Wild an Windy today, but much drier

Western Skies at sundown
Gavin Kellett’s photo of the western skies over Rannoch Moor yesterday evening, driving home to Selkirk after another successful weekend

Hi Alan.
We had a great day on the 3rd enjoying great conditions on point 5, just a shame about the massive amounts of spindrift we had to swim up!

Anyways i lost my jacket on the way back down somewhere walking down to the golf club car park. Its a red Patagonia waterproof, women’s fit and had a compass and some other stuff in the pockets. Is there any chance you could add this to your winter conditions page? I know its a pain but I’d really appreciate it.

thanks
Joe Leaper

joeleaper@hotmail.com
07851603499

Yesterday was extremely windy, with rain at lower levels and snow above about 900 metres. Today was less wet and the squalls less frequent, with plenty of blue skies from time to time. Still plenty of snow pumping into the routes at many levels, especially on Aonach Mor and Ben Nevis. When this unsettled wintry spell clears (?) the conditions should once again be great. At the moment please respect the avalanche hazard and be very wary of going into areas of large snow build up, gullies, etc. Mixed buttress and ridge routes would be more sensible, until things settle down

Mt Fuji
Thanks to Ken Christie, currently frustrated in Tokyo for the picture of Mt Fuji. He would rather be on Ben Nevis :-))

Doggin in the Coe

Stob Coire nan Lochan - 5th March
David Haygarth sent these pictures from today in Stob Coire nan Lochan.
David Haygarth

Shelter Stone Crag

Route Major - After the Crux
Hi Alan,
Just to say that we have some good days in the East, too! Saturday was one of them with plenty of snow and sun. Adam and I went over to Carn Etchachan and did Route Major IV,5***. There was only one other team on Etchachan (Andy & co from Aberdeen) and there was none on the Shelterstone. Route Major is an excellent, long, well protected mixed mountain route with outstanding situations. The crux was the tapered chimney below the broken ground in the middle. Battlements groove was relatively straight forward and so was the exit chimney.

Best wishes,

Henning

Psychedelic Wall

Thanks to Remi Thivel for this photo of climbers on Psychedelic Wall. This is an old picture from two weeks back, but shows the exposed and thin nature of the climb. The picture taken of climbers on Tower Gap is also from Remi. Well done Remi.

Tower Gap from the Summit

Perfect Ice Climbing

2nd March - Ben Nevis
Norrie & Wayne. Happy descent
Yesterday I was on Indicator Wall and the ice could not possibly have been any better. Instant placements in chalky, pick-sucking Styrofoam. The snow/ice towards the top of routes near the plateau on Ben Nevis is a little sugary. This will be due to the lack of freeze/thaw at around 1200 metres over the last few weeks I think.

There were heaps of teams on many routes, including, Zero Gully, Point Five Gully, Tower Ridge, Good Friday Climb, Indicator Wall, Albatross, Psychedelic Wall, Shot in the Dark, Left Edge (Gardyloo Buttress) Smiths Route (Gardyloo Buttress). No doubt the same was true in Coire na Ciste.

Conditions in Glen Coe, Stob Coire nan Lochan are reported to be ‘looking’ good. The week ahead looks unsettled at times, but falling as snow on the high ground, so winter continues. I still have some space at the CIC Hut for any interested parties or individuals.

Albatross detail
Hi Alan,

Another early start this morning (2nd March) ensured I was the only person at the top of Observatory Gully as dawn broke. The result was a ropeless solo of Albatross in 31 minutes. I took the thin original start (left of block shown) up to the rock spike, then the right-hand chimney (90-degree ice streak near centre of photo) which was very tenuous, consisting of a sparse series of ice blobs. Further up, some steep technical moves on the traverse into the snow bay, and an awkward ledge to exit the bay and enter the shallow corner before finishing on good steep ice leading to the small cornice. A fantastic line with every section seamlessly joining into the next.

Take care,

Patrick

Colm & Miriam on Ledge Route

Thanks to Adam Hughes for the photos on Ledge Route yesterday.

Fine and Sunny

Easy Gully on Aonach Mor
Easy Gully on Aonach Mor
A very good day at a number of locations today. Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe was good by all accounts with a variety of grades and types of route looking possible. Aonach Mor had the crowds guessing with regard to the avalanche hazard in Easy Gully. Eventually it proved to be okay, although a number had taken the abseil option to gain the foot of the crags, Ben Nevis was very popular and rightly so. More snow has been added to the west in the last couple of days and tomorrow is looking okay. The weekend is more unsettled with gales forecast, especially on Sunday. In general, climbing conditions are good.

