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.

 

East Ridge Beinn a’Chaorainn

Yesterday, I visited the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We started the route further right of the normal start. This meant we put crampons on 100 vertical metres below the start of the climbing, climbed a steep snow gully rather than the normal buttress and could wear crampons for the whole route.

The turf on the route is not frozen and care is required with loose rock. However, the route has a lot of snow still on it and in yesterdays winds, it provided a sheltered route to the summit. Following a bit of micro navigation on the plateau, the clouds cleared and the sun came out to give beautiful views of the Grey Corries.

Wilson and Alistair low down on the East Ridge.

Wilson and Alistair low down on the East Ridge.

The lads high on the East Ridge.

The lads high on the East Ridge.

 

East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn

Today I was out climbing on the East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn. A description for this excellent grade 2 ridge route can be found in the Ben Nevis guidebook. The mountain is located near Creag Meagaidh.

Conditions on the route were good. All turf above 820 metres was frozen. There was large amounts of snow on the route including some areas of good neve.

Snow cover on the broad descent ridge was good and could have provided a good ski descent to around 600 metres.

A climber on the East Ridge.

A climber on the East Ridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the summit of Beinn a Chaorainn in full Scottish winter conditions.

On the summit of Beinn a Chaorainn in full Scottish winter conditions.

 

 

East Ridge of Beinn a’ Chaorainn

Today I have been out with Neil, Peter, Linda, John, Tom, Doug and Gary from the Falkirk High Tops Team. We climbed the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn. There is still large amounts of snow on the ridge and the turf is well frozen above 800 metres. From the top of the ridge, large wet cornices were visible around the corries.

Craig Mclaren was out in the Meall nan Tarmachan area. He reports that there is still plenty of snow for ski touring but it is currently very wet.

Neil and Peter climbing on the East Ridge.

Neil and Peter climbing on the East Ridge.

Creag Meagaidh and Beinn a’Chaorainn

For the past two days I have been out snow holing and winter mountaineering with the Winter Mountain Leader course. We ascended on Wednesday to an area behind the window on Creag Meagaidh and following a few hours navigation we built snow holes. After a few hours sleep we ascended Creag Meagaidh and traversed Beinn a’Chaorainn before returning via a difficult micro navigation area in the dark on the south side of Creag Meagaidh. Following a one hour dinner stop we returned to the window and the valley. Large avalanches had released in the window area very close to the normal route of ascent. The snowpack in the whole massif is very wet and there are many large wet cornices still present above climbing areas.

The Winter Mountain Leader assessment is a physically and mentally challenging assessment of an individuals winter mountaineering skills. All the candidates should be congratulated for their efforts over the last week.

Navigating on the summit of Beinn a'Choarainn on the 31st January in much better weather than we have had over the last two days.

Navigating on the summit of Beinn a’Chaorainn on the 31st January in much better weather than we have had over the last two days!

Beinn a Chaorainn

Following a day in the Ice Factor yesterday, we headed back out onto the hill today to climb another interesting mountaineering route. We ascended the East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn which is a nice Grade II ridge. It gave a safe choice in the current snow conditions. There was a large amount of snow falling throughout the day on strong winds which will lead to deposits of windslab. The turf was frozen above 800m.

A team on the approach to the East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn.