Castle Ridge, Ben Nevis

I was on Ben Nevis yesterday with John and a team of Alasdair, Fiona, Harry, Lindsay, Mercy and Wilson from Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors. We scrambled/climbed Castle Ridge, one of the classic Ben Nevis ridges. There was some dampness/seepage on the lower slabs, but once on the ridge itself the rock was generally dry. Cloud was hovering around the summit level and we had one light shower, otherwise conditions were excellent with a light breeze keeping most of the midges away.

Mercy and Wilson above the first chimney

Mercy and Wilson above the first chimney

To descend after finishing the ridge I’d definitely recommend continuing up to just above the 1150m contour and contouring South to reach the Tourist Track rather than descending the screes as some books suggest.

Fiona, Alasdair, Lindsay, Wilson and Mercy just above the finish of the ridge

Fiona, Alasdair, Lindsay, Wilson and Mercy just above the finish of the ridge

Moorfoots, EICA Ratho and The Cairngorms

On Monday and Tuesday this week I was working on the City of Edinburgh Summer Programme. Monday I was Gorge Walking in the Moorfoots, or more accurately dry, but fun, ghyll scrambling given the conditions on the day. Tuesday I was inside at EICA Ratho with a climbing group, which was excellent given the local heavy thunderstorms.

Steve on No Blue Skies

Steve on No Blue Skies

Today John and I were out with Alec, Clare, John and Steve on a Falkirk Community Trust multi-pitch climbing day. Heavy showers were forecast for lots of areas, so we headed up to Coire an t-Sneachda in the Cairngorms. This paid off as John, John and Steve climbed No Blue Skies and Alec, Clare and I climbed Trunk Line on the Mess of Pottage on dry rock.

Clare and Alec topping out on Trunk Line

Clare and Alec topping out on Trunk Line

Coire an t-Sneachda is better known as a winter climbing venue, but these two starred VSs gave good routes for the day. It’s a high North-West facing crag and subject to lots of frost action in the winter so some care is required on the crag with the odd loose block.

A happy team after he routes

A happy team after the routes

Beinn Udlaidh

John and I were out today with Doug, David and Graham on a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing day. We climbed West Gully on Beinn Udlaidh with one of the left hand finishes to get on to some steeper ice/snow at the top.

Doug on the steeper step within West Gully

The gully still has water running in places and underneath the snow on some of the easier angled sections, but a dry ascent could be made today.

Graham on the left hand finish

A few other teams out in the coire with one climbing Quartzvein Scoop, which looked thin from a distance. Most of the routes in the coire are forming, but still require some more ice to build. The turf wasn’t frozen at the top of the crag, West Gully doesn’t use turf, so difficult to say whether exposed turf would be frozen on the crag itself. Below freezing at crag height today, but only just and the Northerly winds were relatively light.

David near the top of the left hand finish

Ben Lawers Ski Tour

Out with Falkirk Community Trust ski touring today with Euan, James, Fiona, Graeme, John, Jonathan, Tam and Tom in the Ben Lawers area.

The team enjoying great touring conditions

We skinned up the Ben Lawers access road from the main road and up to the bealach between Meall Corranaich and Beinn Ghlas. The return gave us an excellent easy angled descent on untracked snow. The access road was drivable to near the top of the forestry without a specialist vehicle by the time we descended.

Snow cover down to Loch Tay

There is full snow cover in this area at the moment with the snow generally being soft and unconsolidated making travel without skis or snowshoes very time consuming. There was no significant precipitation whilst we were out, but some wind movement of snow in exposed areas on a South-Westerly/Westerly wind. Below freezing all day at higher levels. There’s crust on the snow lower down and the snow was becoming heavier at lower levels with rising temperatures. Sunshine on and off throughout the day.

James with Beinn Ghlas behind

Craig and Iona were also out near Killin looking at winter navigation and reported fairly hard going in the soft snow without skis.

