Saturday, 30 March 2013


Big drifts low down in the Allt Mor
Karen & Laurence heading along the ridge, Sgurr Gaoithe in the background
Looking across to Coire an Lochan from Lurchers
Summit celebrations, looking over to Braeriach
The Lairg Ghru, Braeriach from the summit
Another beautiful day, this time it was blue skies all the way through the day in The Cairngorms. Cold temperatures through the night have been freezing up the snow pack at all altitudes. Karen, Laurence and I enjoyed the wonderful conditions, finding a nice quiet summit to aim for, away from the Easter holiday crowds. We headed up to  Creag an Leth-Choinn or known more commonly as Lurchers Crag from the Sugar Bowl car park. It gives fine views down to the Lairig Ghru, Braeriach and Ben Macdui from the summit. There is an amazing amount of big drifts and cornices down in the Allt Mor, below the Cas car park. All of this is stabilised and a joy to walk on. Lots of hard neve but the warm sun as softend some slopes. You can walk/ski a long way down Lurchers Gully, which we followed all the way back to Allt Mor. A fab period to be heading into the hills and more dry, sunny, windless weather to come. Enjoy!

Friday, 29 March 2013


The Post Face of Creag Meagaidh
Laurence looking across to The Post Face
'The Window' and the Inner Corrie
On the plateau, nearing the summit of Meagaidh
Fine views, sunshine and we missed all the showers in the east :)
Huge cornices above The Post Face
The weather just keeps getting better and better and looking like a glorious Easter with full winter conditions everywhere. Today Laurence and I headed a bit further west away from the fore casted snow showers on The Cairngorm mountains. So Creag Meagaidh is just enough west to escape and we savoured blue skis and virtually sunshine all day. A low freezing level during the night and cold temps still during the day means frozen snow and neve in many places. I was wanting to take Laurence onto Easy Gully on the Post Face but there are still many places of wind slab in the easier gully lines. We saw plenty of folk climbing, The Pumpkin looked very busy. We never encountered many folk walking so it was a nice quiet day to be on the hill. More to come, enjoy the sun and snow this Easter.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Paul enjoying the views out to Sgurr a Mhadaidh
Looking out to sea from the summit ridge
The summit with Bla Bheinn in the distance
Sgurr a Mhadaidh from the summit
Sgurr Alasdair earlier in the day

It was another superb day on Skye with excellent sunny periods and light winds. Paul and I headed up to Coire Laggan this morning in clear skies. The Great Stone Shoot is well filled with neve and Paul had an adventure up on Sgurr Alasdair. We made a full day of it by heading back down and back up to Sgurr na Banachdich. Fabulous sunny spells again and tremendous views. A great couple of days on the magic isle.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Bruach na Frithe from Sgurr a Bhastier

Fantastic conditions on the ridges too
Sgurr nan Gillean
Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Bhastier and the Bhastier Tooth
Paul on the the summit ridge of Bruach na Frithe
Fab hard neve on the traverse to Bruach na Frithe

With the weather forecast of bright, dry, cold conditions in the NW Highlands for a few days Paul and I decided to head for Skye to catch possibly the last of the Cuillin Winter. We set off at 7am this morning to get the best of any sunshine. The tops were clear but it was overcast as we set off for Bruach na Frithe. The snowline is at 500m and with the constant cold conditions everything is solid hard snow. By the time we got up to the upper section of the Fionn Coire the clouds started breaking up and blue skies were appearing. We got onto the ridge line just as the sun peeped out. The morning just got better and better and it was one of those days for many photo taking situations. We headed onto Sgurr a Bastier & Bruach na Frithe. We saw no one all day! Even the ridges have superb hard snow, hard to believe this is the 26th March. There were some easily avoidable windslab areas. It really did feel Alpine today. The best day I have had on Bruach na Frithe. Ace!

Sunday, 24 March 2013


After a couple of days of very stormy, snowy and high windchill conditions it was quite a pleasant day to be out on the hill. Karen and I had a wander up to Meall a' Buachaille. Being under 900m and islolated from the main Cairngorm range it makes a nice half a days walk. The winds on the summit were only around 40mph and on the way up hardly a breeze. There are still weaknesses deep in the snowpack and it's very variable on many aspects, good route planning still required in the continuing cold temperatures.
Off to Skye for 3 days tomorrow. The North West looking the place to be for sunshine and snow. Winds slowly easing as the week progresses.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Looking across to Raeburn's Buttress - Beinn Liath Mor in the distance and Liathach far distane
Top of The Central Couloir and Beinn Liath Mor ridge

