role reversal


Last Tuesday I was out with Jack Archer, from Hopscotch Films to offer some Technical Advice regarding his job as a film maker in winter. Despite being quite late on in the Torridon winter season, Coire an Laoigh came up with the goods again as it does.

As an introduction and our first day out, Jack wanted to experience what it is like to move around on typical grade I winter mountaineering terrain and where better than the slopes of the corrie, below the ridge of Stuic a Coire an Laoigh.  I believe that safe winter movement should draw upon the skills we already have gained in summer.  An ice axe and crampons are not magic wands which turn us into winter mountaineers.  So with that in mind I took Jack and explored that approach.  We got into the base of the corrie promptly and after discussing the ‘A’ part of our avalanche awareness (see an earlier winter blog to get the full picture of ‘BAD’ or even better visit the SAIS web page ‘be aware’ we headed up.

Jack quickly got into a rhythm of only moving forward or up from a firm base.  ‘Axe, step’, Axe, step-step’, repeat.  The snow was firm enough for some practice of self-belay to prevent a slip becoming a slide.  A slide is definitely to be avoided and we also did some self-arrest to look at the limitations of this technique on steeper slopes.

As we gained height a slide was going to have consequence so we roped up.  Using a variety of anchors and belay methods I slowly but surely got Jack onto slopes where he could safely consider how he might do his job as a film maker, whilst I do mine as an MIC to look after him.

The transition from the top of the snow slope lent itself to a wee passage of short-roping before we reached the blocky ridge.  Here I set Jack up above a wee rock gully, secured him in position for a panorama of the corrie before we both abseiled off.

On the way down it was fun to talk to Jack.  We enjoyed recognising the ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor, which featured in the mountain biking sequence he shot by Coulags last year for ‘Bothy Life’.  We also enjoyed talking about the different experiences we have both had working in our different roles in the mountains.

Finally, I quite enjoyed the role reversal in getting Jack to move into shot for my filming and photos!

blog by Jim Sutherland



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