Curved Ridge

I was out on Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of John, Robin, Kim, Phillipa, Oleysa and Roddy. We had amazing weather with an inversion, brocken spectres and no wind. Thanks to Robin for taking my camera and getting some great shots, see the ClimbNow Facebook page for more photos.

Above the inversion with the Buachaille’s shadow on the cloud.

There was ice on paths from valley level. and a good dusting of snow on the route, but none of it is consolidated. This made for tricky conditions with icy rock often best being climbed in gloves with an ice axe handy for the odd icy section or hook. Turf on the route was solid.

 

Newtyle and Beinn Ime

The last two days John and I have been out with Falkirk Outdoors Winter Climbing Teams. On Wednesday with an Introduction to Winter Climbing Group we visited Newtyle for some dry tooling as this allowed lots of teaching and coaching opportunities given conditions in the hills, which were only just getting cold after a significant thaw the previous two days. Yesterday we went to Beinn Ime in Arrochar and climbed variations on Forked Gully/Forked Gully Buttress before taking in the summit.

Alan and Derry on a stance.

There was a good dusting of snow in Arrochar above about 500m. Some ground was frozen from the valley and paths were icy, but turf remained variable right to summit height. The main area of crags on Beinn Ime were catching the sun, looking fairly black and the turf would have been softening up. We chose to climb in the Forked Gully area as this remained in the shade. We traversed in above the ice pitch, as it wasn’t formed. Ice is forming in the coire and icy smears on rock were helpful in places yesterday.

Four Days on the West

I have been on the West for four days with Joint Services. On Monday we climbed a wet Dinnertime Buttress before visiting the Ice Factor on Tuesday.

Yesterday we climbed the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn under the new fresh snow. The turf underneath was variable.

Today we climbed the East Ridge of Stob Ban. The turf improved with height and was firm near the top.

 

Drumochtor and AMI AGM

Over the weekend I was up at Glenmore Lodge for the Association of Mountaineering Instructors Annual General Meeting. Thanks to all those who made this and the associated training workshops very successful and enjoyable.

Nettle and I shared transport to the event and on Friday took the opportunity for a fell run up Creag Ruadh and Druim nan Sac near Dalwhinnie. There were very limited snow patches at height on Friday and Saturday. However, there was some fresh snow in the Cairngorms on Sunday and through last night.

Nettle at the summit of Creag Ruadh on Friday.

Lochaber Traverse

I have been out the last two days with Falkirk Outdoor Activities. Yesterday, we traversed from the Aonach Mor Gondola to the CIC Hut via the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Mheadhonach. Although this is a good winter route, I would not recommend it in summer conditions.

Today we continued to Glen Nevis via Ledge Route on Ben Nevis.

We did not encounter snow during the two days. I looked down Number 4 Gully during our descent. There are a number of large rocks waiting to fall as the remaining snow retreats. I would not recommend this route at the moment.

 

Farragon Hill

Pamela and I were out for a walk up Farragon Hill today. The hill lies between the Tay and the Tummel and we chose to approach from the south. This avoided passing through the barytes mine on Meall Tairneachan, which lies on the western approach, on a working day.

Pamela at the summit of Farragon Hill.

It’s worth noting there’s a lot of forestry and forestry tracks on this approach, which aren’t shown on older maps although OS Maps online seems to be pretty much up to date. The hill stayed below the cloud all day. There are currently no snow patches or frozen ground on the hill, which is just under 800m high. Some very limited snow patches were visible on higher hills nearby.

Beinn Ime

B, Robin and I went for an exploratory trip up the North-East ridge of Beinn Ime today, as none of us had climbed the ridge before. This felt like a good option for conditions as it’s described as both a summer scramble and a winter route. Today it was a summer scramble.

Robin and B at the summit of Beinn Ime.

An approach from Glen Croe via the Bealach a’Mhaim worked well for us, but did involve some steep traversing and avalanche risk would need to be considered if there was snow around. We soloed the lower section of the ridge avoiding the damp rocky sections, which would be fun in dry conditions. After roping up the final tower was climbed it in two pitches. The turf firmed up near the top of the ridge and there was some old thawing ice. We continued up to the summit of Beinn Ime. Above 900m the ground was hard frozen, the verglas and rime covered rocks were very slippy and there was plenty of ice on the paths. Very limited snow patches in the area, but I was definitely glad to have crampons on for the initial part of the descent.

Arrochar

B, Pamela and I were out in Arrochar today. Despite the cold temperatures and the frozen ground winter climbing wasn’t an option as nothing was white, so we’d planned a day of rock climbing high up on Beinn Narnain. The forecast sun didn’t really materialise and there was high cloud all day, however the plan worked well as there was no real wind and we had a fun day climbing Spearhead Arete and Restricted Crack. Scottish mountain trad in January anyone?

Pamela and B at the summit trig point of Beinn Narnain after climbing Spearhead Arete.

The ground was frozen from the valley up with some rime on the highest rocks. Water ice is starting to from, but all the burns we crossed were still running. Snow in the area is restricted to a very few limited patches with even the east face of Beinn Ime being snow free.