This week I am out with a team from Ballachulish looking at the skills required for guiding one climber on grade 2 winter routes. Yesterday, we visited the Pink Rib in Glencoe to look at short roping skills, the construction of belays and stance management. Today we put these skills into practice on the East Ridge of Stob Ban.
The East Ridge was in good condition with a good quantity of snow on it. The firmness of the snow improved with height. The turf was frozen.
Yesterday with a team from Ballachuilish I climbed Dinnertime Buttress (Aonach Dubh) in Glencoe. Crampons were required from 543m upwards. The turf was not in good condition. Above the crux section we moved left to climb interesting mixed ground at II/III.
Today the team and I went to Lochaber and climbed the East Ridge of Stob Ban. This is a great mountaineering route with varied climbing. The snow and turf was in good condition from 800 metres upwards but poor below.
Yesterday, I visited the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We started the route further right of the normal start. This meant we put crampons on 100 vertical metres below the start of the climbing, climbed a steep snow gully rather than the normal buttress and could wear crampons for the whole route.
The turf on the route is not frozen and care is required with loose rock. However, the route has a lot of snow still on it and in yesterdays winds, it provided a sheltered route to the summit. Following a bit of micro navigation on the plateau, the clouds cleared and the sun came out to give beautiful views of the Grey Corries.
Today I was out climbing on the East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn. A description for this excellent grade 2 ridge route can be found in the Ben Nevis guidebook. The mountain is located near Creag Meagaidh.
Conditions on the route were good. All turf above 820 metres was frozen. There was large amounts of snow on the route including some areas of good neve.
Snow cover on the broad descent ridge was good and could have provided a good ski descent to around 600 metres.
The team and I headed to Glen Nevis today and climbed the East Ridge of Stob Ban. The snow underfoot on the approach to this route was safe. However, it is worth choosing a suitable line to avoid being exposed to cornice collapse from the corrie to the south of the ridge.
The ridge itself was in excellent condition. The turf was useable above 800 metres and the snow was in good condition. The exit slope was well scoured.
There is more than one way to descend from the top of the ridge. Thought should be given beforehand to this as at the moment there are very large cornices on a number of aspects. These could be difficult to negotiate in poor visibility.
Yesterday the weather in the Scottish Highlands ws pretty wild with 100 mph winds and blizzard conditions. We visited the ice factor and spent some time in a craggy area of the Glen practising short roping skills.
Today we visited Stob Ban in the Mamores. The avalanche category for today was ‘high’ so we avoided any open slopes or gully lines by climbing the East Ridge. This gives an excellent mountaineering route at grade II/III with lots of variety. There is lots of new snow around being blown about by strong winds. The exposed turf on the route was frozen.
Following a day in the Ice Factor yesterday, we headed back out onto the hill today to climb another interesting mountaineering route. We ascended the East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn which is a nice Grade II ridge. It gave a safe choice in the current snow conditions. There was a large amount of snow falling throughout the day on strong winds which will lead to deposits of windslab. The turf was frozen above 800m.