Friday, 31 December 2010

Wet and warm.

It's been a damp few days in Fort William. There are reports that the water ice routes are still worth climbing as are the easier buttress routes. The weather is due to turn cold again over night and the wet snow and ice will firm up and give some excellent climbing.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Back in the Fort.

I arrived back in Fort William last night and woke up this morning to see the snow had thawed back to about 600m. Above this there is still a reasonable cover and above 900m there is still a lot of snow. We are forecast a slow thaw for the next couple of days then we are due a freezing temps overnight and just a slight thaw over the day. These conditions should start to thicken the ice on the routes higher up the mountain. At the moment it looks like the lower ice is sill holding in but I've not climbed it myself so I can only speculate.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Out for a quick blast.


Looking up at the falls from the top of pitch one.

Most of my regular climbing partners are either away for Christmas or sunning themselves in Spain so I was going to do nothing today but by 10.30am I was already bored. A packed a bag and headed for Sgurr Finnisg-aig falls on the lower East side of Aonach Mor. I left the car park at 11.45 and topped out at 14.15 and took the gondola back down. The ice wasn't as well formed as I would of expected so I missed out the first pitch which looked a bit thin and started on the second and easier pitch. The ice was in pretty good nick, in places it was good and chewy but there was some brittle ice around as well. I carried on up to the upper fall which is the crux of the climb. From the bottom it didn't look too well formed but when I got there it was perfect. So I got my head together and started climbing. It was a great 40m pitch and the only real difficulty was when I stepped off left onto a small ledge for a rest and had to make a couple of interesting moves to get reestablished on the main line. I'm off to see family for a few days but I might just try and get a day out in the Lakes whilst I'm at it.


Looking North-West towards the Great Glen. 

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

On Sunday Dave and I wanted a fairly leisurely day and with all of the snow about we thought we would stay reasonably low. So we headed to the west face of Aonach Dubh to have a look at the screen and No.6 gully. As we approached we realised that some one was on the screen so we headed straight for No.6 gully(IV,4). This is a great ice route taking you through some really impressive scenery. We missed out the first couple of little steps as they weren't formed and traversed in just under the first descent sized pitch. It is so easy to forget that winter is still really only starting, so the ice was a bit thinner than last year when I climbed it. It didn't disappoint though and still gave us four good pitches of climbing but I would say maybe a grade harder at the moment. On the way down we got some great views of conditions on some of the neighbouring crags.



Dave on the final ice pitch.



The crags of Stob Coire nam Beith.



Diamond Buttress and the fantastic Church door buttress on the right.

On Monday I headed out with a few people who were up from Wales to sample some Scottish winter. We decided on Stob Ban which is a fantastic and reasonably short day out that has a bit of everything. The stronger winds of the last couple of days had shifted quite a lot of snow about and we found some areas of very firm slab on a no. of aspects that would have been worrying if they had been of any great size but all were avoidable. Day off today to finish sorting out stuff for Christmas.



Heading up the final ridge of Stob Ban with the Ring of Steall in the back ground.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Winter wonderland.

It has been snowing on and off for the last 36 hours in Fort William which has left about 4-5inches of snow at sea level. I went up onto Nevis Range this morning with a few friends to get the first boarding of the season. There is a good early season cover up there for skiing but you still have to dodge a few boulders. There are ares of loosely bonded windslab deposited on all of the expected places. The snow fell with very little wind but today at the summit there was a lot of snow being shifted about on a variable wind direction. I had a quick look over at the East face which didn't look as white as i was expecting but some soft cornices were starting to form. I did see one team heading round to the West face but that was it. Probably better going for the lower level ice for the next few days unless you're willing to break trail the whole way.

Monday, 13 December 2010

More Blue Skys

It's another Beautiful day here in Fort William. There has been a heavy frost overnight which can only be a good thing for conditions higher up and even the lower level ice. I think best bets for routes are the ridge lines at the moment. I've included a photo taken yesterday from the summit plateau of the Ben.


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Oh! How things have changed.

