Sunny and Cool

The Couloir Coire an Lochain

Another very fine day out west. Thanks to David Haygarth for the picture of The Couloir (?) in Coire an Lochan yesterday in the Cairngorms. Check the neat stacking of ice axes, which are clipped into slings and carabiners to avoid dropping them. Also a three-point anchor and a runner close to the stance. With the cooler airstream any, snow left in the high gullies will now be well consolidated. The forecast looks good for a wee while yet.

Sunny and getting Colder

Good weather for ducks
A very fine day today with cooler weather on the way. No groups out just now, but will report back ASAP. At least the Mallard Ducks on Loch Morlich look happy, even if the cliffs in the distance are looking pretty sick just now!

Reports back from Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor reinforce the feeling that conditions are good. Two-Step Corner and Indicator Wall were climbed today and a number of good solid routes on Aonach Mor. The cooler conditions appear to be working there magic.

I have allowed one anonymous comment on to this site recently. It will be the last one, as I believe if you want to make a point you need to come out of the woods and identify yourself. The comment was connected with short-haul flights to Norway for ice climbing and how they are possibly having an effect on global warming.

I don’t dispute that this might be the case, but none of us really know if the problem is of our modern making or equally connected with the Industrial Revolution and our Victorian forebearers as well. Also, if we take it to its logical conclusion, none of you south of the ‘Highland Line’ will ever drive or fly to Glasgow and the Highlands of Scotland ever again. What we must all do is to invest in payments in various forms which will be used to develop carbon neutral practices. I hope that by all paying towards this technology, we can all enjoy long holidays in far away places.

No doubt this thread will open up a large can of worms!

Mild and Damp

The weather just now is particularly mild and damp. In some ways this will consolidate the deep snow pack which existed last week. A good deal of snow will be stripped, but hopefully the good ice build-up will be largely unaffected on the higher routes. It looks as though drier and colder weather should slowly return over the weekend and into next week and beyond with any luck. Certainly the forecasts suggest that the current mild temperatures will be halved, with minus levels overnight. This should result in some good climbing conditions returning to the west coast.


Good Ice in Norway

Another good day on Fabrikfossen, opposite the main centre of Rjukan. The route was grade WI3, which back home in Scotland would have been grade IV. A number of lines were possible, with a multiple abseil descent from in-situ gear on trees. Take a head torch AND start fairly early. We started climbing at around 0930 and still got down in the dark. We have been out for a long weekend. This appears to be a good way to get in some quality climbing at a reasonable price. Ryanair to Oslo (Torp) and rent a car. The drive is around three to four hours each way to the airport. A mixture of accommodation is possible.

Hi Alan,

A bit late but if you want a report: Monday 29 Jan we went up Observatory Gully and climbed Tower Scoop (lots of ice but very wet and running with water) and Good Friday climb (good condition). Plenty of Ice on Indicator Wall and Smiths route. 2 of our staff also did No. 3 Gully Buttress having walked past Green Gully not liking the amount of stuff falling off it in the thaw conditions. We saw a pair of Spaniards who had walked to the bottom of Point 5 but decided again that it was too mild (although looking complete).

Rjukan looked grand – Fabrikfossen gives a lovely day out doesn’t it?




Happy Chappy

Tracy's Eyes

A ten out of ten day according to the lads. This is my first visit to Rjukan in the winter and today was very successful. We climbed Lettvan (WI 2) and Tracy’s Eyes (WI3). Two good starter routes, which would have been grade 3/4 in Scotland. There appears to be enough ice around for a good weeks climbing at least if you have not been here in the past. Some climbers further up the Upper Gorge were on Juvsoyla (WI 6). This was looking pretty thin according to someone who knows better than I do.


Just spending some time in Norway this weekend, so the Scottish stuff will take a back seat for a short while. If anyone has any Scottish reports for this weekend, please post them and I’ll set them up. Hope to have some ice fall climbing information tomorrow. The weather here is cold and plenty of snow, but as we arrived in the dark I’m not sure how the ice is yet. Along the road it appeared to be forming up well.

Point Five Gully

Point Five Gully

Hello Alan,

Did point five with Duncan Paterson yesterday. We started very early(i.e. 4 am walk in) to be the first team. It was very windy and lots of spindrift was coming down on the approach so we wondered whether it was possible. Good water ice which takes screws well in the lower half. We climbed the hard bits in two pitches (first on rope stretch) and so the Rogue pitch came a bit unexpected because I thought it would be at least pitch three. However, it was good climbing and I managed to place two screws near the cave and one higher up. We were both climbing on leashless Taakoons which makes placing ice screws much easier. Big cornices on the Ben at the moment but a traverse to the right got us out of Point Five. It cleared up during the afternoon and there were still lots of climbers around. Many gully lines seem excellent at the moment, Curtain is forming well.

Thanks for all your advice and for your ‘blog’,


Cornice Capers

Quickstep Cornice

PS: These cornice pictures were taken on Quickstep a few days ago by David Talbot. Brave man! The Point Five Gully cornice could be similar. Avoid the Point Five cornice to the right and start heading in that direction well below it!

