Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snow again..

It has been another snowy and stormy day here on the westcoast of Scotland. Last night resulted in more fresh snow down to low levels, many of the higher crags being very white. (Carn Dearg pictured).

Mark, Richard and myself headed up to Ben Nevis' Carn Dearg Buttress to attempt 'Ledge Route' II. Unfortunately, the wild conditions and unstable snowpack resulted in a hasty retreat and some ropework practice in Glen Nevis.

More wintery weather is expected tomorrow, and the major mixed routes should be in good condition should the wind speed drop. Care will still be required getting to and from your desired objective: pick carefully..

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wild on Aonach Mor..

It has been a fairly wild day here on the westcoast, with snow showers and fresh winds for most of the day.

Mark, Richard and I were on Aonach Mor practising snow belays, as well as making various ascents and descents of 'G and T Gully' on the 'Nid Ridge'.

Fresh wind slab was building for most of the day, and at least one party was avalanched on Aonach Mor today. Caution is definately advised in these challenging conditions...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wintery in Glencoe...

There has definately been a change to colder conditions on the westcoast of Scotland today with frequent snow showers. Mark, Richard and I braved the punishing ascent into Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glencoe, to further develop our movement skills on more varied terrain.

We made an ascent of 'Broad Gully' before making our way to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan. Making our descent down the west ridge back into the coire floor, we also found time to practise producing some snow bollards, and buried axe belays (pictured).

Conditions under food were predominately very good, although the snow pack could do with further cold temperatures to harden it up into neve. With further snowfall and freezing temperatures forecast overnight, we should again see an improvement..

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mild on the Westcoast..

It's been a mild here on the westcoast today, with the freezing level well above the summits.

Despite this, Mark, Richard and I headed up to the White Corries ski area in Glencoe to practise some essential skills. With colder conditions forecast, there should be a dramatic improvement in conditions shortly..

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Dave and I were in the Northern Cairngorms today continuing our two days of winter skills. The conditions were more favourable in the east Highlands with better visability and no rain.

Despite this the freezing level was way above the summits resulting in a moist and stable snowpack. Plenty of snow remains in these north facing corries and there were plenty of folk out enjoying the weather.

The technical mixed routes are generally out of condition, although the major gullies lines are generally complete. Care is required in and around the crag due to the risk off rockfall during these thaw conditions.

Sandy Paterson was also out on Saturday: "I was on the Asssociation of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) West Coast Winter Workshop run by Ed Chard. After hearing that the Gondola was shut on Aonach Mor we headed for Coire nan Lochan were we worked on some short roping up onto 'Dorsal Arete', did a number of short pitches up this before looking at lowers and short roping down 'Broad gully'. There was still a fair bit of snow in the coire but by the time we walked out at 3pm the snow pack was completely saturated and the rock was black. I imagine what survives the thaw will be excellent neve when the freeze comes. Fingers crossed!..."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Winter Skills..

Dave and I headed up to Coire Leis on Ben Nevis today to practise some essential winter skills.

The weather was fairly wild with squally snow showers during the morning, and the freezing level retreating in the afternoon leaving a moist snowpack.

There is still plenty of snow on the North Face of Ben Nevis to ride out this thaw, and with colder conditions forecast next week we should see a significant improvement in climbing conditions...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wild weather..

Graham Stein and I headed over to the Cairngorms yesterday in some fairly wild weather. With strong winds and snowfall forecast we opted to visit Coire an t Sneachda to do a short route.

'Patey's Route' IV,5 was the obvious choice with some helpful ice around the mixed bulges. Unfortunately, the conditions were not idea for technical mixed climbing with many of the cracks coated in a thin film of verglass.

Heavy snow showers through the day resulted in some significant drifting of snow down to the level of Coire Cas car park. Unfortunately, the freezing level has now lifted to well above the summits in all areas resulting in thawing conditions. The existing snowpack will stabilise, come the next freeze resulting in a good base for further snow fall.

The major snowfields in the north facing corries won't really be affected: remember, just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there..!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Solid turf and plastic ice...

Couple of reports from the weekend: Sandy Patterson was out on Sunday (20th Jan) in Coire an t-Sneachda with Luke Osborne. They decided to head up to the Mess of Pottage, this was busy on the right hand side with numerous parties starting 'Haston Line', the 'Direct Start' to 'Hidden Chimney' and 'Hidden Chimney'.

The rest of the crag was quiet so they decided to head over to do 'The Hybrid', Sandy describing it as being in "OK condition with the turf well frozen and most of the snow beginning to consolidate although the larger patches just had breakable crust on".

Rob Jarvis, Andy Turner and Matt Helliker had a good day out racing around most of the northern Cairngorms. In Sneachda they climbed 'Aladdin's Mirror Direct', 'Aladdin's Couloir', 'Goat Track Gully', 'Red Gully' and '0.5 Gully'.

On Stag Rocks they descended 'Diagonal' and climbed some superb Cascades (see link to Rob's video below). They finished the day with an ascent of 'Deep Cut Chimney', the last mixed pitch of which provided a good "mixed" contrast to the rest of the day on ice. For Rob's excellent reports at Highland Guides check out

Also at the weekend Steve and Sue Fisher climbed 'Staghorn Gully' on Creag Meagaidh, although it may have been in less than perfect condition. Another party was also avalanched in the corrie..

New Climbing Wall Award (CWA)..

JTM has been accepted as an Mountain Leader Training England Provider and will shortly start running the new Climbing Wall Award (CWA) training and assessment courses.

The award is aimed at those wishing to supervise groups on indoor and outdoor climbing walls. This will fill a gap for those people needing a nationally recognised award but without the outdoor climbing experience to go for the Single Pitch Award (SPA), as well as being desirable for experienced climbers coaching indoors.

