Thursday, 31 January 2013

Creag Meagaidh

Day 2 with Ann and after over twenty years of Scottish winter climbing she had never managed to get a route done on Creag Meagaidh. The forecast was for some mixed weather but improving later in the day so we were feeling a bit smug when we walked in, in the sunshine instead of the rain that was forecast. We headed into the inner coire to see what was about and decided to go for South pipe direct. As we geared up the snow started to fall, gently at first but very soon it was coming down at a fair rate but still no sign of the wind.

The wind arrived and snow started pouring done the gullies and we were soon surrounded by sloughs of snow, we opted to traverse over to finish up the pumpkin and avoid and the gullies but this still had a lot of snow coming down it. We topped out into some pretty strong winds and stayed roped up until we were down from the window.


Photo was taken this morning.

Ice has been building and one team did climb the pumpkin but it looked very thin from where we geared up. There is a lot of snow up there now and picking a route with a safe approach might be the hardest thing.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Waterfall gully, Ben Nevis.

Ann has joined me for two days guiding and with the winds forecast to be strong again today Ann and I were keen to stay low so we had a wonder up the Ben to see what the lower cascades were like hoping to climb these to get us to Waterfall gully which I knew had been climbed yesterday. The cascades are there but are now mostly detached and the booming sound that came from them didn't fill me with confidence but one team did climb one of the falls and said it was better than it looked. We walked round and up to the foot of Waterfall gully which looked wet but far more solid.


Ann right under the main drainage, it was a bit damp!

The ice above the main pitch was running fast and I was encased in a suit of verglas armour by the time I got to the belay but the climbing itself was fantastic with good toffee ice and solid screws. We had planned to head round to Compression crack (which looked good) afterwards but the wind had started to pick up and we were both pretty wet so we abseiled off and made our way down to save some energy for tomorrow.

Ice has been building well and with some continued lower temps and a drop in the wind there will be lots of options. Some routes still have a way to go but they look promising for the near future. 



Clachaig Winter Safety Lectures 2013

The Clachaig Winter Safety Lectures are a number of free evening lectures that will definitely be worth a visit if you're in the area and will probably be very social events too. Get yourself along if you can.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

New courses and a new look.

After a successful trip to Glenmore Lodge this week I am pleased to say I am now offering a full range of Winter courses including walking, Winter mountaineering and Winter climbing. I have also used this opportunity to update my website and relaunch it with the new logo in place. A big thank you goes out to everyone who has had a hand in the new site from the logo itself, to photos, content and advice.

I look forward to seeing you out in the mountains and lets hope this coming year is going to be a good one.


Thanks to Al Halewood for the photo.

Friday, 18 January 2013

A few days over East.

After Dorsal arete on Sunday I came home repacked my bags and headed over to the Cairngorms to help out with the University of the Highlands and Islands Residential week. I wasn't needed on the Monday so used the day to do a bit of exploring in Coire an t-Sneachda, I managed to beat the crowds to the foot of Jacobs Ladder and soloed up the Slant and then fought my way down Jacobs Ladder and then went up Jacobs Left edge and then down Jacobs ladder again. A bite to eat and I headed over to the Trident gullies area and climbed the Runnel which was in good condition but a bit thin at the top and felt more like III than II. The weather had worsened by then so I called it a day and headed back to the car via 1141m.


Nathan enjoying himself.

Tuesday and I was out with Nathan who had spent the previous day with Al. We headed for the route between the Runnel and Central gully and which goes at about grade III and has a nice entry pitch. Al and his team followed us up this so it was all very sociable and Adam got some great pics. ( See Al's blog )

Wednesday and Thursday was spent working along side Andy and Chris with the Higher Outdoor Learning course who where finishing off their winter walking module so we spent the two days recapping the necessary skills and putting it into a journey. Winter has definitely returned to the mountains and more snow is forecast, The persistent sub freezing temps will be helping to build ice on some routes but we may need a thaw and refreeze to bring some of the classic gully lines back in.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

A quiet Dorsal Arete.

With a better avalanche forecast in the Coe today we headed for Dorsal arete so Cameron and James could lead a route themselves. They did a fantastic job and climbed the route in four pitches building on what we had looked at yesterday and did it with style.


James and Cameron enjoying themselves.


Descending Broad gully.

It was quiet in the coire today with a team on Scabbard chimney and a team in the Twisting gully/grooves region. There has been quite a bit of fresh snow which makes the whole coire look much more wintery and the turf is pretty much there.


Wintery looking crags at the end of the day.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Turf walk, Aonach Mor East face.


James in the crux groove.

Headed to Aonach Mor East face today in the hope of avoiding the crowds but it was still busy, thankfully there are a good no.of routes to go for. We opted for Turf walk which gave James, Cameron and I five great pitches of turfy mixed climbing. Our focus for the day was to look at rope work and winterising there existing skills so hopefully they can lead themselves up something tomorrow.

Mixed conditions are great at the moment up there, lots of exposed turf and still plenty of rock gear available. Not sure about the ice routes, I know Left twin was climbed but Tunnel vision had no ice on it at all.

Cameron looking for the turf to help pull over the bulge.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sociable day on Good Friday climb.

 I was out with Craig today to help me prepare for Assessment and hopefully teach Craig a few things about stance management and Graham and Dave came along too. We thought the Ben was going to be busy today as it had been blogged that Good Friday was in condition but we saw no one in front of us on the approach into Observatory gully. A big team passed us but they stopped at Tower Scoop.

So we traversed into Good Friday climb and found a couple of teams hiding round the corner but they were friendly and accommodating. The route is in great condition with good sticky ice and rock solid neve, making it a pleasure to climb. After the crux of Good Friday we traversed right and finished up the last pitch of Indicator wall to give us another great pitch of grade III ice.


Craig on the finishing snow slope to the summit.

After topping out Craig and I hung around to wait for Dave and Graham so I thought I'd just abseil down the last pitch to get some photos. We descended down No.4 so we could get a look at some of the other crags. There are routes there to climb but few of them unfortunately. I'm not quite sure harder mixed is in yet but I didn't get a close look so I could be wrong. Winter is hopefully making a return and It's good to see that some of it has survived.


Dave leading the last pitch.


No3 gully buttress and Creag Coire na Ciste.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A quick nosey around!


Everyone knows that the weather isn't exactly the best at the moment and I've been sitting around waiting for it to turn but I had to get out and stretch my legs, so with a better forecast for the East I thought I would go and have a nosey and see how things are shaping up over there.


Coire an Lochain.

Conditions in Coire an Lochain were pretty favourable with firm snow in the Couloir, from here I descended the Fiacaill ridge and dropped in under the twin ribs and made my way round the Coire to Jacobs Ladder and went up this to say Hello to Max. By the time I had topped out the cloud and rain was starting to arrive so I dropped back into the Coire via windy col and out on the path, 4 Hours door to door and good to stretch the legs. The snow is good in places but cover is getting thinner, I had to remove my crampons twice today just to cross the larger areas between snow patches.


Looking across Coire an t'Sneachda from the top of Fiacaill.

It was busy today with a lot of people climbing the grade I gullies which are complete but lots over other teams out climbing some very incomplete gully lines and in an area that is renowned for being loose in a thaw. One smart team where up rock climbing on Pygmy ridge, avoiding the crowds and definitely with no one above them.