Thursday, 31 March 2011
Just away for a weeks walking from tomorow, getting some warm sunshine and mountains in Mallorcas' Tramuntana Mountains. Looks like it's going to be a bit wt and windy next couple of days, getting cooler with snow on the tops too. I'm just digging out the shorts, shades, sunbloc, etc.
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Gabe and Malcolm were with me today on Ben Nevis. Gabe works at The Scotsman Newspaper (The Pulse) and is working on an article around Ben Nevis due out in April. It started off lovely and warm and sunny with the tops all clear. By early afternoon we got an hour or so of light snowfall and the cloud base lowered. Quite a few 'tourists' wandering about in trainers and not a lot else today including a few folk traversing over toward the Five Finger Gully area! The Pony Track still as snow on from 1100m upward. Gabe produced a bottle of Champagne to celebrate at the summit then we headed down The Red Burn after some bum sliding on the plateau. What a good effort for them both considering the highest hills they've been up in The Pentlands and first time on snow too. The pair of ptarmigan that lurk around the Red Burn area were with us again today, must be getting used to me lurking there too!
Monday, 28 March 2011
It was back to the snowy mountains again today for Seereen and I. It was another day of navigation training in the white stuff on Aonach Mor. A good day for it with low cloud and poor visibility so more realistic than yesterdays foray on summer like hills and distant views! We headed up onto The Nid for a bit more steep ground then navigation to the summit using pacing and timing techniques. Some slumping cornices around on the East face with big cracks. It was probably just above freezing in the afternoon, a bit of rime ice on the plateau but only a light breeze. Seereens' back to Norway tomorrow to put the winter skills into action! Another decent day tomorrow before a change in the weather mid week.
Sunday, 27 March 2011
Seereen and I had a break from the white stuff today and crossed over Loch Linnhe to the beautiful Ardgour peninsula. We did lots of navigation en-route to the summit of Beinn na Cille, the obvious looking peak viewd from Corran. It was a bit cooler than yesterday once high above but the cooler air was also great for visability. We could see The Paps of Jura and Schieallion from the summits of this cracking wee mountain. Beautiful views down to Loch Linnhe and Ben Nevis and across to Glencoe. Wildlife spotted today included Ptarmigan, Golden Plover and a frog coping badly in snow (no crampons on).
Saturday, 26 March 2011
It was a mostly overcast and drizzly day on the hills. The forecast low temperatures didn't happen and the snow was still unfrozen at 1000m today. Seereen and I headed to Stob Ban and today we covered rope work skills and snow belays on the Eastern side of the mountain. South Gully was well filled in with snow but soft all the way up. The ridges are bare of snow and we sat on the summit in mild conditions amongst the rocks.
Friday, 25 March 2011
After this prolonged warm spell it was a very welcome return back to colder conditions overnight which froze up the snowpack for today. Seereen is with me for the next 4 days on a winter skills course. We headed up the Allt a' Mhuillin and into Coire Leis. Plenty of snow about and indeed good ice on The Little Brenva Face by the looks of it. After some ice axe and boot techniques Seereen progressed quickly with cramponing so we headed up the Coire Leis headwall were there was brilliant hard snow. The sun came out mid day for a brief spell but a layer of cloud down to 1100m later, shrouding the Ben in cloud. Not a lot of snow left on the CMD arete. At the summit we came across a group of four well kitted out in light weight rucksacks (one), jeans , handbag (one) and a pair of what I would call Moon Boots but I was corrected by Seereen who informed me they are the latest in 'on the street' booties. Snow depth is around 2 metres at the summit at the moment. We headed down the Red Burn to be asked directions to the summit by another group of ill equipped folk on the way up. Looks like the silly season as begun. Finished off at The Ben Nevis Inn for well earned liquid refreshment
Thursday, 24 March 2011
A beautiful today on Ben Nevis, with afternoon sunshine and blue skies after some cloudy conditions in the morning. George and I stayed clear of any gully climbs today and headed along Ledge Route, the classic ridge route. The first ledge out of No.5 Gully had little snow on it so instead we headed further up No.5 until reaching the big sweeping bay which had some good snow cover, then traversing onto the ridge section of the route. There was just enough snow/ice on the lower section of this to justify crampons and then the second half has excellent snow cover, despite the thaw conditions we had recently. We just got onto the plateau and the cloud cleared for a wonderful afternoon in T-shirts on the descent. Rounded off the day nicely with the company of a pair ptarmigan, quite happy for me to be photographing them. A fine day and down at 3pm!
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
It's that time of year again when you can have a leisurely start and still do a reasonable day out on the hill. The cloud and drizzle was replaced by sunshine at 11am this morning so I headed out and up The Ben. It was really warm on the walk in along the Allt a' Mhuillin with a lot of snow melt so wet feet at the river crossing. Only saw one other person all day on the way up to No.4 Gully. Snow cover is still plenty in the Ciste Corrie and quite soft. Ice in places on higher routes. There wasn't any previous footprints up the gully which was very pleasant. Found out why-as the cornice was looking decidedly dodgy in the warm temperatures and from previous days snowfall/wind/thaw, obviously no one had been down or up for a while. So headed back down from the cornice as the late afternoon sun touched the tops of the North Face, great for photos. It felt lovely and warm on the walk out as the sun slowly dipped, back home before dark even after a lazy start.