31/03/12 Col De La Fenetre, Les Contamines

Rosie at the Col De La Fenetre. The Mont Blanc Massif is in the background.

 

Rosie skiing down from the col on spring snow.

Rosie and I have had a great day out today in the Les Contamines area. We began the day byclimbing to the Col De La Fenetre using touring skis and skins. This 200m skin allowed us to gain a 104om off piste descent which was mostly on beautiful spring snow. After a long lunch in the sun (it is currently 23 degress in the valley), we had a good afternoon skiing on and off piste in the Les Contamines ski area. The pistes are still in good condition.

30/03/12 Hawkcraig, Fife

Managed to sneak in a quick afternoon’s cragging with Nettle at the Hawkcraig today.

Nettle belaying as the tide comes in

Conditions are excellent, with dry rock and no seabirds in residence on any of the routes as yet.

Nettle moving into the groove of Asinine

28th to 29th March Rif. Benevolo, Gran Paradiso Area

I returned to the Gran Paradiso area on the 28th March, this time to the Benevolo Hut. The conditions once more were excellent. Lots of powder and spring snow remain depending on altitude and aspect. I had a great time on the Punta Calabre and the C.Le della Gran Vaudala.

Roc Basagne, Roc del Fond and Punta Calabre.

25th to 27th March Rif. M. Bezzi, Gran Paradiso area

The Grande Casse (near Tignes) from the Col De La Sassiere.

Mont Blanc from the Cle. Di Giasson.

Following a rest day on saturday, I have been at the Bezzi Hut. This excellant hut is located in the Gran Paradiso area of Italy.

The weather has been outstanding allowing us to ski the Col De La Sassiere and the Cle. Di Giasson. As the weather has been warm, we have been aiming to finish in the early afternoon.

The Bezzi Hut is currently best approached not via the minor road from the Dam, but by a lower line next to the Lago Di Beauregard. This is due to a number of slides and ice fall collapses having gone accross the road making for difficult skiing.

23rd to 25/03/12 Ben Nevis

Up at the CIC hut for the last few days with John, Linda, Gayle, Archie and Simon from the Falkirk High Tops Team. On Friday we arrived around lunchtime at the hut and went up in to Observatory Gully and had a look at Tower Scoop. We decided against it this late in the day as there was a fair a bit of debris coming down the gully and we chose to find a safe patch of snow and look at some winter climbing skills. Tower Scoop was climbed early in the day by a couple of parties on Saturday, but now has a distinct broken section on the first pitch.

Gayle and Archie on Observatory Ridge

On Saturday we climbed Observatory Ridge as a summer route on dry rock with the odd snow patch until the last 70m where we moved in to Zero Gully. The top section of Zero had a couple of icey steps the highest one being quite thin. John, Simon and Linda descended Number 4 Gully and myself, Gayle and Archie descended snow in to the head of Coire Leis. Tower Gully, NE Buttress, Tower Ridge, Ledge Route and Castle Ridge were all climbed on Saturday with axe/crampons needed for approach or higher up. Number 3 Gully was descended on skis on Saturday.

Gayle in the top section of Zero Gully

 

Gayle and Archie descending in to Coire Leis

On Sunday we climbed Gardyloo Gully, which currently has a great exit through a tunnel under and behind the chockstone. However, care and good route choice is required to access the route as the warm conditions are impacting any remaining ice routes badly and large lumps of ice were falling from Smith’s and the right hand end of Indicator Wall as early as 7:30 in the morning.

Linda emerging from the tunnel in Gardyloo Gully

The major easy gully lines are all still complete, but remaining ice routes have been effected badly by the last couple of warm days and falling ice will be a consideration for a while if temperatures don’t turn cold again. The rock is dry in large areas and rock routes were being climbed on both Saturday and Sunday.

Gayle topping out from Gardyloo Gully

 

18th to 23rd March 2012 Western Oberland

Morning in the Western Oberland.

Using Skins to ascend a steep slope on the way towards the Shnidehore.

 

The view from the Wildhornhutte.

 

For the past six days I have been ski touring in the Western Oberland. We visited the following huts; Berghotel Schwarenbach, Lammerenhutte, Wildstrubelhutte, Wildhornhutte and Cabane Des Audannes. We climbed the Wildstrubel, Schnidehore, Wildhorn and the Sex Rouge. Along the way, we had 40cm on new snow, lots of sun and some great skiing.

 

15/03/12 Coire an t-Sneachda

Out with John and a Falkirk Team of Gayle, Alasdair, Tom and Archie today in Coire an t-Sneachda. We climbed Fingers Ridge in big boots, on dry rock a with frequent blue skies and largely without needing gloves; I kept having to check the date on my watch.

Gayle on Fingers Ridge

I’ve added a couple of photos of Fiacaill Buttress and Coire Domhain below to give an idea of the current conditions.

Fiacaill Buttress

Coire Domhain - remains of snow holing sites centre left

13/3/12 Shepherds Crag, Lake District

Glenn leading Donkeys Ears.

I have been in the Lake District staff training today with the EICA Ratho staff team. We had a great day out at Shepherds Crag. The crag was mainly dry, the air temperature was warm and there was no wind.

9th to 11th March Torridon and Diabaig

Ian scrambling on Meall Ceann na Creige.

 

Morag on the Beinn Alligin horseshoe.

 

Sea level traversing near Diabaig.

For the past few days I have been in Torridon with the Falkirk High Tops Team. On friday we had a nice day out on Beinn Alligin going from east to west begining with the Horns. I think this is the most pleasant way to do this route.

Yesterday, we climbed the Northern Pinnacles of Liathach. We approached via Coire Na Caime. I would not recommend this approach. The slope to gain the Pinnacles is serious. The Pinnacles also require care.

Today, we had a great day out at Diabaig. We did the Grade 3 scramble on Meall Ceann na Creige. To gain the base of the scramble we took a sea level traversing option which gave some lovely scrambling and a short section of severe rock climbing.

02/03/12 Glencoe

It was a beautiful morning today in Glencoe. The photo above was taken from a peak near the Devils Staircase. Directly above my head is the Lost Valley and to it’s right, Stob Coire Nan Lochain.

For those wishing to climb steep grade 1 snowslopes and grade 1 gully routes some good options still exist.