Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Slalom, Little Brenva Face, Ben Nevis - Play

We saw the sun today! The bad weather yesterday has put some new snow down on the Ben as you can see in the photos. There was a lot of wind blown snow about but we were able to avoid it and enjoy hard neve and good quality ice. Slalom is a grade III route made up of ice smears and sticks to the right hand side of the face which meant we could avoid the worst of the snow. We didn't fancy the summit plateau winds so abseiled off.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ice Factor

Wild, windy and wet conditions meant that Alec and I joined the rest of the climbing community at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven today for some indoor ice climbing. Winds were hitting 100mph plus on the hills and the snowline has lifted slightly from yesterday according to friends who were brave enough to go for a walk.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Cascade, Ben Nevis - Play

The weather forecast was pretty accurate today. It predicted a calm start followed by intense strong winds as the day progressed and thats what happened. There has been a lot of fresh snowfall overnight and we had to wade through deep powder to get to the foot of the route.

Alec and I had an early start and were at the foot of the route for about 9:00am. We climbed Cascade which is a 50 metre ice route that is graded IV, 5 and was in great nick today with soft squidgy snow ice taking first time placements. We abbed off some in situ tat and were back home for lunch.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Central Gully, Bidean nam Bian - Play

Bryn and I headed down to Glen Coe today to see how much harm the recent rainfall and warm temperatures had done. There were not a lot of routes to choose from! During the morning it was snowing on and off over about 900 metres with some graupel forming. We decided to meander up Central Gully which was a pleasant solo on solid snow and a good exit left at the top onto slightly steeper ground. It is graded 1/2 and takes in some fantastic mountain architecture. The route needs more snow it in really but we had some great views from the top and it felt wintry for a while.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cairngorms - Play

Bryn and I headed East today in search of the holy grail they call sunshine. As we drove into Aviemore it seemed we were in luck as indeed the sun did poke through the clouds. Once parked at the ski centre the skies had opened and it was snowing at the car park. We walked up into Sneachda but extremely strong winds persuaded us that if we managed a route the top out and descent would be the living end - so being soft Southern types we went to the cafe in Aviemore! I took a photo of the crag for those thinking of heading up for the weekend. All of the main gully lines are full and it has been snowing all morning with temperatures at freezing at about 800m. The forecast for Saturday does not look great but Sunday should be good. Have fun and be safe!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wet and windy

It has been a very wet, windy and warm day in the Highlands today. The freezing level was well above the summits. We didn't get any climbing done but it is set to get wintry tommorrow and Sunday is looking as though it will be a good day with low temperatures and clear skies. There is always the slack lining for Saturday as part of the Fort William Mountain Festival.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tower Scoop, Ben Nevis - Play

It was pretty windy on the Ben this morning and we had some light snow until about lunchtime. This at least had the effect of making everything look more wintery and the spindrift reminded us of waht Scotland is famous for!

Tower Scoop is a grade III ice route in Observatory Gully and was nicely sheltered from the wind. The guidebook describes it as 65m long but it provided two good pitches with the top one very steep providing a pokey 3 because of the lack of snow. There were plenty of steps and so the climbing was not hard and the ice was nice and sticky.

Looking wet and warm tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Glovers Chimney, Ben Nevis III, 4 - Play

Well after a few days at home it was nice to be back in the mountains today - and the sun has been shining all day! We climbed Glovers Chimney on the Ben. The first pitch is an ice pitch that was good thick ice but had a small section missing where it narrows - this was easily bypassed and once into the gully the snow was solid neve. The top chimney pitch had some ice but was mainly rock. The top of Tower Ridge was very straightforward on hard snow. Teams were out on Comb Gully - which looked thin, Smiths Route, Number 2 Gully & Number 2 Gully Buttress and lots of teams heading up Number 4 gully.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dorsal Arete - Stob Coire nan Lochan - Play

Another beautiful day in the Highlands today. Walking into the Lochain was like walking in the Alps - absolutely stunning. We had blue skies, crisp cold weather and loads of fresh powder. Same story as the last few days though from a climbing point of view. All that fresh powder whilst it looks nice is an absolute nuisance! It means that the ground is still insulated fro the cold so is not frozen so axes won't hold in the turf, rocks are loose and of course the gullies are out of bounds because of the avalanche potential. Bryn and I ended up soloing Dorsal Arete and enjoying the views at the top. Enjoy the photos!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

West Face of Aonach Mor - Play

Today was one of the best weather days we have had over the last couple of weeks. Bryn and I headed round onto the West face of Aonach Mor for a bit of exploring and climbed a grade II gully called Ruth, which we then left once the ice got banked out with snow and headed up a ridge which is not mentioned in the guidebook but was about grade II. We experienced some rare summit views and there was no wind all day. The mountains are all well plastered with snow and the skiing would have been great at the Nevis Range today. For climbing the snow is still all a bit rotten because the ground is still warm and the snow is insulating it. Unfortunately it looks as though its going to get warm at the end of the week.

Monday, February 04, 2008

North Buttress, Buachaille Etive Mor IV, 4 - Play

Bryn and I chose North Buttress as todays objective on the basis that we would be able to abseil off the route rather than have to summit and deal with the wind loaded snow slopes at the top and in descent. It was a category 4 avalanche report again today and was snowing the whole time we were climbing. We climbed the chimney pitches to easier ground and then abseiled off in 3 full abseils.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

More heavy snow - Inglis Clarke Ridge - Denied!

Bryn and I headed down to the White Corries today with a view to climbing the Inglis Clarke Ridge on Creise. This is a grade 3 ridge that gets 3 stars for quality. We did not realise how high up the face of the mountain started until we got their. Ridges are normally a good bet in heavy snow conditions but we would have needed to cross some exposed snow slopes to get to it so backed off. A nice walk in deep powder across the heather!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Day Five Winter Skills - Coire Leis

It has been snowing heavily all day and all night last night - in fact as I type there is snow falling in the garden of the cottage here in Fort William. Last night Will had to go home early because his mother was ill and Jason left amid fears of travel chaos on the M6. Paul and I headed up into Coire Leis at the foot of Ben Nevis. It was a beautiful day in fresh snow and we even got some views later in the day. We did some crampon work on some ice covered steps and looked at emergency use of the rope, including ice axe belays. We also managed the chimney pitch if the CIC hut that was plastered in ice!