The weather in the Highlands has been absolutely stunning the last two days, Steve and I have been out with Scott, Cally, Joe and Will and yesterday we climbed Curved ridge in great conditions. Today we headed round to the west face of Aonach Mor (along with about 40 other people) and climbed Western rib. We thought the weather yesterday was good but today was in another class. Julie was also out with Gerard on Thursday and Friday and the climbed Dorsal arete and School house ridge. I'm not going to say any more I'll let the photos do the talking.
Saturday, 27 February 2016
Wednesday, 24 February 2016
I was back out with the two Dave's yesterday and we had a great time climbing Tower ridge in it's current condition. There is a good track up the route with most of the belays dug out. The route has a good covering of snow and ice making a lot of the climbing a bit more straightforward but it does mean gear is hard to come by on most pitches. We made steady progress up to the little tower but met the crowds at this point, took our number and waited in line. A slightly later finish than normal but it did mean we got to catch the evening light on descent, another great day out in a week of great weather.
Fantastic light on the walk in.
The Minus and Orion face.
The Eastern traverse.
Busy at Tower gap.
Fantastic light on the way down too.
Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Today I was out with Dave who is up for his usual winter 'hit' and nearly always brings good weather with him. Given the current snow conditions and avalanche forecast we decided on the west face of Aonach Mor along with a few other teams. There was a good track in and it soon turned turned out the the whole face is in great condition. I was expecting to dig our way up the route but all of the loose snow has been blasted off the face, leaving a good covering of firm snow, frozen turf and clear rocks meaning there is gear placements everywhere. We made good progress up the route and passed one team higher up before we topped out into the sunshine. I also had a MIC trainee, Dave Buckett along today for some shadowing as he prepares for his assessment in the future.
Friday, 19 February 2016
On Thursday I was back out with Sarah and after she had loved the little mixed steps on the SW ridge the day before we stepped it up a bit and climbed North Buttress on the Bauchaille. It was a busy day but all five teams managed to move around each other and keep moving. The route was in great condition with some helpful snow in the back of the chimney. We topped out and headed round the ridge as Coire na Tulaich was filling in fast with a lot of snow. A great couple of days climbing and I'm looking forward to climbing with her again next month.
It was then a busy evening at home drying kit and repacking ready for an early start to drive to Torridon for the day for Abacus Mountain guides. Chris, Martin and David had hoped to do the traverse of Liathach but the weather had a different plan. After some discussion we decided to go up and have a look, worst case scenario would be getting the western Munro done at least. The wind was still quite light for most of the way up Mullach an Rathain but the wind picked up just before the summit and we battled our way to the top and ran away again as quickly as we could.
A glorious morning.
Chris Thorne on the crux of North Buttress.
The wind just starting to make itself known on Mullach an Rathain.
Wednesday, 17 February 2016
Sarah and I headed up to the Ben yesterday (Wednesday) with a fairly open mind and a rack for all occasions. After lots of discussion about route choice given the conditions and avalanche forecast we settled on the SW ridge. As always it gave three good pitches of climbing with some very helpful neve. It was busy around Douglas boulder with a few teams in the Fawlty towers area, all of us choosing to stay low and avoid the larger open snow slopes above. One team had a look at vanishing gully but quickly returned to their bags because of mushy ice and waterfall gully was reported to be in similar condition.
There looks to be lots of Ice from point 5 round to the minus face but I think the ice will still need a bit of time to freeze as it is being insulated by yesterday's new snow but it is looking good.
Friday, 12 February 2016
I walked into the Ben this morning with Kate, along with Gill and Andy and their guys. We had planned to head into the Ciste with a few options. It became very clear quite soon that there was a lot of snow being shifted around, with spindrift pouring down some of the faces and the top of the mountain disappearing every now and then. We started up the slopes under No.5 but we soon bumped into Donald and Jonathan who were heading away for coffee and cake after setting off a couple of small avalanches. We took note of what they had said and moved on for a couple of minutes more, I decided at this point that I wasn't happy with our original plan and as we caught up with the other guys to let them know our new plan we bumped into Blair and Dave, who had a very similar story to tell.
Instead of heading higher and across to the Douglas boulder, we decided to head down under the Gulches so as to avoid any terrain traps and across to the slopes under the DB. Whilst we were doing this we set off three small isolated slab avalanches of varying size and the steepest on was only on a 30 degree slope. We made our way round carefully to the foot of Fawlty Towers, which looked in great nick but soon showed it's true colours as a small amount of cruddy snow and ice sat on wet loose rock. I down climbed back to the belay and we traversed across to the SW ridge of the Douglas Boulder and climbed a couple of pitches of this before we abseiled off.
A beautiful morning.
The first of 3 small avalanches we released.
The small crown wall of avalanche number 2.
Kate surrounded by blocks from slide number 3.
Good conditions on the route but still a few loose blocks.