Avalanche Awareness

For the past two days I have been out with the Falkirk High Tops Team looking at the use of transceivers, shovels and probes and how to stay safe in avalanche terrain. On saturday, we were in the Drummochter Pass. Today, we visited Coire an t-Sneachda. We travelled into the Coire before ascending to the col next to Fiacaill Buttress and climbing Fiacaill Ridge. After traversing the plateau we spent some time in Coire Cas doing further avalanche awareness training.

Lots of snow transportation visible today loading the Goat Track and the tops of all the gully routes. There was also visible loading on a number of the crag aprons.

David, Rachel and Gayle climbing Fiacaill Ridge.

Glenshee Winter Skills

In Glenshee today with Craig and Billy, Bob, Iona, Paul, Peter and Stuart from Falkirk Community Trust doing a Winter Skills day.

There were snow patches from about 750m. The snow was generally soft, sugary and well saturated following the recent thaw and there wasn’t enough snow for the ski area to be open. No significant ice around and the turf was soft and saturated. No precipitation during the day and the freezing level was above the summits throughout.

Ski Touring in the Lawers Range

Eilidh practising avalanche rescue techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I have been out with the Falkirk High Tops staff team looking at skills for ski touring and avalanche rescue techniques.We parked at the parking used by teams ascending Meall Nan Tarmachan and headed up onto the flank of this Munro. It was possible to still have skis on from the start of the day and to link areas of snow together for the duration of the four and a half hours we were out. However, heavy rain started as we were walking back along the road. This will further reduce the snowpack in this area.

 

Glen Lyon

Today I was out with a Falkirk High Tops Team of Craig, Alan, Billy, Colin,Craig, Edith, Lorn, Ros, Sue, Willie and Vic on Stuchd an Lochain. The drive down Glen Lyon and up to the Loch an Daimh damn required care due to hard packed snow and black ice in places. There were patches of soft old snow from road level and this increased to almost full cover with height and firmed up to the point where kicking steps was quite hard work. There was icing on paths from road level and the turf was firm above about 700m.

The team approaching the summit

Careful route choice meant we didn’t need to put crampons on, but axes were required.

Alan on the summit

Some very light snow flurries during the day on a strong West then North-West wind. Cloud on and off with some patches of sunshine. Freezing level was around 700m.

Coire an t’Sneachda

Out with the Falkirk Community Trust team today in Coire an t’Sneachda. John, Graeme and Tam climbed Hidden Chimney Direct. Brian, Paul and I climbed a variation on The Opening Break as I didn’t like the look of the snow on the slabs around the initial corner in thawing conditions. We climbed a broken rib to the left and then traversed across to take the final pitch up the nice corner groove.

Brian descending from the crag

The crag went in to something of a meltdown as rain arrived early in the afternoon and was losing a lot of rime. The snowpack was saturated by the time we left and I’d guess the turf would be softening up on routes that use it. Once the snowpack and turf refreeze conditions could well be excellent on a lot of routes.

Cairngorms

Out with John, Archie, Linda, Lindsay, Paul and Tam from Falkirk Community Trust today. Based on the forecast we changed the plan from Glen Coe and headed to The Cairngorms and climbed the classic Fiacaill Ridge. This was made even more classic by the fact the ski road was closed in the morning and we walked up from the bottom. We descended The Goat Track after checking out the snow pack.

Tam with the lower section of the ridge behind

Snowing on the A9 as we drove up, but the weather cleared to give an excellent day on the ridge with great views northwards and the wind dropped throughout the day. A fair bit of wind movement of snow during the day and plenty of wind slab around. The winds were mostly South-Westerly/Westerly. The crags are plastered with largely as yet unconsolidated snow. A fair bit of trail breaking required today, there’s currently excellent cover for ski touring.

Paul with the upper section of the ridge behind

Snowing lightly down to Loch Morlich level as we left and snow was settling down to road level along the A9 with the Dalwhinnie to Dunkeld area having significant snowfall at road level.