Monday, 20 January 2014

Winter update

On Tuesday I was guiding Michel from Canada on the Ben Track. Michel is an experienced hiker and had done a fair bit of mountaineering before but was keen to benefit from some local knowledge of the area. We headed off abut 0730hrs by headtorch and although there was some high cloud rolling in, we were treated to some stunning views. Hard going again on the plateau with a bit of wading through the softer snow. We enjoyed a leisurely stop on the summit until our increasingly cold hands forced us to head down. A fantastic day, with some great stories from Michel about his previous adventures.

On Thursday I headed onto the Ben with Kev and Chris from the BBC Radio Scotland 'Out of Doors Show'. We had planned on ascending Green Gully but as we approached we saw a a lot of fresh avalanche debris, a crown wall just under the first pitch and the snow wasn't nearly as firm or icy as we had hoped. Whilst there was nothing blatantly telling us not to climb the route, we agreed the top pitch could be quite emotional if the snow was unconsolidated and protection as hard to find as was expected. So, plan B it was, and we cut across the top of Moonlight Gully Buttress and nipped onto Ledge Route. This gave us plenty of time for Kev to get his interview done whilst still enjoying a trip on the Ben. Ledge Route was in the easiest conditions I had ever seen, allowing us to walk the whole route! A bit of nav off of the top of Carn Dearg to find the Red Burn and we had an leisurely stroll back to the car for early afternoon.

On Friday, Andy invited me out for his birthday tradition of a winter climbing day! We headed up Aonach Mor with the intention of climbing Morwind (III/IV,4). Very poor visibilty saw us carefully locating the edge of Easy gully followed by an ab off a bollard and we traversed to the base of the route. Conditions were mixed with some good ice but a lot of cruddy snow too. Protection and belays were hard to find so in those conditions the route was good value. A good way for Andy to celebrate being 21 (again)!

Morwind from Lochaber Guides on Vimeo.