Curved, Castle and Ledge

For the last couple of days I have been guiding and instructing on behalf of www.highmountainguides.com. The aim of the two days was preparation for climbing the Matterhorn.

Alongside Mountain Guides Alan Kimber and Jonathon Preston, the team and I visited Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe on Friday. Here we climbed Curved Ridge before descending the route of ascent. This is great practice for the Matterhorn as the only way off the summit is to climb down the route of ascent!

Descending Curved Ridge.

Descending Curved Ridge.

Yesterday we visited Ben Nevis were we climbed up Castle Ridge and down Ledge Route. Ledge Route finishes at the bottom of Number 5 Gully and here we used an axe.

Climbing on Castle Ridge.

Climbing on Castle Ridge.

Buachaille Etive Mor

Today we visited Buachaille Etive Mor. It was another stunning day in Glencoe.

The snow was mostly soft at all altitudes with the odd patch of firmer neve.

Descending from the col at the top of Coire na Tulaich

Descending from the col at the top of Coire na Tulaich

Glencoe Ski Centre

Today we visited Glencoe Ski centre. We spent the day looking at avalanche rescue techniques and snow anchors.

A number of pistes were open today and from a distance the skiing looked good.

Buachaille Etive Mor.

Buachaille Etive Mor this morning.

Buachaille Etive Mor

Yesterday John and I climbed on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors winter climbing team of Doug, Gregor, Lewis and Steve. We had a great day climbing North Buttress with excellent views and relatively low winds. After taking in the summit of Stob Dearg we were able to descend via Coire na Tulaich, but care and good route choice is required here with current snow conditions.

Gregor and Lewis near the bottom of the chimneys.

Gregor and Lewis near the bottom of the chimneys.

The recent snow isn’t consolidated, is deep in sheltered locations and contains a fair amount of graupel. There is very little old snow on The Buachaille, but where new snow overlies old snow there are very easy shears. A North-East wind was redistributing snow throughout the day meaning there will be potential for avalanches on lots of aspects today and until the snow consolidates. Higher up on the route, above the chimneys, there is a thin layer of generally crusty snow ice, which isn’t very helpful for climbing and it’s worth allowing extra time in your planning for this. I’ll put some more photos on The ClimbNow Facebook page.

Gregor high on North Buttress with the expanse of Rannoch Moor behind.

Gregor high on North Buttress with The Kingshouse and the expanse of Rannoch Moor behind.

Curved Ridge

The lads from Ballachulish and I were on Curved Ridge today in Glencoe (Buachaille Etive Mor). Conditions on the route were excellent.

It is worth putting crampons on just after the waterslide as much of the terrain above this is currently covered in ice and moving without them would be very difficult.

We descended today via Coire na Tulaich which today did not present any problems.

The crux corner.

The crux corner.

Curved Ridge

John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of Devon, Emanuelle, Linda, Tzvetie and Wilson today climbing Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe.

Devon just above the first steep section low down on Curved Ridge.

Devon just above the first steep section low down on Curved Ridge.

There was fresh snow down to around 450m and it snowed fairly continuously throughout the day. There was some north-westerly in the wind and no real base, so there was no problem descending in to Coire na Tulaich after we’d summited Stob Dearg. The conditions made for relatively slow progress as there was a lot of clearing required to find rock holds. There’s some ice around, but not much of it was useful on the route. I’ll put some more photos / videos of conditions on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Glen Coe

John and I were out today in Glen Coe with a Falkirk Community Trust team of Andrea, Gregor, Helen and Marco. There were rain showers as we drove across Rannoch Mor and cloud down to about 400m , so we opted for an ascent of North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor.

Andrea in the cloud high on North Buttress.

Andrea in the cloud high on North Buttress.

The rock was drier than expected and we only had very minor rain showers; this made for a pleasant day although unfortunately no real views. We climbed to the summit of Stob Dearg and descended via Coire na Tulaich.

Curved Ridge, Glen Coe

On Thursday I was back in Glen Coe with a Falkirk Community Trust team of Alec, Imran and Nathalie. We scrambled up Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor taking in Crowberry Tower and the summit of Stob Dearg before descending via Coire na Tulaich.

Imran, Nathalie and Alec on Curved Ridge with Rannoch Wall behind.

Imran, Nathalie and Alec on Curved Ridge with Rannoch Wall behind.

It was sunny with a cool North-East wind and superb views. John was also on the hill climbing something approximating to Bludger’s Revelation on Slime Wall with Graham and reporting it dry apart from the odd avoidable streak lower down. There were also teams on Engineer’s Crack and January Jigsaw.

Glen Coe

Today Ivor and I headed to Glen Coe to catch the good weather and climbed Fracture Route on the North-East Face of Crowberry Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor. We then continued on up Crowberry Ridge to the top of Crowberry Tower before heading to the summit of Stob Dearg and descending via Coire na Tulaich.

Ivor approaching the top of the first pitch of Fracture Route.

Ivor approaching the top of the first pitch of Fracture Route.

The rock was dry and we had sunshine for most of the day with clouds building a little later on. Teams were out on Agag’s Groove, January Jigsaw, Direct Route and lots of folk on Curved Ridge.

Blackford, Glencoe and Glen Clova

Last week I was climbing in Blackford Quarry with groups from the Falkirk schools area. This is an excellent beginners venue in the lovely Blackford Glen.

Yesterday, Bob, Gregor and I were out on a Falkirk Community Trust climbing day. We visited Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe before climbing Agag’s Groove on the Rannoch wall. We visited the summit of the Crowberry Tower before visiting the summit of the mountain to give a classic mountain day.

Ivor and I visited Glen Clova today. The crags are in early summer condition with quite a lot of greenery around and slightly damp in places. The route of the day was ‘Wander’ which is highly recommended.

Ivor near the top of 'Wander'.

Ivor near the top of ‘Wander’.

Bob and Gregor climbing 'Agag's Groove'.

Bob and Gregor climbing ‘Agag’s Groove’.