Its Always Sunny Somewhere

“It is one of humanity’s interesting and perverse psychological quirks that from the enduring and overcoming of these difficulties and discomfort, some considerable quota of the appeal of mountaineering derives” Jim Perrin

While many people are leaving facebook and social media I decided this summer to engage with it more. I’ve always taken a lot of photos but haven’t always been the best at sharing them. Part record, part memory and part an attempt so show amazing places, a lot of my photos still end up hidden on harddrives and I thought I would have a go at sharing these more. Its easier than ever to take good photos, tag your friends and show the amazing places that a lot of us get to but I always feel these photos don’t tell the full story. First of all, all photos are filtered. We filter by choosing where to look, what to capture in the frame and the moment in which to press the shutter. We choose whether to make our friends look cool and competent or like they have no idea whats going and are a complete junkshow depending on location, posture and facial expression. I try and make myself take photos of both the best and the worst of whats going on around me and have been trying to share both. The reaction to sharing more photos has been strange. When I see friends they already know what I’ve been up to and a few people have commented on how much climbing I’ve been doing.   In fact its about the same amount as normal, I’ve just put more photos of it online and feel that I’ve actually done a lot of work this year.

I know that some friends with more normal jobs away from the outdoors sometimes struggle to see others day to day photos on social media but in my opinion the uploading of these photos is like forgetting the cold you had last week when someone asks you what you were up to. You only see the good stuff and assume that’s all there is.

So here are a few photos that show some of the day to day stuff over the summer spending almost every day out on the hills, lochs, rivers and sea. Also some photos of Yosemite with Sam where I mainly took pictures of us creeping slowly upwards or eating.

(For some reason I cant edit the size of the images just now -sorry!)

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Whisky on the beach at the end of days paddling with some lovely people and a wee fire.  What could be better?  Well, the next morning to be honest.  When I took this photo I was pretty worried about the exact time the storm forecast for the next day would turn up.  As it was we just managed to get off the water by 1030am with me having to push one of the clients well into her stretch zone – not great for either of us but by 12 it would have been unmanageable and I would have been faced with a long walk and some very miserable clients.

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Your friends have the time off and so do you and theres classic routes to be climbed right near your house.  Adam approaching the halfway mark on a route thats known to involve balancy climbing on small slopey holds as the rain rolls up the glen. (you can see the rain spots on the lens).  Not all days go as planned.

The dreaded midge.  Somehow we seem to forget about these guys (girls actually).

I seem to have missed the memo given to all outdoor professionals that you lay your kit out in a size/alphabetical/colour coded order with whats in the bag clearly labeled.  My approach is much more “all that kit has to go into that boat”.  (note –  the double gas burner stove (bottom right) does need some careful consideration to get it into a hatch)

As long as it looks neat on the outside.

A good friend asked me this summer if I ever got fed up with camping.  Yes – sometimes I really do but only if I forget my book (which I did on this particular expedition.  I was forced to read the whole of the flora and history sections of the scrambling guidebook).  This was some young officers tent after one night of rainfall on skye after we’d abandoned scrambling the day before due to the torrential rain.

Fellow Mountain Professional Lawrie Brand with two young officers in tow on the Lochan traverse the morning after the torrential rain.  No matter what the weather something still needs to be achieved.  (I think Lawrie tried to make me promise not to put this photo online)

First day of climbing in the dolomites.  Every other photo from this day shows beautiful views and amazing climbing.

The endless gear shuffle.  Sam unpacking the hire car below Leaning Tower in Yosemite.  I probably spend as much time packing and unpacking bags as I do actually climbing.

Carrying in to the base of Leaning Tower.  This bag was probably 50kg.

“Please stop taking photos”  Sam on his first proper lead of our trip on the extremely intimidating “West Face” of Leaning Tower.

Bivy ledge on the Leaning Tower as the sun sets.  Idyllic to some but not everyones cup of tea.  

Sam realising that in our sleep deprived state we had failed to read the full name on the tin.  We had read “Sausage and Rigatoni” and failed to see the word “soup” underneath.  Thankfully american soups tend to be pretty hearty!

Endlessly sorting gear.  I admit that for big walling its worth counting and laying everything out!

Sam leading off on pitch two of the nose making all the gear sorting etc worth while.

A lot of the climbing on the nose is not that hard (by Aid climbing standards) but it feels pretty out there.