Fawlty Towers

The fourth picture today shows Fawlty Towers, which is low down on Tower Ridge, just to the right of the Douglas Gap Gully West. It is a very good area to climb on when conditions high up are either hazardous or too tiring, or you are just looking for a short day. Descent is easy by one abseil towards the easy lower slopes of Observatory Gully on the east side of Tower Ridge.

Another similar area to climb is on the First Platform of N.E. Buttress. The climbs are harder here and descent is best by two abseils, either down the route of ascent or down Slingsby’s Chimney. Alternatively try some short ‘sporty’ routes on Moonlight Gully Buttress.

Thanks to David and Henning for supporting this site with some great shots. If you want to post anything please feel free. I moderate what goes on to these pages, warts and all usually!

Deep snow on Ben Nevis

Number Four Gully

From a moonlit, starry night, just now!

Plenty of deep unconsolidated snow on approaches to the routes on Ben Nevis. Today was a capital day for sunsets and decent weather out west. It was a little gloomy over in the east, but the skies cleared around Loch Laggan, Creag Meagaidh area. Looks like some milder weather coming through off of the Atlantic blocking high pressure. Plenty of smiles on climbers faces on Aonach Mor and Ben Nevis today, especially those who benefited from the good efforts of Plas y Brenin trail-blazing squads in Number four Gully. Thanks folks. Good to see you earning your ‘corn’!

One guest back to the bunkhouse from the Aonach Eagach said the snow was very deep in places, making for some hard going on the ridge. We are now full this weekend, but have some space into next week. The weather for the next week or so looks to be okay with reasonably low temperatures. It would be good to get a little thaw, followed by some frosts to firm things up a wee bit. The ice is good though and plenty to go for.

Western Skies

Hi Alan
Thought I’d give something back to your great site. Don’t know if you’re interested but we had a great weekend on The Ben.We ended up doing Quickstep V on number 3 gully buttress, the first hard pitch was in good nick but the basin was really snowy and corniced. I had a fun time peddalling on powder to get into the cave below the cornice then it took an hour to get out.
High winds and spindrift were also making things difficult on Sunday. Lots of powdery snow building up and I heard of at least one avalanche in Corrie Leis. Loads of debris in the bottom of 2 gully.

Regards Dave

Curved Ridge Glen Coe

Dorsal AreteCompletely different from yesterday with low cloud and drizzle at lower altitudes, whilst snow and blustery wintry showers pushed through on the hills. One team back so far, had an ‘Interesting’ time with a one-axe ascent of Curved Ridge in Glen Coe.

North Buttress on the ‘Buckle’ was also in belting nick according to the BMG Training Course. Another group back from Aonach Mor praised the quality of Left Twin today as well.


Hope all is well.

Had a couple of great days out in Glen Coe and Carn Dearg. Both Dorsal arete and Ledge route had lots of fresh powder on them. Quite hard going at times.

Attached a photo of the better half Kerry finishing up Dorsal arete-her first winter route! Big smiles all the way!

Have a great season

Curved Ridge Glen Coe

Sunny, Snowy, Stunning

Stob Ban WadingVery icy and still this morning with freezing at sea-level. The day turned out to be a ‘stunner’ with plenty of cold winter sunshine and blue skies. One group were out on Stob Ban digging snow shelters and they found plenty of deep snow to excavate. This same snow proved heavy going on the East Ridge of the mountain. It certainly appears that although the ice climbing conditions on Ben Nevis and elsewhere are in good shape, the general approaches are deep in unconsolidated snow. The answer here is to start thirty minutes after everyone else and use a well-broken trail!
Stob Ban Diggers
The Northern Cairngorms avalanche report brought a tear to my eye this evening. It ‘Comments’ that observations were difficult due to poor visibility:))) Who wrote that? I thought these guys were capable of reading snow structure in any conditions? Maybe the fact that they have no snow is the real message, and that is why it is hard to observe!! Just in case they have forgotten what it looks like I have attached a picture of some white stuff from the Outdoor Capital of the UK. Taken today below Stob Ban.

Thanks to Dan, for his post, seems like the north to north-east airstream is starting to work it’s magic in the east! Sounds like nothing changes with the snow-ploughs though on their 9-5 shift:-)

Snow in the Cairngorms at last
Hi Alan,

The comments refer to any visible avalanches seen that day, and since the inception of SAIS they have used that term when visibility is bad and they cannot actually see if there has been any visible fresh avalanches that day, it is nothing to do with the observations of the snow structure at the pit site and its more to do with viewed avalanche activity.

Anyway, I am sure you are just trying to wind us up! You must have powerful binoculars if you see the Ben from that desk of yours!!!

Attached is a photo of a nice new route we did today (23rd Jan) in the wonderful Cairngorms! Lots of old avalanche debris walked through on the approach!

Take care, hope life is cool with you guys over there, glad you have snow, must be a bit of a novelty. I guided over that way a couple of weeks ago and was impressed by the blanketed out crags.