28th and 29th December The West Coast

I have had an excellent couple of days climbing on the west coast. On monday Greg and i headed into Stob Coire an Lochain (Glencoe). We intended on climbing Central Grooves but the lower section was black! Next, we had a look at Tilt but again the lower section was black. We were third time lucky with Chimney Route which was in condition. This gives an excellent mixed route with moves on ice, snow, rock and turf. Other teams were on Dorsal Arete, the Twisting Gully area and Broad Gully.

On tuesday i headed to Beinn Dorain and climbed Kick Start. This gave an excellent route for a short day as the approach is only about 50 minutes. The route had three good pitches all of which had interesting sections on them. A couple of Warthogs prooved useful. The ice routes False Rumour Gully and Salamander looked in good condition. However, the top section of False Rumour Gully may be filling with wind slab.

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Tuesday 29th December 2009

Out in the Drummochter area today with a staff training day for EICA Ratho. We used the ice in the Allt a’Chaorainn and some of the firmer wind blown snow to look at crampon work and bucket seats, burried axes and snow bollards.

The temperature was well below freezing all day (the vehicle thermometer saying -10 degrees Centigrade at 3.30 pm). The snow is generally still unconsolidated to full depth in the area, but deep enough to allow ski touring. No fresh snow fell before 4pm.

The stream was not fully frozen, but with ,and the odd wet foot, gave great fun and good crampon practice.

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Monday 28th December 2009

Out in the Pentlands above Carlops today with Jen, B and John. The Pentlands are in great condition for ski touring at the moment (from the views all of the Border hills and the Ochils would also give excellent touring).

There’s good snow cover right down to the road. The snow is slowly consolidating, but is still generally soft and there’s been very little wind transportation/scouring so there’s cover on all aspects. Below freezing all day at all levels with blue skies and sunshine. Side roads are pretty snowy/icey so care required.

Sunday 27th December 2009

Today Nettle, B and I headed over to the Brack, Arrochar. There are some great winter routes on the Brack, but it’s relatively low and doesn’t come in to condition too often. Today it proved a good choice, with the turf well frozen and the unconsolidated snow rarely deep enough to cause too much bother. We climbed Inglis Clark Arete, starting fairly direct up the front of the arete (quite technical) and drifting in to the groove on the right higher up.

It was snowing lightly on a light northerly wind until about noon and then cleared towards dusk with a hard frost starting.

Nettle on the Inglis Clark Arete before heading right in to the groove

Nettle on the Inglis Clark Arete before heading right in to the groove

26th December Ski Touring

Today i headed out to the Pentland Hills. I headed up to the summit of Scald Law via the Old Kirk Road. On the top i bumped into two friends, Alan and Katherine who were also on skis. We skied a brilliant line down to the bottom on hard packed powder. It was that good we climbed back up to the summit and skied it again.
If only all boxing days had snow cover like this in the Pentlands.

Saturday 26th December 2009

I was out with Nettle today on Creag Coire an Dothaidh, Bridge of Orchy. We climbed Salamander Gully as it looked in and neither of us had climbed it before.

The ice in the bottom 70m was thin and required care. The top section was more solid and gave good climbing, but probably a little harder than if more fully formed.

Turf is solid in the coire, snow is soft and unconsolidated, ice is forming, but mostly requires a bit of thaw and a refreeze (i.e. Fahreheit 451 isn’t formed).

It was below freezing in the coire all day, there was a light fall of snow for a couple of hours and hardly any wind (no significant cornices forming).

.Nettle on the main ice pitch of Salamander Gully

Wed 23rd December 2009

Davy Virdee and I were thwarted by the early morning snow and traffic in Edinburgh this morning, so didn’t make the planned climbing trip. I had to make do with a quick ski ascent of Arthur’s Seat. Able to ski pretty much to the top using short skis and had some good runs down the east side on fresh and sledge pisted snow. For what it’s worth any exposed turf is well frozen, not much ice forming and the fresh snow was around freezing with a bit of moisture content.

December 19th to 21st Evasion Mont Blanc.

Damien, Rosie and i have been skiing the last few days in the Mont Blanc area. The first two days were spent in the chamonix area at Le Tour and Grand Montet. We managed to find some excellent powder skiing.
Last night we had heavy snow. We opted this morning to ski the Saint Gervais and Megeve area. This is a brilliant area which is generally quieter than Chamonix. We managed to get a number of excellent runs in untracked powder with no other skiers around.

Tuesday 15th December Glencoe

Thanks to Glenn Gordon for the photo of Kenny and Jerry below climbing Boomerang Gully in Stob Coire Nan Lochain today. Glenn reports the route is in excellent condition. Other teams were on Dorsal Arete and Boomerang Arete

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Monday 14th December Belhaven

The expected warm and very wet weather arrived in the Cairngorms on monday morning at 4am. We arrived at 10am to find lots of teams walking out but thought we would have a look anyway.

Greg, James and i headed into Fiacall Buttress and climbed Belhaven. The corner was still holding lots of ice and useable snow. All the turf was frozen. Belhaven gave a good route with sustained climbing which was made easier by the big lump of ice around the crux bulge. I think it would be a bit harder without this.

The Seam, Fiacall Coulior an Invernookie were still holding snow. All steeper lines were stripped. We could hear a team on the Fluted Buttress area. Well done to the team who snow holed on sunday night and climbed The Slant on the Mess of Pottage the next day.