Ive had a few days off over the weekend to catch up with some family. On Wednesday last week Alex and I had a go at Gutless(IV,5) on the Douglas boulder but just like the team a couple of days before us we found the upper chimney completely bare inside so we abseiled off. Today I headed up to the Ben with Ken hoping to get on Gargoyle wall or Lost the place. We made a reasonably early start to try and beat the crowds but as soon as we arrived at the CIC hut it was clear that the thaw from the last few days had taken it's toll. The upper crags in Coire na Ciste where completely black and a lot of the snow that we had hoped might of turned into ice in fact had just disappeared. The snow pack is reasonable variable. The thaw seems not to have penetrated too deep and only the top crust appears to have refrozen. It was still hard going in some places. We decided not to waste the day and followed Al Halewoods footsteps up Reaburns easy route to the summit. We then decided to go down Tower gully so we could get a look at Indicator wall and Observatory Buttress area. These were also very black with little snow and ice present. It felt very alpine today. Teams were on Ledge route, Tower ridge, Green gully and a very thin looking Combe gully. 



Observatory gully with Gardyloo Gully Buttress and Tower scoop visible.



Hadrians wall is the ice line on the left and the bottom of Point 5 is in the middle of the picture.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Yet another fine day.


Teetering up the slab on pitch one.

After having a couple of days to get over my hangover from some xmas drinks on Friday Alex and I headed back up to Stob Coire nan Lochan again. This really is a great crag with so many mixed lines to go at that it keeps calling us back. We were still both feeling the effects of the hangover so we chose to go for any easier route and picked Ordinary route(IV,5) on the Summit Buttress. Lets just say I had to sort my head out on the first pitch a bit quicker than I was expecting when I found my self teetering up a slab on mono sized edges and with blind hooks. After that I felt as fresh as a daisy. The next couple of pitches were a bit of an issue as two different guide books give two different route on their topos. So we spent some time looking around but just decided to skirt around the side and continue to the top. It was fairly quiet in the corrie but teams on the usual routes and a couple of teams on Crest route(V,6), a team on Tilt(VI,7) and Donald King and his partner finishing of a FWA of Satyr, a summer E1 5a.


Donald in the red jacket in the middle of the picture.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

News from the Ben.

I had a little wonder on to the Ben today. It is all still looking pretty white. The lower ice falls are starting to thicken up and it looks like the mixed high up is still in good condition. I saw teams on Tower ridge and Gargoyle wall but other than that it was quite quiet. I bumped into Al Halewood on the way down who said he had fun trying winter chimney but had to bail off.

Monday, 29 November 2010

What turned out to be a nice walk.

Alex and I headed upto Stob Coire nan Lochan again this time to go and have a look at spectre. On the walk in it soon became obvious that the crags were heavily rimed and that Crest route was going to be a better option. We geared up in the bottom of the coire and then headed on up to the bottom of the route. On the way we where trying to work out where the route actually went but there was some confusion between our interpretation of the route and what we could actually see. After a good half hour of faffing we still weren't a 100% sure. We had decided on SCNL because Alex had to start work at 5pm and now we were running out of time. So we called it a day and had a wonder around the coire and had a boulder on some of the smaller crags. All of the steep lines were in good condition and people were out on twisting gully and original route. There were some large deposits of wind slab in sheltered spots and did bar progress to a couple of the route on summit buttress but most were avoidable.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A busy day in Stob Coire nan Lochan


Alex just below the slab that could do with a bit more ice.

After the recent snow fall Alex and I headed back up into Stob Coire nan Lochan to have a look at Scabbard Chimney(V,6). It still looked thin but much whiter so we geared up and got on it. Unfortunately our path was barred at about 10m. Both Alex and I just couldn't seem to find a way up it and neither of us fancied taking the long fall onto some rather nasty ground. So we retreated and went and had a look at the direct start to Dorsal Arete(IV,5). This is a great couple of pitches of climbing if a Little bold on the first pitch. The Coire was very busy with queues on Dorsal Arete and Reaburns route. There were also teams on Ordinary route, NC gully and Twisting gully and a team retreating from Innuendo saying the snow just wasn't consolidated. Rest day today as the forecast looked a bit minging but out again on Monday. 


Just about to enter the crux chimney on Direct start to Dorsal Arete.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Glen Coe Conditions

 Looking down Broad gully to the coire floor.

 Summit buttress

The main buttress from the coire floor.

