Friday 9 February 2007

Mountain Equipment Winter Week

Every year my sponsors Mountain Equipment run a week of winter skills courses for outdoor retail staff which gives ME a chance to show their kit working in the environment its designed for, and for the shop staff to get out and learn the skills you need to travel about on winter mountains and have a good time too! Our base was the Plas Y Brenin’s Scottish home from home in Ballachulish. I joined in too for the crack and to do some presentations at night.

These weeks are always a really interesting insight for me into the world of instructing and guiding climbing, not to mention talking about climbing gear a lot. Although it has many appeals and the Brenin team seem to have a whale of a time, I have never been keen to become a mountain guide myself. I’m lucky right now that there is a rapidly growing interest in coaching pure performance in climbing. Both disciplines have a massive variety of knowledge required to pass on to students, which make them very interesting. When it comes down to it I suppose I like performance coaching better because I get to deal closely with movement on rock and mental tactics as the ‘main course’ of the activity, and I don’t have to walk in to Stob Coire every day!

However, the 4.45 return to the hotel for tea and cakes was most convenient, allowing time for a hasty fingerboard session in my room (once I’d found a decent doorframe) before dinner, and then a rapid fire session in the Ice Factor bouldering wall. One thing about training with very limited time is that it really helps you stick to priorities and get down to business. I had an excellent anaerobic 30 move circuit set in minutes and by home time my forearms looked like balloons. Returning back to a long term boulder project the following week I was amazed that I dispatched a link that has been two years in the making. Hopefully the endurance kick will help me out in Spain first, but afterwards its time to get serious and see if I can finish off the Dumby project. I am starting to feel my fitness returning. The spring is taking shape.

Here are some more shots from the week. The one above is a wintery stream in the Mamores.

Dorsal Arete
Practising Ice axe breaking on a wild day.

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