Working recently in the Cairngorms we met some of the Reindeer population. Getting out our map cases produced interest, as they wrongly thought they were harbouring packed lunches! On 26th I was working with Mountain Magic and Paul Boggis One fairly ‘rugged’ day on Ben Nevis and a quieter session up on Aonach Mor yesterday, prior to the incoming Arctic blast. The recent good conditions have been overtaken by more wintry storms, which can only add to the ice conditions on Ben Nevis. Be careful of the cornice and avalanche potential. The migrant mountain workers are arriving with their wonderful transport and mobile homes, including log burning stoves. The one shown is a long wheel based Ford Transit with a high roof. Nothing special from the outside, but the interior is very comfortable. Coming to a lay-by near you:)
Check out the best local website in the area. The picture taken above was shot this week.
Home from the limited but good icefalls in Cogne just now, to a massive selection of ice around Ben Nevis. Conditions are good in the popular places, but approaches to others are tiresome in deep snow. We have a group staying at Calluna at the moment who trenched their way into the east side of Beinn a’Chaorainn, so that is easier, unless the wind has filled the track! A slightly milder spell might consolidate the snowpack a little, but breakable surface crust might be the result, which is even worse. We found some evidence of windslab cracks appearing out of boot tracks just below the CIC Hut, but sensible route choice will lead to loads of good, safe climbing.
Yesterday was a family day out with Victoria and she shot a lot of the photos in the gallery. We climbed the first pitch of the Curtain on the afternoon ‘shift’, avoiding the early rush, before ‘rapping off’. Zero-Point Five-Vanishing-Hadrians-Gemini-The Curtain-Waterfall Gully-Harrisons were all climbed and no doubt others which we could not see. The big ridges were vacant all day.
Glenmore Lodge came over to do some ice climbing coaching as the ice is buried in the Cairngorms. So, you know where to head folks. It’s a ‘no-brainer’ and we have plenty of bed space at Calluna next week after a full weekend. Our superb drying rooms have not been used this week much, due to the dry and cold and superb weather.
The British Mountain Guides are running the winter training section of the award at our place this week and Richard Bentley is doing the same at a lower level in the Winter Mountain Leader section of UK awards.
We had a great day with Bruce Poll on Thoule. We met Frank and ‘Scouse’. overcoming hangovers by all accounts! Two great guys.
Silvana is just one of the superb staff that help to run the Hotel Barme. Quite seriously the best hotel I have found in the Italian Alps. Climbing at Cogne, today we all ascended ‘Parti’ and abseiled off before the hard pitches. A very good day, but much busier tomorrow, with good weather. Working for West Coast Mountain Guides. Still the best guiding company, developed in Fort William in recent times!
Not a single snow plough in sight between Fort William and Inverness. Stuck vehicles and various accidents and road closures. The A82 between Fort William and Inverness is not rocket-science to keep open with a couple of ploughs, as it only rises to around 65 metres above sea level. BEAR Scotland don’t have an excuse that all the ploughs were being used on Rannoch Moor either, which was shut for a good while and is now only open single track I believe. It’s a devolved power as well, so no blaming Westminster this time. BBC News
Apart from that rant there is lots of lovely snow falling on the hills. This afternoon it has turned milder and the soggy snow pack will hopefully, eventually freeze. Skiers will be pleased that’s for sure and cross-country is available from the high roads of Scotland, once they get open again. We came back home on the high road above Loch Ness. Not to be recommended unless you have a good set of winter tyres on a high clearance 4X4 and a love for adventure. Take a shovel, sleeping bag and maybe a stove!
I spent the weekend at Glenmore Lodge celebrating 25 years of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors. Plenty of new snow fell last night and on the way home Loch Laggan was releasing all six pipes. Still plenty of snow on the western hills and colder weather moving down across the country this coming week.