Glencoe Ski Centre

Yesterday I was running a winter skills course near Glencoe ski centre. The ski conditions looked excellent and look set to improve over the next few days with more snow forecast. Thanks to Dave Crookes for the photo of the team and I. The photo is taken from a snow shelter that we built during the day.

Glencoe

Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag and Beinn an Dothaidh

Yesterday with the team I went to Nevis Range and used the Gondola to access Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag.The conditions underfoot were good with the ground well scoured. This has however led to significant cornicing on easterly aspects and required us to use a rope to safeguard our navigation to the summit of Aonach Beag in whiteout conditions.

Today I drove through Glencoe to Bridge of Orchy. Significant avalanche activity was clearly visible from last nights thaw and recent avalanche activity was noted on Beinn an Dothaidh which we climbed. The crags of Creag Coire an Dothaidh are now all black.

Creag Coire an Dothaidh

John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust climbing team of Doug, Graham and Tam today. We were looking for a scoured crag, given all the new snow, and headed to Creag Coire an Dothaidh. Creag an Socach actually looked more scoured, but with the turf feeling variable on the walk in we headed for the less turf dependent lines on Creag Coire an Dothaidh. Big thanks to the soloist and the team of walkers heading for Beinn Dorain who put a trail in for us.

Graham about to move through the first narrows on our 2nd route

Graham about to move through the first narrows on our 2nd route

John, Doug and Tam climbed Salamander Gully, which they described as “climbable, but with the ice thin in places”. Graham and I climbed Centigrade, which had some thick ice, but required a delicate approach on some sections where the ice was good, but not extensive. Graham and I then nipped round and climbed a line between Centigrade and the col, which started just left of a steep 5m wall and followed a gully/groove line through a couple of narrow sections on good featured ice at about tech III . I’ve vague memories of a line being recorded in one of the SMC Journals here, but now can’t find it. Anyway it gave a good quick second route for the day.

Graham pulling round some ice "cauliflowers" on the 2nd route

Graham pulling round some ice “cauliflowers” on the 2nd route

A lot of soft fresh snow around in sheltered locations. Turf frozen where exposed, but soft where insulated. Ice around on the crag, but not extensive. The crag was well rimed, but was loosing some of this during the day. Above freezing level at crag height most of the day after an overnight frost and temperature rising as we left with rain showers starting to move in.

The Zig-Zags and Stob Mhic Mhartuin

Yesterday morning I drove from South Queensferry to Glencoe. This took five hours including two hours stuck in the snow on the A82 in Glencoe. This hopefully gives a good idea of how much new snow has arrived in the area over the last couple of days.

Once I arrived in Glencoe I met the team and headed out to the Zig-Zags on Gearr Aonach. We climbed and descended the route looking at short roping and abseiling skills. The route was a popular option with quite a few teams around trying to avoid the worst of the weather by staying at lower altitudes.

Today I have been out on Stob Mhic Mhartuin looking at winter skills such as ice axe arrest and emergency snow shelters. There is a lot of new snow around making movement  time consuming and significant wind transportation increasing the avalanche risk on certain aspects.

Unfortunately my camera broke on Sunday and so my blog posts will be without photos until the weekend.

Beinn an Dothaidh

John and I were out yesterday with a Falkirk ski-mountaineering team of Alan, Elsie, Findlay, Rebecca and Rob. We headed west to Beinn an Dothaidh to try and make the most of the new snow after last weeks thaw. This worked well as we were able to skin from about 450m.

Skinning up towards the NE Coire

Skinning up towards the NE Coire

We skinned up in to the North-East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh before putting the skis on our back and climbing Emel Ridge. We’d chosen this route as a good option given the fresh slab, which had developed on Friday on top of old snow in gullies.

Alan on an easy section of Emel Ridge

Alan on an easy section of Emel Ridge

We then skied to the summit before descending to near the head of Allt a’Coire Ghabhalaich on excellent new snow. From here we had a long skin around and up to the head of Coire Daingean before descending back to the mini-bus. This was generally on good fresh snow, but without any real base and with burns showing and often requiring the removal of skis. A long day with the final descent and carry of skis back to the van being in the dark.

