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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was back out on Ben Nevis again today with John and Chris. Chris hadn’t worn crampons before and there was a good bit fresh snow, so we headed up in to the back of Coire Leis where we used easy angled old snow to get used to crampons and axe. We then put the rope on and made our way up to the North end of the horizontal section of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete linking scoured snow and rocky sections. After traversing the CMD Arete we made our way up to the summit before descending the Zig Zags and then back to the Allt a’Mhuillinn.
There’s been a fair bit of fresh snow over the last couple of days and the more recent snow was forming soft wind slab in sheltered locations on lots of aspects above 650m; some of this is sitting on a graupel layer from earlier in the week, which is on top of old neve. If you’re out and about in the snow over the weekend choose your route and approach wisely. It’s worth noting the Scottish Avalanche Information Service is providing forecasts for Lochaber and the Northern Cairngorms for this weekend.
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.
I have been out today on the West Face of Aonach Mor where Grant, Lance and I climbed Golden Oldie. The west face has a good covering of snow. However, the turf is not frozen and some loose blocks require care.
A number of small slides came down the gullies either side of the arête.