Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Winter is here.

So the forecasts turned out to be right and we've had snow and rain falling on the mountains in the Highlands this week. Yesterday and today though there has been much more snow falling. James Thacker has been out in the Cairngorms along with other people enjoying the Northern Corries. It has been a bit wilder on the West but things are due to ease off a bit tomorrow before it gets really wild on Saturday. The snow is just in time too as I'm working on a winter skills weekend on Saturday and Sunday but the wind might be a bit of a problem.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Looks like winter might be on its way.

So there has been talk for the last couple of weeks about colder temps at the end of the month leading into December. Looks like this is still on the cards. The Met office synoptic charts are showing a no. of 'lows' passing just to the North of Scotland. These 'lows' are bringing in a no. of both warm and cold fronts over the next few days. These are going to be responsible for the fluctuating temps but are also bringing in moist air from the West ready to fall as it hits the West coast of Scotland. So as a lot of forecast are suggesting there may well be some snow starting to accumulate on the hills and we may well see some action out on the hills over the next week. You can have a look at the synoptics here.

An early season Coire na Ciste from November 2009

I was hoping I might get a chance to get a route in this week but it is looking less likely and next week when it is looking more promising I'm running a course at Outward Bound. Oh well, I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities to come. Like most people I have some personal goals for this winter with regards to progressing as a winter climber. I was hoping that early snows in November would give me a chance to ease myself into winter but I may now just have to hit it running before things start to get busy in January. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A quick round of the Bauchaille.

It dawned foggy this morning in Corpach but with a good forecast I figured it would be nice if I headed high. So after enjoying a couple of cups of coffee and sending some emails I decided to head to Glen Coe and Bauchaille Etive Mor. Sure enough as I hit Corran the fog cleared and the Sun came out as it quite often does on this stretch of the road.

Looking down the glen towards Loch Linnhe and Ardgour.

I was planning on going up North Buttress so I made my way up the lower part of the Buttress to just level with Crowberry basin but as I got here I looked round to see the shadow of Curved ridge and Crowberry Tower cast over the glen beside me. That was it I changed my mind and headed for the sun. I traversed in just below the luncheon spot and enjoyed climbing in the sun to the top of the ridge. I decided to make a quick ascent of Crowberry tower which on the North and West side the rock was still covered in frost but it just added to the fun. At the summit in just under 2 hours from the car. The cloud was starting to build and the wind was cold and increasing in strength so I decided to make a quick descent down Coire na Tulaich. Around trip of just under 3 hours and a couple of new lines that I hadn't noticed before that look like they would be nice in winter.

On the drive back the morning fog had lifted and there was a fantastic view when I got home of the Ben and the Aonachs with a dusting of snow.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Observatory Ridge and the missing marker.

After a failed attempt at a day out on Skye yesterday Dave and I were keen to stretch our legs today so we decided on Observatory Ridge. The summit was clear of clouds first thing this morning but as we walked in the wind picked up and the cloud came in. The route was reasonably dry with just a few wet streaks in the lower part but as we gained height the rock became much greasier and had obviously picked up some moister from the clouds. We moved together placing runners or with hand coils for much of the route and only stopped and pitched a couple of times.

Looking down from high up on Observatory ridge.

The big yellow taxi just about to land on the summit.

Thankfully by the time we hit the summit the cloud had lifted and we were greeted with the kind of view that reminds you why you live in the Highlands, especially after the long wet summer. We were also treated to a fly-by by the big yellow taxi that was dropping some MRT guys off at the summit with some supplies.

Notice anything missing?

We decided to descend Ledge route and avoid the tourist track and I wanted to see if James Roddie's blog post was true. Sure enough it is. The No. 4 gully marker post has been removed. I know the John Muir Trust has spent a lot of time in consultation with the MCofS, Guides, Mountaineering Instructors and I'm sure many other people that use the mountain. I don't know the final outcome of this but I do know there was an overwhelming majority that believed the marker was a part of the mountains history and should remain.
I find it hard to believe that they would ignore this but I also can't imagine that they would remove the marker without publicising this decision. So what has happened to it? Maybe they have removed the bent old flag and plan to replace it with something more substantial than an aluminium pole shoved into a pile of boulders or maybe someone has decided it would look good on the wall of their living room. Whatever the answer I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A possible new line?

It's Autumn and my thoughts should be on the winter in front of me and they have been until my days cragging in the sun on Monday. It just made me realise how much I'd missed the rock this summer. So sat at home dreaming of rock climbing and future goals for next season and a thought about a line I had spotted high up in the Glen popped into my head. Bags packed and off I went.It doesn't look like it is too hard but the last third of the route looks very run out so I had planned to ab down and just check that there was gear in the final break before the finishing slab. As I peered over I saw that the upper slab didn't really look that difficult. So I changed my mind and decided I didn't want to see anymore. I do know now that the crux is in the middle part of the route and not the top as I had first thought. So next Spring I'll be on it as soon as I can. Or if it stays like this maybe I should just get it done.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Ardnamurchan ring crags. A nice surprise.

As anyone who visits this blog, or any blog of anyone living in Scotland knows that the summer has been a bit of a let down in terms of dry rock. So when Al gave me a text yesterday looking for a partner I was keen to say the least. We packed the car and got a reasonably early start to make the most of the daylight. Arriving at the crag it was clear there were still quite a few wet streaks about (not surprising really). So we decided to warm up on Vulcan. A nice two pitch VS which took us upto the upper tier. Al then lead on up through a groove which he hadn't climbed before but was interesting at S 4b and took us to the top.

Al reaching a good rest after the tech crux of Dead ringer.

Back at the bottom of the crag and it was now midday and alot of the streaks had disappeared so we headed on up Dead ringer(E1 5b) which was nice and balancy on the first pitch followed by some bold slab climbing on the second pitch.
We decided to finish the day off with 'Ring of fire' that Al had pointed me at and it was a nice route but felt more like HVS 5b rather than 5a. A nice day to be out on the rock and in such a beautiful setting.

Al pulling through the crux of Ring of fire

Friday, 4 November 2011

Come on snow.

Well the warm weather seems set to continue for a while which is a bit frustrating. After having had a stint of work at Outward Bound over the last couple of weeks and a day on the Ben for Maximum Adventure things are quiet for the next month which is a good thing as it means I normally get to enjoy the early snows but not this year it seems. They will come eventually it just means I'm spending my time reminiscing and doing pull ups for when it does.
Winter work is starting to come in for after the New year and things are looking set for another good winter. Here's a video from last winter to 'wet the whistle'.