The weather has been fantastic on the West Coast of Scotland over the last couple of days. Yesterday, the team and went to the West Face of Aonach Mor where we climbed Gendarme Ridge.
The face was completely snow covered. Lots of redistribution of snow was taking place with slab forming in sheltered locations.
Today we visited Stob Coire nan Lochan. Here we climbed Pinnacle Buttress Groove. Mike Pescod’s book grades this route at III. This is more appropriate than the II/III given in the SMC guidebook in the current conditions.
The turf on the route was variable. Some of the snow in the corrie now takes an axe, but much is still unconsolidated.
Today I visited Easy Gully on Aonach Mor with a team from Ballachulish. The snow was excellent for climbing and the cornice was not a problem.
This week I am instructing on a Winter Mountain Leader course. Yesterday we were at Glencoe ski centre looking at teaching winter skills. Large patches of snow still exist but not enough for skiing.
Today we were at Aonach Mor looking at leading groups in steep ground. We completed the session on the east side of the mountain were large patches of snow can still be found.
On Saturday and Sunday Steve and I were out in Lochaber with a Falkirk Community trust high tops team of Alec, Bear, Isobel, Linda, Lorn and Sandra . On Satuday we drove up to the road end in Glen Nevis and headed up Aonach Beag. Recent rockfall has lead to the closure of the Nevis Gorge path ( more information can be found on the John Muir Trust website here: https://www.johnmuirtrust.org/assets/000/001/867/JMT_Steall_path_closed_red_v2_original.pdf ). Therefore, we had to change our planned route slightly and climbed up to the bealach north of Meall Cumhann, dropping down to the Allt Coire Guibhsachan, which was easily crossed, and then ascending the South-West ridge of Aonach Beag.
We walked on from Aonach Beag to Aonach Mor before retracing our steps a short way and then descending steeply west to the bealach at the head of Coire Guibhsachan. From there we descended the coire and returned over the Bealach Cumhann. The weather was glorious on Saturday with only light winds, sunshine and a little high cloud.
After a good night at the very well appointed Glen Nevis Campsite we returned over the Bealach Cumhann again to the head of Coire Guibhsachan, where we were treated to a view of a Golden Eagle. From here we climbed the fine East Ridge of Carn Mor Dearg. Unfortunately the cloud rolled in at this point and the views disappeared for most of the rest of the day. We then descended to the Carn Mor Dearg Arête and followed this to Ben Nevis. A descent of the normal route with the rain arriving for the last hour or so brought us down to the Youth Hostel where Steve picked us up.
Two excellent days in Lochaber walking up four of the ten highest Munros by interesting routes.
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.
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.
This week I am based in Glencoe and will be travelling to Lochaber and the Arrochar Alps as well as climbing in the Glen.
On Monday with my team, I completed the Zig Zags before returning to the West Face of Aonach Mor on Tuesday to repeat Western Rib which I climbed last Friday. The turf has become much more frozen since Friday. The route has large quantities of snow on it creating interesting snow aretes.
Today with the lads I visited Stob Coire Nan Lochan where we climbed Dorsal Arete. The route is very, very white as are all the other buttresses. Hard mixed routes will currently be time consuming.
There is currently large amounts of powder snow in the West Highlands which would be great for skiing.