Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snowshoeing in The Peak District and Sierra Nevada

As snow is covering the Peak District today, we took the opportunity of getting out on our snowshoes.  O.K., so the snow is only 8” deep (though deeper in the drifts), but at least we were out there doing it.  Arctic it felt in the strong winds, with snow being blown horizontally.  Here’s a couple of pictures that we took in and around Silence Mine:

Not quite like the end of season opportunity we had last May to ascend Pico del Caballo, which at 3007m is Europe’s most westerly 3000m peak. 

Snowshoeing is a great way to explore the mountains and back country.    If you fancy giving this a go, visite http://mountain-house.co.uk/snowshoeing/

November snow in the Derbyshire Peak District

Woke up to around 8" of snow in Foolow, The Peak District this morning, deeper in the drifts. Excellent, and a chance to get out on the snowshoes later! 
No busses and not much traffic. It's great in the village with folks walking out greeting one another. Here's some pictures to enjoy.


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Countryfile at Rockhall Cottage

Mike and Jane help to look after The Don Whillans Memorial Hut, Rockhall Cottage up at The Roaches.  This is a unique climbers hut built into the rock.  Recently, the BBC’s Countryfile programme visited this part of The Peak District and were filming some rock climbing scenes at The Roaches with The British Mountaineering Council.
Initially Mike offered the programme makers the use of the hut as a base whilst filming there.  However they were so taken with the hut that Mike received a phone call asking if he’d be prepared to be interviewed about the it's history.

The picture here shows Mike being interviewed by Matt Baker who was earlier filmed climbing Central Route VS 4b on the Roaches Upper Tier.
The programme is due to be broadcast on Sunday 28th November, BBC1 6.30pm. You can find out more about it on the BBC Countryfile website
If you would like to know more about the history of the hut and how to book it, go to our website at:
http://mountain-house.co.uk/  and click the Don Whillans Hut button.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Making the most of our Satmap GPS

Earlier this year, the kind folks at Satmap offered an Active 10+ bundled with a couple of memory cards at cost price.  Jane has been using it over the summer months and we took it on our intermediate navigation course over Kinder Scout last saturday, where it really came into it's own.

The course navigates over the Kinder plateau, seeking out some of the well hidden aircraft wreckage in order to practice a range of navigation techniques.  The Satmap is perfect for checking out bearings and distances, which it does with ease and speed.

I can't claim that I have plumbed the depths of the Satmap, but I have grown to like it very much.  One of the reasons we opted for the Satmap were the extensive range of maps, however my only reall quibble is the need to change memory cards when moving around the country.  We still use Viewranger on our mobile phones, and it is extremely easy to add mapping on this device - almost too easy, if you have an iphone and itunes account!  With Satmap you have to buy the map on a  memory card, wait for it's delivery and swop them around.  However a small price to pay for a gadget which does it's job very well, is much more robust than the phone, and easy to use when outdoors on a cold winter's day.

There is more information and the chance to try out the Satmap, Viewranger enabled phones and a couple of Garmin GPS machines on our Making the most of your GPS course in the new year.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Night Navigation on BigMoor

The Mountain House team were joined be 3 intrepid adventures for an evening of navigation in the dark.

Fortunately for us all, the weather held out until only a few minutes before our return to the cars, and everyone declared it a great adventure - to be recommended.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Adventures in the Catalan Pyrenees

It doesn’t matter how confident a person you are, when you are exploring a new area there are bound to be some confusions and uncertainties. Nuria on the first day of my Pyrenean adventure provided plenty. I had read the tourist book and the trekking guide and had the map folded at the right place.  There are five main paths shown leaving Nuria (with additional paths leading off from these). However, apart from the “safe” path, the GR 11 heading back to the valley, there was no signposting of the paths heading into the mountains.  Hardly surprising as Nuria attracts many daily visitors, and no one wants ill equipped people venturing into the mountains. My dilemma was which way to go to exit a complicated ski / railway / hotel / visitor complex?

A quick compass bearing gave me the direction and there was a convenient path following the ‘stations of the cross’ with some impressive sculptures interpreting this religious theme. Ten minutes later saw my pilgrimage complete at a signpost showing that I’d come the right way. Thank you God!

I was researching new walks to lead with clients. Therefore I was a little concerned that the path was signposted the “engineers” path. My mind was racing as to what had been engineered and what obstacles lay ahead, a path cut through precipitous drops, sections of ladders and ropes to climb, etc.  In the event I needn’t have worried for this turned out to be a great path, fine views and not really “exposed.”  A couple of small rock steps and a cable descending a shallow gully were all that needed care. It was on this section that I met the only people I saw all day, two shepherds tending their flocks on high alpine pastures.

I had been wondering where the hut was. You do not see the Refugi Como de Vaca from this direction until you are almost on top of it.  Being mid October it was closed, though a bright, clean and spotless winter room was open for people needing shelter.  It was time for lunch, but as the path back to Queralbs started on the other side of a sizeable river opposite the hut, I decided to make my crossing first. Putting all my M.L. / I.M.L. training into practice I hoped boulders up and down finally arriving at the signposts on the other side with only one wet boot.  Imagine my indignation when one of the signs pointed to a bridge! I was so glad there was no one around to witness my folly!!  Actually the bridge was not visable from the hut being below a rock buttress and not marked on the map either.

