Getting Good on Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis 20th March
Loch Lochy hills 20th March
The strong northerly airflow over the last few days appears to have scoured a lot of the new snow off of the north side of Ben Nevis, producing some decent climbing conditions. Teams out on Point Five Gully and Orion Face Direct today. Tower Ridge was in very good condition today according to Rob Jarvis

Steep & Deep – Bottomless in Fact!

Beinn a' Chaorainn approach
Plenty of new snow on the approach to Beinn a’ Chaorainn today. Thanks to Andy Ravenhill of Alba Mountaineering for the shot above

Stob Coire nan Lochan 19th March
Now we’re cookin! Plenty of snow, too much in fact! Thanks to Nick Carter for these pictures of Stob Coire nan Lochan today. Buried beneath monumental amounts of new snow all the way up from the road. As with many freelance instructors, Nick has some good stuff on his website for those searching for winter conditions.

David on Dorsal Arete

Strong winds today

Beinn A' Chaorainn 18th March
Very strong winds were experienced earlier today. Fortunately they died down as the day progressed. Thanks to Gavin Kellett for this picture from Beinn A’ Chaorainn .

Wet Windy and Mild Today

Even though today was very unsettled the French guys up at the hut climbed Point Five and Zero Gullies by all accounts. Brave boys! The weather is now set to dry up and get much colder right through the week, with very calm conditions towards mid and late week.

Sub Aqua Scottish Grade 15

Essential Climbing Equipment 15th & 16th March
North Buttress - Quack Quack
We have rain for the time being! A sterling effort yesterday by Andy Ravenhill on North Buttress – Buachaille Etive Mor – Glen Coe with Paul. It was rather damp to say the least with no snow to speak of on the route. For many others the Allt a’ Mhuillin at the CIC Hut proved a paddle too far and they high-tailed it back home. Today is a similar story and tomorrow as well. Sunday onwards should show a marked improvement, but the crags are looking black for the time being. no doubt some ice will remain and a good deal will build in the face of the forecast Arctic snap.

Next week is looking very wintry all the way until Friday and maybe beyond. Places at the CIC Hut still available on courses or self-led. See this report from Metcheck below:

Well just when we and all the plants and animals were beginning to think Spring had finally arrived, Winter is about to make an abrupt and significant appearance.

Before then however, temperatures will continue to be above average, continuing the trend of this past week. Friday will be a story of two halves with more Northern parts of the country seeing increasing cloud and rain across Scotland, Northern Ireland and eventually Northern England. Further South, it will be mostly dry with some further good spells of sunshine and once again feeling very mild, if not pleasantly warm in light winds and the sunshine.

Saturday will see the unsettled conditions spread further south with cloud, wind and rain expected across all Northern parts of the country. Some further bright or sunny spells are possible across the South. But even here, cloud will increase later in the day. Once again it will be very mild throughout the majority of the day.

Saturday night is when the change in the weather will begin to take place. An active cold front will move quickly south-wards across all parts of the country bringing a spell of wet and windy weather on Saturday night. Behind this cold front, colder air will begin to filter quickly South, initially, across Scotland during the early hours of Sunday, but then across the rest of the UK into Sunday morning and through into the afternoon.

Frequent and often heavy showers will filter down across many Northern and Western parts of the country during Sunday afternoon, these turning increasingly wintry. There is the potential for blizzard conditions across high ground of Scotland for a time. Snow is expected to accumulate above 250 to 300m initially, but possibly to lower levels later in the day and into the overnight period. It will feel very different indeed on Sunday with a marked wind-chill and temperatures struggling between 5ºC and 8ºC across the country.

So put away the lawn mower, cover up those delicate plants and get ready for a taste of winter that will begin on Sunday and last well into next week.

Colder weather on the Way

Yesterday on Tower Ridge was pretty good, even if the visibility was zilch! A word of advice for belays on the Eastern Traverse. If you go right up to the start of the traverse, the anchors are not great, unless you want to dig very deep. Consider making an anchor 5 to 10 metres below the start of the traverse and then a ‘bomber’ anchor just before the point where the traverse takes a slight downward and left slant. Under this overhang are plenty of solid nuts and blocks. It’s also a good spot for photos!

A few sensible teams retreated from Observatory Gully routes, as the ice was not great and the possibility of wet cornice collapse was always possible. Looking down Glover’s Chimney and the route looked to be in good shape, as are plenty of other Nevis routes, but let the weather clear before heading north. Keep an eye on Metcheck as they forecast the following good words for all us climbing types!

….”The coming weekend will see a change, a marked change in the weather as the cold arctic air to the north of the country is allowed to flood south-wards over the UK. After a very spring-like week for many it will be a shock to the system, especially across northern parts of the country.

The change is expected to arrive during the course of Sunday. There still remains some uncertainty over the details, but a cold front is expected to push south-wards across all parts of the country on Saturday night and into Sunday. Behind this cold front the air will become increasingly cold. At the present time it will be cold enough for showers to turn wintry by the end of Sunday across many northern parts of the country, especially over the hills. Some significant snowfall is possible over the hills of the north. These cold and wintry conditions are expected to continue into the early part of next week”….

Eastern Traverse Tower Ridge 13th March
Eastern Traverse Tower Ridge 13th March
The shots below are courtesy of Patrick Deijkers from Holland. Patrick enjoyed a spell at the CIC Hut last week. Which leads on to the fact that the good weather forecast could be spent at the hut for those interested in a course or a few days climbing, or just using some of the places which I have booked. Please get in touch if you are interested in any of these options.

