Stob Coire nan Lochan

I was out today with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing team of John, Gillian, Helen, Kate and Ken in Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glen Coe. We climbed Dorsal Arete in quite Alpine conditions; the fin was bare rock, but the rest of the route was climbed on good refrozen snow and the fin could be bypassed on snow if desired.

Gillian and Helen with John behind approaching the fin.

Gillian and Helen with John behind approaching the fin.

We then descended Broad Gully again on firm refrozen snow. There was sunshine most of the day in Glen Coe and no precipitation. A cloud inversion rolled in late in the day. Big easier gully lines are still intact in the coire, but most buttress routes are now very bare of snow and ice. I’ll add some photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Cairngorm Ski Expedition

The Falkirk High Tops Team and I have just completed an awesome ski expedition in the Cairngorms. We began at Coire na Ciste before crossing the plateau and making a steep descent to the Saddle. This slope receives a lot of sun and it is worth being here early in the morning in the current weather conditions. After making a kit drop we descended to Loch Avon before making an ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin. In the fading light we had an excellent descent before returning to our equipment at the Saddle.

Under a clear sky we had an excellent, comfortable bivouac before an early start the next morning. The morning was clear as was the rest of the day with a cloud inversion in the valley. After breakfast we climbed to 1082, Coire Raibert and 1141 before skiing the Coire Cas Headwall. We then climbed back to the Ptarmigan Restaurant before descending the Ciste Gully back to the van.

There is still good cover in the Cairngorms for ski touring and the snow is currently in excellent condition. Lots more photos can be seen on the facebook page.

Pamela enjoying the first rays of sun at the bivouac.

Pamela enjoying the first rays of sun at the bivouac.

Ben Nevis

After climbing with Euan, Tina, Scott and Steve on Saturday and Sunday I stayed up in Lochaber and met up with John and a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing Team of Joanne, Linda and Tony on Monday to head up to The CIC hut.

Tony after climbing Hadrian's with Observatory Ridge above his head and Hadrian's the first major ice line to it's right.

Tony after climbing Hadrian’s with Observatory Ridge above his head and Hadrian’s the first major ice line to it’s right.

Over the last three days we’ve climbed in various combinations ascending Tower Ridge, North-East Buttress, Hadrian’s Wall Direct and Tower Scoop. The weather has been warm with temperature inversions meaning the climbs at height haven’t been significantly refreezing overnight, so care is required with route choice, timing and choice of approach as there is considerable ice stripping from the rocks and still some significant cornices above parts of The North Face. The ridges are currently quite alpine with sections of snow, ice (some of it detached) and also bare rock in places.

Linda and Joanne descending after an early morning ascent of Tower Scoop.

Linda and Joanne descending after an early morning ascent of Tower Scoop.

The views have been magnificent with wall to wall sunshine, beautiful sunsets and cloud inversions in the early morning. I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Skiing in Glencoe

Rosie and I have had a great day today with friends in Glencoe skiing from the lift system. The majority of runs are complete and the snow is in spring condition making it a lot of fun to ski.

Rosie skiing Radio Gully.

Rosie skiing Radio Gully.

Stob Mhic Mhartuin, Mess of Pottage and SCNL

On Friday the lads from Ballachulish and I finished our winter mountaineering course by ascending Stob Mhic Mhartuin in Glencoe and then on the steep northerly aspect completed some training on abseiling in winter using bollards.

Tina, Scott, Steve, Martin and I met in the Cairngorm car park on Saturday morning with the hope of doing some winter climbing. We chose to go east rather than west to avoid the rain. We were rewarded with a dry day and two routes; Haston Line and Hidden Chimney (both are on the Mess of Pottage in Coire an t-Sneachda). Both routes were still holding good snow ice although this may be gone now.

We returned west on Saturday evening and on Sunday climbed Dorsal Arete in Stob Coire nan Lochan. The route still has lots of useable snow on it although the fin is now mostly dry.

There are lots more photos from the last week on the climbnow facebook page.

The team on SCNL.

The team on SCNL.

Beinn Udlaidh

John and I were out with a Falkirk Winter Climbing Team of Graham, Gregor and Wilson today. We headed for Beinn Udlaidh, which we surprisingly had to ourselves all day.

Wilson in a narrow section of Ramshead Gully.

Wilson in a narrow section of Ramshead Gully.

John, Graham and Gregor climbed South Gully of the Black Wall. They reported water running behind the ice on the first pitch, although the ice was ok, and good ice above. Wilson and I climbed Ramshead Gully, this was awkward in the narrows especially with a rucksack, but is a fun climb that I hadn’t done before.

Beinn Udlaidh as we walked out.