Thanks to Adam Hughes for the photos in Easy Gully today

Wet Wednesday

Things are on the mend. Even the street signs are looking good for climbers. Might be worth starting very early in the morning, or going east. I hear that Glenmore Lodge and the International Meet are heading west en masse. Maybe a barrier at Laggan and the foot of Observatory Gully might work! A few well placed land mines on the A86 just west of Creag Meagaidh would certainly allow Ben Nevis to be quiet for the rest of us.

Wet windy and dull today

Green Gully and Garadh Gully all climbed today by a few hardy souls. Raining on the plateau. What a difference a day makes.

Perfect on the ‘Point’ – Great on Gardyloo

Topping out on Gardyloo GullyThanks to Walter Black for these lovely pictures of Gardyloo Gully. A fine day out with Charles Speyer and the guide Owain Jones, topping out on a fine sunny day.

Picnic on Ben NevisSummit of Ben Nevis on 26th February.

Lochaber view, just capitalSummit view across Tower Ridge, Loch Eil and Rum just visible in the distance.

Entering Gardyloo Gully

Entering the narrows of Gardyloo Gully with two teams at the base of Shot in the Dark and or Satanic Verses

Easy summit finish on Point Five Gully

Easy summit finish on the right of Point Five Gully, aiming for the crest of Observatory Buttress.

Pitch four above the hard stuff
Above the hard pitches the angle eases with a few grade II/III pitches. We headed up left to avoid the crowds, finishing well left of the main cornice. Sixty metre ropes are a bonus and we did three pitches up to grade III.IV

Point Five Gully - (3rd) Rogue Pitch

The Rogue Pitch, which is the third and last hard pitch on Point Five Gully.

Chimney 2nd Pitch
The Chimney Pitch (2nd) is often the crux in my opinion, especially when it has big holes in it. At the moment it does have one damp section with a touch of ‘mush’ and is not too fat. Yesterday we managed some protection on the right wall just above the stance with small to medium wires. A lot of fixed pro is in-situ higher up this pitch. This pitch is best climbed with one run-out to good anchors on the right wall. Fifty metre ropes are adequate, but 55m or 60m lengths do help.

Point Five knitting

Which rope are we tied on to?

Point Five 1st Pitch

Point Five Gully 1st Pitch
I joined the International Lemmings who flocked to the best western ice climbing venue yesterday. I didn’t hear a word of English spoken all day. I think there may have been a ‘Geordie’ or two up ahead in the scrum of Point Five Gully. Turning the corner into Observatory Gully it became clear that my leisurely approach and late departure at 0730 would consign us to being bombed all day from the pilgrims above. The majority of folk seemed intent on queuing higher up the gully on Smiths Route and Psychedelic Wall and Indicator Wall and Albatross. In the end the numbers in Point Five Gully only just reached double figures. One happy chappy decided to belay in the middle of the (2nd)chimney pitch, which did cause some minor congestion.

The Spaniards with whom we shared a number of stances were very impressed with the quality of the ice….”is it always like this”?…….they asked…..”Oh yes, but often much better”….So I have done my bit for Scottish climbing tourism. The trouble is, that if they go up again this week it will become obvious that conditions can be somewhat fickle.

The quality of the ice according to our Spanish cousins was like butter or cheese. Obviously a little softer than their usual Pyrenees brittle stuff.

Today we are getting snowy, stormy weather and the same tomorrow. This will put a shine back on the cliffs, which have darkened over the last week or so. The climbing is still good above 900 metres.

Cascade AreaCascade area

Number Two Gully ButtressNumber Two Gully Buttress

David Haygarth

Took these two pictures on his day out in Coire na Ciste. Teams were active all over the crags, including Tower Face of Comb and Babylon.

If anyone using the driving track from Nevis Range finds themselves with a set of keys they do not recognise, please contact Glenmore Lodge on 01479 861256.

I have an ice axe handed in to me by Remi, the French guide who was staying at the hut last week. He found it on Tower Ridge. Anyone who wishes to describe the axe accurately will be reunited with with their tool in return for postage. Thanks Remi.

Hi Alan,

Think we spoke at the top of the route but as it was getting dark we were concentrating in getting packed so apologies if we appeared a bit abrupt!

