Friday, 30 March 2012

A week of beautiful weather

Watching the sun set from our bivvy.

I've just finished a seven day course at Outward Bound with a very motivated group who have also been very lucky with the weather. The highlight of the week was our expedition from Aberader up to the window and onto the summit of Creag Meagaidh. Here we bivied next to Mad Megs Cairn and day two had the group navigating us over Beinn a Chaorainn and out to Roughburn. A brilliant couple of days out and about. 

Making our way up the Eastern slopes of Beinn a Chaorainn.

Beinn a Chaorainn's East ridge.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Cragging in the sun!

So the rain finally stopped on Wednesday and Thursday was looking to be a fantastic day so Hannah and I headed out to Ardnamurchan for a great day with lots of sun and fantastic views North over the small isles to Skye. We had a steady and productive day and climbed Gretta Gabbro, Ring Master, Vulcan, Pyroclast with the VS variation and finished on Krakatoa. Good to be back out on rock and feel the sun on my back, I'm looking forward to what will hopefully be a good summer. Gutted I forgot my camera, you'll just have to take my word for how nice it was.

Today I think I got a bit over excited with the sun forecast to be shining again and chose to head for a route in the Northern corries. The air temp in the car park was 12C but there was a chilly wind blowing off the plateau and it was cold in the coire, in fact a bit too cold to be hanging around on anything that might involve technical climbing so we sat in the sun and just enjoyed the quiet for a while until it got too cold even for that. You win some and you loose some but hey it was still a nice day. Back at work at Outward Bound this week and it looks like the weather is set to stay fine for my expedition mid week.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The end of my winter and dealing with disappointment.

So that's my winter of work finished unless something last minute arrives but I doubt it with the conditions we have at the moment. There is still stuff to climb high on Ben Nevis and people will continue to be going out for a couple of weeks I would think but not me. Time to look forward to the summer and dry warm rock hopefully on some fantastic mountain routes if the weather lets me.
It's been a while since I've posted as last week I was on my MIC assessment. All was going well apart from the weather which really wasn't 'playing ball'. Unfortunately the assessment was binned after day two. I'm not going to lie I was pretty down about it and it has taken me a few days to really get to terms with it. I have spent the last year working and getting ready for it and to have it taken away at the last minute was, well you get the idea. So as a group we now have the opportunity to go back in January next year to finish the last two days off. On the plus side I have had some friends pass their MIC this winter and good on them.
As I said before it is now time to start thinking about the summer and looking forward to trips that are in the pipe line. So I hope you all had a good winter (even if it was a bit wet and windy) and lets keep our fingers crossed for the sun to come out or at least for it to stop raining.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Tower ridge in the mist.

I was on Tower ridge yesterday with Gareth and Alan for West Coast Mountain Guides. We made good time into the CIC hut but from there until we descended to the half way Lochan we couldn't see more than 20-30m. We could hear teams in Observatory gully but that was it. Tower ridge is very rocky at the moment and apart from the approach and one short patch we didn't really touch snow until the little tower. From here up the rock was coated in thawing verglas that was easily cleared. No photo's, there really was no point.

Friday, 9 March 2012

A return to winter for the Cairngorms, just.

I've spent the last couple of days over East climbing in Coire an t'Sneachda with Hannah. We walked in on Wednesday morning expecting to see more snow than there was but thankfully the strong winds had deposited enough snow on Fiacaill Buttress to make it winter. We shared Invernookie with a couple guided parties and one team went up the couloir. The turf was frozen and there was a dusting of snow on the ledges but anything steeper was still black.

Yesterday with the freezing levels due to rise we had a reasonably early start but already found a few teams in front of us. A lot busier yesterday with MIC trainings and Guide assessments going on, so nearly all of our options were taken. With such little snow cover there are still quite a few loose bits of rock sat on ledges ready to get kicked off so we decided to avoid the crowds and headed up Jacobs right edge quickly and were back at the car park for lunch. The freezing level had risen quickly during the morning and the snow line was racing up the mountains.

Monday, 5 March 2012

A quick look around.

With blue sky's and a frost at sea level this morning I decided to take a trip up the Ben to have a look around and take care of a couple of things. There was a line of people heading in this morning and both the top and bottom car parks were full. I headed into the Ciste with the plan of heading for the ice on Combe gully buttress but it seemed every man and his dog were heading that way but thankfully the pitch of ice below and left of the cascades looked fat enough for me to do what I wanted. After spending a bit of time there I headed back down and round and headed for North gully. It is complete again and the ice is trying to form on the crux but it wasn't too helpful today. I headed right at the top to avoid the very large cornice and then headed over to descend Ledge route and spend some time in the sun.

Quite a few things being done today, The white line, the Cascades, Reaburns easy route, No.2 gully and No.2 gully buttress. Combe gully buttress had a couple of teams on it. Round the corner there were a couple of teams on No.3 gully buttress. I didn't look into Observatory gully but there was a steady stream of people heading up.

Creag Coire na Ciste.

No.3 gully to the Combe.

Combe gully to No.2 gully buttress.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Things are still holding on!

I've been out on the Ben today with a group of fellow instructor's to look at a few things. The snow has gone up a long way since I was there last and the last two weeks of wet and mild weather have had an effect but there are routes still to go at. Today we saw teams out on No.3 gully buttress, Reaburns easy route, Combe gully buttress. We went up no.2 gully buttress and down No.4. It looked like the central gullies on Creag Coire na Ciste looked to still be there if thin at the bottom. North gully has a gap in it but you should still be able to get up it. We didn't see into Observatory gully but other people have reported that Tower scoop, Smith's, Indicator and Good Friday climb are still there.
We are due some snow and colder temps over the next couple of days and although I don't believe there will be much build up of ice it should bring the mixed routes back in although the turf wasn't frozen today.