West Coast Climbing

I have had a productive four days with the Joint Services. After climbing the Zig Zags on Monday we visited Aonach Dubh on Tuesday were we climbed Golden Oldie. The route was in good condition with frozen turf, lots of snow and fully rimed.

Yesterday we visited the Cobbler and climbed Chockstone Gully and Maclays Crack. Both routes were very white and fully frozen.

Today we climbed Dinnertime Buttress. The route was very white and fully frozen. We climbed the chimney version of the route today which was probably grade II/III.

During the four days we have seen no other climbers.


Lochaber Traverse

I have been out the last two days with Falkirk Outdoor Activities. Yesterday, we traversed from the Aonach Mor Gondola to the CIC Hut via the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Mheadhonach. Although this is a good winter route, I would not recommend it in summer conditions.

Today we continued to Glen Nevis via Ledge Route on Ben Nevis.

We did not encounter snow during the two days. I looked down Number 4 Gully during our descent. There are a number of large rocks waiting to fall as the remaining snow retreats. I would not recommend this route at the moment.


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.

Winter Mountain Leader

This week I have been instructing on a Winter Mountain Leader training course for Ballachulish. We have visited; Stob Mhic Mhartuin, Beinn an Dothaidh, the Cairngorms, the Nid on Aonach Mor and tomorrow we are going to Beinn Dorain.

It has been a week of mixed weather with the first half as good as it gets and the last couple of days less so! 80mph winds, rain and very poor visibility. All good training though for those aiming to complete this award.

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.


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.

Glencoe and Aonach Mor

This week I am instructing on a Winter Mountain Leader course. Yesterday we were at Glencoe ski centre looking at teaching winter skills. Large patches of snow still exist but not enough for skiing.

Today we were at Aonach Mor looking at leading groups in steep ground. We completed the session on the east side of the mountain were large patches of snow can still be found.

Steep ground training on Aonach Mor.

Steep ground training on Aonach Mor.

Lochaber High Tops Weekend

On Saturday and Sunday Steve and I were out in Lochaber with a Falkirk Community trust high tops team of Alec, Bear, Isobel, Linda, Lorn and Sandra . On Satuday we drove up to the road end in Glen Nevis and headed up Aonach Beag. Recent rockfall has lead to the closure of the Nevis Gorge path ( more information can be found on the John Muir Trust website here:  https://www.johnmuirtrust.org/assets/000/001/867/JMT_Steall_path_closed_red_v2_original.pdf ). Therefore, we had to change our planned route slightly and climbed up to the bealach north of Meall Cumhann, dropping down to the Allt Coire Guibhsachan, which was easily crossed, and then ascending the South-West ridge of Aonach Beag.

The team in sunshine on top of Aonach Mor.

The team in sunshine on top of Aonach Mor.

We walked on from Aonach Beag to Aonach Mor before retracing our steps a short way and then descending steeply west to the bealach at the head of Coire Guibhsachan. From there we descended the coire and returned over the Bealach Cumhann. The weather was glorious on Saturday with only light winds, sunshine and a little high cloud.

In cloud on the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

In cloud on the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

After a good night at the very well appointed Glen Nevis Campsite we returned over the Bealach Cumhann again to the head of Coire Guibhsachan, where we were treated to a view of a Golden Eagle. From here we climbed the fine East Ridge of Carn Mor Dearg. Unfortunately the cloud rolled in at this point and the views disappeared for most of the rest of the day. We then descended to the Carn Mor Dearg Arête and followed this to Ben Nevis. A descent of the normal route with the rain arriving for the last hour or so brought us down to the Youth Hostel where Steve picked us up.

Two excellent days in Lochaber walking up four of the ten highest Munros by interesting routes.

Golden Oldie

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.

Lance and Grant on Golden Oldie.

Lance and Grant on Golden Oldie.