Will Manners is a Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (WMCI), and International Mountain Leader, a Nordic Ski Instructor (BASIO 2) and a Mountain Bike Leader. Passionate about all things in the mountains including hill running, ski touring, bike packing and kayaking.
So, we are still here, in lockdownland. At least we are still in Scotland (Wales and NI). For now many of us must continue to stay at home, exercise as you can whilst social distancing and keeping the faith. This will end and restrictions will gradually be lifted. We will feel the effects of this though for many months, potentially years. This is a marathon not a sprint. Keep positive.
Feeling rather impotent! Like many I have volunteered, but at present not needed other than by my lovely neighbour to do her shopping for groceries and the essential extra dry Martini and a box of tonic! In the military when there was a conflict or those in need we all wanted to be involved since that is what we trained for. For now it is a waiting game; it’s all about being sensible, responsible and being patient. I’m still feeling impotent though ………………… Best wishes to you all out there.
The early winter came as normal followed by the mother of all thaws leaving us with little white by New Year. The winter eventually returned in late January; after i had enjoyed a bit of luxury sliding in France.
February was mad stormy. Physically and mentally challenging at times with some notable and memorable experiences along with some lovely people.
In March we were at last blessed with some good weather and conditions, but as the month progressed we could all see what was coming so a final flurry of winter activity saw me returning home to clean and hang up my gear and proceed to read, train and prep for life after CV19. Fond memories of a short but rich winter!
So it’s been a bit of a mixed start to the winter, but if you know where to go there is still safe and enjoyable mountaineering to be done. I seem to have used my head torch rather a lot so far this winter; not sure if that is late starts, but certainly had a few finishes after dark. Lots of early snow allowed some great skiing, but most of this left, which is often the way. Some of the climbing has been in deep snow, some in rain and some in ‘thin’ conditions. It’s windy right now, but looking like winter again. 🙂
We often get a good stint of winter conditions before Christmas. Some of my best ski touring trips have been in November! This winter it has come and then gone …….. but has returned again and is looking set to see us into the festive period. Had a very pleasant day in Glencoe on Friday – mountain conditions are looking pretty good with plenty of icing and a good build up of snow. Glencoe Mountain Resort should be open for sliding this week.
With my boyish enthusiasm I headed into the hills above Crianlarich yesterday. Even with many winters behind me I still get that burning desire to be in that clean and pure environment. With blue skies and a dusting of snow on the tops it certainly looked and felt like a winter day. The plants looked dry and tired; ready for a winter of hibernation. There were no little bugs to be seen and relatively few birds. The frost in some places prevented unpleasant bogginess (is that a word? If not it should be!). Once on the ridge I was in my happy place again. A few other folks had the same idea, not many mind. The ridge between An Caisteal and Beinn a Chroin is pleasant with same enjoyable rocky steps and even some neve and artistic icicles. The only downside is the 5km boggy walk down an otherwise perfect glen. No complaints really!
Great day with Simon on the Buachaille in late September sunshine. Lovely dry conditions on the North Face Route (severe), followed by January Jigsaw. Stunning conditions, but late summer sunshine often tantalizingly just around the corner quite a lot of the day! What a privilege to be on this amazing mountain in such great conditions (….. with Simon :)).
Lovely little journey into the Chalamain gap and the long traverse to Lurchers. Met some nice folk en route including a lady courageously testing out her new hip! Headed up Summit Buttress a grade 2 scramble on pretty solid ground with a couple of thought provoking steps! Great positions though. A scenic descent with the national park spread ahead of me encouraged a few jogs along the track and back to the Sugarbowl car park. Then with a little time before dinner I launched ‘Patience’ off Ardersier and we headed towards the imposing if not austere Fort George.
Amazing weather in Glencoe this week. The weather on the West Coast can be variable and it is fair to say pretty unpredictable; perhaps why it feels so special when it all comes together. Spent several days with some lovely folk in this amazing part of the world sharing my passion. What a privilege.