Half dome from the top of El Cap.  Despite loving taking photos I was largely too tired on this trip to bother with the taking of any landscapes.   Sam doing a slight alternative on the “South Face” of Washington Column after I suggested it might make a better photo.Busy ledge.  The reality of climbing popular routes is that there are often others there with you.  There were 4 teams on this ledge and one of them was fairly scarey in their behaviour.  When I took this photo there was still one guy cleaning the pitch above us with some dubious techniques and advice.  Meeting other teams can be fun, educational, inspirational or downright terrifying.

Next for me is a few months work at Signy Research Station in the South Orkneys off Antarctica.  In the interest of sharing more photos I’m going to aim to keep this blog more up to date with the day to day life on an Antarctic Station.  Dont worry – there should be lots of photos of cute penguins too!

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Morocco and the Dolomites

Its raining outside and I’ve been to the indoor wall twice in the last four days.  Something tells me the Scottish summer might finally be over.  Not that I’ve been here much recently, a work trip to Morocco followed by a Dolomites climbing trip has meant that I’ve missed the start of the rain.  Two weeks in Morocco with a school group was amazing.  I really value these trips for the time you get to chat to locals and see what they have to say as well as experience the amazing food and differences in culture.  Not too many photos I’m afraid.931A8820-HDR

Sunset over Marrakech on our first night.931A8914

While building some new toilets at a remote school this man invited all of us into his house.  Fresh bread, nuts and mint tea are some of my favourite things and it was amazing to see how simply the Berber people live.  (You can just spot his grandson hiding in the background)

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Summit of Jebel Toubkal (4167m).  We tried to get to the summit for sunrise but werent quite quick enough.  Interesting to see North Africas highest peak has a lot of the same issues as Ben Nevis with quite a lot of litter etc on the path.931A8987

The beautiful town of Aremd lit up as the sun goes down.

I had one day at home and then straight to the Dolomites.

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Light shining through the Sassolongo group in the Sella pass.

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Cooking dinner on the second night.  Climbing trips are a little weird in the fact that you go to a foreign country but end up barely engaging with the culture.  We did manage to eat a few pizzas but mostly it was pasta and sauce cooked on a camp stove.

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Pitch something on the S face of Marmolada.  Having been rained off the day before we had a big day moving as fast as possible (with our bivy gear) on the 30pitch Vinatzer.

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Looking down one of the hard pitches of the 22 pitch Constantini- Apollonio in the Falzagero pass.

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Tre Cime.  For me the prime objective on the trip was to do a route on the N face of Cima Grande.  We chose the classic “Comici” which certainly didn’t disappoint.

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View from the belay on pitch 4.  Sometimes the early starts are worth it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe worst bit of climbing trips isnt the getting up early, its the terrible decisions you make after a couple of beers.  Adam trying to get some sleep in the cave below the S face of the Marmolada.

Posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Climbing, Jebel Toubkal, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , |

Summer Sun

For the last couple of years I’ve tried to hold onto a couple of weeks in May and June where I dont work to allow me time to tick off a couple of Scotlands classic rock routes.  The weather window to do these mountain routes can be quite small and usually  I come away from those weeks a little frustrated at either the amount of rain, the amount of midgies or the lack of keen partners.  This year feels a little different.  When you’re self employed its often hard to not take work when its offered but over the last couple of months I’ve managed to hang onto my time off and amazingly this has largely coincided with periods of amazing weather and friends who are also free and keen to climb.  In the last few months almost everything else has fallen by the way side as I’ve got tireder and tireder ticking through three star routes quite a few of which I never thought I would get to climb.  Its been amazing to see the mountain crags so busy with teams operating at all grades in glorious sunshine.

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The majestic Cir Mhor on the Isle of Arran.  Despite having lived on Arran for a few months I had never climbed the South Ridge Direct.  Camping in Glen Rosa for a couple of nights was the start of an amazing spell of good weather.931A7226

Photo from Cecile.  I wasnt sure if after the 14 pitch South ridge I would still be keen for this Robin Smith testpiece – a protectionless 15m solo of the “Rosetta Stone” at the top of Cir Mhor. 931A7354

Somewhat of a rest day.  On a baking hot day Cecile and I cycled in to climb “Ardverikie Wall”  I was on belay duty all day and climbed with my hood up to try and escape the sun.  The last time I climbed this was one of the most midgy experiences of my life!931A7472

A wee bit of work.  I have been running some Skye sea kayak expeditions this summer for Sea Kayak Plockton.  All of these expeditions have been quite different but all with brilliant clients to some wild and adventurous places.  Above – camped on Harlosh Island in loch Bracadale – we had to cut the last day of this exped short as a force 8 was forecast.931A7506

Point of Stoer lighthouse.  We were meant to be sea kayaking this day but it was way to windy (right after the Loch Bracadale work trip)931A7534

Jago, Sarah and Ceclie proving how windy it is on a wander out to see if the “Old Man of Stoer” is still standing.