Fuar Tholl
Beinn Liath Mor
Looking out to Loch Torridon, Beinn Alligin and Liathach

A beautiful blue skies day at last. I headed NW to where the weather is best and the mountains supreme! My old stomping ground when I lived up in Torridon many moons ago and still the best place on Earth! Caught the train to Achnashellach and walked into Coire Lair and the fabulous mountains between Strath Carron and Torridon. I fancied the big grade 1 gully on the main face of Sgorr Ruadh but still a lot of windslab in it. So a walk up to the top. The winds were light this morning but in the afternoon the cold SE picked up and the snow started shifting. Snow to 500m and easy going. The sun shone most of the day, some cloud did roll in at mid day but broke up again and a fine afternoon. I only saw two folk all day- couple of climbers on the NW facing crag just under the 904m top. Looks like another wild and snowy day tomorrow. The winter is definitely holding on!

Sunday, 17 March 2013


Alan demostrating the Axe & Bucket seat belay, dramatic acting from Jeff
Abseiling off a Snow bollard
Pacing in white out conditions
A white and quiet Cairn Gorm summit
Afternoon shelter in Ciste Mherad
Late afternoon winds, plenty of blowing snow
It was another day of almost constant snowfall, poor visibility and cold. Jeff & Alan were keen to do some basic snow belays for steep terrain so we spent the morning at the east side of the Fiacaill Coire Cas which was in cloud and poor vis. We did a few stability test pits here and stayed on easier angled slopes. After lunch the guys were up for some more navigation in poor conditions, and we sure got the conditions. A lot of periods of white out as we made our way to the summit of Cairngorm and then down the other side to Ciste Mherad where we looked at constructing some basic snow shelters to survive the night out in poor weather. Finally the guys navigated perfectly again back down a very windy Windy Ridge. Here the wind had increased and the snow was really blowing around. WE even got a very short glimpse of the sun for 2 minutes!. A good two days in testing conditions which is exactly what Alan and Jeff wanted! More snow forecast through the next two or three days and high winds tomorrow. The winter just keeps on coming! :)

Saturday, 16 March 2013


Good day for navigation
Easy shears in the snowpack
This pit at 1120m had a very easy shear
Not many views today!
It started snowing late morning in The Cairngorms and continued all day, snow down to around 450m. Alan & Jeff are out with me this weekend on a two day winter course. The guys wanted to brush up on their winter navigation and we also spent much of the day on avalanche awareness. Excellent conditions for this with the days SAIS avalanche forecast very multi coloured with many aspects in a Cat. 3 state. This was confirmed as we dug several snow pits on many different aspects in Coire an Lochan. We found an very easy shear at about 30cm in the Twin Burns area on a NE aspect. With  several days of snow showers, sub zero temps and a constantly changing wind direction this week it all mounts up to a complex snow pack. The vis was very poor most of the day. By he time we got back to the Cas car park it looked like mid winter had returned to the mountains. There is a lot of winter days left still! Take care out there.
PS If anyone finds a Black Diamond trekking pole at the Cas carpark, near the ranger station can you please give Gary a call on 077 2000 1326, a pint in reward! :)

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Jim getting to grips with 'moveing together' with the rope

A well rimed Fiacaill Ridge, and clear!

The sun even came out!
A great day to be out, full winter conditions for some time to come
Windslab easily avoided
Jim loving it all-again!
and Jim getting to take the lead
On the top and big smiles
The Norther Corries very quiet today
It was Jim's second day out with me and after yesterday's wonderful day on Meagaidh Jim was keen for some more adventurous winter mountaineering. Today the east was a better option with the approaching Atlantic front coming in so we stayed in The Cairngorms. The Fiacaill Ridge appealed to Jim after another winter route and with the avalanche forecast being considerable in many locations this proved to be a good option. It was a very quiet day, we hardly saw anyone on the hill, all good for us as I wanted to give Jim some instruction on rope skills and 'moving together', the ridge being perfect for this. We started off in low cloud and snow showers from the word go, the forecast was to be a dry and clear start and deteriorating as the day progressed. The reality was the day just got better and better with excellent sunny spells and cloud lifting by mid day. A lot of fresh snow as been put down and the hills are looking like mid winter, the winter is only in it's last third :) . We had great fun amongst the rimed rocks and fabulous snow conditions and Jim once again loved the whole day and gained some more skills, he's looking forward to next winter! Next time I meet up with Jim will be guiding on Mount Elbrus in August. The team of six are all hard at it on a training program in the run up to Europe's highest summit (It's not Mont Blanc!). Looks like the cold, snowy conditions are set to continue for some time, fantastic!