Aonach Eagach

John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Scrambling team today of Alasdair, Gregor, Ken, Linda and Nathalie on the Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe.

Nathalie and Ken amongst the pinnacles.

Nathalie and Ken amongst the pinnacles.

As well as the ridge we took in both the Munros of Meall Dearg and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. There is quite a lot of fresh soft snow on the ridge at the moment, but also a fair amount of bare rock. We had good weather most of the day, but some snow showers late in the afternoon on a southerly wind. I’ll add some more photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page for a better idea of conditions.

Climbing in the Gorms

Grant and I have just had two excellent days climbing in the Cairngorms. Yesterday we climbed Alladin’s Mirror Direct  and Jacobs Edge in Coire an t-Sneachda. Both routes were in good condition and many others were white. There are large cornices though to be aware of in a number of locations.

Today we visited Coire an Lochain and climbed Iron Butterfly. The route is easier with neve. Today there was just enough good snow to make it fun. Cornices collapsing and avalanches were witnessed in the Number 2 and Number 3 Buttress areas.

Alladin's Mirror Direct.

Alladin’s Mirror Direct.

Douglas Boulder

Lance and I visited the Douglas Boulder today on Ben Nevis where we climbed the South West Ridge before descending East Gully. The route was white. Heavy snow showers fell throughout the day.

There is some loose rock on the route which requires care.

Lance climbing on the Douglas Boulder.

Lance climbing on the Douglas Boulder.

Beinn a’Chaorainn

Paul and I were out today on the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn. The lower steep section of the ridge was largely snow free and the turf lower down wasn’t fully frozen. However, by climbing the snowy ramp line on the North side of the ridge we were able to stay on old snow joining the ridge higher up where it was snowy and the turf well frozen.

Paul on the snowy ramp on the North side of the ridge.

Paul on the snowy ramp on the North side of the ridge.

There were a few centimetres of unconsolidated fresh snow on top of the older snow and there were some light snow showers during the afternoon on a Westerly wind. Lots of debris from small snow slides and sun wheels on either side of the ridge.

Golden Oldie

I have been out today on the West Face of Aonach Mor where Grant, Lance and I climbed Golden Oldie. The west face has a good covering of snow. However, the turf is not frozen and some loose blocks require care.

A number of small slides came down the gullies either side of the arête.

Lance and Grant on Golden Oldie.

Lance and Grant on Golden Oldie.

Southern Highlands, Cairngorms and Coire na Tulaich

It has been a busy few days on the Winter Mountain Leader course with a  visit to the North East corie of Beinn an Dothiadh,  a snowhole expedition on the Cairngorm plateau and a visit to Coire na Tulaich to build emergency snow shelters.

The big gully lines are still complete in Beinn an Dothiadh and will be good given a freeze. The Cairngorm plateau still has good cover for ski touring although it is currently very firm.

Andy Hogarth making a brew in our snowhole.

Andy Hogarth making a brew in our snowhole.

Coire an t-Sneachda

I was in Coire an t-Sneachda today with a Falkirk Community Trust winter climbing team of Gregor and Neil. We climbed a fairly steep Aladdin’s Mirror Direct on thick, if slightly soggy, ice and then continued up Aladdin’s Mirror to the top.

Gregor and Neil just above the steep ice pitch of Aladdin's Mirror Direct.

Gregor and Neil just above the steep ice pitch of Aladdin’s Mirror Direct.

There’d been a few centimetres off fresh snow accumulation overnight in sheltered locations above about 850m. This fresh snow was moist at all elevations. Despite the fresh snow, buttresses were still largely bare and bigger gully features were the only real winter climbing options. Some light rain/sleet on a fresh south-westerly/westerly during the day. The older snow is well consolidated, some care required with the fresh snow. The thawing conditions have revealed plenty of loose rock away from the bigger snow accumulations, which is worth thinking about when selecting routes. I’ll add a few more photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Dunkeld and Birnham

I was out today with a group of walkers from Falkirk Community Trust. We made use of the excellent path network around Dunkeld and Birnham and had a very pleasant day.

Some of the group on the Braan path.

Some of the group on the Braan path.

The rock on the crags was looking generally dry and good for some early season climbing.

Winter Mountain Leader

This week I am instructing on a Winter Mountain Leader course. Yesterday we were at the White Corries looking at the teaching of winter skills. Today we were on the Nid at Aonach Mor looking at managing groups on steep ground and snow anchors.

Lots of snow remains in the high corries and gullies. However, a refreeze is now required to bring the majority of routes back into condition with rockfall currently an issue.

Using stompers on the Nid.

Using stompers on the Nid.

Pentlands Navigation

I’ve been in the Pentland Hills today running a navigation course for The City of Edinburgh Council Community Learning. We were lucky enough to have excellent dry and sunny weather. The group was well motivated to get to grips with navigation skills, which made for a very enjoyable day.

The Pentlands are pretty dry for the time of year with generally good underfoot conditions both on and off paths.