P1020317Photo from Andy Nisbet (me on the second pitch of the the Robin Smith Classic “The Big Top”).  At the end of 12 day streak of climbing Andy convinced me to head out for a photo shoot for the new guidebook with Graham I had been shifting concrete slabs the evening before and was feeling pretty tired but it was all worth it for some more classics in the sun with Andy shouting “stop there for a minute theres a cloud”

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Adam contemplating his runout on the classic “Edgehog”.  Somehow in the driest summer I remember Adam, Seb and I were up the glen on a freezing cold morning as the drizzle showers came through.  It hasn’t all be endless sunshine!

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Endless sunshine!  The two accompanying teachers on a recent bit of work for the High School of Glasgow taking a morning dip in loch Morar.
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Fox in camp on Loch Nevis.  I think we might have been camped on this old boys den as he hung around very close to us for quite a while.931A8771

Work – supervising a Gold DofE group as they paddle to the narrows of Loch Nevis.  931A8788

Final day of a four day trip.  Dave (the other supervisor) gliding up the inside channel from Back of Keppoch into Arisaig bay. These four days were the hottest I have ever spent on the water in the UK.

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Al Docherty on the crux pitch of “Minus One Direct” in May.  There was so much snow in Observatory Gully that the bottom two pitches (45m) were missing.

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Adam on the top pitch of “Crocodile”  on one of our many productive days this summer.  On this day we had to desperately seek shade as it was too hot to climb in the sun.

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Stormy paddling into Glen Dhu (appropriate name) with Cecile, Jago and Sarah.

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Pabay post box.  On the last of the Skye sea kayak expeditions we stopped for the night on Pabay on the east side of Skye.  Definitely one of the weirdest places I’ve stayed with a lonely wee post box, a fancy renovated farm house (deserted) and a perfectly straight road across the island that appeared to go nowhere!

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Paddling under the Skye bridge on the last day of the exped.

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Cecile seconding one of the many exciting pitches of “Torro” on Ben Nevis.

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Mark Chambers on the brilliant main pitch of “Alice Springs” on Creag and Dubh Loch.  The last two days of my summer climbing season (in Scotland!)  were brilliant with Mark and I trying to fit as much as possible into a couple of days before had to be back at work.

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Third route of the day – the never dry “Sword of Damocles” was bone dry.

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Here we go again”  Staring up at “King Rat” at 7am ready for another day of fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting home in style.  Even the crag access is fun on these things you call “Mountain Bikes” (I think they should be called trail bikes as you dont see people actually on mountains on them!).

The summer has been amazing but now I have a couple more days of work before some international trips for work and play.  For once the Scottish summer has been a good warm up for Morocco and the Dolomites!

 

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Spring

While spring is meant to be here winter does seem to be hanging on in the Highlands.  Despite turning to rock-climbing and sea kayaking and working on “Summer Mountaineering” courses I keep getting snowed on!  Its been a pretty wild April and this seems set to continue – a few photos from some good days out on the rock and the sea over the last few weeks.931A6872

On a marginal forecast a few of us ended up at Reiff – I struggle to get excited about small crags though the routes at Reiff can pack a punch.  Above- Adam on one of the classics – “The Executioner”931A6887Above and Below – Seb trying hard at Seal Song area931A6904

 

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Cecile on the awkward first move of “Jim Nastic” – Matt (belaying) is probably laughing we werent sure Cecile (who’s French) had understood the joke in the route name.931A6946

Canoeing on Loch Lomond.  I have been out on a few DofE expeditions and trainings in the last few weeks.  This was a particularly brutal one with high winds and driving rain.  This was the only picture I took.

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Cecile on the first pitch of “Secretaries Super Direct” in Glen Nevis.  The Glen is brilliant at this time of year and is right on my doorstep.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sea Kayaking through the Raasay – Rona gap.  After a few years of saying I would do more Sea Kayaking work this year I am.  A three day expedition around Raasay with some wonderful clients saw sunshine, hail, high winds, golden eagles and a high speed rescue (thanks Alison!) when we deemed the winds too strong to get back up the west coast.

