Wednesday 27 February 2008

Stob Ban 27 Feb 2008

Today Will and I climbed the East Ridge of the North top of Stob Ban on the Mamores. We were dropped off at the Lower Falls Car Park, in Glen Nevis, and walked up into the East coire before traversing to the base of our route. The lower half was lightly covered in snow and a bit soggy but was a fun scramble. The upper half merited axe and crampons and gave great climb up ledges and grooves to the upper pinnacle. It is possible to go around this and keep the route to II but we were enjoying ourselves enough to climb the slightly steeper fin directly to make it just a touch harder. The final arete looked amazing set against the deep green of the glen below. We carried on over Stob Ban watching soft slab and cornices building in gullys on the east face. We finally dropped down onto the West Highland Way to drop back into Kinlochleven in the sun.

Monday 25 February 2008

Glencoe 25 Feb

Visibility was surprisingly good as Alan and I headed into Stob Coire Nan Lochan. We headed for an unusually quiet Dorsal Arete for Alan's 50th birthday present day of winter mountaineering as increasing amounts of fresh snow fell around us. We took the opportunity to look at assessing the stability of the layers in the snow pack on the approach and introduced Alan to a series of different mountaineering belays during the climb. There was still plenty of old refrozen snow around and we enjoyed taking the interesting route straight up the dorsal fin near the top.

We were able to stick on a lot of the firm hard old snow on one side of Broad gully in descent although the centre of the gully was filling with lots of fresh loose powder. Other parties were out on Boomerang Gully, Ordinary Route, NC Gully (Mike from Abacus) and good luck to the guys on their Winter Mountain Leader Assessment with Plas Y Brenin.

Sunday 24 February 2008

Another wild weekend but at least there is snow

On Friday with winds gusting up to 100 mph on the tops we decided on a low level day to prepare my clients for a trip to Cho Oyu. Indoors at The Ice Factor and on some of the slopes around Kinlochleven we looked at prussiking, jumaring and ascending and descending fixed ropes. Even near sea level the winds were strong enough to push us around! Respect to Jamie B for his ascent of NC and even more so to the guys who climbed Darth Vader! Saturday was a 'make and mend day'. Its amazing how much abuse kit takes in a winter season and by the end of this winter I'll need new waterproofs, boots, harness, picks, frontpoints and a replacement for my Montane Prism jacket - definitely one of my favourite ever bits of gear. None of these has seen more than 2 seasons (includi ng this one) except the harness!
Today was cold with plenty of fresh snow. Over the next few days the winds will stay hih and the temperatures will oscillate back and forward around freezing at the summits. Glencoe mountaineering tomorrow.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Boomerang Gully 20 Feb

Richard and I went to Glencoe todday to climb Boomerang Gully. It felt like a return to winter with a nice dusting of fresh snow on the still firm stuff thats been there for a while now. We walked in with 3 teams from Plas Y Brenin who variously did NC, Forked and NC and top pitch of Dorsal. Boomerang was great ein almost complete at the narrows. We took a line starting 10m lower or left which gave a nice mixed pitch with ice and some firm turf. Wild one tomorrow, the ice wall at work is booked solid.

Monday 18 February 2008

Central Gully Bidean Nam Bian

Today Clare, Adrian and I went to Bidean Nam Bian and climbed Central Gully by the left hand start. The rocky step there was icey, there was a very light dusting of fresh snow and a little rime on the top half of Diamond and Church Door Butresses. The snow was firm and the left step was about III, the right start looked like and easier icey II. We didnt see a sole until we hit the ridge to Bidean where we stopped briefly before heading back to the Clachaig for a beer.

Sunday 17 February 2008

No2 Gully

Yesterday Clare and Adrian led me up No.2 Gully on the Ben which gave us an opportunity to look at snow anchors and ice screws in addition to rock anchors which they're well familiar with from their rock climbing. There were lots of people out again including the leader who fell off of the top of the Cascade testing his ice screw and the mountaineers who were wandering up the base of the gully without hlemets on dodging ice from above (braver or dafter than me!). The stable weather is still hanging in there but what will come next? Rain or Snow??

