Friday 29 March 2013

Aonach Mor in the sun.

Heading up Aonach Mor
 The summit
 Cornices at the Aonach Beag Col 
More raised footprints
 Heading for home
Second day of our winter skills pair and the team opted for the gondola again to maximise snow time. We went on a bit of a journey putting yesterday's skills into practise. Heading up Aonach Mor was hot but there was a very cool breeze on the summit. We headed on down to the Aonach Beag Col (you can still see plenty of ice on the N face of Aonach Beag- showing through the deposited snow) where there were large refrozen cornices on the easterly aspect. After a bite to eat we retrace our footsteps and had a bite to eat in the Pine Marten Cafe to discuss learning points from the last few days. 
Friends climbed the Split and Left Twin reportying good conditions with the ice just a little brittles in places from the cold. 
Off to Keswick for the weekend. Next week more climbing!!

Thursday 28 March 2013

Cold skills at Nevis Range

'Hard sink'
 Various snowpack analysis methods
 Steep snow
 Raised yeti prints
 Head first on the back...

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Very civilised ice climbing

Day 2 for John and I and we walked from Nevis Range round the base of Sgurr Finnisg-aig to climb on the falls there. The storms of last week have done a huge amount of damage to the trees but the Forestry Commission have been hard at work clearing trails and roads.
The sun shone on us all day whilst showers ran through the glens to the north. The ice was good and gave us 5 good pitches of up to IV (top pitch a little hollow and booming but fine with care). Guy and Alan were just ahead of us enjoying the route too.
 John getting involved
 Sunshine in the Glen
 Our 3rd pitch
John showing the ice who is boss
 Alan seconding the final (crux) pitch
 Your turn soon John
Topping out to the sunshine
The civilised way to end a day's ice climbing- courtesy of the bar at Nevis Range

This winter I've been testing a couple of pack designs for the guys at Lowe Alpine and giving them feedback. I was initially a little sceptical of some of the features but have to admit I'm a convert. Unlike the sack I had previously these ones have proved durable, comfortable and useable!
Lowe Alpine have just updated their website to make it as user friendly as possible. Also watch that space for news of their clothing line soon!

Tuesday 26 March 2013

A cold climb- No.6 Gully on Aonach Dubh

Today John and I went down to Glencoe to climb the Cold Climbs classic No. 6 Gully on the west face of Aonach Dubh. From the car park we knew there were a few teams ahead of us so we took our time on the walk in. The weather was fine with the odd light snow shower and some bright spells.
The very bottom pitch is very banked out compared to the last time I did it and the first ice pitch was moist. After the easy 3rd pitch we caught up with the other teams a the short, steep fourth pitch. Using the extensive ice I was able to get an alternate belay and that meant that it was only at the base of the fifth (crux) pitch (another alternate belay that we had to wait a few minutes. This was in quite good nick though a bit hacked about giving a couple of steep pulls (well protected though).
One more pitch of good climbing and we traversed off right to get an easy descent down firm snow. 1 team had gone on to Deep Cut Chimney, the ice falls to the left of that look well formed and I also hear that Crowberry Gully was good today.
Classic ice, good nick, fine weather- what's not to like?
West face of Aonach Dubh
 Our third pitch
 Catching up
 Looking down our fourth pitch
 Alternate belays to avoid the queues and keep out of the line of fire
Looking up the crux
 In the bag!
 Stob Coire Nam Beith and beyond
John and No.6 Gully

Monday 25 March 2013

Tough ladies on Ben Nevis today

A bit blowy on the walk in
 Raised footprints
 Dinosaur spine?
 Ledge Route
Almost on the plateau
Summit shot (its a birthday tiara... on her helmet...well you asked!) 
 Coming down
Today was Nicola's birthday and she wanted to go to the top of Ben Nevis. Sophia was a willing victim  partner so off we went. With the road to the top car park blocked by trees knocked down by the recent winds we walked up from Torlundy. The hill was bright for most of the day and we had so me good sunny spells in between the light showery squalls. But by 10am hiding behind the CIC hut the wind had not begun to drop as forecast (there were knock down gusts on the walk in). Nevertheless we kitted up and headed for the base of Ledge Route through the wind.
Everywhere on Ben Nevis is the evidence of the wind. Sastrugi, icey paths polished by the wind,  pillows of slab from 1m-100m wide on scoured slopes, loading and scouring on unexpected aspects and raised footprints absolutely everywhere (huge things- the neat line of them up to No. 5 Gully looks like the spine of some dead dinosaur and is over 50m long).
We got a little shelter in the Gully (half scoured, half hard slab) and scooted up it onto Ledge Route which is still well banked out and icey. We made good time up the route despite crawling in the gusts and this being the ladies first Scottish Winter route. On top of Carn Dearg the wind was a little less back from the edge of the plateau so Nicola got her birthday wish and we went to the top.
We came down the Red Burn which was scoured in the top section, half loaded and half scoured in the middle and full of hard slab in the gully lower down (we avoided it by keeping above the gully on the south side).
Garth and co. went for a look in Observatory Gully, a team had made it past the huge pillow of slab below Fawlty Towers/Vanishing Gully to get on the latter and there was someone round the base of Waterfall/Gemini. Big area of slab obvious below area of Green to No.3 Gully Buttress.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Up and down, Zig and Zag

With more bad weather forecast Richard, Richard and I went up the Zigzags letting them do most of the ropework. We found snow, turf, lots of loose rock around the huge autumn rockfall and ice. It was a bit blustery but not as bad as yesterday. Thanks to the guys for a grand couple of days despite the weather.