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5 minutes before this photo we were in driving hail.  Three of my group looking NW to Skye

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Matt and Adam paddling over to Ailsa’s birthday party.  “A quiet catch up with some old friends” – yeah right!931A7125-HDR

Theres a reason why the road to Neist is so busy!  I’ve sat and watched (and photographed) this view a few times – it never fails to impress.931A7139Reflections in Loch Lomond on my drive to a stint of work in Inverness.  In a lot of ways this photo looks a lot more like Autumn than Spring and that is how the last few weeks have felt too.  Despite the occasional sunny day its still felt cold and windy.  Maybe the rest of May will bring more settled weather.

Posted in alastair rose, ali rose, canoe, Climbing, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Neist Lighthouse, Reiff, Scotland climbing, Scottish Sea Kayaking, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Winter

Finally now that winter is drawing to a close I have time to look at some of the photos from the last couple of months.  From my return to Scotland in early February the skiing and winter climbing seasons have been truly spectacular.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The themes for my winter have definitely been climbing routes that I never thought I would (for various reasons) and climbing routes that were only just in condition (while everyone else seemed to always be on routes in perfect condtions!).  Above a photo taken by Joe Rochford of me leading the big ice pitch of Raeburns Buttress direct a rarely climbed ice route to the right of Boomers Requiem.

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Climbing as a 4.  Very shortly after getting back Malcy, Chucky, Scott and I headed to the Bridge of Orchy Hills to climb “Farenheit 451”.  I mainly didnt think I would ever climb it because of how busy it gets.  Turns out if you climb it just after it forms on a bad weather day theres no queues.  This was also the start of another of my winter themes – Hot chocolate and chips in the Bridge of Orchy hotel.

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One of my funner weeks this winter was with Mel and Sharna who mainly sung songs from Frozen on the belays or their own special rendition of “If you like it then you should have put a sling on it”.  We had an amazing week getting to lots of different venues around Lochaber and reviewing the hot chocolates of a variety of hotels.

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Abseiling of the arch of Church Door buttress.  Church Door on Bidean Nam Bian is one of my favourite crags it was amazing to climb Crypt route with my clients on one of the stormiest days of the season.

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Brian on the second pitch of “Gully of the Gods” on Beinn Bhan.  We woke up on Skye this morning to heavy rain – funny when one of your dream routes becomes a consolation prize.

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Mark Chambers and Chucky soloing the first section of the infamous “Crab Crawl” on Creag Meagidh.  We had high hopes for this but again changed from one brilliant objective to another.  We only did the first 5th of Crab Crawl (400m!) before we decided to do “Smiths Route” instead.

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It wouldn’t be winter without the hot aches.  Rachel had just finished two weeks of nights as a doctor but still insisted we go and climb ice in the pouring rain.  She paid for it (as did I) with some pretty bad Hot Aches and a lot of wet kit.

Posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis ice climbing, Buachille Etive Mor, Climbing, Creag Meagidh, Creag Meagidh Ice Climbing, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Scotland climbing, Torridon, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , |

Finlandia Foothills and a Skua Survey

The news was broken to me at Halley that I was the only person flying back to Rothera with Olly the pilot.  My dreams of alternating between napping and reading my book in the back while someone else did co-pilot duties were shattered!  As the plane was so light we flew direct from Halley to Rothera in just under seven hours with me still managing to get a bit of a nap and some reading done.  In reality it was a fun trip feeling much more like a road trip than normal with just Olly and I chatting away and me occasionally doing a little bit of flying to give Olly a break.  On the way out of Halley we flew over the RRS Ernest Shackleton doing relief on the Brunt Ice Shelf 40km from the Halley base.

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The “Shack” doing relief with lots of cargo sledges and vehicle lined up to take the cargo back to base.
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By the time we got to Rothera it was grey and overcast.  Flying from Halley to Rothera directly does mean that the last bit of the journey has some interesting views as the route cuts across the peninsular.

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Back at Rothera Julie and I had a bit of planning and packing to do before the input to the Finlandia Foothills for our final short project of the season.  It wasn’t until after Julie had flown in to establish our camp that I was shown this excerpt from the previous field party in the area in the early 80’s.  Needless to say Julie and Pete were on the ground for five days waiting for the weather to improve for the rest of us to fly in.931A6473

Julie walking away from camp with the Wilson range behind.  The team of six of us were in the Finlandia Foothills on Alexander island in the hope of establishing an Antarctic Special Protected Area (ASPA).  An area of the foothills had shown promise via satellites and four scientists were expecting a higher than normal density of biological matter and some birds. (Basically bird poo, birds, moss and lichens).  (Fossil Bluff is also on Alexander Island which at BAS is often referred to as being the same size as Wales.  I recently learnt that it is also the second largest uninhabited island in the world)

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On our first afternoon we headed up on the screes above camp looking for moss and lichen931A6490

Pete hard at work collecting Lichens931A6499Gearing up to leave camp.  On this day we decided to head down to our main objective just over 6km away.  Note the bird net Richard is carrying.931A6503

Julie and the two Pete’s skiing away from camp.

