Ben Nevis

I’m just back from a two day Ben Nevis Mountaineering Trip with John and a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of Billy, Brian, Devon, Jack, Kathryn and Linda. High winds meant the Nevis Range Gondola wasn’t running on Saturday, which changed our plans. After walking in to the CIC Hut we did a traverse of the Douglas Gap up the West Gully of the Douglas Gap and down the East with Devon and Kathryn leading pitches of the West Gully.

The team approaching Garadh Gully this morning with the lower section of Tower Ridge beyond.

The southerly winds were forecast higher again for Sunday, so we opted for sheltered routes with an ascent of Garadh Gully, which currently has a short section of Grade III ice. We then descended in to Coire na Ciste and climbed Moonlight Gully before descending it by abseil to level with the top of Moonlight Gully Buttress and then traversing back in to Coire na Ciste. As we walked down from the CIC Hut it was raining heavily below 600m on a wind gusting circa 50mph.

Two excellent days despite the less than ideal wind levels.

Ben Nevis

Over the last three days Joanne, Gregor and I have been climbing on Ben Nevis and staying in the CIC Hut. After walking in and drooping kit off at the hut on Monday we new we’d have to go high due to the rising freezing level, so we made for Creag Coire na Ciste hoping North Gully would be holding ice. There was ice in the gully, but it was broke, thawing and there was above so a quick change of plan was required and we nipped across Number Four Gully to climb Number Four Gully Buttress. This worked well with the climbing being on soggy snow, frozen turf and rock, but with some care being required with loose rocks. We descended to the hut via Number Four Gully and returned to the hut thoroughly soaked.

Gregor topping out on Number Four Gully Buttress.

Gregor topping out on Number Four Gully Buttress.

The forecast for Tuesday was for very high winds and rain, so we chose to stay low and climbed the Douglas Gap West Gully on snow and the chimney out of the gap on to Tower Ridge before abseiling Douglas Gap East Gully and returning to the hut, again thoroughly soaked even after a short day. It dried up and started to cool down later in the day, so I took a walk up in to Coire Leis to get a look at The Little Brenva Face.

Gregor climbing out of the Douglas Gap on to Tower Ridge,

Gregor climbing out of the Douglas Gap on to Tower Ridge,

Today we made use of the previous day’s recce and the cooler overnight temperatures and headed around to the Little Brenva Face where we climbed Bob Run on good snow and water ice and were out of the wind until topping out. We took in the summit, by which time it was raining at summit level. We then returned via Coire Leis to the hut, again thoroughly soaked, before walking out this afternoon.

Joanne enjoying firm snow and ice on Bob Run.

Joanne enjoying firm snow and ice on Bob Run.

Some of Tuesday’s precipitation had fallen as snow at height and overnight and a few areas of fresh wind slab had developed that required care today, however these were getting soaked this afternoon at all levels.

Well done to Joanne and Gregor for dealing with the conditions, which meant we got climbing on each day even if we did end up a little wet!

 

Ben Nevis and Kingussie

The last three days I’ve been away with Iona and Linda on what was billed as a Ben Nevis rock climbing trip based at the CIC hut. On Monday we were travelling up and the forecast was for very high winds and rain for Ben Nevis, so we decided on driving up via the A9 and trying to find dry rock further east. It was still drizzling at Newtonmore, so we went a little bit further east and found dry rock at Kingussie Crag. After a good day climbing there we drove across and walked up to the CIC hut in the evening.

Linda and Iona on Tower Ridge, before entering the cloud.

Linda and Iona on Tower Ridge, before entering the cloud.

It was wet and windy early on Tuesday, but with an improving forecast we made a late start and climbed Tower Ridge descending via Coire Leis. The rock was generally wet and we were in cloud from above The Douglas Boulder, but we had an excellent day.

Iona and Linda climbing Central Wall, Kingussie Crag.

Iona and Linda climbing Central Wall, Kingussie Crag.

With more rain overnight and early today we decided on walking out and heading east again to find dry rock. It was still wet as we past Creag Dubh, so we ended up back at Kingussie. The rock was a little damp on the Upper Tier when we arrived, but dried quickly and we had another good day cragging. Over the two days Iona and Linda climbed all but three of the routes on the Upper Tier.

An unusual, but enjoyable three days climbing.