After a couple of lazy days, I couldn't bare another day doing nothing so after a lazy start I headed up to Stob Coire nan Lochain. The cold temperatures of the last couple of days have really had an effect. There was water ice on the path straight from the car and all of the wet streaks on the crags were frozen. In the Coire the snow is starting to firm up but the top layer still brakes through every now and then. There were teams out on Dorsal arete and Raeburns route and they reported good conditions. Chatting to one guy who said he had done Twisting gully on Monday and said there was ice on the whole route. Today the gullys looked thin but just about complete and the steeper buttress' were black but dry. Hopefully the strong Northerly winds and snow forecast will rime up the rock ready for the weekend.

Monday, 22 November 2010

A hit and miss weekend.

Creag Coire Na Ciste



Battling with the first groove on Original Summer Route


On Saturday Alex, Ken, Dave and I took a walk up the Ben with Observatory ridge in mind. The forecast had suggested that the freezing levels would drop and we were hoping to find good firm neve but instead we found slush at 900m and my watch was still reading +3c. We decided to save are self the misson and just had a wander around to look at other conditions. There are many of the freeze/thaw lines visible but still need to fatten up. The upper Buttress' were rimed but it was thawing all the way until just below the summit.

On Sunday we took a drive over to the Cairngorms and because of a couple of delays we opted for an easier and shorter route. Original Summer route is a fine, sustained mixed route on the left side of Aladdin's Buttress. Very little snow fell during the day but the wind did pick up and start to shift some of the existing snow around and we found a couple of areas of slab at the bottom of Aladdin's Colouir.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Winter is finally here.


Winter has finally arrived and it is hard to believe it is only November. After spending the last month (or two) trying not to get to excited at the thought of winter it is here. On Saturday Alex and I headed over to the Cairngorms to have a look in the Northern Corries to see what route we could get on. It turned out that conditions where better than we thought they would be and managed to get on The Message. It was a route I had been looking at last season but never really got the chance. It was everything I hoped it would be and more, a couple technical sections but with loads of protection and a fantastic day out. I've not been posting alot this summer as I was working towards my MIA Ass, which I passed thankfully. Here is to more winter to come.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Busy time




It's been a busy time recently. I've been spending a lot of time preparing for my MIA assessment. A lot of this has involved climbing in the rain unfortunately but it means I'm becoming used to it for the future. I've also been spending time guiding people on scrambles and easy climbs. I've only got a few weeks left before my ass. but I'm feeling good. I've attached a couple of photos from Tower ridge yesterday.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Busy couple of months.


It has been a busy time with work and preparing for MIA Ass. There has been lots of climbing and scrambling with people from the local college and colleagues from work, looking at leading and placing of gear etc. Two weeks ago I managed my first traverse of the Black Cuillin and have managed to tick off a few classic climbs I've been wanting to do for a while. I've still got a lot to do this summer and it only really starts to get busy from this point on.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Winter is coming to an end.

Another week of mixed weather. I managed to get some routes done in the Glen on Tuesday, which is a good chance for me to remember how rock shoes work because it's been so long. On Thursday I was up the Ben climbing what is probably the last winter route of the season. Oh well, bring on the summer sun.

Monday, 22 March 2010

I had to do some work at some point.

A quiet week on the playing front. I had to do a weeks work at OB, which unfortunately was with some, shall we call them 'not very nice children'. On the good side I worked for a local guide, Alan Kimber on Saturday taking some clients up the Ben and got a route in with Ken on the Sunday. It's supposed to be a classic route but neither Ken or I thought it was that good but at least it was climbing.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A week of mixed weather




It's been a steady week. I had a rest day on Monday and headed up into Glen Nevis on Tuesday to solo some easy routes. It was a beautiful spring day with the sun shining. I had to dodge a couple of patches of snow on the bigger ledges but the crags face south so the rock was warm. Wednesday I headed up the Ben with Ken to go and climb Orion Direct which is a classic Nevis route that was in good condition. It was 425m of at times very thin climbing but enjoyable. Unfortunatly I had a first aid course on Thursday and Friday. The weather has really warmed up and there is a bit of a thaw going on So Yesterday ended up just being a walk in the rain with no climbing in Glen Coe.

Monday, 8 March 2010




It's been a busy few weeks. I passed my Winter Mountain Leader a couple of weeks ago and have been busy climbing since. Conditions are good at the moment which unfortunately means lots of people. Saying that I've managed to avoid the ques. Earlier in the week I climbed smoking the white owl on Aonach Mor with chris from work and during the week I headed south to Beinn Udlaidh. I've been busy on the Ben as well climbing Vanishing gully with Ken and the Cascades and Minus Three gully with Johann.