Winter Mountain Leader Training

This week I have been helping to deliver a Winter Mountain Leader Training course. There is large accumulations of snow in many locations. Careful studying of the avalanche forecasts and careful route choice is necessary in the current conditions.

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.

Stob Mhic Mhartuin, Mess of Pottage and SCNL

On Friday the lads from Ballachulish and I finished our winter mountaineering course by ascending Stob Mhic Mhartuin in Glencoe and then on the steep northerly aspect completed some training on abseiling in winter using bollards.

Tina, Scott, Steve, Martin and I met in the Cairngorm car park on Saturday morning with the hope of doing some winter climbing. We chose to go east rather than west to avoid the rain. We were rewarded with a dry day and two routes; Haston Line and Hidden Chimney (both are on the Mess of Pottage in Coire an t-Sneachda). Both routes were still holding good snow ice although this may be gone now.

We returned west on Saturday evening and on Sunday climbed Dorsal Arete in Stob Coire nan Lochan. The route still has lots of useable snow on it although the fin is now mostly dry.

There are lots more photos from the last week on the climbnow facebook page.

The team on SCNL.

The team on SCNL.

Glenfinnan and Glencoe

On Wednesday a team from Ballachulish and I walked into Corryhully Bothy before traversing Sgur an Fhuarain Duibh finishing in the dark so we could practice our night navigation skills. Of note is that the 1:50000 OS map of this hill shows no crags on the southerly aspect. This is incorrect and worth remembering when route planning.

We overnighted at the bothy before climbing Stob Coire nan Cearc the next day. There was fresh avalanche debris on this hill at 720 metres on a North Easterly aspect.

The weather warmed considerably on Thursday with rain at all levels. We did however manage to find enough snow on Stob Mhic Mhartuin in Glencoe on Friday to build emergency snow shelters and complete some ice axe arrest practice. The crags of Stob Coire nan Lochan are now black.

More photos on the facebook page.

The summit of Sgurr an Fhuarain Duibh.

The summit of Sgurr an Fhuarain Duibh.

Stob Mhic Mhartuin

Heavy snow arrived last night and this morning in Glencoe on strong winds before clearing late morning to give a stunning day of sunshine and showers.

I have been out today on Stob Mhic Mhartuin with a team looking at essential winter skills such as ice axe arrest and cramponing. Deep snow can be found on most aspects and cracking of the snowpack is clearly visible from the feet indicating that lots of windslab is around. We had one crack propagate eight metres from our feet on a convexity. It is worth consulting the avalanche forecast before heading out.

On Mhartuin with the Buachaillie behind.

On Mhartuin with the Buachaille behind.

The Zig-Zags and Stob Mhic Mhartuin

Yesterday morning I drove from South Queensferry to Glencoe. This took five hours including two hours stuck in the snow on the A82 in Glencoe. This hopefully gives a good idea of how much new snow has arrived in the area over the last couple of days.

Once I arrived in Glencoe I met the team and headed out to the Zig-Zags on Gearr Aonach. We climbed and descended the route looking at short roping and abseiling skills. The route was a popular option with quite a few teams around trying to avoid the worst of the weather by staying at lower altitudes.

Today I have been out on Stob Mhic Mhartuin looking at winter skills such as ice axe arrest and emergency snow shelters. There is a lot of new snow around making movement  time consuming and significant wind transportation increasing the avalanche risk on certain aspects.

Unfortunately my camera broke on Sunday and so my blog posts will be without photos until the weekend.

Stob Mhic Mhartuin

Stob Mhic Mhartuin is located above the Devils Staircase in Glencoe. The lads and I had a great day out climbing this peak with great views of Buachaille Etive Mor for most of the ascent. As well as climbing the peak we also practised some essential winter skills.

The snow cover is extensive abd deep in Glencoe at the moment as the video on the climbnow facebook page shows. It is worth taking this into account when planning journeys.

The drive south this evening to the central belt was less than perfect with particularly difficult driving conditions around Crianlarich.

A stag on the Devils Staircase.

A stag on the Devils Staircase.

A winter skills team on Stob Mhic Mhartuin

A winter skills team on Stob Mhic Mhartuin