Ben Nevis

After climbing with Euan, Tina, Scott and Steve on Saturday and Sunday I stayed up in Lochaber and met up with John and a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing Team of Joanne, Linda and Tony on Monday to head up to The CIC hut.

Tony after climbing Hadrian's with Observatory Ridge above his head and Hadrian's the first major ice line to it's right.

Tony after climbing Hadrian’s with Observatory Ridge above his head and Hadrian’s the first major ice line to it’s right.

Over the last three days we’ve climbed in various combinations ascending Tower Ridge, North-East Buttress, Hadrian’s Wall Direct and Tower Scoop. The weather has been warm with temperature inversions meaning the climbs at height haven’t been significantly refreezing overnight, so care is required with route choice, timing and choice of approach as there is considerable ice stripping from the rocks and still some significant cornices above parts of The North Face. The ridges are currently quite alpine with sections of snow, ice (some of it detached) and also bare rock in places.

Linda and Joanne descending after an early morning ascent of Tower Scoop.

Linda and Joanne descending after an early morning ascent of Tower Scoop.

The views have been magnificent with wall to wall sunshine, beautiful sunsets and cloud inversions in the early morning. I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Overnight in Lochaber and a Day Out in the Cairngorms

I have just had a great three days out with the Falkirk High Tops Team. On Thursday we walked to the CIC Hut before traversing the West and East Gullies of the Douglas Boulder. The route was in good condition. Of note is that the abseil tat at the top of East Gully is not currently present.

We then ovenighted at the hut before ascending Carn Mor Dearg early next morning. After descending to the base of the West Face of Aonach Mor, we then climbed Western Rib to the summit of this mountain. The routes was very white but the turf was variable.

Today I have been in the Cairngorms teaching winter skills. We found good hard snow for sliding and managed to cover lots of useful techniques. The buttresses looked very white. We came accross new windslab on a number of aspects.

Descending towards the West Face of Aonach Mor with the NEB in the background.

Descending towards the West Face of Aonach Mor with the NEB in the background.

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Ice axe arrest practice in the Cairngorms.

Ben Nevis

A belated report from last week on Ben Nevis. On Monday 31st John & I headed up to the CIC Hut with a Falkirk Community Trust team of Bob, Joanne and Linda. After dropping kit we climbed Tower Ridge before dropping back around to the hut via Coire Leis.

Joanne and Linda taking a break on a flat section of Tower Ridge.

Joanne and Linda taking a break on a flat section of Tower Ridge.

On Tuesday we climbed North-East Buttress in some cloud, mist and drizzle, but managed to get back to the hut via the half way lochan ahead of the forecast heavier rain.

Linda, Joanne and John outside the CIC Hut with the North-East Buttress behind.

Linda, Joanne and John outside the CIC Hut with the North-East Buttress behind.

Wednesday we climbed Observatory Ridge. This was greasy in places after the rain and required some care. We then dropped back to the hut via Coire Leis again and headed home. Three days on Ben Nevis and three classic ridges.

Linda and Joanne on a tricky corner on Observatory Ridge.

Linda and Joanne on a tricky corner on Observatory Ridge.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Ben Nevis

I’m just back from five days away, the first two of which were spent on Ben Nevis with Scott & Tina. On Saturday the 23rd we walked up to the CIC hut and then climbed Tower Ridge starting via The East Gully of the Douglas Boulder.

Tina and Scott on Tower Ridge

Tina and Scott on Tower Ridge

We descended Ledge Route as far as the “Jenga” boulders and traversed around Number 5 Gully to reach Number 4 Gully and return to the hut. The weather was mixed, with some cloud, some sunshine and even a couple of snow showers.

Tina & Scott on Direct Route

Tina & Scott on Direct Route

On Sunday we climbed the Direct Route on the Douglas Boulder in 8 pitches, abseiled into the Douglas Boulder Gap and down the East Gully. The day was sunny with light winds. There was a fair bit of seepage on the route and we varied the line to try and make use of the drier rock.

Abseiling in to The Douglas Boulder Gap

Abseiling in to The Douglas Boulder Gap

A great weekend in excellent company and Happy Birthday to Scott for Monday.

Scott & Tna with The Douglas Boulder and Tower Ridge behind

Scott & Tna with The Douglas Boulder and Tower Ridge behind

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.