Lochaber Traverse

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.

 

Ben Nevis

Stephen and I had a very good day on Ben Nevis yesterday. We climbed Tower Ridge and pretty much had the whole route to ourselves. We then went over the summit and around via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete and over Carn Mor Dearg and Car Dearg Meadhonach before descending.

Stephen climbing The Little Tower.

Stephen climbing The Little Tower.

The rock was mostly dry, the forecast showers held off and the cloud was above the summit all day. Tower Ridge had been on Stephen’s to do list for a while and it was great to climb it with him in such good conditions.

Ben Nevis

I’ve been on Ben Nevis for the last three days with Linda, Tony and Robin from Falkirk Community Trust outdoors. On Monday we walked in to the CIC hut and Linda, Tony and I climbed a right hand variation to Fawlty Towers up an icy corner just right of the normal chimney start. This joined the normal route after a pitch and a half and had good moves up the initial corner. We then descended down Tower Ridge to the Douglas Boulder gap and the East Gully of the Douglas Boulder. Robin climbed Ledge Route in excellent condition and descended Number Four Gully.

Tony on Harrison's Climb Direct

Tony on Harrison’s Climb Direct

On Tuesday Linda, Tony and I had a great day climbing Harrison’s Climb Direct on very good ice. Once in the upper bowl we headed up to the top section of Raeburn’s Buttress and finished up this taking in a short steep ice fall direct just below the top as a bonus. The ice on Harrison’s is holding on very well, but beware of the icicles of The Shroud on warmer days as they threaten the initial pitch. Robin went along the Carn Mor Dearg Arête, before heading out to Aonoch Mor and then returning via Carn Dearg Mheadhonach.

Linda in Green Gully

Linda in Green Gully

Today Linda, Tony and I climbed Green Gully finishing direct. The route was in good condition with the initial ice pitch being pretty banked out and easier than normal. We topped out in to glorious sunshine, no wind and great views. Robin spent the morning practicing Winter Mountain Leader Skills in Coire Leis.

A view in to Coire na Ciste this morning

A view in to Coire na Ciste this morning

The higher areas of Ben Nevis are holding ice well with routes on the Orion Face and Indicator Wall seeing plenty of ascents. Buttresses that are catching the sun are stripping fast in current conditions. There are still some large cornices about and these need to be considered on warm and sunny days.

 

 

Two days in Lochaber

I have been out in the Lochaber area for the last two days with the Falkirk High Tops Team. Yesterday, we began at the top of the Aonach Mor gondola station before traversing underneath the west face and climbing towards Carn Dearg Meadhonach. To gain the summit we climbed part of the East Ridge but also a snow gully on its north flank to make the most of the snow conditions. From the summit we descended to the CIC hut to overnight.

Overnight, heavy snow fell on strong winds. Therefore, we chose not to climb Ledge Route but instead traversed the CMD Arete before summiting the Ben and descending the Glen Nevis. This two day expedition gives a great route which is achievable in a variety of conditions.

A short video will soon be posted of the CMD Arete on the climbnow facebook page,

Tom climbing on Carn Dearg Meadhonach.

Tom climbing on Carn Dearg Meadhonach.

Bob, Linda and John on the CMD Arete.

Bob, Linda and John on the CMD Arete.

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg

Tom, Neil and I have been staying up at the CIC hut for the last two nights as part of a Falkirk Community Trust trip.

Smiling in the clag on the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach

Smiling in the clag on the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach

On Monday we walked in to find a lot of fresh snow being blown around on strong gusting winds, which varied from South through East to North-East. We opted for a quick hit in the relative shelter of the Douglas Boulder and climbed an approach pitch, which was something of a wade followed by the first pitch of Gutlass. This required a fair bit of clearing of soft powder, but had a nice wee corner on it with just enough ice. We then abbed off and retired to the hut for tea.

Tom and Neil approaching the West Gully of the Douglas Boulder

Tom and Neil approaching the West Gully of the Douglas Boulder

 Tuesday the freezing level was above the summits and there was fairly continuous drizzle throughout the day. We decided on a mountaineering day, which would keep us out of the way of potential avalanches and so headed up the relatively scoured slopes to just South of Carn Mor Dearg Meadhonach; along the ridge to Carn Mor Dearg; down the ridge to the bealach with Aonach Mor and then up the East Ridge of Carn Mor Dearg Mheadhonach. This East ridge gives a good Grade II outing although some care was required with loose rock in the thawing conditions. There were several avalanches during the day on Ben Nevis with fresh debris visable on Wednesday morning and much reduced snow and ice cover particularly on lower level buttress routes.. However, there are still huge cornices in a lot of places.

Neil and Tom today with Coire na Ciste behind

Neil and Tom today with Coire na Ciste behind

There was no significant refreeze of the snow pack overnight on Tuesday and we needed a short day today, so we headed up the West Gully of the Douglas Boulder and down the East Gully. This gave a pleasant day out in great scenery, sunny conditions and low winds. The freezing level was high and there was a slow thaw at most elevations on the hill. This was most noticable on The Curtain, which was just about formed at the start of the day and had gone by lunchtime.

A good three days in excellent company and some challenging conditions.

Lochaber Expedition

Approaching the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach.

Approaching the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach.

I have just returned from a two day expedition in the Lochaber area with the Falkirk High Tops Team. On Monday we used the Aonach Mor gondola to gain height before traversing round underneath the west face. The conditions on the west face of Aonach Mor looked excellent and safe in the avalanche condtions that we seen on Monday.

From here, we made the ascent of the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach. The route was in perfect condition. After gaining the summit we traversed to the summit of Carn Dearg Mor before descending to the CIC Hut to overnight.

Yesterday, we had an early start to allow us to make use of the excellent weather forecast for the morning. After re-ascending to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg we traversed the CMD arête in perfect conditions to the summit of Ben Nevis. After spending time on the summit, the team and John descended to the Glen Nevis while I returned via the North Face car park to the Gondola station to retrieve the bus.

Conditions on the North Face of Ben Nevis look very serious at the moment. Careful route choice would be required for those choosing to climb there. Lots more photos can be seen on the ClimbNow facebook page.

A solo mountaineer on the CMD arête.

A solo mountaineer on the CMD arête.

 

A Report from the West

Linda climbing CIC Cascade.

Linda climbing CIC Cascade.

 

For the last five days I have been up on the West Coast of Scotland. On Saturday, Tina, Scott, Steve and I climbed the excellent East Ridge of Stob Ban before continuing over the summit and traversing the Devils Ridge to Sgurr a’Mhaim.

There was heavy snow on Saturday night so we headed to Glencoe to climb Sron na Lairig as once on the ridge it would give a safe route. The ridge had large quantities of snow on it which made it difficult to find anchors. The weather cleared near the summit to give excellent views for the descent.

For the past three days I have been in the CIC Hut with Gayle, Linda, David, Roger, Gary, John and Martin from the Falkirk High Tops Team. The conditions are currently quite difficult due to the new snow and strong winds. Martin will be detailing the conditions in his report. Routes climbed included; Gutlass, CIC Cascade, Curtain Rail, Waterfall Gully and the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach.

Scott, Tina and Steve climbing the East Ridge of Stob Ban.

Scott, Tina and Steve climbing the East Ridge of Stob Ban.