For those of us who are fortunate enough to have access to the forest track on Nevis, it’s now open again, but only with a 4×4. The white van which was blocking the route has now been moved and Outward Bound are being offered off-road driving lessons. Character revealing:)
The weather looks set to move into a very settled period during the middle of next week. However day time temperatures will be high. A glance at the forecast suggests possible overnight frost, which will be great for those of you prepared to climb very early. As a full moon will accompany this good weather, a head torch and an alpine mindset should repay any nocturnal efforts. Anyone wishing to experience the wonders of night time climbing please get in touch as West Coast Mountain Guides have a number of cheerful instructors willing to accompany you! Anyone not willing to confront the ‘witching hours’ might consider being careful in couloirs as the cornices might be dripping, drooping and dropping in the heat of the day. Ridges and buttresses will of course provide good alternatives.
By the way, the forest track is closed due to heavy snow above the quarry. A white van is also blocking the way:)
After a quick trip down south into the murk of the east coast of England-shire to pick up another vehicle for the business, it was good to head home and after Callander the skies parted to reveal some stunning weather. I’m sure the snow is hard work to make progress through, unless you choose a well trodden path. The avalanche hazard has proven serious over the last twenty four hours and one team at least finished up in the Belford Hospital unfortunately, after getting caught in a slide.
More settled weather on the way next week.
Anyone who finds a DMM Rebel axe beneath the Douglas Boulder (Cutlass-S.W.Ridge area) please can you get in touch? The owner is a good friend of mine. Also Vanishing Gully was climbed today and many ice climbs look to be in good shape, although the approaches require care. Today in Fort William was sunny cold and dry. Last night we had a frost in the valley.
After the persistent snow fall last night we awoke to a number of issues, not least of which was getting out of the car park! Finally away and off to a mass ascent of the ‘Pap’ of Glen Coe. It pays to have a big team for trail-blazing, especially when the snow is up to your waist at times. At the summit an Irish Rugby football appeared along with the sandwiches for a moment, before high-tailing it back down and off to Stranraer for the ferry home. I arrived home to find the guttering gone from one of our roofs and the snow had dumped onto one of the instructors cars. Cat 4 roofalanche hazard in my back yard.
Today it has been snowing non-stop and continues into the night. One team took a look at Vanishing Gully and scuttled off in the face of fearsome spindrift. Another team had driven up from London to climb Astral Highway and went back to London after walking in to have a look. One team climbed Hadrian’s Wall which was said to be in good shape. Plenty of activity on The Douglas Boulder and Fawltey Towers as usual, both hard and easy. The West Gully of Douglas Gap avalanched and unlike yesterday when the West Gully was scoured neve, today the Easy Gully was much safer. All in all a challenging day out, which finished with two cars in the ditch on the way down the forest track. No snow on the track at all this morning and a good 10-15 cms by 1700. More snow on the way so bring skis or snow shoes if heading north! All good fun though.
A late report in says the track is now blocked by a mini-bus and local favours are being called in to unblock it as I write this blog. A very adventurous day out. What a great place to live and work:)
Today on west-facing slopes the snow had been scoured clean and on east-facing slopes it was deep and unconsolidated. This was the same further east than Ben Nevis. It may be different elsewhere, so the normal due care and attention is required to avoid avalanche. Teams out on Orion Face Direct, Hadrian’s Direct and Vanishing Gully. We were climbing the simple Douglas Gap Gully West and many other parties were climbing in the near vicinity. Not much evidence of ropes heading further up the hill. More snow to come and good dry weather next week will further enhance the climbing conditions. Plenty of space in our bunkhouse next week.
Today Richard and I had a leisurely start from the hut in an attempt to get the best of the weather. After snow and wind yesterday and last night we were expecting a bit of a wade fest today, fortunately things were a lot easier than expected and we managed to get up Hadrians. The route is in great shape with good ice low down and easy neve towards the top.
Other folk in the hut bailed from the 3rd pitch on .5 due to heavy spindrift, it was flowing both ways today on the strong the wind.
Windy day on the Ben, only a few ventured with success above the height of the Douglas Boulder today. Point Five teams may have abbed down, not sure, must have been blowing hard in there today. One team debated for a while after 60m on Orion before coming back down. When the wind drops conditions will be awesome. Plenty of riming on the mixed, classic ice all over, bare and fat again. Astral Highway still there too. Minus face may be forming again. Tomorrow’s wind direction may alter this, but it is staying cold.
Last night the hills received a dusting of light snow, but today the showers are becoming more heavy and frequent and down to sea-level. Accompanying the snow there is a strong wind and undoubted avalanche hazard, certainly high on the mountains. Lower lying mixed routes would be a better option than entering any large gullies just now. On the plus side, the ice routes on Nevis are in great shape just now, but potentially dangerous! Next week is looking much better once the snow and wind settles down. Plenty of space in our bunkhouse next week as well, plus advice on conditions and guiding for anyone who may be interested.