Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hill Skills & Navigation Course

Today I have been joined by Jason, Steve & Neil. They were out yesterday looking at micro navigation with Bryn whilst today we undertook a mountain journey to put the skills into context. It was ideal navigation weather with the cloud down to about 400m, strong winds and constant rain all day. There are some good quantities of snow about as the photo of Cwm Tryfan shows. We headed up into the Cwn and onto Y Foel Goch and then down into Capel Curig. The snow was slushy underfoot due to the rain but we did not get higher than about 800m so I would expect it to still be hard higher up on North facing slopes.

Rescue on Snowdon

We were called out last night just after tea to two people stuck on Snowdon. There is still lots of snow and ice about and crampons and axe, plus the skills to use them, are essential. The two casualties were brought down safe and well and I even got my first flight in the chopper.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Teaching Winter Climbing

We headed out this morning in wild conditions, strong winds and snow to look at teaching winter climbing. During the morning the freezing level rose which meant that the snow pack was beginning to be effected by the rain. We escaped off the hill early and made the most of the dry tooling towers at Glenmore Lodge to look at teaching movement.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Northern Corries, Cairngorms

I am in the Cairngorms for this weekend on an AMI workshop for MIC trainees. It has been a cold crisp day with blue skies and sunshine and some nice fresh snow about. There were literally hundreds of people trailing into Sneachda but Lochain was much quieter. All of the butresses were white and there is ice about but it seems to be buried under the fresh snowfall - sorry no photos today as the camera battery went flat! We spent the day looking at mountaineering type ground, short roping, short pitches, snow belays and descent and had a great day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow in Snowdonia

I am back home in Wales for a few days now and we have had a good dump of snow over the last 24 hours. This morning I headed up onto Crib Goch but it was quite a bit breezier than forecast so I didn't cross it. I headed down to Llyn Lydaw instead and enjoyed some beautiful shafts of winter sunshine and knee deep drifts of fresh snow. The ground is not frozen underneath so its no good for climbing at the moment but with a bit of freeze thaw could come good. It certainly looks pretty and it was really nice to be out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mirror Direct, Cairngorms

Dave, Andy, Joe and I headed back into the Northern Corries today to escape the worst of the weather in the West. Dave and I climbed Mirror Direct (IV,4) which was very thin and wet! Nonetheless it gave a good pitch of ice followed by some easy snow and then a descent of Aladdins Couloir. Andy and Joe climbed the Haston Line on the Mess of Pottage. The freezing level was hovering around the summits and the buttresses were dripping but the ground is still frozen and there is hard snow under the surface mush! A good freeze would yield excellent conditions.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

MIC Best Practice - Cairngorms

I have been in the Cairngorms today at Glenmore Lodge taking part in a best practice workshop for MICs and trainee MIC's. We spent the day looking at best practice for teaching winter climbing in some pretty harsh conditions. The winds were gusting with enough force to knock us about and it was sleeting all day. Nonetheless a great exchange of information and a very valuable day out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ben Nevis - The Gutter

Dave, Andy and I headed up onto the Ben again today under stunning blue skies and with no wind. We climbed The Gutter (IV, 4) that starts in Glovers Chimney and then takes a line out right to follow a great ice pitch and some easier snow slopes onto the top of Tower Ridge and then onto the summit plateau. As the day progressed the clouds came in and it started snowing. The wind also picked up. The mountain was very quiet and we only saw 4 other people all day. The conditions right now are great for this early in the season and with the current cycles of melt, freeze and snowfall they will continue to get better.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tower Scoop, Exploration and North Gully - Ben Nevis

I have been out with friends Dave and Andy today on the Ben. We headed up Observatory Gully and started off with Tower Scoop (III) where the ice was nice and squidgy after a couple of days of thaw and a freeze last night. There was also plenty of fresh snow about. We had been planning on heading onto Good Friday climb afterwards but were put off by large accumulations of wind slab between us and the route so headed into the bottom of Tower Gully (I). Half way up on the right hand side we spotted a great little icefall that we followed to the top. I am sure it has been climbed many times before but is not mentioned in the guidebook. It gave a nice pitch of grade III ice and then easier ground above. We descended number 4 gully which was a very friendly shallow angle and then quickly soloed North Gully (II) before coming back down number 4. A great day out.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Last minute availability

I have some last minute availability in Scotland if you want to make the most of the winter conditions. This photo was taken this week and the early season conditions are great. I have a couple of days over the next week and days free in February and March so drop me an email: rob@expeditionguide.com

Friday, January 09, 2009

Coire na Ciste, Ben Nevis

We headed up below the North face of the Ben today into Coire na Ciste. It was a beautiful morning with blue skies. The cloud built up and wind increased as the day went on. The temperatures stayed low and there were folks climbing Green Gully, Glovers Chimney and Tower Ridge. We looked at emergency ropework, snow belays and enjoyed cramponing on hard neve.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Snow Shelter Building Day

We headed up onto Aonach Mor today to look at emergency and planned snow shelters. We built a range of emergency shelters and a group snowhole in 2 metre drifts. The freezing level was higher than yesterday and we were below it all day with temperatures above freezing all day. A great day of digging!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Stob Coire Nan Lochain & Bidean nam Bian

As we drive down Glen Coe this morning it seemed as though we would be spending the day in the cloud and waterproofs, the weather forecast seemed to back that up. We made our way up Stob Coire nan Lochan and once we reached about 700m pulled up above the clouds to fantastic snow clad peaks and blue skies peeking out of a sea of clouds. It was a glorious day so we made the most of it and nabbed Bidean as well. The freezing level rose as the day went on but the crags were nicely rimed and the gully lines full.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Buachaille Etive Beag

We headed down into Glen Coe today to avoid the rain and snow falling over Lochaber. We went up Buachaille Etive Beag which is a very pleasant Munro at the Southern end of the valley. The ground was still frozen and we had some great crampon practise on the frozen streams on the way up. The freezing level rose as the day went on and it snowed gently on and off over about 750m.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Winter Skills 5 day course

I have been joined for the week by Simon, Andy, Sam, Matt, Chris and Dan for a five day winter skills course. For the first day today we headed up on the Gondola onto Aonach Nid after a kit check and weather chat back at the cottage. We looked at ice axe, crampon and self arrest skills and talked about avalanche avoidance as we travelled. It has been a glorious sunny day with temperatures of -4 at 750m and some fresh snow on the ground after a flurry last night. Friends of mine climbed Forgotten Twin on the East Face of Aonach Mor which is normally grade II. They reported reasonable ice that would allow ice screws and steep climbing at about grade III. People were also climbing Right Twin and Left Twin reportedly looked good.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Stob Coire Nan Lochain

We headed to Glencoe today to enjoy a mountain journey with the skills we looked at yesterday. It snowed gently all morning but then the freezing level rose to about 1000m this afternoon and a lot of the lower ice melted out. There were folks climbing some of the easier snow gullies but there is not generally a lot of snow about. Friends headed to Aonach Mor but the gondola was not running so they aborted to the cafe!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Scotland - Winter Skills Weekend

I am in Fort William for a while now and have been joined for the weekend by Luke, Amy, Suzie and Paul for a winter skills weekend. Today we headed up onto Aonach Mor where there are some hard patches of old neve and loads of ice. We had a great day looking at ice axe and crampon skills and enjoyed fine views.