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What a lot of Lichen!  After three hours of glacier travel on skis and foot we reached the site to realise that there was…. just a few bits of Lichen and no sign of birds, bird poo or moss.  We had expected the sample collections at this site to take three to four days!
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Scientists in the mist.  While at the site Kevin wanted to collect a series of DNA samples making him and Richard look particularly strange wandering around in the mist.  Needless to say it was quickly decided that the site was not worthy of ASPA status!
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The neighbours – It was great to be in a field camp as a large group again as once we had discovered the site was not what we wanted we had to wait a few days to be picked up.931A6538

Julie and the Petes being told the planes wont arrive tomorrow.

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After eleven days for Julie and just six for me we flew back late afternoon over some amazing chunks of sea ice and the RSS James Clark Ross doing relief at Rothera.

931A6555JCR on the Rothera Wharf.

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Skua survey.  After a brief couple of days at Rothera it was straight back out with my tentmates from Finlandia, Kevin and Richard, to carry on a skua survey on the islands near Rothera.  The flags on Kevin and Richards bags are to give the skua’s something to go for rather than your head when you’re peering into their nests.931A6577

Skua chick.  While Kevin outlined survey areas and Richard counted nesting pairs I tried to count nest contents.  Despite the skuas clearly showing you where their nests are by swooping you more and more aggressively the nests are surprisingly hard to spot.931A6613

Our salubrious accommodation on Anchorage island.  Salubrious until I pulled the door off the hut within minutes of our arrival!   931A6617

More Skua chicks.931A6620

Inquisitive Weddel seal.  I’ve spent barely any time on the islands around Rothera so doing the Skua survey was a great excuse to wander around and get some photos on both Anchorage and Leonie Island.
931A6682Incoming! Despite being assured by Richard that the skuas were not that aggressive and would only go for the flag some of the birds were extremely persistent I did get a few good hits to my head by some of the more adventurous ones.

One more week in Antarctica before heading home to Scottish winter which appears to be shaping up nicely.

Posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Anchorage Island, Antarctica, BAS, British Antarctic Survey, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Field Guide, Field Guide Antarctica, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Rothera, Rothera Research Station, Skua Survey, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Halley Christmas

A bit late on Decembers blog!  I’ve had a really varied season so far with the biggest difference getting to spend time at BAS’s other Antarctic Research Station – Halley VI.  Halley has been in the news a lot over the last couple of years as some previously dormant cracks started opening up in the Brunt Ice Shelf inland from the station.  Last year a huge team of Engineers, Drivers and support staff moved the main modules to the other side of the crack (known as the Chasm) only to discover there was another crack (Halloween Crack) even further “inland”.  Work continues at Halley this season with a lot of monitoring of the various cracks, readying the base to survive the Antarctic winter without staff and and attempt to fully automate all the long term science that happens.

From a Rothera perspective Halley is the place that all the fuss is made about while the science and field work happens from Rothera.  From a Halley perspective Rothera is not the real Antarctic.  The main difference for me is that you get bacon rolls for smoko at Halley

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At the start of December I spent a lot of time flying around the Ellsworth Mountains with Ian (Pilot) and Ben (Engineer) sorting out more science sites.  The views of the mountains were amazing as was getting to stay in the “hotel” at Union Glacier.

 

