Saturday 27th February

Out with an Adventure Edinburgh group on Ben Vorlich near Loch Lomond looking at emergency snow shelters. We found a good area to work in on the way up to the Little Hills and built personal shelters, snow pits, snow graves and a shovel up. The photo below is from my phone, so not the greatest quality, but gives an idea of the depth of snow even at quite low elevations of circa 550m.


Due to the snow conditions we’d headed to this area and chosen a north-east facing ridge. There is heavy loading of lee slopes with fresh and wind blown snow; at lower elevations in this area it’s full depth to the turf and starting to consolidate. However, where it’s on hard old snow with the potential for a burried surface hoar it will represent a considerable avalanche risk and careful route choice is required. The turf is still well frozen down to low levels.

27th February An East Coast Report

I have just driven down from the Cairngorm National Par.The ski road was closed today and i suspect the climbing conditions will currently be very poor. However, the ski touring conditions should be good if respect is given to the avalanche conditions.

Ski touring conditions also look great in the Drummochter Pass and on Carn Liath.

25th and 26th of February

The forecast for Thursday meant a change of plan for Jim and myself, so we headed to Arrochar and The Brack. We climbed a new direct start to Hell’s Teeth at IV,4. It gave a good pitch of mixed turf/rock up a corner system starting at a quartz wall just right of the normal start and joins the normal route below the chimney on the right. We finished up the chimney, which gave a good outing for the day. It was raining at road level, with snow all day at crag level and the turf well frozen. Even on this north east facing crag things were starting to load fairly heavily by noon and careful route choice was required on descent.

Jim in the corner system

Jim in the corner system

Jim happily exiting the corner

Jim happily exiting the corner

For odd logistical reasons we then headed to Aviemore. Lots of fresh snow on Thursday, overnight and through Friday on a north east wind leaving the ski road closed. This snow will be on top of a hard base and surface hoar, so great care required over the next few days. We walked/cross country skied in the Ryvoan area before heading south.

Murray on the way to Ryvoan

Murray on the way to Ryvoan

25th February Chockstone Gully and Great Gully

I returned to the West Coast today with the Falkrik High Tops Team for a days winter mountaineering. We climbed Chockstone Gully and continued to the summit of the North Peak on the Cobbler via Great Gully.

Some but not all routes on the Cobbler can be approached safely. Windlab was building on the left bank and middle of Great Gully so this now may be unsafe.

Thanks to Craig Mclaren for the photo of Chockstone Gully and Neil Fairbairn for the photos of Fiacall Ridge and the East Ridge Beinn a’Chaorainn last week


24th February The Cramp

I was back at Beinn Udlaidh today with Tam and Jason from the Falkirk High Tops Team. We climbed The Cramp which gave 3.5 pitches of good climbing. We chose this route as large spindrift avalanches were pouring down other routes. Some smaller spindrift avalanches poured over our route.

On the plateau area,on areas with only slight angles, areas of windslab were collapsing on the weak layer below and propogating for 8 metres in both directions. The snow was unstable on many aspects.

John, Paul and Gary from the Falkirk High Tops Team climbed West Gully.

23rd February Peter Pan Direct

Pamela and i both had a short day available so opted for a quick route on Beinn Udlaidh. We climbed Peter Pan Direct which was in good condition.

Other teams were on Quartzvein Scoop, Green Eyes, South Gully of the Black Wall and West Gully. The hardest lines are not in condition.

22nd February Innuendo

Al and i headed into Stob Coire Nan Lochain Glencoe today. We intended on climbing Crest Route but the middle section was black.

Therefore, we climbed Innuendo. This route gave three interesting pitches. The route had some useful snow ice on it. Without this it would be very difficult. The route today was probably V 5 as there was some long runouts.

Other teams were on Scabbard Chimney, Dorsal Arete and Chimney Route.

21st February Southern Highlands

Today i was out on Ben Ledi with a winter skills group. The river running up to the north east corrie was frozen above 600m. Turf was frozen at all levels. In the corrie, all old snow was firm and provided a great surface for cramponing and ice axe arrest.

Saturday 20th February 2010

Out today with Nettle, Jacqueline, David, Paul, Lorna, Janet and Merrin doing a winter skills day in the Drumochter area.
The weather was stunning with cold air temperatures, but wall to wall sunshine and feeling pretty warm in the sun. Sun cream and shades a must today.

The Team Enjoying the Sun

The Team Enjoying the Sun

Old snow below 800m was firm and well consolidated with an amazing layer of surface hoar crystals circa 10cm thick, as a result of the prolonged cold weather over the last few days. Only small amounts of recent wind transfer of snow at these levels so just the odd pocket of very thin wind slab on top of the surface hoar, but this layer will be worth thinking about if there’s any fresh snow or wind transport. Below freezing all day at all levels in the shade. Some softening of the surface hoar on slopes in the sun during the day. Hardly any noticeable wind.

Stable Cornice Wall Feature

Stable Cornice Wall Feature

17th and 18th February The East and the West

Neil, Ralph, Stephen, Matt and i have been out in the mountains the last two days. On the 17th we climbed Fiacall Ridge. The route was very busy. Other teams were on Fiacall Couloir and Invernookie. Large amounts of avalnanche debris were visible under Mess of Pottage. Today, the 18th. a large avalnche was triggered in Coire Cas.

Today we headed to the west and climbed the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn near Loch Laggan. The conditions on the route were excellent with good snow and frozen turf. Large amounts of avalanche debris were visible in the corries surrounding the east ridge.