Friday 28 March 2008

Friday The Ben

Mark and I walked into the north face into an easterly wind and snow fall blowing down the coire and depositing drifts and windslab on westerly aspects and the path! Reching the CIC we had passed the Glnmore Lodge team on their way out having had a fine week on routes like Italian Right Hand, No3 Gully Butress, Indicator Wall, Point 5 and Thompsons Route. Rosie Goolden working for West Coast Mountain Guides had also done the Curtain although this had been much damaged by yesterday's sunshine. The ice was reported as very variable ranging from solid to climbable but hard to protect.

With all the snow around we went to Waterfall Gully climbing its best pitch (the bottom one!) and abseiling off. The ice good to climb but had a 2 inch gap behind it and plenty of running water around. The feezing level had risen markedly as we walked down to Torlundy and what had been a snowy walk in was a less windy, more soggy walk out in the rain. We left teams heading for a late start on the SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder.

Tues Wed Torridon

I was in Torridon on Tuesday and Wednesday. At the bginning of the week fresh snow was falling in Strahcarron and Torridon right down to sea level. On Tuesday I was alone in Coie Lair and walked in in heavy drifitng snow from the road. Hoping to climb Academy Ridge I was put off watching the constant spindrift avalanches on the East face of Sgurr Ruadh and waded to Fuar Tholl's NE cliff where I climbed The Pile (II) and slid down Left Prallel Gully.

On Wednesday the weather was more amenable and Steve, Stuart and I went to Diabaig and scrambled up the interesting West Spur of Meall Ceann Na Creige. This Grade III scramble (described in the SMC Highlands Scrambles North Guide) is conveniently situated 100m from the car park. In the afternoon we went to the delightful single pitch gneiss crag at Ardheslaig. We climbed Very Gneiss, Scooby Doo, Quite Gneiss and Encore (all 35m V Diffs and Severes) on dry rough rock in cool weather but sheltered from the worst of the wind. It felt quite strange to be back in rock shoes and axeless!

Saturday 22 March 2008

Glencoe Ski Centre

Davey, Heather and I went to Glencoe Ski Centre today to let the chairlift take the strain. This got us up to the snowline very quickly for our day of revising winter skills. The snow was mostly firm and icey but there were some deep drifts of slabby snow on lee slopes. There were plenty of skiers around as we used the gound to look at kicking and cutting steps, walking in crampons and preventing slips and arresting slides. We then moved onto some steeper ground to build bucket seats, buried axe belays and snow bollards which we abseiled from.

Karl and his clients were in Glencoe on Stob Coire Nan Lochan reporting frozen turf, good snow and parties on Crest Route, Twisting, NC, Boomerang Arete, Forked Gully and of course Dorsal Arete.

Friday 21 March 2008

Stob Ban 21 March

Back to Stob Ban today in gales and snow showers. The northerly wind came in strong gusts (up to about 70mph at 900m) today - at one stage I watched an ice axe blowing along a ledge before it was hastily clipped to a belay! The winds are scouring some slopes and depositing snow deeply in sheltered spots. It also felt a bit milder out of the wind today than expected (ice mushy and wet at 900m). We could see evidence of a large cornice collapse on the East side of the north ridge of Stob Ban but the same site was rapidly building a large new one today. Enjoy a blustery Easter weekend folks.

Sunday 16 March 2008

Aonach Mor

Today JP, Al and I went to the West face of Aonach Mor where we climbed to the left of Golden Oldie finding some nice mixed climbing with the hardest short steep section at about IV. Unfortunately we topped out in dense cloud and snow showers. By the time we had navigated back to the ski area it had begun to lift a little. We met Rocio and her clients who reported good conditions (and an enormous but avoidable cornice) on Left Twin. We also heard stories of someone's epic with another huge cornice above Forgotten Twin yesterday. Wind and soft snow were continuing to form and reform the cornices as we stood talking.

Back down at the Top Station we were now in blazing sunshine surrounded by happy skiers enjoying great snow. Hot chocolate for drivers and a beer for me - a great end to to a day's climbing!

Saturday 15 March 2008

Sunshine for a (lovely) change!

JP, Alistair and I went to Stob Coire Nan Lochan today. There were plenty of parties out enjoying the sunshine and ploughing through deep snow. SC was reported as a snowy rock climb (as often these days), the bottom of Original Route Central Butress was reported as very soft, Twisting Gully and Grooves as full of soft snow and a little cruddy ice. We kept clear of the crowds and headed up the summit butress taking in 7 pitches of climbing the hardest of which was about IV. The guys did great for their first winter climb as they learnt how to cope with soft cruddy snow on mixed climbs and soaked up the sun. Matt and Laurent were also out sometime to the right of us, then to the left of us. More details and pics of them and the coire at:

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Douglas Boulder

The Douglas boulder has been proving popular with climbers in the last week or so. This is due to the ease of approach and the fact that recent conditions have leant themselves to snowed up rocky climbs and shorter days with wild weather! Guy and I went to the easiest route on the boulder- the Southwest ridge yesterday. I made a false start low down on the ridge and was scratching around for a while before Stu from Plas Y Brenin arrived with the beta that the groove i was in was 'nails' compared to the normal route which starts a little way up the gully. Since the point of our day was a quick route before the arrival of bad weather in the afternoon Guy and I were happy to take the advice! We hopped onto the ridge a little higher and took a fairly direct line straight up the crest of the ridge. It is possible to climb an easier line by weaving a little. Guy dug out t a well buried tat covered block on the summit and we abed down into the gap and descended the east gully as the snow came in again. More pics on Guy's Blog: and a report on Richard Bentley's new route on the Boulder on Rob's site here: .

The Ciste and Observatory Gully area are both very full of snow and parties heading to 'white' looking ice routes low down like the Curtain found only bottomless snow on arrival. Today strong winds and frequent showers are keeping it wintry out there.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Wetter and milder

Raining up to 1000m today but that didnt stop Karsten and Andreas leading their way up Dorsal Arete (much quieter in the coire today). The low lying snow is thawing steadily but up in the coire there is still a deep snowpack getting steadily moister today. This could make for some nice firm climing conditions if it gets colder as promised on Friday.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

Sunshine on Stob Ban

I enjoyed my day on Stob Ban last week so much I decided to go and see what its like with a lot more snow. Karsten, Andreas and I managed 8 pitches of II and III climbing on the East Ridge of the North Top today, the guys led 2 pitches each. The sun was smiling on us from a blue sky after a little early snow. The exisiting large amounts of powder were settling and thawing and there were plenty of sloughs and sun wheels around, especially on the West side of the north ridge.

Monday 3 March 2008

Lots of fresh snow in Glencoe

Awoke to fresh snow down to sea level coveri ng the roads in Kinlochleven. Karsten and Andreas are on leave from the Danish army in Afghanistan and have chosen to spend their time getting to know a little about Scotland in winter. Yesterday Karl gave them and intro. to winter skills at White Corries ski centre in Glencoe. Today we headed up Stob Coire Nan Lochan and climbed 7 pitches in the area of Boomerang Arete and Ordinary Route at about III,4. It was a sociable day as we shared the summit butresses with 2 parties from Plas Y Brenin's MIC training course and the man I bought my house from(and climbing partner)! There is plenty of deep fresh snow on Easterly aspects and in gullies and hollows and a small loose snow slough carried someone down 20m or so from near the base of NC Gully. We saw other parties in Boomerang Gully, NC and on Ordinary Route (Central Butress). Where the slopes are more scoured there was some reasonable snow around which withstood good pulls from axes. We had some long sunny spells and some short snowy showers and watched large soft cornices growing around the rim of the coire on the way down.