Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lurchers Crag Cairngorms..

Chris and I opted for a slightly different day out yesterday in the Cairngorms. I was again working for Fort William Mountain Guide Alan Kimber.

With rumours of good ice on Lurchers Crag in the Lairig Ghru we left the Coire Cas car park on skis, skinning via Lurchers Gully, to the top of the crag. A quick descent down 'South Gully' (I) led us around to the base of the crag where we opted to climb 'Central Gully' (III).

In the lean conditions the route gave some excellent long pitches including one that was definately hard grade III with the opportunity for some IV if you went for the direct line.

We finished the day by skiing back to the car park down Lurchers Gully, with only 200m on foot through the heather.

With slightly milder conditions and precipitation forecast on the west coast things should improve dramatically when it gets colder..

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Northern Cairngorms mixed climbing..

Chris and I visited the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms yesterday in search of some mixed routes. I was working for Fort William Mountain Guide Alan Kimber.

We opted to climb 'The Seam' (IV,5) before abseiling off and climbing the top three pitches of 'Invernookie' (III,4). All in all the two routes gave some good mixed climbing on rock, snow and well frozen turf.

The corrie was busy with many classic routes seeing ascents, and numerous winter skills parties. The forecast suggests that the conditions this week will continue to be good, with some slightly cold weather anticipated at the weekend..

Difficult conditions on the West Coast..

There have been some challenging conditions on the west coast of Scotland in recent days due to significant snow fall under strong winds.

This has resulted in deep accumulations of snow in some areas, adding to a considerable avalanche risk. It's is still possible to get out climbing but careful route choice is required..

On Sunday Ian Hey and I visited Buchaille Etive Mor to climb the route 'North Buttress' (IV,4). I have wanted to do this route for many years as it has the reputation of being climbable in nearly any conditions, assuming you can get to the base safely. This proved to be fairly accurate with a bit of care; the route giving four good pitches before easing off to grade II ground.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Avalanche Training La Grave..

I have just returned from a weeks course with the European Avalanche School, spending the duration in La Grave (France).

The week consisted of various lecture and practical sessions on the hill looking at snow structure, snow profiles and safe travel in avalanche terrain.

Back here in the UK the weather appears stormy with snow forecast for many areas in Scotland, the North West in particular. A stormy start to the season is aways good for conditions through the winter, the prevailing conditions giving a good base for snow and ice build up...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Kinder Downfall in condition..

Some friends have recently been in touch to tell me that Kinder Downfall in the Peak District is in climbable condition. Sadly, i'm in the alps at the moment and can't take advantage of the situation.

Get out there while you can!! Conditions in the major water courses also appear to be good in North Wales and the Scottish Highlands. All in all this sounds like a great start to the winter..

I will be back next week, so please feel free to get in touch if you fancy swinging an axe in Scotland. Have a look at the Scottish Winter Climbing section of the website.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Skiing in Switzerland..

Dave Evans, Robin Thomas and I accompanied Terry Ralphs for a day of skiing yesterday on Rouge Mont in Switzerland.

This was our ski induction day for the British Mountain Guides, and a culmination of three excellent days coaching with some very talented Swiss ski instructors and guides in Leysin (See BMG News item here).

Dave Evans is pictured on the 'front face' during our day of approximately 7500m of descent.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Col De Beugeant and Combe d'Encrenaz..

Chris Walker, Stuart MacDonald and I traversed the Col De Beugeant yesterday in the Aiguilles Rouge. Starting with the aid of the Flegere cable car we then skinned up a further 700m, before climbing a small rock section to the col.

A short abseil of approx 15 metres allowed us to access some great powder before descending the Combe de d’Encrenaz into the village of Le Buet. Chris Walker is pictured abseiling from the Col De Beugeant.

Chris and Stuart both have there own websites. They can be viewed here: Chris Walker, Stuart MacDonald

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year...

Happy New Year to you all..! I am still out in the alps at the moment and have visited Val D'Isere and Verbier in the last week or so experiencing some good conditions.

Back in Chamonix we were welcomed into 2009 with a fresh dump of snow last night. Chris Walker and Alison Culshaw were quick to take advantage skiing the Glacier Toule into Italy. Fresh tracks and thigh deep powder allegedly!!

Back in Scotland it looks like colder conditions are returning with a few parties climbing ephemeral ice routes on Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor. There is still some availability for winter mountaineering, winter skills and winter climbing courses. Please feel free to get in touch..