931A6048 Mt Vinson  – the highest peak on the continent (4892m)931A6052 Ben working at one of the sites south of the Ellsworths.  The first few sites were al uphill from the plane and involved lugging batteries to and from them.  A couple of these sites were at about 8000ft.  With the lower air pressure in Antarctica they feel more like 12000ft so its pretty knackering dragging car batteries behind you.931A6072 Tough place for a lunch stop.931A6090Enormous crevasses on the approach to the Union Glacier skiway.931A6098 Ben walking back to our tent on the guest side of the Union camp.  It was great to check out the setup here and catch up with some friends.931A6236 Flying again –  As field guides we spend a lot time in the aircraft.  Fellow field guide Julie knitting away on the long flight from Rothera to Halley.
931A6280 Halley VI.  The original Halley Base was started in 1956 with the most recent incarnation being commisioned in 2006.  The original four bases were snowed in and the staff lived in them underground.  Both Halley V and VI were designed to raised to deal with the snow accumulation.  931A6284 I’ve often wondered why you dont see many pictures of Halley from the air.  I think part of the reason is that its not a particularly exciting view but also that a lot of attention is focused on the space age modules.  The view from above shows the vast amount of infrastructure needed to keep the base running.  Above – Halley modules in the centre with the various vehicle lines, container lines, accommodation and garage modules.  The lines at the top of the photo are enormous windscoops leading to the “hinge zone” where the Brunt ice shelf meets the continent.931A6312-HDR Classic Halley view.931A6327 Christmas day – Doug climbing in Halloween crack.  Mark (FG), Doug (Air Mech) and Olly (Pilot) snuck off on Christmas for a quick climb in Halloween crack.  Having to ski-doo there, set up the ropes, abseil in etc meant there was only time for a couple of climbs each but a great way to spend Christmas!931A6332 Some things are the same on Christmas day the world over – lots of washing up!.  (Though I’m not sure Marks Hawain shirt and flip flops are standard)931A6343 Straight after Christmas it was back out into the field for me.  I joined Neil at Bluefields depot and then moved to a Depot in the Shackleton Range.931A6362Filling in the days with igloo building.  Rob (who switched with Neil) came to join me while I did constant Weather observations for the aircraft.  10 days of staring at clouds, drinking tea and reading.

Back to Rothera in the next couple of days and then back into the field for a couple of weeks before heading home.

Posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Antarctica, British Antarctic Survey, Climbing Antarctica, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Field Guide, Field Guide Antarctica, Halley Research Station, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Mt Vinson, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Digging Season

I’m back at Rothera.  It slowly occurred to me over the summer at home that working in Antarctica didnt have to be a one off and an email from the Field Operations Manager as I boarded a plane to Tanzania offering me a couple of months work was too big a temptation.  It feels great to be back at Rothera helping train new staff, eat amazing meals, go skiing after work and of course do lots and lots of digging.

This season I am doing a variety of work for BAS both from Rothera where I was for my 18 month contract and also at Halley on the Brunt Ice shelf.  The first part of my season is focused on Instruments.  This is based from Rothera with trips between a day and week to service, relocate or replace instruments that record Glacial Re-bound, Ice shelf movement or the weather.  As a Field Guide my job is to help the pilot spot crevassing and a good landing spot, help access the site (deciding to rope up or not, to use skis or not or just to wander on over) and then help with any digging.  If the trip is overnight the Field Guide also sets up camp and sorts food and water out while the Pilots/scientists/engineers are doing their work.

First up a few photos from some training etc around Rothera.
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This summer there is a large focus on training at Rothera.  I have learnt things this summer that I should have known two years ago when I first started.  One of the main things has been sharing knowledge with the pilots who we spend a lot of time with.  Above – a group of field guides staring at a plane at the ski-way above Rothera.  This was aborted due to high winds in the end but the end of a training exercise in how to lay out Ski-ways in the field and on safe loading of Aircraft.931A5766

The high winds were quite obvious above the Stork hills.931A5788

New Field Guide, Tom Lawfield practicing crevasse rescue with the added complication of unconscious people (the green bag behind him) and pulks.  All done from the safety of the sewing loft!931A5799

Blair carefully digging up a seismometer a few kilometers from base.  Science gear weighs a lot and even being able to drive Ski-doos to within about a kilometer of this site it probably took us the best part of two hours for Blair, Ben and I to get everything onto the pulks and tow it back up the glacier.
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Elephant seal cleverly blocking the two doors I use most on base – Accomodation on the left and “Fuchs” the field guide office and store on the right.
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More training.  Fuchs being used by some of the fire team to practice blind searchs.

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Where I’ve been in the last week.  The good thing about instrument work is getting to lots of places.  The bad thing is spending lots of time in the aircraft.931A5874

First up I did a day with Ben (Electronics Engineer) and Ian (Pilot) to the Welch Hills and Traverse Mountains a short flight south of Rothera.  These sites were in a spectacular location a short flight down the peninsular931A5924

Old depot – new science.  While at the second site we were also meant to remove an old depot.  We had originally thought that the depot was American but on opening the manfood box we realised it was British.  (The marmite is the giveaway!)  This food was pre- use by date but some of it was manufactured in 1970.  The chocolate still tastes great but we werent brave enough to try anything else.931A5926

