Ben Nevis

Over the last three days Joanne, Gregor and I have been climbing on Ben Nevis and staying in the CIC Hut. After walking in and drooping kit off at the hut on Monday we new we’d have to go high due to the rising freezing level, so we made for Creag Coire na Ciste hoping North Gully would be holding ice. There was ice in the gully, but it was broke, thawing and there was above so a quick change of plan was required and we nipped across Number Four Gully to climb Number Four Gully Buttress. This worked well with the climbing being on soggy snow, frozen turf and rock, but with some care being required with loose rocks. We descended to the hut via Number Four Gully and returned to the hut thoroughly soaked.

Gregor topping out on Number Four Gully Buttress.

Gregor topping out on Number Four Gully Buttress.

The forecast for Tuesday was for very high winds and rain, so we chose to stay low and climbed the Douglas Gap West Gully on snow and the chimney out of the gap on to Tower Ridge before abseiling Douglas Gap East Gully and returning to the hut, again thoroughly soaked even after a short day. It dried up and started to cool down later in the day, so I took a walk up in to Coire Leis to get a look at The Little Brenva Face.

Gregor climbing out of the Douglas Gap on to Tower Ridge,

Gregor climbing out of the Douglas Gap on to Tower Ridge,

Today we made use of the previous day’s recce and the cooler overnight temperatures and headed around to the Little Brenva Face where we climbed Bob Run on good snow and water ice and were out of the wind until topping out. We took in the summit, by which time it was raining at summit level. We then returned via Coire Leis to the hut, again thoroughly soaked, before walking out this afternoon.

Joanne enjoying firm snow and ice on Bob Run.

Joanne enjoying firm snow and ice on Bob Run.

Some of Tuesday’s precipitation had fallen as snow at height and overnight and a few areas of fresh wind slab had developed that required care today, however these were getting soaked this afternoon at all levels.

Well done to Joanne and Gregor for dealing with the conditions, which meant we got climbing on each day even if we did end up a little wet!

 

Glen Shiel and Skye

I got back late last night from a three day Falkirk Community Trust winter mountaineering and walking trip based in Plockton. We had excellent weather and conditions throughout making for some great days.

Jim, Wilson, Gareth, Joanne and Linda with The Forcan Ridge behind.

Jim, Wilson, Gareth, Joanne and Linda with The Forcan Ridge behind.

Having travelled up on the Thursday evening we headed for Glen Shiel on the first day with mountaineers heading for the classic Forcan Ridge on The Saddle and Craig and the walkers on the North Side of the Glen completing the three Munros of The Five Sisters.

John, climbing the main, but not crux, ice pitch of North Gully.

John, climbing the main, but not crux, ice pitch of North Gully.

On Saturday we made use of the excellent winter conditions on Skye with Craig and the walkers ascending Bruach na Frithe, whilst a team of John, me, Gareth, Jim, Joanne and Linda climbed North Gully on the Glaich Moire Face of Coire a’Mhadaidh. This gave a very good route. We got in at the bottom of the feature and soloed easy angled ground with tricky steps before climbing 7 fairly long pitches. Worth noting the guidebook length is 120m and it may, therefore, bank out lower down sometimes. On the day there was also a very short section of Tech 5, which may also bank out. We descended the open easy gully left of the crag looking up.

Joanne and Gareth with the obvious feature of North Gully between them.

Joanne and Gareth with the obvious feature of North Gully between them.

Yesterday we needed a shorter day before travelling home and gambled on Marsco. This gave a superb day for both teams with Craig and the walkers reaching and returning from the summit via the Eastern Spur of Coire nan Laogh. John, me, Gareth, Joanne, Linda and Lorn were aming for Wooly Gully, the only route in the guidebook in Coire nan Laogh. However, once in the coire this looked banked out and the obvious S-shaped gully feature in the centre of the coire looked too good to miss.

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Linda and Lorn finishing the first pitch in Coire nan Laogh, Marsco.

We soloed easily through dramatic scenery on the lower part of the S before putting ropes on for the last rightwards slant of the S up from the large ledge separating the two left hand crag tiers in the coire. This gave a delightful ice/snow ice pitch. Above this the face could be climbed almost anywhere on ice and snow at about grade II with John and I taking parallel lines, his more rocky and mine more icy, mostly due to the gear we were carrying. The route brought us out about 100m East of the summit. The upper face has a serious feel despite it’s easy angle and warthogs and ice screws were definitely useful. Overall it was about Grade III and possibly a new line on an excellent, although I suspect rarely in condition, face.

The view to the team back along the summit ridge of Marsco with Clach Glas and Blabheinn behind.

The view to the team back along the summit ridge of Marsco with Clach Glas and Blabheinn behind.

A great trip with near Alpine conditions. I’ll put some photos on the ClimbNow facebook page today and Craig will add photos to the Falkirk Community Trust Facebook page.

North Gully and Pinnacle Gully

The lads and I had a brilliant day in Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glencoe today. The weather was excellent as were the conditions on the two routes we climbed; North Gully and Pinnacle Gully.

There were a few other teams in the Coire climbing all the classic grade I, II and III routes.

Some new cornicing was present and isolated areas of windslab.

There are many more photos on the climbnow facebook page for those who are interested.

Exiting Pinnacle Gully.

Exiting Pinnacle Gully.

Ben Nevis

Just back from a great three day trip to Ben Nevis with a Falkirk Community Trust team of John, Eliot, Gayle, James, Jim, Nigel and Tam.

Elliot & Jim in Green Gully 22/02/13

Eliot & Jim in Green Gully 22/02/13

There are lots of routes in excellent condition with very well consolidated snow and generally good ice. Care is required on the hard snow particularly on crag approaches and descents as a slip would have potentially serious consequences.

Elliot & Jim on Tower Ridge 23/02/13

Eliot & Jim on Tower Ridge 23/02/13

Over the three days members of the team climbed Green Gully, Number Four Gully (in descent), Central Gully/Central Gully Right-Hand (Creag Coire na Ciste), Italian Climb, Tower Ridge, Glover’s Chimney, Douglas Gap West Gully and Traverse, North Gully, Vanishing Gully, Garadh Gully. All of these routes were in very good condition.

Elliot approaching the 1st belay on Vanishing Gully 24/02/13

Eliot approaching the 1st belay on Vanishing Gully 24/02/13

Creag an Leth-choin (Lurcher’s Crag)

B and I took a walk today to see whether the ice was holding on Creag an Leth-choin and were rewarded with a very pleasant day climbing North Gully.

B approaching North Gully

The approach was relatively easy as the thaw over the last few days had reduced the soft snow cover on the walk in and the refreeze had firmed up the remaining patches.

B nearing the first belay

We climbed the route via the left hand fork on generally good ice throughout and mostly screw belays. Lots of easy angled ice, but several good steeper steps with plenty of scope for variation. The right fork also looked climbable.

Setting off on one of the steeper steps

The turf was frozen at crag height and on most of the approach. No visible remaining cornices on this west facing crag. The buttress lines were fairly black with little riming and the nature of a lot of those routes would probably mean there’d currently be a lot of loose blocks. Good weather on the approach, but snowing steadily above 600m (rain below) on a South-Westerly/Westerly wind as we walked out.