Winter 2020 did not end in a way that anyone could have foreseen but what we did have in the last few months were some great conditions and adventures both in the Alps and at home in Scotland.
After the storms of January and February had wreaked havoc winter started to make its welcome return. I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed some excellent guiding and personal adventure opportunities.
A coupe of the best personal moments for me from this winter were, first, getting to spend a week with two old friends from my Aberdeen student days in Innsbruck. It's safe to say that we reduced Innsbruck's beer stocks by a significant amount whilst getting in some memorable days riding the slopes and the plentiful off-piste in the local area. The second was a weeks hit to Cham. Cham for me is normally guiding work with some occasional personal stuff whereas this was a week all to myself to climb and ski. The highlight of this week was the final two days with Matthew Glenn, where we climbed on the Aiguille des Pelerins both the Terray-Rebuffat *** ED2 and the infamous Beyond Good and Evil *** ED3 in some quite outstanding conditions.
The guiding work this winter has been of an excellent standard both at home and away. In January I had a testing week in the company of James Healey with constantly changing weather and mountain conditions. James was the perfect client, happy to learn and do whatever the conditions allowed. We climbed some good ice and winter routes when the conditions allowed but also had some educational and enjoyable days rock climbing at Dunkeld and Huntley's Cave when the mountains were no-go.
I headed out to the Alps to guide a Winter Room Haute Route for Frost Guiding. As it sounds this is an ambitious undertaking and will provide an extra level of "suffering" on top of the normal touring challenges. But what it does offer is unique time in quiet mountains and huts, as well as some outstanding snow if the conditions allow. We battled ice, storms, avalanche conditions and variable conditions but the final day of powder skiing in Verbier was one to remember for a long time.
My final two weeks of work before COVID-19 rocked the world as we know it was spent on Ben Nevis and then straight out to the Stubai Alps. Ben Nevis was working with a small team of product designers from Gore-Tex and Arc'teryx along with fellow guide and all round top climber Robert Jasper. The week was about showing the guys from Canada and America some proper Scottish conditions whilst climbing some outstanding routes, with a little bit of filming thrown into the equation. For being such an amazing climber and sponsored badass, Robert was a real gentleman and super sound to guide with. We ticked all the boxes that week by climbing some outstanding routes in amazing venues and conditions, and even ticked the "Scottish" box with some burly mixed plus some spin drift showers for the final day. From this it was straight out to the Alps for my (unbeknown to me at the time) final week of guiding. This was with a new team of Dutch clients who wanted an adventure that involved some mountaineering and good skiing and for this we chose the Stubai Tour. The conditions did not allow for great skiing once the weather became good but we still toured through the mountains in the latter part of the week spending nights in two of the beautiful mountain huts of this area and meeting some lovely people along the way.
From here I had to escape home as COVID-19 started to close borders and shut resorts. It's now a waiting game to see what the future holds for all of us. Stay safe and enjoy a few of the pictures below from good times in the mountains.