Beinn Udlaidh

John and I went to Beinn Udlaidh today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors climbing team of Patricia, Doug and Gregor. The east side of the coire was looking quite banked out and had sizable cornices, so we stayed on the west side. John and Patricia climbed Doctor’s Dilemma, which had some soft snow but also lots of climbing on good ice. Doug, Gregor and I climbed Tinkerbell on good ice; a short line over two ice steps at about Tech 4 circa 100m right of Tinkerbell and a two pitch Grade II snow/ice gully line immediately left of Tinkerbell.

Gregor and Doug above Tinkerbell with the banked out/corniced eastern sector visible behind.

Sunny in the coire all day and this lead to a number of cornices on the sunnier east side of the coire dropping sizable sections in the afternoon. No significant wind in the coire during the day. Northerly and westerly aspects had soft snow and wind slab from the weekend overlying harder old snow. Central Gully, Organ Pipe Wall and Quintet also saw ascents today with the later two both being described as “steep”.

Beinn Udlaidh and Tower Ridge

On Saturday and Sunday Andy, Rob and I were on Beinn Udlaidh and Ben Nevis. It was thawing with rain at valley level and snow at the top of the crag on Beinn Udlaidh. Cloud meant we were unable to see the top of the crag and sloughs were coming down some of the gullies, so we chose to climb Horny Ridge with a grade III variation start and cutting in to the top of West Gully once we could see the cornices.

Andy above the clouds on Tower Ridge on Sunday.

On Sunday we walked in to Ben Nevis with Rob deciding to turn around at the CIC Hut and Andy and I continuing on to climb Tower Ridge. It had been snowing on Saturday and overnight on a mostly south-easterly wind, this made the approach up The East Gully of The Douglas Gap easy on soft older snow. However, it meant many of the normally easy angled sections had fresh knife edge snow aretes, which had to be negotiated with care as we were the first team up and breaking trail. Once higher than the Douglas Boulder we were above the cloud and had stunning views with a cloud inversion all day. After the Douglas Gap we took the variation icy groove rather than the right traverse, which was hard (Tech 4/5) but good. Beyond we followed the normal route to the summit and a long standing ambition fulfilled for Andy.

White Caterpillar Direct

The team and I have been out at Beinn Udlaidh today where we climbed White Caterpillar Direct. As well as climbing the route described in the guidebook we climbed a direct start via a nice blue ice bulge.

The route was in good condition but the cornice is worth mentioning. To finish the route I made a thirty metre traverse with no protection to find an easy way through. I then redirected the ropes above the lads who climbed over the cornice directly. It was overhanging and more than one body length.

The corie was busy with many of the classics getting climbed.

Snow being transported behind the lads in the strong winds.

Beinn Udlaidh

John and I were in Coire Daimh on Beinn Udlaidh today with a Falkirk Community Trust winter climbing team of B, Doug and Sharon. We were hoping some of the easier angled icy routes may have hung on. The freezing level was well above the summits, so we were concerned about cornice collapse. After waiting for a while to see if visibility would clear enough to let us make a judgement on cornices we decided to climb Horny Ridge, which we knew wouldn’t have a cornice above it. B, Sharon and I did a harder start up a short turfy wall and we all finished up a harder turfy ramp line and set of short walls/steps to avoid having to go in to the top of West Gully.

B and Sharon at the belay below Horny Ridge.

There was lots of cornice collapse avalanche activity in the coire today, with at least four coming down West Gully and others audible elsewhere. Some ice was holding on, but there were also some sizable falls of ice during the day. The snow pack was saturated. Turf where being dripped on was soft, but elsewhere was surprisingly firm. It was dry as we walked in, but we had drizzle for a good part of the afternoon.

Beinn Udlaidh

John and I were out with a Falkirk Winter Climbing Team of Graham, Gregor and Wilson today. We headed for Beinn Udlaidh, which we surprisingly had to ourselves all day.

