I am currently out in Gressoney with Infinity Mountain Guides and Team Bombardinos off piste skiing and ski touring.
Due to recent high winds conditions are variable but there is still great fun to be had.
I had a very good day today introducing Cristina and Marti to Scottish Winter Climbing. We climbed Stairway to Heaven in the North East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh. The route was in excellent condition with a good ice pitch leaving West Gully and turf frozen solid throughout.
Ice is forming fast in the coire, but Taxus is still broken low down. There’s a dusting of snow on the hill from the last two days and very little old snow. West Gully only has old snow in it’s last section and there’s some neve around the coire rim. It was snowing lightly, but steadily on a south-west wind as we descended.
Today Pamela and I had a very pleasant day climbing in Glen Clova. We went up in to Coire Fee and headed high to climb a line to the west of The Comb, which gave circa 200m of climbing with a good first and last pitch and easier ground in between.
The turf was well frozen. There’s ice forming in the coire, but from a distance Look C Gully didn’t look as though it wood be taking ice screws yet. There was a good dusting of snow on the main crags, but the south facing crags were looking very black. A thaw is forecast overnight and in to tomorrow, which will change things considerably.
I have had a productive four days with the Joint Services. After climbing the Zig Zags on Monday we visited Aonach Dubh on Tuesday were we climbed Golden Oldie. The route was in good condition with frozen turf, lots of snow and fully rimed.
Yesterday we visited the Cobbler and climbed Chockstone Gully and Maclays Crack. Both routes were very white and fully frozen.
Today we climbed Dinnertime Buttress. The route was very white and fully frozen. We climbed the chimney version of the route today which was probably grade II/III.
During the four days we have seen no other climbers.
Mick and I visited this largely unfrequented area north of Loch Rannoch today to walk up Beinn Mholach. We started from Annat and after leaving the right of way to Dalnaspidal were glad of the hard freeze when crossing the very boggy ground west of Gualann Shieleach. A final pull lead up to the impressive summit cairn and expansive views, which were hampered by cloud to the west.
A superb day to be out with a hard frost, low winds and sunshine for much of the day. The ground is largely frozen from the valley up. There was a dusting of snow from around 300m and as we left there were light snow showers at road level. Drifts of unconsolidated snow and soft wind slab were up to approximately 30cm deep on the hill, particularly on eastern and northern aspects. Surface hoar was forming readily and the rocks were rimed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.