Winter Chimney
Two Step Corner
Winter ChimneyJanuary 21st
Today was dry and cloudy with snow showers pushing through. Lots of new snow in Observatory Gully made for hard-going on the approaches to climbs. Teams out on Gardyloo Buttress (Smiths Route), Indicator R-Hand and Hadrian’s Direct. Also Two-Step Corner and Winter Chimney had ascents. The cornice on Two-Step Corner is passable on the right. Bear in mind the report came from a two metre lanky climber! Thanks to Stu Macdonald and Will Woodhead for the details and pictures of Winter Chimney and Two-Step. Reports from Aonach Mor East Face were positive, especially on Morwind.

Plenty of skiers up enjoying the good start to the season out west. Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe was good, and well frosted up on the buttresses. With the wind swinging into the North-East the Cairngorm may see an improvement in snow cover. However, for the time being the best conditions appear to be over this way.

The snow cover is sufficient for some good ski touring on the Grey corries as well. Plenty of space in the bunkhouse for those of you looking for accommodation this week.

Well done the Arsenal and Liverpool :((

January 20th
Certainly, from a distance Ben Nevis appears to have plenty of ice. Careful scrutiny of this picture shows build up on Orion Face and Hadrian’s Direct. The initial pitches of Minus Two Gully look complete and when the cloud lifts there is plenty to look at. Even Vanishing Gully looks as though it is forming. A pair of good binoculars are a wise investment for climbers on the west coast.

The day started with rain showers low down, but it has been snowing on the tops and some ‘beefy’ wintry showers have moved through during the day. I’m not sure that it was such a good move for some of our guests to go over east today to get away from the rain. Anyone out there with on-the-spot reports might like to verify conditions elsewhere and on Ben Nevis & Aonach Mor.

January 19th

Plenty of snow over the last couple of days. Yesterday was in fact a very calm day, compared to further south. Snow is now well below 600 metres. Today we have had a gradual thaw, but this will no doubt aid the process of consolidation. The cornices and avalanche hazard will need some respect over the weekend.

Our place is full this weekend, but plenty of comfy beds next week.

Recent Blog Entries

16th January

Solid conditions today after a good overnight frost. Reports from both Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor confirm that there is plenty of snow around. The area south of Easy Gully on Aonach Mor is actually banked out with less ice than in recent years. This just goes to show how much snow we have been getting over on the west coast. One team out on Morwind (see picture) had a great day and it looks well filled in. Another report from Garadh Gully was very positive with evidence of good firm snow and plenty of ice.

The next couple of days look stormy, but cold, so expect more snow on the high tops. Plenty of snow forecast through the rest of the month, so it is looking good. If only the wind would drop back a little, we could actually get out and enjoy it.

Unfortunately the forecast suggests no let up in the windy conditions before Saturday. At least we seem to be getting one good day each week and the conditions are building as each storm passes through. Be thankful for small mercies!

Thanks to Nick Carter and the Pentax Optio WP for these pictures, above and below. And another report below to show the difference in snow cover between west and east just now. Also, the latter part of the month looks set to get much colder. When that happens the snow/ice on Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor should turn even better, so long as it’s not buried. Check out the Metcheck home page (link above) for more details. It looks good.

Thanks to Dave Hollinger for the photo of Andy Turner cruising up Cornucopia on Ben Nevis VII,9