Thursday 14 February 2008

Ice and sunglasses on Aonach Mor

It was a sociable day today and as we arrived at the top of Easy Gully on Aonach Mor we were chatting with parties from Plas Y Brenin, Rob from Highland Guides and Ed and Adele from Jagged Globe. Adrian, Clare and I hung back and looked at some snow anchors until the gully was a little quieter. We slowly made our way across to Nausea giving the team ahead plenty of time to clear the icey step at the bottom. The first pitch was brittle and glassy and a little hollow and despite Adrian placing himself well to one side of the fall line a large chunk of ice bounced off of a ledge as Clare climbed past and homed in on him fortunately doing no damage. Topping out into the sun again was a real pleasure and only the call of the gondola took us down from the plateau where we were looking at the variety of belays around the rim of the coire.

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Sunshine and a day off

I joined aout 100 others walking into the North face of the Ben today to take advantage of the glorious weather. I had planned on a light sack soloing day and headed into Coire na Ciste and up No.2 collecting 4 pieces of insitu gear on the way. No.2 was in Grade 1 condition being a uniform snow slope with deep footprints and no cornice. I popped down No.3 (short ab over the cornice from a bollard - ta Nick) and back around the Comb heading for Raeburns Easy Route when I found Jamie B and Will from The Ice Factor starting up Cascade. They kindly let me tie on and Will and I seconded Mr.B up this good pitch of ice. I waved fairwell to them at the belay and soloed my way ack to the plateau along Raeburns Easy to find myself face to face with a film crew decamped from a helicopter near the top of No.3 (didnt see who the star of the show was). Back down No.3 and down to Torlundy on the excellent new path not really in a hurry to leave the views of Rum, Skye, the Paps of Jura and the rest of the West Highlands on a spectacular day.

In the Ciste teams were out on Central Right hand, Green and Comb (all complete but a little thin and sporting). Also No.3 Gully Buttress, Raeburns Easy, Ledge Route and 2,3,4 and 5 are all full of hard snow. Cascade was running with a little water and was a bit hollow and dinnerplatey high up, wet and friendlier for axes in the middle and steeper and glassy low down.

Monday 11 February 2008

Le weekend

It was mild and misty in glencoe this weekend and the snowpack was wet and the rock loose. I went with Karyn and Steve to Dorsal Arete on Saturday as they were on a mountaineering course and specifically wanted to look at ropework for a rocky ridge. There was a bit of snow left on the ridge but the number of peope soloing around without a helmet on left us a bit nervous and after a party knocked a big rock off lower down we were glad to escape and find some snow to look at bollards and bucket seats in.
Curved Ridge on Sunday felt a little more solid and Karyn and Steve took themselves up most of the ridge as I scrambled alongside. The ridge was in mostly summer condition but easy gully was snowy down to below the fork with Crowberry Gully, there was a lot of snow around Crowberry Tower and the headwall of Coire na Tullaich was also steep and snow covered. There had been a large (100m long, 50m wide) landslip down into the bed of the gully in Coire na Tullaich burying the deep snow there.
The cold overnight temperatures have solidified things a bit and many gully lines are still holding lots of white stuff and should give good sport this week.

Friday 8 February 2008

Busy days

Sorry I havent posted a for a few days its een a busy spell! On Monday I went with Mike, Chris and Graham to Jacob's Left Edge in Sneachda. We chose a careful route into the base of the climb and had a wild ascent. Coming down the Cas ridge was rather breezy! Tuesday we spent around Coire na Ciste toproping some harder mixed stuff, looking at ropework for climbing and crevasse rescue techniques.
Wednesday I was back at The Ice Factor and on Thursday with the arival of a heavy thaw we went to Cow Hill above Fort William to do some navigation practise. Back at The Ice Factor today and then some Mountaineering for the weekend!

Sunday 3 February 2008

Going wild in the East 2 and 3 Feb

I've been across in the Cairngorms for the last couple of days. Ralph and Ian and I went to the Twin Ribs oweing to a Cat 4 avalanche forecast and a desire to practise some winter climbing skills in a controlled setting. After a wild start we were rewarded with some bright spells as we made our way up the most interesting ground we could find. Keeping us company with the same ideas were Ron W from Talisman Mountaineering along with Karl and 2 teams. My face fuzz came in useful as an extra layer when it iced up today (see pic). And we finshed by abseiling back down our route.

Today the snow had all begun to thaw lower down and the winds had increased. We went to the Ciste crag (AKA blaeberry butress) and had a look at placing pegs and building belays. When the wind finally defeated us we were given a lift round to join friends in the Cas carpark area (lots of skills teams all working close to the road in wet drifts) by Rob Jarvis. Rob had just come down from the plateau where they had spent the night in a snowhole and had tales of extensive digging through drifts to get out this morning to be greeted by ferocious winds on the plateau.

Two more days East coast adventures to come.