Thursday, 14 January 2016

A snowy Green Gully...

Today, Dave and I took advantage of day off and the good weather and headed up Green Gully (IV) on the Ben. We arrived at the CIC hut, there was quite a bit more fresh snow than we expected. The avalanche forecast made us choose our approach carefully, especially after the fresh snow. This meant a bit of a wade for us up to the start of the route as all the previous trails had been buried.
The first steepening was good fun with first time placements but not  enough ice to place more than a single screw. The easier sections between the steep parts were more akin to swimming than climbing but we made progress without too much difficulty. The final steepening was fairly thin and after seeing Dave make a good few holes which were through to the rock underneath, I think a lot of traffic will hack it out quite quickly. No cornice to speak of and a easy walk down No. 4 gully finished the day.
Wading up to the route
Hunting for a belay at P1

Some ice!

Into the sun

We saw teams on Cutlass, SW Ridge and Jacknife on the Douglas Boulder, as well as teams on Thomson's Route, North Gully and Tower Ridge.  Be prepared for a wade to routes that don't already have good trails broken!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Thomson's Route

Today Dave B and I headed onto the Ben expecting some pretty wet weather (according to one of the forecasts). We were pleasantly surprised when things turned out to be dry and still. Our plan A was Thomson's Route (IV,4) on No.3 Gully Buttress, a route neither of us had done before.
There was some signs of wind slab starting to accumulate on the approach but in the good visibility, we were able to pick a line to avoid it.
The climb was in reasonable condition and whilst there wasn't a lot of ice present, what was there was good resulting in first time placements for most of the route.
We descended No.3 Gully which was nice and scoured at the top although there looked like a team backing off of No.4 Gully which may have had a bigger cornice.

There were a few teams out today but the mountain was reasonably quiet for a Sunday. There were teams on Ledge Route, No. 3 Gully Buttress, SW Ridge Douglas Boulder possibly a team on Lost the Place, and some teams heading into Observatory Gully area.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Winter Update

Winter's has been a bit slow in arriving but things are finally shaping well in the mountains.

Al and Steve in Observatory Gully, Tuesday 5th January 2016

Before Christmas I had a great day out working for Vertical Fever with Rebecca. Rebecca was keen to tackle one of the harder ridge walk in the area in Winter condition but the conditions proved challenging with very little snow and winds of 70mph. We managed to still bag a 1000m peak in the form of Sgurr a Lubhair in the Mamores which was just right in the gusty winds! Well done to Rebecca for pushing the comfort zone!

Where's the snow!?

Next up I had a couple of wild days on the hill with Eloisia and Irene. We tackled some very wet and windy weather and higher up, snowy and windy conditions on Ben Nevis. Again, with winds of 65mph+ it was a real battle to make it up to the summit and the girls did a fantastic job of dealing with the challenging conditions.
We'd hoped to head high into Coire na Ciste on our second day but with one of the windiest walks up to the CIC hut I've done (and very wet!), we went for a wander towards Observatory gully before heading down for the day. A really enjoyable couple of days!
Wild on the summit!

After Christmas, I went for a wander up Ledge Route and randomly bumped into  old friend Davie on the walk in, making it a pleasantly social day.

Davie in No. 5 Gully

To finish 2015, I had an excellent couple of days with Jerome, Sharon, Tom and Holly. With Storm Frank arriving right in the middle of our 2 days, we decided to tackle the Ben first and were pretty lucky with the conditions. We wore crampons on the descent as there was some scoured snow starting to form on the track. With wild and very wet conditions overnight, a later start saw us dodging the worst of the weather and we tackled the fantastic little peak, Meall Cumhann (698m) in Glen Nevis. Some of the streams on the walk in were as full as I'd ever seen and the rivers were truly spectacular to see.

Team picture on Meall Cumhann!

On Tuesday, I was out with Steve and Al for a sociable day of Winter climbing. We had hoped that some of the ice routes high on the Ben were formed but things were still looking pretty lean. We climbed Tower Scoop (III) and Good Friday climb (III), both of which were lean but fun to climb. Finishing the day with a windy descent down No. 3 gully rounded up a highly enjoyable day. Cheers chaps for the great day's climbing!

Spot the climbers on Tower Ridge

A Happy Steve!

Good Friday Climb- lean!

3 Happy Chappies!

With fresh snow down to about 500m, it looks like Winter has definitely taken hold at last. Work is starting to get very busy now but I'll hopefully manage a few days out for fun before the season kicks off properly!