Golden Oldie and Ben Nevis

Yesterday the team and I visited the West Face of Aonach Mor where we climbed Golden Oldie. The route was in good condition with frozen turf, some excellent neve and some interesting fresh snow arête’s following the recent weather.

Today we spent some time on Ben Nevis climbing ice pitches in Coire na Ciste and the CIC Hut Cascades.

Snow arête on Golden Oldie.

Beinn Dorain and Ben Nevis

Yesterday I was out on Beinn Dorain with a team from Ballachulish looking at skills required for guiding on grade I/II ground. There was a good covering of firm snow on many aspects above 500 metres and ice still present on the crags.

Today we have been on Ben Nevis climbing routes in the CIC Hut cascades area and an ice flow below the Curtain. The ice was in good condition today. However, things will be different tomorrow if the forecast is correct but should improve again towards the weekend.

Climbing an ice flow below the Curtain.

Pink Rib and Stob Ban

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.

Climbing into the sun on the East Ridge of Stob Ban.

Curved, Castle and Ledge

For the last couple of days I have been guiding and instructing on behalf of www.highmountainguides.com. The aim of the two days was preparation for climbing the Matterhorn.

Alongside Mountain Guides Alan Kimber and Jonathon Preston, the team and I visited Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe on Friday. Here we climbed Curved Ridge before descending the route of ascent. This is great practice for the Matterhorn as the only way off the summit is to climb down the route of ascent!

Descending Curved Ridge.

Descending Curved Ridge.

Yesterday we visited Ben Nevis were we climbed up Castle Ridge and down Ledge Route. Ledge Route finishes at the bottom of Number 5 Gully and here we used an axe.

Climbing on Castle Ridge.

Climbing on Castle Ridge.

Polldubh

This week I am rock climbing with a team from Ballachulish. After spending yesterday at the Ice Factor, today we visited Glen Nevis and climbed at Polldubh.

We spent the day looking at trad climbing and lead climbing skills on routes such as The Gutter and Tear before, during and after heavy rain showers. Many of the routes in the Alp area of Polldubh were drying quickly during the dry periods and  some were possible during the rain.

Stacey and Mark belaying on The Gutter.

Stacey and Mark belaying on The Gutter.

Aonach Mor

The team and I were out today on Aonach Mor. After completing a micro navigation session on the plateau we descended the Nid Ridge. At a safe point we built snow bollards and practised abseiling.

The snow on the surface was soft and heavy. However, there is an icy layer underneath and crampons were essential. Cornices were visible at points on the ridge.

Abseiling on a snow bollard reinforced with shovels.

Abseiling off a snow bollard reinforced with shovels.

Aonach Mor and SCNL

The weather has been fantastic on the West Coast of Scotland over the last couple of days. Yesterday, the team and went to the West Face of Aonach Mor where we climbed Gendarme Ridge.

The face was completely snow covered. Lots of redistribution of snow was taking place with slab forming in sheltered locations.

Today we visited Stob Coire nan Lochan. Here we climbed Pinnacle Buttress Groove. Mike Pescod’s book grades this route at III. This is more appropriate than the II/III given in the SMC guidebook in the current conditions.

The turf on the route was variable. Some of the snow in the corrie now takes an axe, but much is still unconsolidated.

On the Aonach Mor plateau.

On the Aonach Mor plateau.

Nice mixed climbing in SCNL.

Nice mixed climbing in SCNL.

 

Winter Mountain Leader Assessment

This week I have been helping to deliver a Winter Mountain Leader Assessment. Following a day in Glencoe and a day in Lochaber earlier in the week, the last three days have been in the Cairngorms.

Large volumes of snow have accumulated in the Cairngorms over the last couple of days. Given the weather on Saturday I would expect significant avalanche activity and careful attention should be paid to the SAIS forecasts.

Testing navigational conditions in the Cairngorms.

Testing navigational conditions in the Cairngorms.

 

Ben Nevis

Today the lads and I visited Ben Nevis where we climbed up Ledge Route and down Number 4 Gully.

Ledge Route was heavily verglassed in the upper two thirds with good snow on the upper third. The snow in Number 4 was very firm and careful cramponing was required.

Today the avalanche risk was low. However, if new snow arrives the risk will increase rapidly and the approach to Ledge Route may not be feasible and climbing in Number 4 will not be advisable.

Lots more photos on the facebook page.

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Easy Gully

Today I visited Easy Gully on Aonach Mor with a team from Ballachulish. The snow was excellent for climbing and the cornice was not a problem.

Matt leading Easy Gully.

Matt leading Easy Gully.