Head over Heels in Love with Ben Nevis last week
Diana last week

Drier today at times

Route One - Carn Dearg Buttress
Thanks to James Thacker for the photo of Route One on Ben Nevis, Carn Dearg Buttress last week. He says they found it …”rather uphill”… Today we have some drier weather, but still showery. Snow above 600 metres last night. Next week I still have spaces in the CIC Hut so get in touch again if you are still interested. Either a course or self-led programme.
From the weekend it appears as though the temperature will drop like a stone, with winds from Arctic regions slicing down across Scotland. So if the weather charts are to be trusted, we are in for some more good sport from Friday or Saturday.

Teams coming back today reported very bad sluffs/avalanches in a variety of locations. Some brave (?) souls climbed Two-Step Corner. Dorsal Arete had snow near the top and some wicked hail-showers.

Soggy, snorkelling weather

Since Friday (pictures below) the weather and the snow has gone uphill a little! Even teams scuttling over to the tropic of Cairngorm found little respite. Saturday and Sunday have been mild and damp. It looks set to stay milder this week with only the higher tops brushing against colder air. After the later part of the coming week, winds do appear to be swinging into a more northerly direction. Be assured that a good amount of snow and ice should be left on Ben Nevis, so winter still has lots of legs at the moment.

This sequence of shots are on Golden Oldy, a very pleasant Grade II on the West Face of Aonach Mor. Finding the route for the first time often confuses people. Walk up the Glen to GR 186729 (Stream Junction). At this point two streams meet, cascading down the west face. Ascend steep grassy slopes between the two streams and the route evolves above you and between the two gullies formed by the streams.

On Friday we suffered from gale force winds funnelling over the plateau, which stopped us in our tracks for some time.

Golden Oldy - March 9th
Golden Oldy - March 9th
Golden Oldy - March 9th
Golden Oldy - March 9th

Colder Weather on the Way Later this Month?

The detail below is a straight copy from Metcheck

If this forecast materialises we will have some great conditions on Ben Nevis. Watch this space and more pictures to come tomorrow, hopefully.

…”However it would seem initially that any high pressure will bring some pleasantly warm spring days across England and Wales into next week, it’s beyond mid-month that has some concern. We discussed a week or so ago that even though March is classed as a spring month it can often bring some cold and wintry-like conditions, this is now looking a possibility beyond the middle of the month. Long range forecast data including forecasting ensemble products are showing the potential for North-westerly or Northerly winds to bring an abrupt return to winter-like conditions. There is little or no confidence in any detail at the moment, but the risk is there for a markedly colder period of weather beyond the middle of the month”….

This week has been pretty good on Ben Nevis with ascents of Rubicon Wall, Observatory Buttress Direct, Hadrian’s Direct, N.E.Buttress, Tower Ridge, Diana and Two-Step Corner amongst others. We climbed Golden Oldy today on Aonach Mor West Face and it was very good if somewhat windy. N.E. Ridge of Aonach Beag and other climbs in that location all looked complete.

Getting Windy and Wet

Today so far has been better than forecast and the expected blitz of rain and wind is arriving late in the day. Yesterday I was on Tower Ridge in pretty good weather and snow conditions. We took a few variations on the west side of both the Little Tower and Great Tower. At the moment the west side of the Great Tower offer climbing similar to the final exit chimneys of Orion Direct and is fully rimed.

If the current weather patterns continue with some cold snaps, we may be in for a good late winter, but don’t hold your breath. Certainly a lot of routes on Ben Nevis are in good shape and well formed. Reports coming back from Aonach Mor were not so good and the snow was poorly consolidated up there yesterday.

Tower Ridge
The first rightward traverse low down on Tower Ridge after gaining the crest from either Observatory Gully of The Douglas Gap

Old but useful
Western TraverseThe start of the Western Traverse beneath the Great Tower. After this easy pitch the climbing becomes much more technical and is a good grade or two harder than the normal Eastern Traverse. The Western Traverse was the route taken by Norman Collie on the first complete winter ascent of Tower Ridge. It is also possible to escape down into Glover’s Chimney this way by a series of long steep snow slopes and/or abseils.

Mamores 7th MarchYesterday turned out very fine, if a little cloudy. Some action was apparent on Hadrian’s Direct and the same team had climbed Observatory Buttress Direct the day previous. At least two parties retreated out of Observatory Gully due to the amount of fresh snow. The foot of the gully now sports considerable avalanche debris.

Elsewhere on the mountain the BMG Guides assessment course were re-acquanting themselves with Diana and Two-Step Corner, plus a few parties also on Comb Gully and Green Gully. One group climbed N.E. Buttress and said it was very enjoyable.

Route Major - N.E. Buttress
Looking up Route Major from Coire Leis and the snow/ice looks good, as does the Little Brenva Face and the various ice-smears up to the right of that face.

Curved Ridge 6th March


Don’t know if these are of use,

Had a late start solo on curved ridge 3pm!! yesterday 6th march fairly easy going,very little snow/ice until the last 600ft plenty of hard ice!pity i left my crampons in the car. fairly large and heavily iced snow slope after Crowberry tower esp without crampons,also very nice exit slope from Crowberry gully leading to the summit, took about 2hours to top out could barely stand with the wind gusts had a great day learned a lesson and took 3 hours car to car
cheers billy