Friday, 31 December 2010


Ric and I had a good day up No.4 Gully on The Ben today. It was a disappointingly cloudy and drizzly day, not the dry one as forecast. It was poor visibility above 700m and constant drizzle by mid morning, but slightly cooler than yesterday. There was a breakable crust on the snowpack and still plenty of ice around in the Ciste Corrie. At 1000m the drizzle turnd to wet snow. It was the 'ministry of funny walks' down the Red Burn with the soft snow, better to slide me thinks. Ric did well today considering this was only his second day in snow and he's now hooked! A grand way to end the year, shame it wasn't the arctic and blue skies conditions we've enjoyed most of December, then again winter as only just begun! Have a great Hogmanay and best wishes for 2011. Thank you to all clients and friends on the hill in 2010 and see you next year!

Thursday, 30 December 2010


Ric is out with me for two days of winter skills to take us to 2011. Today we went up to Sgurr an Iubhair in the Mamores and found some nice wee gullies to concentrate on crampon technique. There was some water ice in places but lower down but the snow is still quite moist in the mild conditions but still plenty of it above 600m. Today we found a nice cornice to negotiate before getting onto the West ridge of Sgurr an Iubhair. We also covered ice axe arresting today.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


Most snow below 500m has now disappeared in the slow thaw over the last few days but higher up it's still very much winter. Had a quick run up Cow Hill today (the local dog walk). Blobs of ice still on some lower paths and tracks. At least it'll be easier walk ins to the hills over the next few days.  Hopefully the thaw will cease by the weekend, that's the weather forecast at the moment. Plenty available dates still at the beginning of January, February starting to get busy if your planning to work off some festive stodge.

Thursday, 23 December 2010


Emily and mark once again enjoyed a stunning day in the Scottish winter mountains today. This was their final day and they wanted a 'easier' hill day so we took the Nevis Range gondola and headed over to the East ridge of Carn Beag Dearg. This seldom tramped ridge is a great way up onto Carn Mor Dearg and as a feel of 'remotness'. It was another double minus figure a sea level this morning. After some early cloud on the tops the blue skies took over by mid day and fabulous views again. We had a good mix of water ice and hard snow today. We practiced some step cutting on the descent and the Allt Daim was almost frozen over so an easy crossing back. Looks like the same weather right through to Boxing day, a tad windier maybe. I'm Down in The Big City of Glasgow over Christmas. Have a Merry White Christmas!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


Another stunning day (how many is that now?) . Emily and Mark are getting spoiled this week with these fabulous conditions. Today we went up No.4 Gully on Ben Nevis. Pretty quiet up the coire, few teams out on Creag Corrie na Ciste and over on Green Gully. Our gully had a few areas of windslab but these are really obvious and easily avoided. We did some avalanche evaluation lower down in the corrie before heading up. Lunch on the plateau in sunshine and no wind so another day of lunching with glove less hands! Got nice pics of the snow buntings today, posing in the sun and snow before heading down the Red Burn. The surface snow crystals are now getting plenty of kinetic growth in these constant sub zero temperatures and some fabulous sized facets on the surface, beautiful to look at but a weak layer in the snowpack if we get fresh snowfall (see last pic). Fabulous views today, minus 10 at sea level this afternoon.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


What a stunning day in The Highlands on the shortest day of the year! Emily and Mark wanted some instruction in rope techniques, for tackling some easy mountaineering ridges. We went up into Coire an Lochan in Glencoe and began with some simple snow belays before roping up and moving together along the East ridge of Stob Coire an Lochan. A nice ridge with some rocky outcrops so perfect for this . The snow on the ridge was superb for cramponing. Some excellent neve and hard snow. We had the day to ourselves, saw only 3 people in the distance, 2 of whom were starting up late afternoon in NC Gully, presumably as it is the shortest day and full moonlight. Beautiful clarity of light today, we finished on the summit as the sun was going down, what a cracker of a day, oh, already mentioned that!

Monday, 20 December 2010


Another sub zero, clear skies morning here on the west coast. Emily and Mark are out with me this week on a four day course. Today we traversed the CMD arete onto Ben Nevis. A fine morning with fantastic views turned into a poor visibility afternoon and some snow flurries, that was a bit of a disappointment but still great fun as always along the arete. There was excellent areas of hard snow and neve, mixed in with large areas of windslab. The arete was wonderfully hard and icy with rime. The final slopes from the abseil post was really good hard snow and neve, anyone without crampons today would have had a difficult time! Summit was deserted bar a couple of guys just come up the NE Buttress. Very poor vis on the upper slopes and plateau, even needed a compass bearing to get down the Red Burn.

Saturday, 18 December 2010


It was a wild and bitterly cold  day on Aonach Mor. I gave Karen her first taste of winter skills today. We headed over to The Nid area from the Nevis Range Gondola. We went through basic winter walking skills with ice axe and crampons. The windslab was building rapidly but there was also  large areas of wind scoured terrain and water ice to practice crampon technique on. Forecast for sub zero temperatures and plenty of dry weather to come next week. The SAIS (Scottish Avalanche Information Service) service is now in full operation until April. Take care out there!

Thursday, 16 December 2010


Joanne and Mark had their final day of winter skills with me today. We avoided the high tops and had a navigation day on the hills north of Spean Bridge. There were a few heavy snow showers down to sea level and the temperature slowly dropped through out the day. We had a shorter day today and finished in daylight for a change, Well done to Mark and Joanne, 4 days out and some tough challenges, but enjoyable ones too!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


It was a milder day today, plus 2 degrees at sea level and cloud sshrouding the tops. Joanne,Mark and I headed up Coire Gabhail in Glencoe. Today we covered avalanche awareness and steep ground again. Right on cue there was avalanche debris on the East side of Bidean from last week. We took an interesting way up to the summit, with excellent hard snow. There was some wonderful rime forming above 900m. The wind picked up to around 25mph and only light drizzle. Last hour was by torchlight, another first for Joanne and Mark. Was amazed to see on the wee rock step after crossing the Coe into the Lost Valley that the NTS had put a sign up warning to stay on the left hand side AND A ROPE for a handrail! As a temporary measure! Looks like the permanent measure is going to be a handrail then? What's the world coming to?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Joanne, Mark and I headed up onto Ben Nevis today and went up No.4 Gully. They both loved it and found it very different from their Pony Track ascent last May! Not may folk about and so we had the gully to ourselves. Snow was well frozen so good day for crampon technique and movement on steep ground. It was another mainly dry day today but with a lot more cloud about and the odd brief snow flurry, windier too. A beautiful sunset on the way down.