Like you we had a leisurely approach from the North Face carpark (full) and arrived at that Dam carpark through the mud (the path has actually got worse since last week!) to see the crocodile from the International meet just ahead (horror!). You see the plan was according to my sources was to arrive late as the Lodge mini buses (BMC Meet) would arrive around 6:00 am at the Dam. They’d all scoot off up the routes to be back for tea and cake at 4:00pm just as we arrived at the foot of the route I’d spotted last week. Didn’t work out though as they all arrive late and left even later…

Anyway Two Step corner as one of my several guide books (various vintages) says is steeper than it looks and can have a difficult cornice finish… is as stated! We almost went up Quick Step to avoid queuing but with a blank thin section and an even bigger cornice that would have been daft?

I’ve sent you several photos but if you have to select one please choose the one of Fi as I did insist she should lead through to save time and the cornice wasn’t as bad as it looked…. it was and I was thankful I hadn’t got that pitch! Other than the queues the climb and conditions on the Ben were superb. Early start and drive from Aviemore for two days on the Ben within a week must say something about the ice conditions…

Kind regards

Ron Walker

Fi on Two-Step Corner

Thanks Ron. Very chivalrous of you letting the lady lead the cornice:-)) The walk down in the dark was fine, but by the time we reached the Red Burn a group of French climbers had tagged along for the route finding across the last bit of bog. I have it from a very reliable source that the lower muddy track will be sorted by the summer 2007.

A thinner Two-Step Corner on 26th Feb

“Fluich” in the Fort

Pretty “Dreich” just now, but a cold snap is forecast for tomorrow. Looking ahead I still have space on the CIC Hut courses which run 4th to 9th March and 18th to 23rd March. These can be self-led, where pairs use my space in the hut and get advice, if they need it from the ‘instructor in residence’ or the full course with instruction included. Call or email for details. Certainly it looks as though the only place for good ice at the moment is on Ben Nevis and if that continues a place up at the hut would be a wise move.

The week ahead shows unsettled weather, but some charts are suggesting wintry stormy conditions on the tops, so that will be a bonus and keep the big capital hill topped up.

I have an ice axe handed in to me by Remi, the French guide who was staying at the hut last week. He found it on Tower Ridge. Anyone who wishes to describe the axe accurately will be reunited with with their tool in return for postage. Thanks Remi.

Hi Alan
An update for your conditions page.

Saturday 24th Feb
Even though it may have seemed a warm soggy day high on the Ben the conditions are still holding remarkably well with ‘toffee ice’ to die for!
Nigel and I got up early to beat the crowds and the ‘international meet’ and did Albatross. A superb route in great condition which we had all to ourselves! We were back home by 15:00 to watch the rugby – should have stayed up for another route!!
Very few parties in Observatory Gully to our surprise – we saw a team heading for Point 5 which looked quite fat through the mist, two teams on Indicator Wall and folk in Gardyloo Gully and Tower Gully. Psychedelic Wall looked doable and Smiths also looked in excellent condition .

Tony

Albatross 24th Feb

Tropical on Tower Ridge

Tepid on the Tower

A good day out in the murk on Tower Ridge. No wind and plenty of snow above about 1000 metres. Freezing level above the summits today. Plenty of voices drifting about the corries today, so no doubt people were enjoying the soft ice, of which there is plenty. A touch of frost will lock things up again. A team cruising up Glover’s Chimney said the conditions were okay and it looked that way from above. Certainly the chimney into Tower Gap is well iced. Another couple we spoke to had climbed Gardyloo Gully and reported it to be “okay with no trouble at the cornice”. I have an ice axe handed in to me by Remi, the French guide who was staying at the hut last week. He found it on Tower Ridge. Anyone who wishes to describe the axe accurately will be reunited with with their tool in return for postage. Thanks Remi.

Gloopy and Grey on Garadh Gully

Central Gully Right-Hand - Creag Coire na Ciste

Thanks to Nigel Hooker (Aspire Mountaineering) for the photo of Tony on Central Gully R-Hand, Creag Coire na Ciste on Wednesday

Hello,

I’m going to be in town from March 6-14th solo and was wondering if I could convince you, or a capable climber you know, to climb with me. I’m an ice climber/University student from the States and lead/solo IV 3-5, capable of following harder routes.I’m flat broke, but I’m willing to belay for anyone who can show me around or even willing to work it off while I’m in town.
Please pass this along or email me back if you could find even a half-day to show me around.

Cheers,
Brian Aitken
baitken@eden.rutgers.edu

Garadh Gully 22 February

Yesterday I did Garadh Gully, which is complete with plenty of good ice and a rather large Bergschrund for the unwary lurking beneath the first pitch. It has been the scene of some interesting crevasse rescues recently! Conditions are good but damp high on Ben Nevis and the weather is mild. The ice is hanging in very well and there is plenty to go for above about 1000 metres.

