Thursday 7 November 2019

Another summer over.

This year I spent much of the summer in Fort William working in an office. This was my first summer in the Fort for a few years, and to be honest I found it quite midgy, damp and busy. I definitely prefer winter!
I managed a bit of rock climbing in Scotland, but not a huge amount and certainly nothing that I felt warranted writing about. Perhaps the highlight of the summer was a trip to Alaska. It was a work trip, and I spent the first week or so working up on the North Slope. I then stayed out for a week or so after to do my own thing. I didn't do any climbing, but did a bit of general rambling around some glaciers, stayed in a small mountain hut for a few nights, had a day rafting and just generally pottered about. Alaska has a very wild feel about it, and is somewhere I would like to return to.
The Pilchers Perch hut in the bottom corner of the shot, not a bad outlook. I stayed there for a couple of nights.
Portage glacier. I did a bit of rambling around and went for quite a nice walk down to the Lake below the glacier. 
After finishing work in early October I managed a ten day sports climbing trip to Spain. I went to the area around Oliana, an area that I had not visited before. It is hard not to get inspired  by the crags out there in general, and in particular in the crag Oliana itself. There were a lot of  really impressive routes there, some that I would love to project. It was a great trip, and I despite not really having done much over the past few years, seemed to be climbing reasonably well.
Myself (on the skyline) climbing at Tres Ponts. I though Oliana was a more impressive crag, but for some reason did not take any pictures of it. 
A few days after returning from Spain, winter arrived on the Scottish hills.
Winter arrived in Scottish hills in late October. 
I was quite busy in preparing for another stint in Antarctica (something I will write about soon), but did manage a quick morning jaunt up Aonach Mor, and was pleasantly surprised to see how much snow there was. It seems likely that the lasting snow of the winter had arrived. Unfortunately it came a bit late for the snow patches in the West Coast hills, the last of these seems to have melted around the 5th of October. However, over in the Cairngorms, the sphinx patch in Gardh Coire Mhor does seem to have survived, but only just. I didn't have time to head over to have a look at it myself, but my friend Iain Cameron did, and writes a good summary of his adventures here

I did manage a day out over in the Cairngorms before leaving.  Over the last eight months of so I have been doing a bit of work with SAMS (Scottish Association of Marine Science) developing instrumentation to monitor snow conditions.  Just before I left a manged days work to installing some test equipment in the Cairngorms to monitor development of the snowpack over the winter. The BBC picked up on the story, it can be seen here.

Installing snow measuring equipment with staff from SAMS

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