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!

 

Douglas Boulder

Lance and I visited the Douglas Boulder today on Ben Nevis where we climbed the South West Ridge before descending East Gully. The route was white. Heavy snow showers fell throughout the day.

There is some loose rock on the route which requires care.

Lance climbing on the Douglas Boulder.

Lance climbing on the Douglas Boulder.

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

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.

 

 

Three Days Out West

I am just back from an excellent three days on the West Coast with John and Harvey.

On Thursday we traversed the Aonach Eagach looking at skills that allow us to move quickly on this type of terrain. We still needed crampons for the whole route.

After staying in Glen Nevis on Thursday night we climbed on Ben Nevis on Friday. We had a good long day first climbing Fawlty Towers before descending Tower Ridge and East Gully to our lunch stop. After a quick bite to eat we climbed the Waterfall Gully icefall which was in great condition before making an abseil descent. The Ben was busy with lots of teams having a great time.

Yesterday we climbed on the West Face of Aonach Mor. We climbed Western Rib starting direct via an icefall at about IV 4. The route was in excellent condition. Lots of teams were enjoying Golden Oldie.

John below the icefall we climbed on Western Rib.

John below the icefall we climbed on Western Rib.

John climbing ice on Fawlty Towers.

John climbing ice on Fawlty Towers.

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

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.