A very fine day

grey corries

Summit plateau of Aonach Mor towards the Grey Corries

A very fine day today in between variable visibility. Teams out climbing on the West Face of Aonach Mor on Golden Oldy, reported some ‘interesting’ snow aretes. One team who searched for the abseil entry on to Central Buttress, bulked at the size of the cornice and walked away to fight another day. An eminently sensible plan.

Mt Kenya employment

A good friend of mine, Dan Goodwin, is working in the foothills of Mt Kenya and offers the following:

Am keen to find an SPA and if possible any other tickets a bonus, but essentially it would be an intern position here in Kenya for three months. We would fly you out and cover costs along with some other bonus things/courses. Keen for someone who would be ready to roll soon (out by mid March would be ideal). Open to emails from anyone who might be interested and would like to hear more or quiz me more on it. Get in touch with dan@riftvalleyadventures.com

mount kenya

Mt Kenya

Full Scottish

Check this one out folks Nothing changes!

Kung Fu Avalanche

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A little cooler

A reasonable morning to start with today, but more stormy weather arriving as the day wears on. A lot of snow has been stripped out and the snow is very wet, which is no bad thing, so long as it cools down again and firms up. Climbers returning from Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe yesterday reported reasonable ice on Scabbard Chimney. I’d still be wary of any heavy cornices which have not released in the recent thaw.

Deep thaw

A deep thaw over the last few days has produced some very large avalanches. So long as it drys up, calms down and goes colder, the conditions will improve considerably I feel.

Whiteout

Yesterday was a ‘white box’ day. From beneath the corrie approach into Coire nan Lochan in Glencoe. We arrived with a few other teams to be presented with complete snow cover and wall to wall mist. As is often the case when traveling into an area with which you are familiar, complacency can lead to being lost very quickly. Trudging along behind a set of footprints in the deep snow, we arrived beneath the climbs, but not sure of the exact entry into the corrie. We were not alone in that respect. A fairly general compass bearing aiming off on the toe of Summit Buttress, brought us within earshot of climbers above us in the cloud.”Which route are you on?”…led to the reassuring cry of …”Scabbard Chimney”…Enough to restore confidence in the general location of Dorsal Arete, which was our chosen climb. The climb was deep in snow and all of the belays were buried, leading to some ‘creative’ security on the ascent. Fortunately the wind was not a big problem and we had just enough visibility to use the heavily corniced edge as a navigational handrail for making a good descent back into the corrie, where the cloud had lifted enough to allow some views and easier navigation home in the rain. I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides again. A number of other parties in the corrie climbed Original Route in very good conditions and also Scabbard Chimney, which by all accounts is easier than normal and has a convenient abseil descent.

Fine day on Ben Nevis

A very fine, but misty day at times on Ben Nevis. Teams going towards The Shroud, Castle Ridge, Tower Ridge, N.E.Buttress and The Curtain. Another rope on Right-Hand Chimney Route on Moonlight Gully Buttress reported poor placement. I climbed Ledge Route with Jon and Jess and the snow was variable. Some good and some bad, some solid and in other places very deep.Thanks to the Irish team who broke trail to the foot of the route.
The cairn at the top of Number Four Gully is buried, as are most of those aiding navigation off of the summit. None of the easy gullies were being climbed today and all have monster cornices guarding the exits. Take care in that department. A fine day working for West Coast Mountain Guides, who had at least three teams on the mountain today.

Real roadside

Before heading off to catch our flight we tackled a little roadside gem, which had been mentioned to us in the hotel bar. Just down the road from Cogne, near Epinal. The belay at the top is a long way back on ice screws. It is also possible to walk in from above and lower down this pitch for top-roping. The walk in is down the road from the tunnel in the road, where parking is available. At the moment, if you drive down to the yellow crane you have gone too far. Next week the crane might have been removed!

 

Ollomont Ice Climbing

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Another successful day on the ice with West Coast Mountain Guides working for Bruce Poll. Local knowledge picked up by Bruce, found us at a different location on the north side of the Aosta valley. Good weather, a simple 45 minute approach and ice climbing , with bolted anchors. Check out a French book called Alpine Ice, or go onto Italian ice climbing forums for details. As often is the case, the routes can get crowded, but we were there at a weekend! Views up the valley towards the Grand Combin, add to the beauty of this spot. Parking can be a little cramped. The route we climbed was Gomarra, II 3+, with harder options at the start and finish.

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