I had an amazing week in Glen Coe with Jagged Globe on my Winter Mountaineering Course. I drove up on Sunday, enjoying the views along the way, arriving after seven hours ready to check in to the Isles of Glen Coe Hotel and to attend the first briefing at 6pm. After a kit check and dinner, I prepared my rucksack for an early start on Monday morning. Each day we ate breakfast at 7am and left the hotel at 7.30am, making an early start into the mountains. After a full day of mountaineering, only stopping briefly to grab a bite to eat en route, we returned around 5.30pm to get ourselves cleaned up before dinner and to turn our rooms into drying rooms for our wet kit! On two evenings we had lectures, on one avalanches and one on the range of climbing and trekking peaks we can tackle. They were both really interesting and certainly got me inspired for future challenges!
Each day we were challenged to learn new skills, including:
- Ice axe use and arrest
- Crampon familiarisation in variety of trekking and climbing situations
- Abseiling and belaying over cornices
- Bucket seat belaying
- Stomper belaying
- Navigation in zero visibility
- Ice climbing techniques
- Plus many more!
The course was led by two superb experts, Mungo and Andy, and I was in a team of six, with five blokes ranging from 15 – 53! We had five fantastic days together, summiting in some terrible conditions and completing our first snow gully climb up Broad Gully to the Stob Coire nan Lochan summit (1115m). The week was spent up to our knees in snow, sometimes up to our waists, or if we were below the ice line, in torrential rain. We climbed, puffed, got a little scared, celebrated our achievements and laughed. It was a brilliant week and I feel really challenged to start full on training for the Mount Elbrus expedition in August. Plus, I also have a few new ideas for the December trek this Christmas!
So, that means challenges 8 and 11 are nailed!
One week and I will be in my wonderful home country of Scotland! I cannot wait to hit the road and drive up North, ready to start a Winter Mountaineering course with Jagged Globe. The course is preparation for the August Mount Elbrus expedition and will enable me, along with many other things, to learn how to use my new ice axe and crampons. We are staying at the Ballachulish Hotel and given the recent weather, I am confident of a lot of snow and freezing conditions. They say that the Scottish winter might be colder and harsher than the Russian expedition in August…I am ready to pack every warm item of expedition kit I own!! This trip is going to be a real eye opener for me to appreciate what I might face in August.
My old Uni friend, Andi Puddicombe, is an expert in the art of meditation and truly understands the benefits it brings to life. I understand the theory, the rationale, exactly why I should be meditating but struggle, in my hectic life, to make time focus fully in order to meditate effectively. I’ve tried his Headspace app and each time I either fall asleep or become distracted as my thoughts ‘wander off’. This new job has brought a whole new level of challenge and stress, with my time-management skills and work-balance being truly tested to their limits. I know that this year I need to get to grips with how I balance all aspects of my life. I have been searching online and found a Meditation Centre down in East Sussex. I’ve booked on to a meditation weekend in late May and, realising that this is a long time coming, I have also located a Transcendental Meditation Centre in Sheffield. Hopefully I can take some introductory classes there in the next month or so and start to find some headspace of my own.
Paul has been the organiser of the French-based challenges…visiting Paris and incorporating a meal at a Michelin Star Restaurant. He isn’t home from Saudi until April so he has booked a few days at Easter for us to sample the delights of this wonderful city. We have two nights at the Le Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel – http://www.leroyalmonceau.com – a truly amazing hotel, such extravagance I have never experienced before – and a table at the only Italian One Star Michelin Restaurant in France, Il Carpaccio. With a pre-trip stay in London, Eurostar to Paris and two nights in this hotel, I’m sure we will have an amazing trip. I definitely need to purchase some smarter clothes than my usual trackies and trainers so that I can blend in with the crowd!
I’m not sure why I picked Clay Pigeon Shooting as a challenge. I’ve never picked up a gun before and in essence was a little curious to see how hard it was to shoot a moving clay. I searched online and found Cockett’s Farm near Ollerton, a hub of expertise in the clay shooting world. With Mum and Dad due up for the weekend to celebrate Mum’s 70th birthday, it was a perfect opportunity to have some family fun and share the experience. So, I booked for the three of us and then surprised them at lunchtime yesterday when I told them to get their shoes on, we were going shooting!
After signing our lives away and promising not to do anything silly, we headed out to the grounds to start our lesson. It looked so easy…needless to say, I quickly worked out that it wasn’t. I won’t be giving up my day job, I was easily the least accurate shooter of the three of us and Dad proved that his years of archery had developed a keen eye for the clay, as he blew lots of them out of the sky! Mum fared a little better than me, and her whoops of excitement when she hit a clay were just brilliant. We were like big kids! We had great fun, rounded off with coffee and chocolate afterwards in the club house. I think Dad might be back for another go…I’ll stick to the coffee and taking the photos!
Sharp shooter Dad…
Hit and miss me!
Mum in action under Ken’s watchful eye!