Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Northern Cairngorms..

Dave Barker and I visited the Northern Corries today. As we arrived at the Corrie Cas car park the temperature in the car was registering -18 degrees.

It certainly felt like a cold day on the crag, with many routes still being plastered in rime unless they have seen regular ascents. In fact conditions are probably better for hard mixed climbing just about any where other than the Cairngorm's at the moment. Might be that time to visit the North West...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Beinn Udlaidh..

Chris and I decided to head to Beinn Udlaidh today in search of ice. The crag was busy as expected but we managed to find some gaps between other teams and climbed 'South Gully of the Black Wall' IV, 'Green Eyes' IV and 'Quartzvein Scoop' IV.

Early in the morning the ice was very brittle following a hard frost, resulting in a lot of "dinner plating". Later in the day everything was a little more plastic, so it might be worth going for a slightly later start if you want to be fussy! I was again working for local Mountain Guide, Alan Kimber.

Ian Hey has also found the time to edit a small video of his ski tour the other day. Worth checking out to be reminded of all that is good about Scottish skiing..

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beinn a Chaorainn and Creag Meagaidh..

I was out for West Coast Mountain Guides today with Chris. Keen to do some mountaineering and skiing we decided to head up the East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn (I) before traversing to the summit of Creag Meagaidh.

Finally we descended to Meall Coire Choille-rais where we knocked out some turns down the Allt nan Cearcall down towards the Laggan Road.

With the prolonged cold temperatures there is surface hoar practically everywhere which could make for some interesting avalanche conditions "if" it's buried by further snowfalls.

Friday, February 19, 2010

West is best?...

Another clear blue sky day here in Fort William. With light winds and excellent visibility, any day on the hill is going to be pretty special at the moment (unless you forget your sunglasses).

The weekend might see some more snow showers coming in off the sea but the distribution and timing appears a little uncertain. It will remain cold though according to Wetterzentrale.de and Netweather's monthly outlook.

This morning folk were heading off up to Stob Coire an Lochan, Beinn Udlaidh and Creag Meagaidh, many of which will be in good condition at the moment. With continuing snowfall, care will be required interpreting the avalanche forecasts. Although a lot of fresh snow has fallen under light winds, there will be isolated spots of windslab out there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fresh Snow on the West..

The day started with clear near windless conditions this morning on the west coast; a stunning day. Unfortunately, I have been confined to the valley with what can only be described as a cold of the most savage variety.

Just to further twist the knife Ian Hey (Climb Mountains) along with Catrin Thomas arrived back today with some footage of their day out skiing on Creag Meagaidh...

View it here on YouTube.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ben Nevis cascades..

Trevor and I walked into Ben Nevis today during a morning of heavy snow. With lots of fresh snow most parties were avoiding the higher routes and climbing low level ice, mixed lines or heading for a Latte in Fired Art.

We opted to climb a couple of ice lines close to the steepest cascade, and took the opportunity to practice v-threads (pictured) and peg placement.

The weather looks to be cold for the next few days with the odd flurry of snow. Skis would definitely be an advantage at the moment with the opportunity for some great descents.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beinn Udlaidh..

Trevor, Simon and I visited Beinn Udlaidh today with the aim of doing some 'Cold Climbs' south of Glen Coe.

We started with 'Quartzvein Scoop' IV,4 before climbing 'Green Eyes' IV,4 and the 'South Gully of the Black Wall' IV,4. As well as climbing these great routes we found the time to look at ice screw placements, belays an v-thread anchors.

Other routes such as 'Peter Pan Direct' V,5 were in good condition..

Monday, February 15, 2010

SC Gully..

Trevor, Simon and I visited Stob Coire nan Lochan today on the first of three days climbing.

Despite some fresh snow over night we climbed 'SC Gully' III,4 which has some good chewy ice at the moment. The crag was busy with plenty of other routes seeing traffic. With continuing snow today and more forecast tonight the gully lines will most likely be a poor choice tomorrow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Creag Meagaidh..

Andy Lole and I had a slightly sluggish start today walking into Creag Meagaidh at 8 o'clock this morning. The car park was already, somewhat predictably, full and the crag was busy to say the least.

We had both got our eye on '1959 Face Route' V,4 which weaves a 450m line up Pinnacle Buttress. Never difficult, the route takes a logical line marked by numerous rotting pegs and abseil stations - giving an indication of past epics.

Another line that's worth its three stars, with a slight resemblance to the North Face of the Eiger - just with more turf....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Route Major..