Number Four Gully area - 22nd February

Hi Alan,

Since you’ve so kindly included some photos of the Cairngorms we thought we’d send you a few photos taken on Ben Nevis 21st Feb for your conditions report.

Anyway the promise of blue skies and lowering temperatures had us driving over from Aviemore to Ben Nevis at 4:00 am on Thursday!

On the walk up through the mud (BTW the path has deteriorated badly since our last visit in 2006) from the North Face carpark it started to drizzle and by the time we had passed the CIC hut it was snowing. The lower half of Observatory gully was thin but frozen solid. Zero gully, Orion and Hadrian’s were all non existent however Point Five was there and looked almost banked out and fat at the chimney pitch. Tower Scoop was ok though Tower Ridge it’s self was bare on it’s lower half. We couldn’t see Smith’s or Gardyloo but from the voices it appeared to be busy on the upper gully with English, French, Spanish, Italians and Eastern European voices bellowing out from the gloom! Loads of folk on Good Friday but after the first pair of polite young lads on Indicator Wall moved off and decided to do Good Friday we had the climb to ourselves….!! We had a great day on Fi’s variation of Indicator Wall (left-hand to right-hand variation after she asked for directions and I told her to follow the good thick ice. It was good thick ice but it was also the steepest….!) Anyway great climbing on more or less bomber 1st time placements and ice screw protection wherever you wanted it. The blue skies and sunshine did in fact arrive at the summit cornice. On descent we took a few photos of Coire na Ciste which had good hard snow down to the little lochan. Green Gully and Two-Step corner looked good too.

A great day on the Ben…..

Kind regards

Ron Walker and Fi Chappell

Thanks to Talisman

Indicator Wall last Sunday

The comment above concerning the poor state of the lower path is a constant one. Fortunately, I have been reliably (?) informed by the new (?) landowners, Forestry Commission Scotland, that a new path will be built this year and certainly in time for next winter. On a similar note, I would gladly support upgrading the forestry track which some of us can drive up in order for it to be made a public climbers track (Toll). A big car park at the end would overcome the crowding which can occur at this time of the year. A well landscaped climbers lodge would also be a wise and needed addition at this location in my view.

Car Park Congestion

Hi Alan,

I trust this finds you well. Thought I’d send you a report from the Ben today. A very early approach in what felt like incredibly mild weather saw me heading up Observatory Gully for a fairly leisurely 42 minute ropeless solo of Psychedelic Wall. Due to near-zero visibility, I couldn’t see past the first pitch from below which made starting up pretty committing, although the lower slabs were well-coated with ice. As it turned out, the route was in good condition overall and extremely enjoyable with continual interest throughout. A chink of blue sky on the top convinced me to go down to the Little Brenva Face but the visibility deteriorated rapidly and made route-finding impossible. So I moved back round to Observatory Gully for another slog up to Gardyloo Buttress where I soloed Right Edge. Again this was in fine condition with no cornice worries. Dropping down into Coire na Ciste, I found the route I had in mind to be discontinuous, so I headed back to Coire Leis as the clouds had lifted temporarily, and I was able to locate the line of Cresta Direct. A lovely ice pitch to start and the rest of the route simply unfolded as height was gained. A 14 hour day from car to car with 9000 feet of ascent – sometimes you’ve got to work hard for your climbing!

Hope your slideshow at the Lime Tree was a success, I would have been there but had to dash back to drop off the hire car!

All the best, Patrick Roman

A little company for a soloist!

Better than expected today

Scotland or Denali?

Great climbing conditions on the Ben still – Sunday was unbelievably good providing you had the nouse to avoid the crowds. Everyone and their dog seemed to be out making for a very sociable day and some good banter and amusement in the form of some dodgy practice from a notable high altitude mountain guide!. Did Diana which has attracted me for years. An outstanding and varied route with good ice and mixed pitches – what more could you ask for?! We gave a lift down to the North Face car park for some of your clients (hefty invoice coming your way!! 🙂 who all had big smiles on their faces. All in all as you would say “a Capital Day on the best mountain in Britain”.

Regards

Tony

Another great day (Tuesday) out west and the forecast was much better than expected. The ice is thick, fat and hero-like! That is, it is similar to climbing in the Ice-Factor with all the added bonus of awesome surroundings.

Labrador

More pictures from my slide show in the Mountain Festival. on 21st February at Lime Tree. The prize draw on this evening will be some free lifts up the Ben Nevis track. All proceeds going to the Mountain Festival. Check it out folks.