- A big blocking high pressure is approaching from up north as the week progresses. Rock climbing is cancelled for now, yippeee! The accommodation is starting to fill up.
We have had a very fine weekend as can be see by the photo taken today. The climbing conditions are good and bad and it depends on where you go. One team returning to the accommodation said the East Face of Aonach Mor was very poor, with nothing consolidated on Morwind. Another on the West Face and Golden Oldy had a great time by starting late and following the foot steps of the ‘snow plough’ team ahead of them. I dare say that Tower Ridge and such like will be good if you scan the various blogs. One team backed off of going to Orion Face due to suspect snow conditions on the approach slopes. The avalanche risk is all over the place in pockets, so be very careful to stick to the hard neve if possible. The ski touring will be very good and the upcoming week looks promisingly cold for a change. We have plenty of space at Calluna if you fancy heading north.
Had an extensive chat with the French person who went 300m when Number Four Gully cornice collapsed underneath him. He is an extremely experienced mountaineer, who comes to Nevis most winters and I have got to know over many seasons. He was around three or four metres back from the edge and had seen from the side that the cornice was not undercut. The fracture happened at least a metre behind him and blocks the size of a garage slid down. At the moment my opinion is that no climbs beneath cornices should be attempted. People on the plateau may trigger a release, if you do not! Even though there was no overhang on the cornice, it is clear that a hidden weakness existed and has been produced by the continuous wintry storms over the last three months. Plenty of action all over the Minus and Orion faces, where no serious cornice risk exists. I’d advise avoiding anything at the top of Observatory Gully, including around Hadrian’s Wall for the time being. Rubicon Wall (Observatory Buttress) area has been climbed a lot with careful planning on the exit by staying on the higher crest overlooking Point Five Gully. Better safe than sorry. The climber is okay with a broken lower leg. On the same day, Graham Moss (SAIS forecaster) felt that a number of the big cornice on Nevis released spontaneously. I don’t think Point Five has been climbed much at all (if any) due to the looming nature of the cornices. Clearly some sensible people out there who are still alive.
On a gentler note I had a great day with Smiler and Colin on Heatwave in Glen Nevis. We did the harder variant using Vampire second pitch. All climbing at around Hard Severe. Today the weather is misty and damp as a weak front moves through. It could be an inversion though (?).
Hi Alan. Today we climbed Mercury another routes climbed include -3 Gully, observatory ridge and buttress, usual ridges and stuff on the Boulder. Everyone reporting good conditions. Still some big cornices around. Thanks to Chris Thorne working for Richard Bentley from the CIC Hut for this short report.
If anyone finds a white Petzl Ecrin climbing helmet on Ben Nevis, possibly around the ordinary ‘mountain track’, the owner would like it returned thanks. Contact myself please.
The weekend before last (1/2nd March) saw fine weather and huge queues for the Gondola. Most of the following week was not great and now we have a big thaw and maybe a little respite from the storm. Depending on where the ‘High’ pressure sits, it could be warm or cold, although it appears to have some east wind in it by mid-week and that should improve conditions dramatically. There is still plenty of snow and ice on Ben Nevis and I’d hang my hat on good climbing, at least on the big ridges and possibly some great ice climbing as the week progresses. A weak front is due through on Thursday and BBC iPlayer are not 100% certain of cold weather.
With David and James in mixed and often windy weather, I was working for Rob Jarvis as he was away from home heli-ski-ng in the Alps. I drew the short straw and sampled a very windy Cairngorm climb on 5th March and two soggy days on Ben Nevis and Glencoe. No moral fibre, these alpine based guides!
Today eleven French climbers and guides have left for the CIC Hut with huge packs of good food and wine and some climbing kit, led by Remi Thivel This week the hut is being taken over mostly by French people. Well done SMC.
By the way, we have bed space at Calluna in the next few weeks, starting today. Head north and west folks to where the late winter climbing can still provide some good sport as usual.
A very fine day today in between variable visibility. Teams out climbing on the West Face of Aonach Mor on Golden Oldy, reported some ‘interesting’ snow aretes. One team who searched for the abseil entry on to Central Buttress, bulked at the size of the cornice and walked away to fight another day. An eminently sensible plan.
A good friend of mine, Dan Goodwin, is working in the foothills of Mt Kenya and offers the following:
Am keen to find an SPA and if possible any other tickets a bonus, but essentially it would be an intern position here in Kenya for three months. We would fly you out and cover costs along with some other bonus things/courses. Keen for someone who would be ready to roll soon (out by mid March would be ideal). Open to emails from anyone who might be interested and would like to hear more or quiz me more on it. Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org