Dave Barker, Dave Hormigo and I visited the Loch Avon Basin today to climb the classic line 'Route Major' IV,5 on Carn Etchachan.

With fresh snow over night the going was fairly tough, but we made good time to the base of the route considering we had driven from Fort William. As we arrived another team of three were starting up the main pitch of 'Sticil Face' V,6 which appeared to be in good condition.

With the half term approaching the crags will be busy, but perhaps it's a good opportunity to visit some of those out of the way venues you have always meant to visit....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stob Coire nan Lochan..

Dave Barker, Dave Hormigo and I visited Stob Coire nan Lochan today.

The crag remains in good condition with the traditional gullies of SC, NC and Twisting in good nick. Despite this it was fairly quiet with the exception of parties on Twisting Gully and Dorsal Arete.

We climbed 'Twisting Gully Right Fork' IV,5 combined with 'Moonshadow' IV,5 Together this gives an interesting way up the cliff with some steep neve, turf and mixed climbing at an amenable grade.

Over on Ben Nevis, 'Point Five', 'Orion Direct' and 'Minus Three Gully' have all seen ascents. Yesterday Steve Ashworth and Viv Scott were trying to climb all the routes from the Smith/Marshall week in a day...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Northern Corries..

Dave Barker, Dave Hormigo and I headed over to the Northern Cairngorms today. Cover is excellent in the corries and on the plateau and looks great for skiing and ski touring.

For us however, it was a case of digging out the gear on 'Hidden Chimney Direct' IV,5, 'Hidden Chimney II/III, 'The Message' IV,6 and the top section of the 'Melting Pot' V,6...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Creag Meagaidh..

Dave Barker and I went into Creag Meagaidh today with the aim of getting a bit of ice mileage in.

With good conditions rumored in the corrie we decided to head to Pinnacle Buttress with 'Smith's Gully' V,5 being the main event. This is a route that I have wanted to do since my first visit to "Meggy" ten years ago.

Smith's lived up to the expectation, giving excellent (relatively) steep and sustained climbing. With time to spare we descended 'Easy Gully' and climbed 'Missed the Post' V,5 to finish.

Conditions in the corrie remain good with most of the major lines in condition...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Great Chimney..

The Smith/Marshall project is fully underway with 'Piggot's' and 'The Great Chimney' climbed already. In this video Dave MacLeod and Andy Turner climb The Great Chimney on Ben Nevis fifty years to the day after first ascent by Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith on YouTube....

Church Door Buttress..

Dan, Allan and I decided to head up to Church Door Buttress in Coire nam Beith today.

The freezing level was again much higher than forecast but this high venue was in good condition, with plenty of helpful snow ice and rime. For us this was the second of two days mixed climbing with the aim of tackling slightly harder routes.

With this in mind we opted for 'Flake Route Right Hand' V,7, which gave a good introduction to harder hooking and torquing up the initial short, stepped corners. Above this there was plenty of highly enjoyable climbing in the IV,6 range. Only recently climbed in February 2005, by Rab Anderson and the late Rob Milne, it's definitely worth a visit and it's two stars...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Stob Coire nan Lochan..

Dan and Allan joined me today for some mixed climbing in Glen Coe. As regular winter climbers they are confident on ice and climb at steady IV,5 but were keen to experience the next grade.

We decided to head into Coire nan Lochan despite the slightly warmer than forecast conditions, climbing 'Scabbard Chimney' V,6 and 'Twisting Grooves' IV,5.

The crag was in good icy condition with well frozen turf and there were plenty of other folk out and about. Tilt, Central Buttress, and Raeburn's Buttress among others were climbed today.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Forcan Ridge and The Saddle..

Wednesday saw the start of our "mini adventure break" and yet more trail breaking.

The attractive Munro, The Saddle was the target this time via The Forcan Ridge I/II. We left slightly later in the day having made our preparations for snow holing.

As anticipated it got dark high on the route, but a clear sky led us upward when you could see through the spindrift.

Finally, The Saddle was reached and we set to building two large snow holes. The following morning saw a descent of the north ridge and a great end to a weeks winter mountaineering.

I was again out for Martin Moran..

Beinn Eighe Traverse..

Apologies for the lack of updates from the North West.

We had a big day out on Wednesday traversing Beinn Eighe via Coire an Laoigh, Sgurr Ban, Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe to Creag Dhubh via the "carls". The going was tough to say the least with some deep trail breaking required even on the ridge crest.

There is certainly plenty of snow in the North West and we were rewarded with some amazing views out to the coast, Slioch and An Teallach to name a few.

I was working for Martin Moran along with James Edwards. Will post some photos soon.