Hi Alan

Tria and I went to Coire an t-Sneachda today after sitting out the weekend, and were rewarded by hitting the weather window square on the nose– all day we had blue skies, minus 2, freezing level about 2500 feet. The only thing missing was snow. There wasn’t none– the gullies had a bit in them, but there was less on the way up the corrie than I’ve ever seen in January, and most of the slabs on the route we’d intended to do (Fingers Ridge) were pretty black. So we avoided the slabs on the L, and went R up Red Gully instead. It was surprisingly hard in the conditions– not banked out at all, and with two very steep sections of pure water-ice in the first pitch. Anyone who goes there before it all changes again should expect a meaty grade IV, not a II/III.
The second pitch was more water-ice and still not much neve, but less steep. For the third pitch we headed left across mixed ground, put the axes away (but not the crampons!), and rock-climbed a fifteen-foot vertical wall of not very snowed-up rock on huge holds. This got us on to Fingers Ridge at last, just below the Fingers themselves and the short sharp granite slab that tops out the route. Up there there was sunshine on our faces, and no snow or ice at all on the rock, not at least on the E-facing aspects. With the sun, and the predominance of rock and water-ice over snow, it was more like being in the Alps than in Scotland.
Finished the day off with a quick visit to the top of Cairn Gorm then walked out down the White Lady (which wasn’t white at all, unfortunately).
The guidebooks are right about loose rock on Fingers Ridge. Climbers beware.

All the best

15th January

The cold weather is on its way folks. Most weather sites are predicting much colder weather over the next couple of weeks. We still have plenty of snow on the west coast, it’s just that the wind and stormy conditions have not been very pleasant. These pages will be changing to BLOG management in the near future, but the content will remain as before. Let me know if you have any problems, whilst I’m getting my head around the new software. Watch this space.

13th January

Hi Alan,
Just been up on the ben, its not looking too good at the moment. Freezing level appears to be much higher than forecast. Ice hanging in at the top of the curtain. Will be good if we get a freeze..

James Thacker

Two or three other groups coming down from Ben Nevis thought the weather could not get much worse up there. One pair even got as far as the foot of Green Gully, before turning tail! The river crossing below the hut was seemingly…” very interesting”..

12th January

Another extremely wet and windy day today. Some hope appears to be over the horizon. Explore Metcheck at the link above and evidence suggests, colder and less wet and windy weather as January progresses.

11th January

Storm force winds and snow from 600 metres will be stopping any realistic activity on the hills today. Yesterday was fine, as see from the tranquil photo taken whilst walking the dog! Just goes to show how quick, weather systems can kick in.

10th January

They all came back with tales of huge sunsets, solid snow and smiles. The routes on the North Face of Ben Nevis look in good shape. It’s just a shame tomorrow and Friday sound dreadful on the weather front. The weekend looks better, so head north for a ‘wee’ look.

Today is the best day this year, by a mile! Plenty of blue sky and ‘beefy’ wintry showers pulling through. Teams are up the Ben Nevis, Ledge Route and hopefully back later with some good photos. Yesterday they were out on Buachaille Etive Beag in Glen Coe and were pleasantly surprised by some decent weather. The ridge, as can be seen in the photo has been stripped, with some soft snow left in place. Last night was clear and frosty, so a lot of consolidation will have taken place. Certainly the avalanche hazard level came down very quickly as the weather dried up and cooled. As always though please be aware of the odd pocket of wind slab lurking behind a sheltered spot in any gullies. It only takes a very small slide to knock you off your balance.

Thursday and Friday are looking poor on the forecast with a possible clearing for the weekend, but no high pressure settling of the weather in the near future. Still snowing on the tops in the showers though, so all to play for, unless of course you are a Liverpool fan attending a match against Arsenal:-(((

A wee bit late with it but anyway… Was up No 5 gully on Monday, B
en was looking great, topped out of the right hand side of a big cornice and the clouds lifted for a second meaning that for the first time so far I saw the summit of the Ben from up there. Had been aiming for Ledge route but a) gully progress was good and sheltered from wind and b) that “slopey shelf” that the guide book describes was much
bigger and sooner than we had understood so we breezed right past it. Anyway, next time! Lots of snow in the Gully, was cold enough too and that day it was definitely freezing above about 800m. Top 3 inches were shifty but for the most part the snow pack was stable. And as you said, definitely a really good build up in there.Good photos too, visibility was really good out of the spindrift and clouds.

Thanks for the info resource, let me know if you ever want a Ben Nevis AT ski partner.