The long descent to Queralbs took three hours and was delightful passing through both alpine and sub alpine terrain with their associated flowers down the Gorges del Freser. A good well earned beer was enjoyed.

If you too like a refreshing beer after a good day out, read this!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Understanding the Upland Environment

Nature of Snowdonia: A Beginner's Guide to the Upland EnvironmentCame across Mike Raine's book Nature of Snowdonia, whilst at Plas y Brenin recently.  A great introduction to the upland environment, for anyone working towards ML or IML awards, or just interested in knowing more about Snowdonia.  Has lots of interesting tit-bits about rocks, birds, insects, flowers, fungi, mosses & lichens and the impact of man in the mountains.  Easy to dip into, not too technical - to be recommended.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Getting to grips with your Gps

A flurry of enquiries about our Gps training course led us to confirm dates for the autumn. The first session will be held on Saturday 28th August - the start of Foolow well dressing, so a busy day!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Caballo at last - saving the best till last

To round off our month in Spain, we were joined by Colin and Andrea, who spent 8 days walking and relaxing at Finca Montana. The final walk was a real highlight - not only did they successfully summit mainland Spain's most westerly 3000m peak, but found that the snow had retreated enough to return via the rio Lanjaron, which was full of summer flowers - truly the best walk of the trip.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Limerick Mountaineers Walk High

22 members of the Limerick Mountaineering Club joined the Mountain House team for a week of walking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We enjoyed some lovely settled summer weather which enabled us to experience the mountains at their best.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

We are here again

7 people with a learning disability and 3 supporters, met together at the hotel Lanjaron for their week in their sun. All but one had been before, and for our friend Peter it was his 4th trip - must be good!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Tipsy Mice Drowned Rats, and Wonderful Flowers!

10 days at our Mountain House in Spain's Sierra Nevada, saw us clearing and planting trees around the house.  Last autumn we made 5 litres of wine from our grapes, which had been maturing in the cool of our old house.  However we discovered that a mouse had become trapped inside the house, and nibbled the plastic of the container; all the wine had seeped out - or been drunk by the mouse!
DSCF6170.JPG by Mountain House Holidays.
We also had a few days walking, including a lovely walk around Trevenque, however during the afternoon, the storm clouds gathered, resulting in us getting well and truly soaked during quite a violent a thunderstorm over the western peaks of the mountain range.  Not to be daunted, however we managed to walk to the Poqueira Refuge across some serious snow pathches, then climbed Caballo with Martin, by the western ridge, a first for us, and again crossing some serious snow.
DSCF6174.JPG by Mountain House Holidays.
The early summer flowers were at their peak this year, following all the rain of earlier months, and produced a stunning array.  Technorati Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Peak District Walking Festival

Once again, the Mountain House team were in action supporting the Peak District Walking Festival. We began the 10 day festival with an introduction to navigation course, then hosted a range of walks from Foolow, exploring the Kinder Plateau aircraft wrecks, and limestone dales. Our walks were in the main very well supported, and appreciated, as the following message from John and Clare suggests: "Just to say thank you to you both for a most enjoyable and informative walk yesterday".

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Challenging Navigation - Easter Saturday 2010

Intermediate Navigation Course, a tour of the aircraft wrecks on Kinder Scout.

Today we enjoyed Kinder Scout at its wintery best with three clients on our intermediate navigation course.  We nearly failed at the start as a film crew were trying to tell us that the (public) road and parking at Barber Booth was closed so that they could film an episode of Jane Eyre.  However clients and ourselves did manage the rendez-vous and begin the course more or less on time.

From Upper Booth we ascended Crowden Brook to the “edge path”  where we began our navigation legs via two wreck sites before a perfect leg to Crowden Head.  Deep snow proved hilarious at times and more than a few times people disappeared into thigh deep drifts.

From Crowden Head we crossed to the River Kinder and on to Kinder Gates before finding another wreck site near Kinder Low. Noe Stool and a further two wreck sites involving cunning navigation and even “contouring” across some steep ground before descending The Cloughs to the bottom of the Jacob’s Ladder Path.

A grand day out and well done Andy, Steve and Phil!

Friday, 26 March 2010

A proper International Mountain Leader!

The Mountain House Team have spent the last 2 weeks in the French Alps, snowshoeing, practising winter micro navigation and generally getting a better understanding of the snow conditions.  All this has been in preparation for the final hurdle of Mike's International Mountain Leader Award.  All the hard work (and dieting!) has paid off, and Mike now proudly boasts that he is a 'proper' IML, as the current scheme has involved an extra 2 weeks of training and assessment.

Cutting a snow bollard belay.
We are now planning to add winter snowshoeing to our intineraries - watch the website for those of you who would like to join us for this great way of experiencing the mountains in winter.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Snowshoeing in the Sierra Nevada

After a 'washout' Christmas, we returned to the Sierra Nevada last week for some winter snow.  We were not disappointed, as the snow had been falling for the previous 2 weeks!  We managed 3 great days in the mountains, including one at the Ragua pass on the eastern side of the range, with Martin Riley.  Although we had mixed weather, this proved to be real 'back country' terrain, and we will definitely be back next year.