Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Another clear skies day over in the west. In the deepest south of Glasgow all this week but that shouldn't deter anyone to get into the Highlands for days out. I took the beautiful and scenic West Highland line to Ardlui for a quick ascent of Ben Vorlich on the Western side of Loch Lomond today. It was hard going from the start, trail breaking in knee high unconsolidated snow. Good workout for keeping fit! No one had been on the hill, no one seen on the hill all day. Shame the west highland line is so underused, the amount of hills that are accessible from all the various stations along the line. More clear, cold days ahead in the west, enjoy! Can't find my hook up for the camera to the pc, hence lack of pics!

Saturday, 27 November 2010


It was a beautiful clear skies day over in The Arrochar Alps and most of the Western Highlands today. Busy up The Cobbler for a short half day walk. The ground was frozen most of the way up but there wasn't the quantity or volume of lying snow as other mountains further north and East had. It was a busy day to be out so f you wanted peace and quiet this wasn't the place to be toady! We saw plenty of folk still heading upwards as we were heading into the beautiful sunset. Pics to come shortly.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


  • Another fantastic day on the west coast again. It was colder and brighter with a northerly wind which was biting on the tops. I headed up No.4 Gully on Ben Nevis today. The snow at 700m-1000m. was well frozen but above that it was still hard going, presumably as it's been sub zero for a long time at this altitude and no thaw/freeze. The cloud was coming and going in the morning with the odd snow flurry but by mid day there was loads of blue skies and great views. A few more folk on the hill today, groups on Ledge Route, Tower Ridge, The Comb and a couple of guys skiing in the corrie. It keeps feeling like mid winter with this amount of quality snow and cold weather, brilliant.

Monday, 22 November 2010


The excellent cold and dry spell is continuing. Today I headed up into South Gully on Stob Ban. This is a great wee Grade 1 gully on the East face of the mountain and the gully comes into condition quickly being well sheltered. The snow on the approach was a bit awkward, the 'ministry of funny walks' kind of terrain but as soon as I got into the gully proper it was frozen snow all the way, fabulous conditions. There is a steeper section at the top but there is usually no cornice at the finish, in fact there was more of a cornice just as you reach the summit area. I had the whole mountain to myself, there wasn't a sole in the car park before or when I returned. The high cloud broke up during the day and some lovely bright spells in the afternoon. It was noticeably colder on the bike back down Glen Nevis on the way home. Looks set to be clear and colder as this week goes on. Crampons, I reckon, will be essential if heading up any Munros this week.

Friday, 19 November 2010


Another sub zero temperature day above 1000m on the weat coast again. The winds had dropped significantly for Alastair and I to get a good day around the CMD arete onto Ben Nevis. Unfortunately we had no views of the north face all day but we were amply compensated with fabulous snow conditions from 700m upwards. The freezing level was around 1000m with wonderfully rimmed rocks on the arete. Nature is so wonderful.  A lot of snow on the hill for mid November. This was Alastair's first taste of  Scottish winter mountaineering and he loved it. Another bonus today was that we saw no one all day along the arete, on the summit, down the Red Burn and almost all the way down until at Lochan Meall an-suidhe when we got deflated with 3 separate individuals with the usual 'how far....... , how long......., where is.......... which took the edge off the day slightly. So the novelty of seeing no one on the hill all day for the first time was shattered. Looks a great weekend in store with cool temperatures and dry.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


I had a wander up into the Ciste Corrie on Ben Nevis today. Been away for a week so looking to see how much snow has been dumped since being in the flatlands. From 600m upward there is tons of unconsolidated snow, over 1 metre in depth in places. The buttresses and crags are all white and the whole scene looked like a mid winters day. My plan to head up one of the gullies took a back seat after digging an avalanche test pit at around 900m. There were two relatively easy shears in the pack I tested just under Creag Corrie na Ciste. Alastair had been following in my footsteps and took my advice regarding avalanches, he's now booking a day out with me this week! Counted at least four pairs of ptarmigan just above the CIC Hut. Does all this early snow  herald another fantastic winter again?

Sunday, 7 November 2010


There was a beautiful temperature Inversion over Loch Linnhe this morning with bright, cold, clear skies above. The afternoon clouds building up yielding the frontal system and a wild day tomorrow, with cold air and bringing winter to the tops, bring it on.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


It was another wet and cloudy day again today for our group of 5 guys on The Ben. Very gloomy and very low cloud this morning. Probably the quietest I've ever seen the pony track with only 3 folk seen all day. Light rain and above 1000m snowing most of the day. There is now quite a few cm's of snow  lying on the plateau. Despite it being winter higher up, two of the folk on the hill were still determined to think it was summer with jeans, trainers and one rucksack between them, and of course the usual question when they saw us 'how far is it to the top'. Spider Man in presence today on the summit, just goes to show, even when it's quiet up there it's still a fun day out.

Monday, 1 November 2010


The forecast today was for a dry and bright start before a weather front came in this afternoon so I had a morning bike and run up onto Carn Mor Dearg. It was just above freezing this morning in Fort William and the patchy snow lying at 1200m was firm and crunchy, but enough bite for  running shoes. The Southerly wind picked up through the morning which shifted the cloud off Ben Nevis for nice views over to the North Face. The ptarmigan tarmachan where sheltering in their usual place I see them on the way down, starting to put on their winter white plumage so winter nearly here then? Great bike down again from the top car park, it's a much nicer view rather than the witches trail, if you take the track down to the Ben Nevis distillery/Aluminium works. This route as nice open  views out to Loch Eil and also a nice variety of deciduous trees, looking fine in the Autumn colours. Well timed today, just got home as the rain came on. The weather forecast was spot on today! The last few weeks I've been asked by Iain Cameron about the size of snow patches lying on Ben Nevis and Aonach Beag. Iain has been studying these for several years. He has an excellent archive of lingering snow patches on the highest Scottish mountains. It was hard to tell the difference between 'old snow' in Observatory Gully and fresh stuff today.