Wilson in a narrow section of Ramshead Gully.

Wilson in a narrow section of Ramshead Gully.

John, Graham and Gregor climbed South Gully of the Black Wall. They reported water running behind the ice on the first pitch, although the ice was ok, and good ice above. Wilson and I climbed Ramshead Gully, this was awkward in the narrows especially with a rucksack, but is a fun climb that I hadn’t done before.

Beinn Udlaidh as we walked out.

Beinn Udlaidh as we walked out.

Here’s a photo showing conditions today. I’m not sure how long the ice will last as temperatures seem to be on the up. It will depend on how cold it gets at night and how much rain falls at crag height over the next couple of days, but I suspect most of the ice routes won’t be climbable for the next few days. Beautiful day to be out today with great views from the top. I’ll add some more photos to the Climbnow Facebook page.

Beinn Udlaidh

Nettle and I were looking for a quick climb before the forecast wind and rain arrived today, so we headed to Beinn Udlaidh. This worked really well and despite the thawing conditions we climbed Tinkerbell and Doctor’s Dilema and descended Central Gully.

Leading the lower pillar of Tinkerbell

Leading the lower pillar of Tinkerbell. Photo Credit: J.Foden

Nettle with Central Gully and Doctor's Dilema visible behind

Nettle with Central Gully and Doctor’s Dilema visible behind

Nettle took a very steep variation up an icey groove to the right on the second pitch of Doctor’s Dilema, which bumped the route up to what felt like a good, hard, fun Tech 5. I’m not sure if I’ve used a kneebar on Scottish ice before.

Nettle heading towards the steep groove

Nettle heading towards the steep groove

The routes in the coire to the left of Central Gully generally had large impending cornices over them and there were several sloughs as the day went on.

Cornices over the routes on the East of the coire

Cornices over the routes on the East of the coire. Photo Credit: J. Foden

The freezing level was well above the summit during the day and routes were dripping heavily and softening up. The forecast is for rain and the freezing level to go above the summits for some time, so the routes on Udlaidh are likely to suffer badly.

Making new friends on the walk out

Making new friends on the walk out. Photo Credit: J.Foden

Beinn Udlaidh

We had a great day out today on Beinn Udlaidh climbing Central Gully. The ice on the crux bulge was good enough to take screws and beyond this the route was climbed on excellent neve. The route required a mixture of ice screw and rock belays and snow anchors. The turf was not frozen on Beinn Udlaidh today. West Gully and Sunshine Gully also appeared to be in good condition.

Daz and Dave on pitch two of Central Gully.


Beinn Udlaidh

John and I were out today with Doug, David and Graham on a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing day. We climbed West Gully on Beinn Udlaidh with one of the left hand finishes to get on to some steeper ice/snow at the top.

Doug on the steeper step within West Gully

The gully still has water running in places and underneath the snow on some of the easier angled sections, but a dry ascent could be made today.

Graham on the left hand finish

A few other teams out in the coire with one climbing Quartzvein Scoop, which looked thin from a distance. Most of the routes in the coire are forming, but still require some more ice to build. The turf wasn’t frozen at the top of the crag, West Gully doesn’t use turf, so difficult to say whether exposed turf would be frozen on the crag itself. Below freezing at crag height today, but only just and the Northerly winds were relatively light.

David near the top of the left hand finish

Beinn Udlaidh


John leading Tinkerbell at Beinn Udlaidh.













Today I have been at Beinn Udlaidh in the Southern Highlands. We climbed three different lines in the Tinkerbell area. This was the safest part of the crag today. Due to the recent wind direction there is large amounts of snow deposited on the ice routes in the centre of the Coire and in all the gully lines. It is most likely that there will be good ice underneath the snow but large amounts of clearing would be required. Careful consideration to avalanche risk is also necessary.

Yesterday, we were at the White Corries ski area looking at snowcraft and guiding skills. There are deep drifts on a number of aspects.