
Stobe Coire

We met Helen in the car park and set off up. Things looked good, the snow line was low and it was feeling cold! It wasn't until it started getting light and I could start seeing the corrie that I was getting worried but I assured myself things would start looking whiter when we got closer. They didn't.
Twisted and Chimney Route

Unicorn and Scansor
We looked at twisted but it had a big black section at the bottom. Chimney route was a bit whiter but it was dripping. We walked along the crag but everything looked to have large no wintry looking sections. In the end we started up Crest Route, which is quite high up so we thought it was a good bet. I climbed pitch 1, which featured lots of bad truf! The start of pitch 2 however was completely black so we backed off and went for a walk to the top.
Crest Route Pitch 2
We had a look over at Bidean and the Lost Valley but nothing looked particularly white.
Lost Valley
In summary things aren't very in at the moment. Also it wasn't minus 5 degrees like MWIS had said it would be! Hopefully if the cold weather continues and things start getting blown around a bit some mixed lines may be in by the end of the week.
Also a tip. Don't walk around with your axes over your shoulder and your thumbs over the pommels. When you fall over it jars your thumbs. Mine hurt!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Drytooling Pilgrimage

This weekend I went on a bit of southern drytooling pligrimage visiting crags in both England and Wales.
On Friday morning I left Edinburgh for the Lake District venue of The Works with the idea of trying Greg Boswells new route Power Dab. I was to meet up with Andy Turner and Pete Holder there.
Power Dab gets D13, the hardest grade given to a dyrtooling route in Britian. It shares this grade with a route at Newtyle. I wasn't sure what to expect of the route. It looks super powerful with big moves, not usually the thing Im good at.
On only my second attempt on the route I managed to get all the moves done in 3 sections. I find the crux to be pulling onto the head wall after the roof. Andy managed to climb the route on his second attempt of the day bagging the second ascent!
That evening I made my way further south to the welsh tooling venue, White Goods, near Ruthin. The weekend was the annual White Goods Tooling meet organised by Dave Garry.
On Saturday I met up with others from Scotland; Steve Johnston, Neil Silver, Simon Yearsley and many others. I managed to flash White Goods (D8+), Jaz (D8) and Doorstep Challenge (D8+). I had a go at a new link up, which still hadn't been climbed at the time. It took a traverse line starting up Tumble in the Jungle and finishing up Ready Steady Hook. I had a good go but I took a big fall whilst clipping moving through The Finnish Start.
On Sunday I went back to The Works, this time with Pete Hill, to have a go on Power Dab again. I managed to decent link on it but I didn't have enough guns to finish it off. In the end I climbed Outfield (D7) and Lakes Ethics (D9+).
Hopefully there will be some pictures to follow!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Coire an Lochain Winter Conditions 10.11.13

On Sunday I made my second winter trip of the season to the classic early season venue of Coire and Lochain in the Northern Corries of Cairngorm.
Looking across to Savage slit and Fallout
The day started out a bit cold, windy and cloudy but I did see a few friends in the car park heading to t'Schneada. Today I was climbing with two friends from across the border, Pete Holder and Jack Loftus. Despite doing a lot of drytooling with Pete I had never winter climbed with him.
We had some wild ideas of trying something on the Happy Tyroleans wall (ok maybe that was me) and then Daddy Longlegs (me again). In the end we went for Ventricle (VII 8). Both Pete and I tried to lead the first pitch but got stopped by an awkward slopping ledge, just above a nice friendly ledge. It wouldn't have been so friendly if one of us had fallen on it. I also fell after trying the move a lot of times but one of the axes luckily stuck while all other points of contact came off. It shouldn't be this hard!
In the end we climbed The Aurcile (VI 7). The main overhanging corner crack pitch is definitely the crux, but it isn't all over on the last pitch either.
Auricle Pitch 1
Auricle Crux Pitch
Final Pitch
Conditions were good in the corrie with a healthy coating of rime covering all surface, except Fallout Corner (although it was probably still "in"). I found some bits of ok turf kicking about, although its far from perfect. Things appear to be in good early season condition at the moment.
We couldn't see any other teams climbing in the corrie, but I think the was a team on Hoarmaster. There was a big bit of rime missing on the buttress between the branches of Y-Gully, so maybe something was climbed up there too.
Lochain with its winter coat

Sunday, 3 November 2013

CAC Festival of Ice

The final
Yesterday was the first dry tooling competition of the season. It was a charity event at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven, organised in support of Climbers Against Cancer (CAC).
Qualification in the ice wall
It was a good competition, helped by the addition of some famous names to the start list. Olympic Ice Climber Andy Turner and the man-machine Greg Boswell both turned up to compete.
Kev  Shields and the rest of the team at the Ice Factor did a really good job of organizing a very good competition with people of all abilities having a really good day.
Checking out the final route
I only dropped points on one route getting 147/150. This put me in joint first with Greg Boswell, Andy Inglis and Ewan Rodgers. Also getting 147 was Andy Turner but he was competing in the veterans category. I managed to finish all the routes really early and handed my score sheet in first, which technically made me qualify in first.
My first place qualification meant that I was last out of isolation for the finals route up the main wall, which was set to its steepest angle. I had a lot of time to sit in isolation and get nervous. I was feeling pretty bad until I sat down and decided to just see this as training. A bit of nervy competition experience will be good for my future climbing.
The finals route wasn't too hard so I was a bit annoyed to fall off it, especially seeing as everyone else topped it out. This put me in fifth, with Greg winning, Stevie in second and Ewan in third. Andy managed to cruise to victory in the veterans and Fiona Murray won the womens competition.
I had a really good day and despite feeling that I could have done better I do now have something to work on for the next competition!
I have attached some pictures of me from the final taken by Gabi Tomescu, Dom Scott and GnBri Photography.

I thought I'd look silly popping off the first hold hence the concentration face.
Some big moves
Who needs feet?
Oh right yeah, me.