Yesterday (7.2.15) Spike Sellers and I visited Glen Orchy and had a great day. Plenty of people were doing more than one route but we visited friends for a coffee at Glen Orchy Farm before a leisurely stroll in to the cliffs. Most climbs are complete and we took in a line ten metres to the right of Peter Pan Direct. It straightens out Land of Make Believe, which at the moment is a bit harder than it’s given grade. I’m sure our climb has been done before and if anyone knows a name I’d be interested. Croc and Peter Pan Direct both looked good and the ice on our line was impeccable. Take eight or nine ice screws and no rock gear at all. The little ‘porkers’ are very lovely, but also rather inquisitive. The Collie dog which had been out for a walk, was totally spooked by the threat of nine snorting pigs. The Apple & Pork sausages made from the farm are wonderful.
One team arriving home today at the accommodation climbed Deep Cut Chimney on Stob Coire nam Beith. They talked approvingly about it. No 6 Gully on West Face of Aonach Dubh had an ascent recently as well. Might be worth a visit, but take the binos along for a quick squint before committing.
Great weather and conditions over the last few days. ‘Probes’ have been out on Hadrian’s Wall – Point Five – Zero – Minus Two Gully(?). The first three routes look very complete. Orion Face is looking good in places, but thin around the Second Slab Rib, from a distance. No action in Coire na Ciste, as climbers avoid the awful approach conditions underfoot. Deep unconsolidated snow with a nasty surface crust forming. We noticed an avalanche which slid off of the approach to Douglas Gap, East Gully, two days ago. We were roping down after ascending S.W.Ridge of Douglas Boulder. That ridge is a very ‘sporting’ mixed grade III and probably worth a few more stars I think. A number of pretty awkward moves with reasonable protection. Take a large sling for rapping-off the top of the Boulder into Douglas Gap. Plenty of action on Vanishing Gully and all of the routes between it and Douglas Boulder. Short approaches and fairly easy descents on rappel.
Yesterday Shield Direct was climbed again. Don’t be fooled by the photo on the cover of SMC-Scottish Winter Climbs guidebook. It’s nothing like that at the moment! We noticed climbers sniffing around the foot of The Shroud and Harrison’s Climb. Also, Mega Route X looks as if it might repay inspection. Also teams out on the North Face of Castle Ridge. Lots to look at folks.
Yesterday I had a very calm and sociable day on The Curtain, where five people managed to use the first belay at the cave for security. Don’t get too close behind the person in front and make sure no leaders are above you before climbing! The day out on S.W Ridge of The Douglas Boulder on Tuesday was much more rugged, with strong, cold winds forcing us to shelter for a long time with friends in the hut drinking tea, before our conscience and improving weather encouraged us out. It was a fine afternoon, but the winds continued to freeze our ‘butts’!
Today we have milder weather, which should not damage the ice much, in fact some dripping ice will build better conditions if the cold returns.
It’s still very fine and cold. An avalanche beneath the Curtain is rumoured to have injured two climbers, so watch out on approaches. Two hardy (?) folk who were advised not to bother going anywhere near Point Five Gully, took two hours from the CIC Hut, but decided they had too little time to finish the route, when common sense finally sparked into life!! The current conditions are set to continue, but serious trail-blazing is the order of the day in many places. A report from Glen Orchy suggested that the routes towards the left side of the Beinn Udlaidh (Coire Daimh) were coming in better than the right side. The exit slopes may carry potential avalanche hazard also.
Have fun and be careful of avalanches.
A team arriving home from Tower Ridge, after an early start, looked tired and reported heavy going on the ridge in deep snow. Well done folks.
Head north and west, NOT South!! Conditions are very good on the low and mid level routes on Ben Nevis. Not sure about higher up, but certainly plentiful ice for training and playing. Ski touring must be good as well just now
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.