Rebecca and Elsie in Coire a'Ghabhalaich

Rebecca and Elsie in Coire a’Ghabhalaich

 

Some snow showers during the day. Accumulations of new wind slab on North through to East facing slopes and in sheltered locations on other aspects. The exposed turf was well frozen, but where insulated under new snow the turf was soft. Good conditions on Emel Ridge and teams on Stairway to Heaven and on the buttress around Zig-Zag Gully. A starry night as we headed out and a hard frost developing.

Ben Nevis Conditions

Finn in Raeburns Buttress intermediate gulley IV 5

Finn in Raeburns Buttress intermediate gulley IV 5

Finn on  Raeburns Ordinary Route Stob Coire nan lochain

Finn on Raeburns Ordinary Route Stob Coire nan lochain

A couple of weeks earlier in January I had a great time working on the British Mountain Guides winter training and even bumped into wilf on the east ridge of beinn a choarain.
Last week working on MIC training with Plas Y Brenin I met a friend of euans, Ady Williams total legend.
This last few days working with Finn have been brilliant.
Some of the routes climbed in the last few weeks.
Mega Route X
Vanishing gulley
The curtain
raeburns buttress intermediate gulley
Italian Right hand
tower ridge
point five
1934 route
ledge route
Castle north gulley all ben nevis.
I found great conditions on routes in glencoe, aonach mor and rhe cairngorms but the ben is as good as Ive ever seen it, even met chamoniards on the curtian yesterday.
Lets hope it survives this turbo thaw.

Dinnertime Buttress/Number 2 Gully Link Up

Caroline, Chris, Tom and I visited Glencoe today. Following the recent snowfall and the forecast rapid rise in temperature, we opted to link Dinnertime Buttress and the upper section of Number 2 Gully to give us a safe route. The choice worked well with good snow present in Number 2 Gully after the introductory scrambling on the buttress below.

After gaining the summit of Aonach Dubh we practised ice axe arrest skills before descending Stob Coire nan Lochan in heavy rain.

Climbing into Number 2 Gully.

Climbing into Number 2 Gully.

Emel Ridge

Caroline, Chris, Tom and I have been out today climbing on Emel Ridge. This route is located on Beinn an Dothaidh and gave a good safe option today after last nights and this mornings snowfall.

The turf is frozen in some places but not in all. Good neve and some ice is present at higher elevations. A short video on the climbnow facebook page gives a good indication of the conditions on the buttresses.

The team descending from Beinn an Dothaidh.

The team descending from Beinn an Dothaidh.

Three Days Out West

I am just back from an excellent three days on the West Coast with John and Harvey.

On Thursday we traversed the Aonach Eagach looking at skills that allow us to move quickly on this type of terrain. We still needed crampons for the whole route.

After staying in Glen Nevis on Thursday night we climbed on Ben Nevis on Friday. We had a good long day first climbing Fawlty Towers before descending Tower Ridge and East Gully to our lunch stop. After a quick bite to eat we climbed the Waterfall Gully icefall which was in great condition before making an abseil descent. The Ben was busy with lots of teams having a great time.

Yesterday we climbed on the West Face of Aonach Mor. We climbed Western Rib starting direct via an icefall at about IV 4. The route was in excellent condition. Lots of teams were enjoying Golden Oldie.

John below the icefall we climbed on Western Rib.

John below the icefall we climbed on Western Rib.

John climbing ice on Fawlty Towers.

John climbing ice on Fawlty Towers.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Out today with John and a Falkirk Community Trust Team of Doug, Gayle and Graham. With the freezing level forecast to be 900m or higher we headed up high to Stob Coire nan Lochan. This paid off and the crag was in pretty good condition. Gullies were generally firm snow or ice, turf was well frozen and the higher areas of crag were rimed.

Doug, Gayle and I climbed the classic Twisting Gully, which was in excellent condition, although busier than it had looked on approach.

Gayle at the base of the route

Gayle at the base of the route

John and Graham climbed Twisting Gully Right Fork, which was good, although the ice/snow could have been better around the top of the first ice fall. They then soloed down Broad Gully and climbed the sporting “left slanting chimney-groove” direct start to Dorsal Arete finishing up the arête.

Doug above the difficulties in Twisting Gully

Doug above the difficulties in Twisting Gully

There’d been a little fresh snow overnight and this was sitting on top of the well consolidated older snow. Some very light snow on a South-Easterly wind during the day. Below freezing at crag height all day, but very mild on the approach and descent from the coire.