Thursday, 28 February 2013


Plenty of excellent ice still for crampon technique
Michelle on steeper terrain
Snow becoming softer in the warm sun
Hard snow in the morning, great for axe arressing on easy angles
For Michelle's second day of her course we headed to the Glencoe Ski Centre and found some quiet areas to go through some ice axe arresting in the morning before heading higher and below the summit area of Meall a Bhuiridh for some techniques on steeper terrain. The snow was softening up quickly in the warm sun but we had a good runway earlier in the day for the sliding. The fantastic settled spell of weather continued and we got some lovely sunny spells, the forecast of drizzle later in the day never came, in fact the weather just improved by late afternoon. There was a chilly breeze higher up with the wind changing. Still looking settled and mostly dry with light winds through to next week.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Michelle & Barrie on excellent ice in Coire an Tullach
Out of the shade and into warm sun on the ridge
Bidean in the distance, fab views all round
Ice axe, crampons and sunglasses the essentials!
The fantastic weather continues! Another day of blue skies, unbroken sunshine, light breeze and fantastic snow. Michelle is on a two day winter skills course and we headed to Buachaille Etive Mor for our first day. Hard snow all the way up Coire an Tullaich from only half an hour walk in. Barrie was also out with us helping and assisting with our pick up on the descent into Glen Etive. A great day to be out, maybe the last blue skies day for a wee while?

Sunday, 24 February 2013


Crampons on at 700m
Jack enjoying the views
The 'non crampon' folk repulsed on this section!
The summit ridge of Snowdon
The guy's third and final summit

And so the guys Winter Three Peaks Challenge arrived at Snowdon. There had been a fresh fall of light snow down to Pen - Y - Pass level as well as old, frozen snow above 700m or so. The sun was out and clouds high. Right from the start we were passing or in the company of some very poorly equipped folk out that weren't even dressed and shod for a summer days hill walk. At one point I was concerned that a group of trainer clad lads were going to slide on top of my group. It was to no surprise that we saw the Sea King chopper fly in and out of the hill on. at least 4 occasions. Well done to all the guys for their big achievement, their first taste of winter hillwalking. We had full winter conditions on each of the mountains and used crampons and axes every day. Jack, Steve, Dave, John, Oase, Mike, Al and Les were all raising money for Cancer Research this weekend. Big thanks to Carl for all the driving and support. A great weekend with fab humor and craic all the way. This is the best way to do The Three Peaks Challenge. Winter and over three days.

Saturday, 23 February 2013


Scafell Pike and Scafell
Feeling and looking like The Highlands
Hot Lunch on top
Brown Tongue and Scafell

Day two of our 3 Peaks Challenge and different weather today. It started off dry and cold on Scafell Pike before we had steady light snowfall and moderate winds above 500m. The cloud dropped and it felt more like a good Scottish Winter hill day. There was hard frozen snow in big areas above 700m. We saw some very ill equipped folk out including groups with no rucksacs, trainers, shorts and one large group heading toward Mickledore with no axes, this area was completely banked out with hard snow. No surprises then to see two helicopters flying over the hill in the afternoon. All the guys doing well, up and down un 5 hrs and enjoying the winter experience. Wales bound.......

Friday, 22 February 2013


The team in the sun and wonderful views of the north face
Wonderful temperature inversion, The Ben the only thing sticking out
Nearly there guys!
The summit in view
Summit lunch
The Red Burn, nice and icy

The very cold and clear spell of weather continues and with very little wind. I am guiding a group of 8 on a winter 3 peaks challenge, over 3 days- a sensible and more enjoyable way to do it. It was a fabulous day. We enjoyed a temperature inversion with only The Ben poking out of the cloud. We went up The Red Burn which was more fun for the guys and their first taste of being in snow. Everything white was frozen. views amazing and later on the cloud broke up completely. Off to Scafell Pike