Beinn Udlaidh as we walked out.

Here’s a photo showing conditions today. I’m not sure how long the ice will last as temperatures seem to be on the up. It will depend on how cold it gets at night and how much rain falls at crag height over the next couple of days, but I suspect most of the ice routes won’t be climbable for the next few days. Beautiful day to be out today with great views from the top. I’ll add some more photos to the Climbnow Facebook page.

Four Days and a One Night Exped

For the past four days I have been based in Ballachulish. On Monday the team and I completed a winter skills session at the Glencoe ski centre. The cover for skiing is currently excellent.

We went to Aonach Mor on Tuesday to complete a micro navigation session on the plateau in winds gusting up to 60mph and whiteout conditions. These conditions were perfect for what we wanted to achieve. The snow cover in the ski area was good although the plateau was mostly bare nice.

For the past two days we have been snowholing in the Creag Meagaidh massif climbing Na Cnapanan, Meall an t-Snaim and Carn Liath. The cover on the ridges of the massif is currently excellent for ski touring. There was two large avalanches in Coire Ardair either during last night or early this morning.

The Buachaille on Monday.

The Buachaille on Monday.

Nearing the summit of Carn Liath.

Nearing the summit of Carn Liath.

Four Days Based in Lochaber

I got back last night from four days based in Fort William with Andy and Rob. On the way up on Friday we stopped off at Bridge of Orchy and headed in to Creag Coire an Dothaidh. We’d been aiming for Salamander Gully, but a team diverted on to it just before we got to the crag, so we headed up Centigrade. The ice was a bit hollow in places and required a delicate approach, but gave a good sheltered climb.

Rob and Andy high up on Centigrade.

Rob and Andy high up on Centigrade.

Saturday saw us head up to Ben Nevis and climb Ledge Route in excellent conditions. We were the first team up on the day, which required a bit of trail breaking and some careful route choice in sheltered spots with pockets of unconsolidated snow. We saw lots of teams out on The Curtain, Vanishing Gully and heading up towards Harrison’s and Castle Ridge.

On Sunday we needed a shorter day with options to cut off early if required as Rob’s foot was playing up a little. This made me think of Masa and Yuki Sakano’s routes on the North-West Ridge of Binnein Shuas. It’s a short walk in and the routes are on small buttresses up the ridge. I’d climbed Location, Location, Location last year with Jim Bayliss and spotted an option for an alternative start; the cave mentioned in Masa’s description is actually a through route. This gave an hilarious squeeze/thrutch with rucksacks needing to be removed part way up. Rob described it as “like being a kid again”.

Andy about to do battle with the narrow section of the cave.

Andy about to do battle with the narrow section of the cave.

Higher up we climbed Bogle Eyed, which gives a short, but excellent quality, ice pitch and seems to form quite readily. We then aimed for what I thought was Summit North-West Buttress. We climbed what looked like the “obvious zig-zag snow line”, however, it felt somewhat nippy for a II and we popped out about 20m North of the summit rather than “80m West”; so not the same line, but a good pitch direct to the summit. If you want more information for routes on Binnein Shuas search on Scottishwinter.com.

Yesterday we climbed Dinnertime Buttress finishing via No. 2 Gully on Aonach Dubh West Face in Glen Coe. The ground was hard frozen from the glen up and the weather was glorious. There are still areas of unconsolidated snow and slab around, so route choice requires thought.

Rob and Andy near the top of No.2 Gully.

Rob and Andy near the top of No.2 Gully.

We then drove back down and as the guys were flying out this morning we had time for a meal in Edinburgh and a couple of drams in The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which made Rob very happy. I think Andy was just happy the weather was a vast improvement on when he was up earlier in the season. I’ve added some photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Lurchers Crag

The lads and I had a great day today in the Cairngorms climbing on Lurchers Crag. We descended South Gully before climbing Pinnacle Ridge. The conditions and weather were excellent. This section of the crag was quiet except for one other team. The other section of the crag with the ice routes was however rumoured to be very busy.

Climbing on Pinnacle Ridge.

Climbing on Pinnacle Ridge.

Dorsal Arete

Snow fell overnight to sea level in Glencoe. We walked into Stob Coire nan Lochan in sunshine. This quickly changed once we reached the coire to heavy snowfall and strong winds. The weather deteriorated throughout the day to whiteout conditions.

As well as looking at snow anchors today, we climbed Dorsal Arete. The snow on the route was in excellent condition. During our ascent we heard two large avalanches somewhere in the coire. Windslab was building throughout the day.

The cliffs of Stob Coire nan Lochan before the weather worsened.

The cliffs of Stob Coire nan Lochan before the weather worsened.