Ben Nevis

I was back out on Ben Nevis again today with John and Chris. Chris hadn’t worn crampons before and there was a good bit fresh snow, so we headed up in to the back of Coire Leis where we used easy angled old snow to get used to crampons and axe. We then put the rope on and made our way up to the North end of the horizontal section of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete linking scoured snow and rocky sections. After traversing the CMD Arete we made our way up to the summit before descending the Zig Zags and then back to the Allt a’Mhuillinn.

Chris and John approaching the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

Chris and John approaching the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

There’s been a fair bit of fresh snow over the last couple of days and the more recent snow was forming soft wind slab in sheltered locations on lots of aspects above 650m; some of this is sitting on a graupel layer from earlier in the week, which is on top of old neve. If you’re out and about in the snow over the weekend choose your route and approach wisely. It’s worth noting the Scottish Avalanche Information Service is providing forecasts for Lochaber and the Northern Cairngorms for this weekend.

Breithorn

Today Chris, Colin and I climbed the Breithorn (4164m) above Zermatt. The conditions in the Alps at the moment are currently very cold so if climbing 4000 metre peaks it is essential to wrap up warm.

Chris and Paul near the summit with the Matterhorn behind.

Chris and Paul near the summit with the Matterhorn behind.

Cima del Breuil and the Furgg Gletscher

We had a great day today above Zermatt climbing the Cima del Breuil and off piste skiing on the Furgg Gletscher and the Oberer Theodugletscher. Last night it snowed meaning today we had even more powder and fresh tracks to ski.

Colin and Chris on the summit of the Cima del Breuil.

Colin and Chris on the summit of the Cima del Breuil.

Ben Nevis

With a pleasant forecast for this morning and good late season ice climbing conditions being reported on Ben Nevis I took the opportunity to get up early and head up for a look.

Looking in to Coire na Ciste this morning.

Looking in to Coire na Ciste this morning.

Conditions didn’t disappoint and I soloed Comb Gully, descended Number Four Gully and was down for lunch. There’s been a fair bit of fresh snow, particularly graupel, over the last few days and this was sitting in pockets in sheltered locations. Some care was required on approach and with route choice. However, the snow ice and neve was in excellent condition with mostly first time placements in Comb Gully. There was a thinner section, which was fine today, but wouldn’t be much fun if things soften up. I descended in to Number 4 Gully on the right hand side looking up, this avoided the steep section in the middle, but I did have to negotiate some awkward mixed steps. I also saw teams out on Italian and starting Green Gully.

Looking up the top section of Comb Gully.

Looking up the top section of Comb Gully.

I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page for those who want to check today’s conditions, but bear in mind there was more snow forecast for this afternoon, overnight and through tomorrow.

Zermatt

Currently I am out in Zermatt with Chris, Paul and Colin. Today we spent the day in the region of the Klein Matterhorn off piste skiing. As it is near the end of the season and it snowed all weekend, we had fresh tracks all day off piste.

Chris off piste in Zermatt.

Chris off piste in Zermatt.

Luss Hills

Mick and I were out in the Luss Hills near Loch Lomond yesterday. We did a pleasant half day circuit taking in Beinn Dubh and Mid Hill.

Mick on the summit with The Cobbler, Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain behind.

Mick on the summit with The Cobbler, Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain behind.

This avoided the worst of the weather further North and East and gave great views. There was a cold northerly wind, it was below freezing on the summit and we had a few graupel showers during the day as well as patches of sunshine.

Kirrie Hill

Mick and I headed up to Kirriemuir today for some sport climbing. It was my first pure rock climbing day of the season and Mick’s first rock climbing in 8 years.

Mick climbing Markerhorn, Kirrie Hill.

Mick climbing Markerhorn, Kirrie Hill.

The venue proved a good choice being sheltered from the cool northerly breeze; catching the sun and having lots of routes across the easier grades allowing us to climb 10 routes in a relatively short time. For those who are interested the higher Angus hills could be glimpsed from the approach and still seemed to be holding quite a lot of snow.

Navigation Course in the Pentlands

Today I was delivering a hill walking navigation course in the Pentlands for The City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education. The course went well with lots of new skills being acquired.

Typical Pentland conditions. Photo not from today as I forgot my camera.

Typical Pentland conditions. Photo not from today as I forgot my camera.

The Pentlands are relatively dry for the time of year with underfoot conditions being pretty good both on and off paths. It was warm in the sunshine, but cool in the shade or the wind, with the odd flake of snow falling at times.

Arbroath Coasteering

On Thursday I was out with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors staff team at the Arbroath Sea Cliffs doing some staff training in coasteering and checking out the cliffs as a potential venue.

John in mid air on one of the bigger jumps. Photo credit: Mike Hunt.

John in mid air on one of the bigger jumps. Photo credit: Mike Hunt.

The conditions were pretty much perfect with only a small swell, a light breeze and sunshine for much of the day. In good conditions the venue works really well with excellent caves, zawns, tunnels, small islands and lots of potential jumps.

Amazing Snow Once More in the Vanoise

Robbo, Jon, Mikey and I have just spent two nights at the Refuge Col de la Vanoise. We had a successful trip climbing, Pointe du Dard, Pointe de la Rechasse and the Col de la Grande Casse.

As per last week the snow was excellent for the descents. This week there was more avalanche activity. I watched a team trigger a wet slab release on La  Rechasse as well as some spontaneous releases today following last nights snow.

Jon looking towards the Grande Casse.

Jon looking towards the Grande Casse.