Thursday, 21 February 2013


A busy Coire an Lochan cliff
Lochan's frozen solid
Wonderful cloud formations today in the bitter winds
It was probably the coldest day this year, a very strong and very cold SE was blowing making it feel bitter. The was sunshine today which did make it feel slightly warmer and great views. After yesterday's big effort from wee Issac, he had a day off with his mum so it was just Catherine, Rhys & Chris today. The plan was to head into Coire an Lochan and then go through some steep ground and avalanche awareness, making our way across The Northern Corries and onto Cairngorm. Unfortunately just after reaching Coire an Lochan, Rhys's lower back niggle became more of a very painful dilemma. So we made a decision to head back slowly. Fab views from the frozen lochans and plenty of climbers up on the crag. The wind did seem to have eased in the afternoon.
The settled weather and continental high pressure system seems to be with us for a while longer, together with lighter winds so should be some great conditions with a well frozen snow pack. I'm away over in Fort William tonight and ready to guide  a group on their Winter Three Peaks Challenge. Sensible way with one mountain per day.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


A complete change in the weather today after the last few Alpine like days it was back to low cloud, wind and much colder conditions. Return clients Linda & Chris, who have their annual winter skills course with me, this year their brought their 9 year old son Issac along for his first taste of Scottish winter hillwalking. Friends of theirs Christine & Reace are also with them for the two day course. We headed into a busy Coire an t-Sneachda and found an area where it was relatively quiet, below the Windy Col area. The snow is all hard and frozen so crampon technique right from the word go. It was a very fast and hard ice axe arrest session, which was temporarily held up whilst a guy stopped right on our runway looking very lost, he was in fact looking for his climbing partner and asking me where the Runnel was and Coire an t -Sneachda! We found some old snow shelters for lunch time and another axe arrest session on more forgiving ground on the way down. The sun broke out and cloud lifted near the end of the day.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Fiacaill Buttress with Point Five gully to the left
Looking across to Fluted Buttress & The Goat Track
Top of Gully
Climbers on the edge above Point Five
Coire an Lochan cliffs
Wall to wall sunshine and a hard overnight frost made for fantastic conditions once again in The Cairngorms. I was going to do some boring paperwork today on my day off but how could you miss up on a day like today? So I had a quick dash up to Coire an t-sneachda and went up Point Five gully which is a nice broad gully to reach the plateau. Wonderful hard snow conditions today, the snow pack now bonded well and a joy to romp up. Lots of folk out enjoying the hills today, but had the gully to myself. A fab last few days. High pressure still dominating for some time to come but looks like a lot of cloud tomorrow and staying cold.

Monday, 18 February 2013


Glorious conditions on the plateau, looking over to Cairn Toul
Beautiful snow and clear views, looking over to Braeriach
Coire Brochain, Braeriach
Cairn Toul
Mother & Son on Ben Macdui
What an absolute stunningly beautiful day to be out on the hills. The days seem to just get better and better this week. Mother & Son team Debbie and Ali were out with me today to brush up on some winter skills and just have a good winter hill day out. They had a day of winter skills with me two winter's ago in the west and they had stunning weather that day so they seem to bring great conditions! We headed up into Coire an Lochan and got used to the axe and crampons again. The softened snow from yesterdays wee heatwave had frozen solid overnight and so it was crampons all the way today. We headed over to Ben Macdui and the plateau as a complete snow cover so many skiers enjoying the wonderful conditions. There wasn't a breath of wind on the summit and felt so warm. Glad of the sunglasses today. The air quality was superb and a great day for photos, The Braeriach-Cairn Toul mountains looking fantastic. Our return via Coire Domhain and then down the Fiacaill a Coire Cas was even warmer. Days like this don't get much better! More tomorrow!! :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Domi & Helen nearing the summit of Cairn Gorm, Beinn Meadhoin in the clouds
Wonderful atmospheric cloud today
Fine weather for taking bearings (ie no cold fingers!)
The ladies on top of a very quiet Cairn Lochan
Fab snow for ski touring today
Coire an Lochan
Some areas are beginning to stabalize
Helen, Domi & Janet enjoyed a fabulous 'Alpine' day once again in The Cairngorms. The sun shone all day and there was some beautiful cloud swirling around toward the south, a temperature inversion that was dispersing with the strong SW winds which eased during the day. So we came back with  Alpine glow faces! Today we focused on navigation but with the wonderful vistas it was hard for the ladies to concentrate on taking bearings! Why is it that the majority of navigation training days are always clear and sunny? :) . We had a good wander around the Northern Corries and up onto Cairn Gorm summit. There were many folk out today, winter skills groups, skiers, ski tourers and climbers all enjoying The Highlands at their best. More to come next couple of days and beyond! Enjoy!