Monday, 29 March 2010


Fantastic weather and snow conditions returned back today. Overnight low temperatures had frozen the snow pack after the recent high temps. George and I went down to Glencoe and climbed Summit Gully (I/II) on Stob Coire nam Beith, well that was the guidebook grade until we came to a large cave/chockstone looking a bit blank and steep. We then decided on having an adventure and crossed over to the West Buttress on the right of the gully and found some II/III ground, great snow condtions through out, everything solid. The weather was fantastic with clear skies most of the day, some high cloud late afternoon. From the summit we went up to Bidean then Stob Coire an Lochain, saw no one all day on the hills. Quite a fair amount of fresh snow on the ridges and cornices have grown a bit since last week. Winter is certainly not over yet with forecast of at least a couple of very snowy days to come on Tues & Weds. Keep them axes and crampons at the ready and be safe out there-high avalnche forecast no doubt over the next few days.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


No soaking today, though it did rain but only for an hour in the morning, I couldn't work out which of the weather forecasts was right (or wrong). Charlie and I went up to The Ben today and we headed up No. 4 Gully. The cloudbase was down to about 900m by mid day but dry and pleasent. Snow was nice and hard after last nights drop in temperatures, in fact it was the hardest snow in No. 4 I've had this winter. Some recent avalanche debris out of No.5 and No2 gullies. Charlie thought all the hard work was over when we got to the plateau until I armed him with map & compass so he could impress me with his navigation skills he learnt from yesterday. We headed up to the summit in poor visability with less than 10m vis, putting all his skills into action.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Charlie and I were out again today has part of Charlie's 3 day winter course with me. Charlie was keen to get some winter navigation on this return visit so we headed up Glen Nevis and onto Aonach Beag. It just started raining when we left the carpark and pretty much rained all day. Still lots of snow around above 800m and we found a nice little gully on the way up to the summit of Aonach Beag. Great conditions for navving, poor visability above 900m and near white out at the summit area. It was just about turning to sleet at 1100m with a moderate south westerly blowing. We descended down the south west ridge and by the time we hit the Allt Coire Giubhsachan it was well in spate, so a wade through the rapids was endured to make sure we were truely soaked. Today was the first real soaking this year, there is nothing waterproof out there-gear manufacturers, send me some if you do have and I'll gladly test it. Qoute of the day came from a guy just stepped out of his car at the upper carpark 'bit wet underfoot today lads'!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Charlie and I were up on Broad Gully in Glencoe today. It was untrodden, a rare sight here,  so a welcome bonus for Charlie's first taste of a graded climb. There was a fresh few cm's of snow on the existing stable snowpack. The forecasted high winds were never in presence today, only 30mph in places and we had the tops clear most of the day with a few bright spells. We went up to Bidean then descended at the Bidean/Sgreamhach bealach which hadn't been trodden for a  while, it was actually steeper than Broad Gully at the top. A nice pleasent and quiet descent down Coire Gabhail.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


It was a much colder overnight which froze up the snowpack nicely. The guys went for the CMD arete and The Ben today. It was a low cloud day so not much in the way of views, a keen, cold wind with snow showers above 800m. and poor visability most of the day. Excellent hard snow all  the way along from Carn Mor Dearg, quiet on the hill and we had the summit to ourselves. Fast time today, around in just over 8 hrs, well done to all the group in their first taste of winter. This was their training for Mera Peak in Nepal later this year, sure they'll find it a doddle after this!

Saturday, 20 March 2010


I was back to Glencoe and Stob Coire an Lochan again today with a group on a winter skills. It was again very quiet in The Coe despite it being a lovely day. The sun shone at times and cloud was off the tops. Much lighter winds and the freezing level had dropped. We went up the East ridge of Stob Coire an Lochan after some practice with footwork and using the ice axe. We also did some axe arresting. The ridges and corries are still well covered in snow despite the warmish period we've had recently. We reached the summit at 4pm in beautiful March sun light. We're off on the CMD arete tomorrow.

Friday, 19 March 2010


A wet day yesterday and a wet and windy day today. Brian and I took 11 folk on a winter skills day in Glencoe. A few members of Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team as well as a few other folk from the Yorkshire area were out with us today. We went up into a very quiet Corrie an Locahan (no one there all day) and went through the basics on moveing on snow then moved on to some basic snow belays and anchors. The rain at lower levels turned to snow/hail at 850m. By late afternoon the showers eased and winds died a little too. Still lots of snow in the corrie, the gully lines still ok and Dorsal arete had lots of snow on despite the recent tropical spell.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


George and I headed around to the summit ribs area on the West face of Aonach Mor today. We set off in rain and low cloud at the Nevis Range Gondola. Above 800m it turned to light snowfall but by mid day it brightend up and cloud lifted. We set off to climb Salataire, the first couple of pitches were more grade III rather than II and armed only with a 25m rope and minamalist gear we decided to head into the gully. This was excellent and hard snow, becoming better and better higher up with rime ice on the rocks. A great mountaineering day with 500m of climbing and we saw no one till on the descent through the ski area. Time for coffee and buns at the gondola too.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


It was a shock to the system today, back to 'proper Scottish winter conditions', gone were the Alpine like weather and views we've been enjoying most of the winter. Fred and I made our way along the Beinn a' Bheithir ridge above Ballachuillish. The weather worsend as the day wore on with the cloudbase dropping and showers of snow above 900m becoming more frequent. With some strong winds thrown in for good measure just to bring us back to reality. Still lots of snow left above 800m despite the milder temperatures of the last couple of days. Some freeze thaw will be good over the next few days, maybe even some clear sky days too?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Yet another fantastic day in The Highlands. George and I went up Ledge Route in glorious sunny weather and good snow conditions. This is the finest grade II route on the Ben and we chose an excellent day to savour all the wonderful situations, but all too soon it was over, one of those routes that you want to continue on and on! It was a sub zero night again last night and the lower slopes were well frozen but high up softer snow in the warm temperatures. I'm sure I heared cowbells in the meadows of Fort William on the way down.