29th to 31st January Three Days at the CIC Hut

Tower Ridge from the CIC hut.

Gayle and Doug high on North East Buttress.

For the last three days i have been at the CIC hut on Ben Nevis with the Falkirk High Tops Team. On saturday after arriving at the hut in the early afternoon, Jason, Doug and I climbed Vanishing Gully. Craig and Gary climbed No.3 Gully Buttress and John, Jacqueline and Gayle climbed Italian Climb. All three routes were in good condition. A little note on Vanishing Gully, 60m ropes are required (not 50m ropes as suggested by the guidebook).

During saturday night the weather worsened with fresh snow producing lots of spindrift avalanches so we opted for North East Buttress. The Mantrap was thinly iced and therefore interesting!

During sunday night the temperature increased and a large amount of rain fell stripping lots of snow off the buttresses. When we got up the rain was still falling and the winds were high so we opted for breakfast in Fort William.

Saturday 29th January The Ochils

Out with Adventure Edinburgh today in the Ochils. There are only a few remaining patches of old snow here with a dusting of fresh snow above 600m, but enough to allow a bit of boot work and step cutting practice for the participants just below the summit of Ben Cleuch.

The turf was well frozen above 550m. Above freezing on the summits (721m) with cloud (above 600m) and drizzle on a light northely wind.

Thursday 27th January Coire an t-Sneachda

Out today with Gary in Coire an t-Sneachda. We headed up Jacob’s Edge with a little excursion on to a bit of steeper mixed ground whilst heading back right to spice things up a little. Not bad for Gary’s first day in crampons.

Gary on The Slant pitch out of Jacob's Ladder

The old snow has refrozen to very firm snow/snow ice and is giving excellent climbing. There’s a couple of inches of fresh unconsolidated snow making the buttresses look white. The fresh snow isn’t presenting any problems on northerly aspects, but there may be significant pockets on southerly and easterly facing slopes. Ski-touring looked good with the fresh snow on a firm base.

Gary higher on Jacob's Edge

Below freezing all day in the coire. No wind during the day. Crags above the cloud. A glorious day to be out.

Fiacaill Buttress

27th January Aonach Mor

It was a beautiful day today in Lochaber for the last day of our British Mountain Guides course. Today we were on Aonach Mor looking at Avalanche Awareness skills. Conditions currently are very stable. The snow pack was bullet proof. Lots of ice was present around the Nid area and the buttresses visible were lightly rimed.

26th January Tower Ridge and Ledge Route

Out on Guides training today on Ben Nevis. We climbed Tower Ridge and descended Ledge Route. Both routes were in excellent condition with bomber neve everywhere.

Lots of the classic gully climbs appear to be in good condition. The mountain was very quiet today so did not see any other teams climbing.

Tuesday 25th January Coire an t-Sneacdha

Day 3 of British Mountain Guides training and we were in the Northern Corries. Things currently are pretty wet. We were on the Mess of Pottage. Routes such as Hidden Chimney are still in good condition.

Two of the other trainees were on Fiacaill Buttress reporting reasonable conditions on Invernookie and Fiacaill Coulior.

Monday 24th January Glencoe

Day 2 of British Mountain Guides training was in Glencoe today. It was a wee bit damp!
We ascended NC Gully then descended Broad Gully before climbing Dorsal Arete with a direct start (probably about IV 4). All these routes were in good condition. Amazingly some of the steeper buttress routes are still white.

We then traversed over Bidean before continuing over the next summit and descending the Lairig Eilde.

Monday 24th January Coire an t-Sneachda

Not really a day for hanging around, so B and I had a mountaineering sort of day. We headed up through the left hand break in the slabby ground between Aladdin’s Mirror and Central Left-Hand. We then made a rising rightwards traverse to join Central Left-Hand then dropped off the rib itself to gain the short, but good ice pitch on the left hand side of the narrows of the funnel shaped gully right of Pygmy Ridge. This gave 6 or 7 pitches of about I/II and a good day out given the conditions.

B Glad to be back in the northern hemisphere!

Snow was firm throughout the route with no cornice problems with the exit. The ice was good and the small areas of turf encountered were well frozen.

Traversing towards Central Left-Hand

Wind was North Westerly and gusting circa 40mph. Showery precipitation most of the day, initially as snow, but rain by the time we’d headed around to pt. 1141m. Some fresh wet snow deposits on South through East slopes. The crags (notably Pygmy Ridge area) were riming during the day, but the rain may have stripped this.

23rd January Aonach Mor

I am currently up in Fort William on the British Mountain Guides winter training course. Today we were on Aonach Mor looking at teaching winter skills and short roping. The snow was not frozen on The Nid and neither was the majority of the turf.

20th January 2011 Ewen Buttress

Gayle exiting Ewen Buttress.

I returned to Coire an Lochain (Cairngorms) today with the Falkirk High Tops Team. Gayle, Paul and I climbed Ewen Buttress. The route was in good condition with useful neve at the crux bulge. The distance between the first belay and the good block belay above the crux bulge is about 50m so worth not using too much rope in the anchor.

Other teams were seen at the begining of or on, Sidewinder, The Vent, Milky Way, The Coulior and Prore. A number of teams backed off hard mixed routes (excluding Prore) due to heavily iced cracks. Some routes have very large cornices to contend with.