Friday, 30 January 2015

Wind and sun on Buachaille Etive Beag

I had a superb day with Martin today helping him progress forward with his Winter hillwalking. We headed to Glencoe with a view to covering some navigation, avalanche awareness and hopefully bag a Munro or two! Lots of wind blown snow getting shifted around today so the hill made an excellent classroom for us to chat about avalanche risk and the processes involved. We managed time to bag both of the Munros today too! Thanks for a great day out Martin!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Ben Nevis in 'Scottish' weather!

Today I was out working with Dave B as we guided Kim and his 7 friends from London on the Ben.
The team was certainly treated to some good Scottish conditions with snow, sleet and plenty spindrift spicing things up a bit! The guys did exceptionally well and a strong performance from them meant Dave and I were happy to push on to the summit  despite the wind and spindrift. Lots of scouring on the Mountain Track and a lot of snow getting shifted around today.
We made a quick descent to get out of the wind with a total time on the hill being an impressive 7 hours- well done guys!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Two days, Two sides of Ben Nevis

Yesterday I had a great time guiding Yasser on the Mountain Track on Ben Nevis. Yasser had just completed a 2 day Winter Skills Course at Glenmore Lodge and was keen to get out to practice some of these skills. There was thick water ice as far down as the YH junction and we had to put crampons on very early on the Track. A great Winter's day and Yasser's hard work paid off as we were treated to great views at the summit.

Today, Andy and I were keen to enjoy some climbing the other side of the Ben. Andy was also keen to get his first grade V lead done so with a reasonable forecast, we left the bottom car park at 0530hrs in the hope that we'd be first on Point Five Gully.
 Our plan paid off and we saw some great colours just as the sun came up.
The first pitch started with easy slab followed by a lovely steep wall before the belay. This was much steeper than when I last climbed the route 2 years ago so it was great to experience different conditions. Just as we finished P2, the infamous spindrift avalanches started pouring down the gully...

 Andy battled through them and managed to see his hands and feet for long enough in between the sloughs to climb the Rogue Pitch.

Pretty poor vis on the summit today, a stark contrast to yesterday but an absolutely outstanding day nonetheless!

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Curtain

With the good weather and cold conditions continuing, Kev and I headed up to the Ben with a few more ice screws than on Saturday! After seeing Cliff and his partner have a great time on the Curtain on Saturday, we were keen to give it a bash. By the time we arrived at the hut the first team on the route were already finishing the first pitch so there was no queuing today!
Hot Aches!!!

Pitch 1
The ice was great for placements on the first couple of pitches but not so good for screws.
Pitch 3 on the other hand was perfect, with great chewy ice and good screw placements too- a winner!

Pitch 2
Happy Chappies!
Not a bad place to spend Monday morning!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Some fun on the Ben

Kev and I made a snowy wander up to the Ben this morning. With nothing definite in mind we had a look from things at the hut and were pleased to see lots of great ice forming on quite a few routes. What we were less pleased about was that we'd been planning on more of a mixed route so only had two ice screws and a bulldog! The Douglas Boulder was already really busy so we headed under Moonlight Gully Buttress and had a look. The draw of the ice was too great so we ended up climbing a couple of pitches left of the Curtain Rail and joined onto the start of Ledge Route. Some fun climbing and great to be back out! Teams on Vanishing Gully, Tower Ridge, various routes on the Douglas Boulder, Point Five Gully, NE Buttress, the Curtain, Curtain Rail and some of the easier CIC cascades. A busy day on Ben Nevis!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A wild wander on the Ben

I hadn't been up to look at the North Face of the Ben for almost a couple of weeks so despite the fresh snow at sea level today, Andy and I took the rack for a walk up to the CIC hut. We hadn't really any big plans to get on any routes but were open minded and had a large supply of optimism and a guidebook in the bags! Things were pretty wild on the walk in and despite a lull for a short while, we decided to call it a day and do some dry tooling instead! Some ice forming well higher up on the Ben for sure but a lot of snow blowing around a day.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Great start to the New Year

Today was my first day back at work after the festive season and we started the New Year off with a super day on the Ben. I was guiding Roisin and Alan on the Mountain Track. Some fresh snow down to 450m saw the hill looking nice and wintry and the pair made short work up to the Red Burn. The Zig Zags were still pretty clear to follow though there was a fair amount of fresh snow giving the legs a good workout. Finally, we were treated to some stunning views from the summit. There was some rime starting to form on some of the higher rocks but all of it looked pretty fresh from last night. What a great way to start 2015 and with superb company from Roisin and Alan!