Ian towing another sledge of junk back to his plane.931A5929

Next up I flew up to the Larsen C ice shelf with two glaciologists.  Above – even for one night in the field with 4 people theres a lot of kit!931A5937

Science on the Larsen C.  The larsen C has become well known in recent years after the collapse of the Larsen B iceshelf in 2002.  Recently the largest Iceberg ever recorded (the A68) broke off the Larsen C.  BAS personnel now have to have a plane with them at all times while working on this Iceshelf.931A5940

A68 Iceberg edge.  One of our tasks was to photograph the A68 Berg which is reported to be the same size as Wales or London depending who you ask (A bit like saying “as deep as the grand canyon” it doesnt really mean anything other than its really big).931A5970

Flying along the edge of the Berg.931A5991

Hammer plate Seismic’s on the Larsen C, Emma manning the computer and Jim hammering the plate.  There are Geo phones every 10m for 200m which measure the shock of the hammer down the line.  I’m assured that this is world class science.

931A5981The tent all set up for the night.  I have been trialing a new tent made by “Arctic Oven” which is massive but not as heavy as the traditional pyramid tents.  With Jim and Emma on the Larsen they were so busy with hammering etc they actually only came into the tent for a nap at 7am!  I estimated that Jim had done over 500 hits with the sledge hammer and walked over 10km through the night.  (I did help out till midnight and then made then tea at 3am and checked on them at 5!)
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Coming in to land at Union Glacier.  Straight after being on the Larsen C for two days I flew further onto the continent via Fossil Bluff, Sky Blu and Union Glacier (The field camp of the commercial operator A.L.E).  Myself, Alex (Electronics Engineer), Dave and Mark (both Pilots) flew out to the Foundation ice stream to pick up some instruments that will be redeployed later this season.931A6027

I dont have many photos of the Foundation Ice stream as the weather was chasing us.  Above – Dave getting a quick nap after some digging before another flight.

My next big chunk of work will be at Halley on the Brunt ice shelf a base that has been in the news a lot this year.  Should be interesting!

Posted in A 68 Berg, A68 Larsen C, Antarctica, BAS, British Antarctic Survey, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Field Guide Antarctica, Larsen C Ice Shelf, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , |

5% Chance of Rain

Most of the places I’ve been to this month have been promising 5% chance of rain or less but this seems to have been more a sign of the Met Offices’ optimism that actual reality.  With a few more days off than expected this month I have managed to catch up with lots of friends and family, finish the bolting work at a local sport crag and get to some pretty cool places on personal trips.

First up I joined Tristan and Lizzie with a host of other kayaking friends for a week of sea kayak day trips from Glen Elg.  I’m usually not a big fan of day trips in a sea kayak but in the knowledge that there would be some stormy conditions and some other paddlers that like that sort of thing it felt like a good opportunity to put my dislike of faff aside.

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Kag, Tristan and Lizzie paddling into Kyle of Lochalsh in stormy weather.  Our first day saw us launching at Sconser and surfing all the way to the Crowlins, through the Crowlin gap and on down to the bridge.IMG_9076

Lizzie and Kag taking a break under the Skye bridgeIMG_9087

Kayakers under Kilt Rock.  The longest day on the water was Staffin to Portree, a trip I had wanted to do for some time.  It was fairly tough paddling into a head wind at the end but worth it for some amazing coastline.  Being based in Glenelg this was a fairly long day to fit in before it got dark.  The fish and chips in Portree at the end of this were amazing.
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Sam making sure Pep knows where to go.IMG_9094

Sam approaching the waterfalls of Kilt Rock
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Kag passing one of the many pinnacles on this section of coast.

Next up it was straight to Wales for a couple of days work. As usual in October the weather didnt quite play ball despite again promises of 5% chance of rain.  I did manage a couple of routes at Gogarth with ChuckyIMG_9160

Chucky on the brilliant top pitch of “Concrete Chimney”.

From Wales I did a massive drive up to the Reiff Climbing Festival.  Saz, Al and I had decided to go to the festival no matter what the weather.  It turned out to be terrible weather for climbing but great fun with a good group of people.931A5574

Adam and Ailsa getting packed in the back of their van for a day of rather damp cragging.931A5592

Ailsa, Ali Hodnett and Adam sheltering under the shipshape block at Reiff.931A5593

We did manage to find the shortest routes in the UK.  Reiff is known for short routes but I think these could be the winner!  Adam struggling on one of the trilogy of Severes on this wall. 931A5596

It did dry up to try a couple of harder routes.  Adam making the off the deck dyno on “Lilidh”

I had a few days around Fort William before heading back up to Assynt with Bob and Adam.  Assynt is not somewhere I’ve spent a huge amount of time until this year but I just cant get enough.
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Stoer Lighthouse.  We woke up to this view after a late ascent of the Old Man of Stoer and then headed off on a two day canoe trip from Elpin to Boat Bay.  Connecting Loch Veyatie and Loch Scionascaig and a series of smaller lochs has become a bit of a classic and I was keen to see how hard the portages were.