The two day training courses will be based at Rockcity Climbing Centre, Hull (at a cost of £140 non-residential), with a visit to a second major wall on the second day. Courses will cover aspects such as group management, running safe and fun sessions at climbing walls, coaching of movement skills and group abseiling. The assessment is a further one day course (at a cost of £115).

For more information and full course dates please contact me at

Friday, January 18, 2008

Crest Route

James Thacker
M: 07887 992745

Sent by Sony Ericsson P990i

_______________ Forward Header _______________
Subject: Crest Route
Author: "James Thacker" <>
Date: 17th January 2008 21:57

Dave Evans and I visited Coire nan Lochain yesterday, the corrie being in good condition for the higher mixed routes.

We climbed 'Crest Route' V,6. This often climbed classic has a bit of a cheaquered past having originally been graded IV, and is still the subject of many pub debates (some suggest VI,6).

There were plenty of other parties climbing in the corrie, climbing 'Para Andy' VI,7?, 'NC Gully', 'Dorsal Arete', and 'Innuendo' V,6.

Slightly further afield, Steve, Jo and I have been in the Cairngorms today climbing 'Alladins Mirror' I and some mixed variations higher up, giving a good introduction to Scottish winter climbing..

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Crest Route

Dave Evans and I visited Coire nan Lochain yesterday, the corrie being in good condition for the higher mixed routes.

We climbed 'Crest Route' V,6. This often climbed classic has a bit of a cheaquered past having originally been graded IV, and is still the subject of many pub debates (some suggest VI,6).

There were plenty of other parties climbing in the corrie, climbing 'Para Andy' VI,7?, 'NC Gully', 'Dorsal Arete', and 'Innuendo' V,6.

Slightly further afield, Steve, Jo and I have been in the Cairngorms today climbing 'Alladins Mirror' I and some mixed variations higher up, giving a good introduction to Scottish winter climbing..

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Snow in the Lakes and Pennines...

The last couple of days have been cold and unsettled resulting in snow for the Lake District and northern England. Saturday gave some good climbing conditions in the Lake District, with Polly Wilson (pictured) and Paul Knowles climbing 'Gully 2' on Helvellyn with a number of other parties.

Jonathan Yates has also been in contact with details of a recent visit to 'Hells Lum' in the northern Cairngorms. It appears that they may well have climbed the 'Sneer' (III). Full details at TheFrontPoint.

It appears that conditions are also good on Skye were Mike Lates and partner Graeme Briffit did the first winter ascent of 'Grand Dierdre Direct' (VI,6) in Coire a Ghrunnda, which is a VS in summer.

There are still some places on our Winter Skills course on the 26/27 January, and on the Winter Skills and Expedition 28 Jan - 1st Feb. Please get in touch if you would like to play in the snow..

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Turner and Ashworth knock out another new Ben Nevis mixed line...

It has been another stormy day in Scotland with snow showers and strong winds for most of the day. This didn't stop Andy Turner and Steve Ashworth heading up to Ben Nevis' No.3 Gully Buttress/Creag Coire na Ciste area to add a new mixed line.

This area of the mountain has seen some development recently with the addition of 'The Secret' IX,9 and now 'Storm Trooper' VIII,8. Andy and Steve had attempted this line (just to the right of Darth Vader), the day after they climbed 'The Secret' but had been thwarted by over tired arms! Today things went more smoothly, and they added the final pitch along with an alternative direct start, adding another test piece of high quality mixed climbing to the mountain.

As I write this the boys are still on the way down the hill from the CIC Hut and I will hopefully be able to post a picture soon. [Check Out Steve Ashworths video below..]

Further details at Steve's Blog and from Rob Jarvis.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Winter Grit..

I have just returned from skiing in France and decided to head out to the Peak District today for some winter bouldering.

It seemed like just about every other climber in and around the Peak District had done the same, the conditions being excellent. Despite some showers in recent days, the fresh winds have dried the crags rapidly leaving conditions of optimum friction for those who don't mind chilly hands.

Burbage North, Burbage South, Burbage West, Higgar Tor, Stanage Plantation and Froggatt were all busy today with climbers bouldering and nipping up a few routes.

Further north in Scotland it sounds like it has been very stormy in most parts in recent days, particularly in the Cairngorms. This isn't unusual during January, and next week looks set to be unsettled with further snow showers and low freezing levels. For some recent video and pictures check out the FrontPoint Reports at This stormy weather will ultimately provide plenty of 'build up' on the higher peaks with any precipitation falling as snow at summit level..

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Blue skies and squeeky ice..

It has been another day of excellent weather here in Lochaber. Martin and I decided to head up onto Ben Nevis and climb 'Tower Ridge' IV,3.

Although in very alpine condition, the ridge provided good sport with sections being negociated in both crampons and boots.

Other parties climbed 'Glovers Chimney' III,4, 'Satanic Verses' VI,5, 'Shot in the Dark' V,5 and 'Smiths Route' V,5.

The weather looks set to change during wednesday and thursday..

Aonach Mor

Martin and I have been on Aonach Mor today refreshing a few winter skills prior to four days of mountaineering here in Lochaber.

The weather has been excellent again, with temperatures hovering just below freezing in the shade of the north facing corries.

Aonach Mor's East Face was busy again with climbers noted in the "twins area", which seemed to be holding good ice.

Over on Ben Nevis, Nick Carter (Alpha Mountaineering), climbed 'Moonwalk' IV on the Little Brenva Face, reporting good conditions.

Further north Ian and Rachel also made a traverse of the Cuillin Ridge on Skye.

Again the weather looks set to continue until the onset of more unsettled conditions on thursday..