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Bob portaging Eas Dubh Uidh a Glaigeal on the outflow from Cam loch.  931A5656

And going back upstream to pretend that he’d ran it.  This portage is probably not necessary but the falls are spectacular.931A5693

Adam supplying some moral fortitude for the second portage.931A5703

Adam paddling under Suilven.  We had originally planned to do a climb on Suilven as part of this trip but the weather didnt quite play ball and we didnt have quite enough hours of daylight.931A5727

Can you see two canoes?  Bob (back) and Adam (front) in the middle of 2 km portage between Loch Veyatie and Loch Scionascaig.  This, the “eastern portage” is essentially a 2km portage and rumored to be harder than the western one.  As 2km portages go it was pretty straightforward and easy.931A5733

Bob and I have done quite a few portages over the years.  I wonder when he’ll notice that I just take photos and he does all the pulling!
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Bob completely in his element on cooking duty with Cul Mor in the background.
931A5745Autum colours at Cread Dubh above the Spey.  Its quickly been turning to winter in the highlands and the colours have been fantastic.  Every time the weather starts to get me down I realise how many amazing adventures there are to be had in Scotland at all times of year.

I’ve also been tidying up some qualifications this year and this month finally feel able to take stock having completed the last one on the list (for now!).  I moved back to Scotland “full time” 5 years ago and wanted to bring my qualifications up to speed in the UK.  On one of my many long drives recently I started to count up the cost in both time and money of doing this.  The good news is that its been a lot of fun and I’m now at a stage where I don’t feel the need to work too hard on any other qualifications, the bad news is that I worked out I have spent over 60 days on training courses in the last 5 years (bearing in mind that I have only been in the UK for 36months of that period!) and its cost me at least £8000 just for the courses (not the kit or the consolidation days).  The process has been massively rewarding and through it I have re-engaged with so many friends and made so many new ones.  When I started in the outdoors at 18 I’m not sure what I expected but certainly not the huge variety of work and adventures that can be crammed into a few short years.

Posted in Assynt, Assynt canoeing, canoe, Canoe across Scotland, Climbing, Kayaking, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, North Wales Climbing, Scottish Kayaking, Scottish Sea Kayaking, Skye, Stoer Lighthouse, Suilven Canoe, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Wet Weather Activities

I havent really taken many photos this month.  Lots of work, lots of driving and not very much good weather has meant that I havent had the cameras out too much.
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A brief spell of good weather at the end of last month.  I went on a wee canoe trip with Ali, Hana and Malcy out to Peanmeannach Bothy on Loch Ailort.  Hana and Ali swimming at our lunch stop.931A5141

Malcy disappointed hes going to have to carry his stuff to the bothy!  931A5435

Campfire on the beach.  The bothy was really busy with female backpackers (yes really!) but theres still plenty of space to escape the people.931A5443

I’ve been doing a fair bit of canoeing work this summer, mainly following DofE groups.  A common morning view as another squall comes down the loch.

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Almost got this wrong.  Loch Awe rose about 40cm overnight in torrential rain and I work up with the water lapping in my front porch.931A5477

I’ve also had a little side project this month – rebolting the Sport crag at Arisaig.  Drilling, grinding and glueing arent the funnest of jobs but its hard to complain when this is the walk in!IMG_9059

James and Zeemon pulling the old bolts at Black Rock Arisaig931A5482

Ive been on Stac Pollaidh a few times this summer with various groups from Joint Services.  The climbing is a bit loose but the views are spectacular.931A5491

The glamorous life of a Mountaineering Instructor.  Making cups of tea in the back of the MOD van at the base of Stac Pollaidh.

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Simon and John talking about life round the fire on the beach near Stac Pollaidh.  Its a hard life when you have to camp somewhere like this before heading to the Ceilidh House in Ullapool for breakfast the next day!IMG_9049Colours changing at the falls of Acharn in Tayside.

I’ve now done my last day of self employed work for a while and have a month to catch up with family and friends (and finish the bolting at Black Rock!).  More Scottish Adventures!

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |