Wall to Wall Sunshine and Frost

January 26th

February 3rd

Number Three Gully Buttress

Amazing the difference a few days can make. See 26th January to 3rd February. Thanks Angie for these two shots.

Also today the ice is building according to those out on Ben Nevis. The Curtain was getting better as the day progressed, but still not a good option to climb as yet.

The Ben Nevis crag shot by Kevin Rutherford today, shows climbers at the top of Number Three Gully Buttress on Ben Nevis.
Thanks Kev

Plenty more cold weather to come, with the possibility of some heavy snow in places, which will hopefully top up the fairly shallow base that is around at the moment


Coire an Lochain 6th Feb

Hi Alan

Not the Outdoor Capital of the UK but a couple of images from Coire an Lochan
and ‘Auricle’ today.

All the best


Great Day all Over

The Message
Hi Alan,

The Norries were looking splendid today with all buttresses white in Lochan and Sneachda, with the turf well and truely frozen. There was snow falling for 3 or 4 hours as well. We had a very pleasent climb on the Message and there were others in the corrie on various routes.

Cheers Adam (Edinburgh)

Creag Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis was busy today with teams on Comb & Green Gully, Central Gully Right-Hand, South Gully, Wendigo and Thomson’s Chimney and Two-Step. All routes are looking reasonable if a little chopped up. Psychedelic Wall, Satanic Verses, Caledonia, Smith’s on Gardyloo Buttress, Tower Scoop, Upper Tower Cascade. Indicator Wall. Good Friday Climb, all getting ascents.

One area which looked thin but okay and empty was Upper Cascade above Raeburn’s Easy Route.

Green Gully

The snow/ice above 900 metres is truly ‘bombproof’ and a joy to climb with sharp tools.Orion Face Direct has gone and Point Five Gully looked pretty thin. All of the big easy gullies are okay, but Number Three Gully is carrying a ‘Daddy’ of a cornice.

No worries Alan,
‘gorms ARE blank, blankist I’ve seen this year. Even the couloir in Lochain has a broken section and many snow gullies are being done on turf, loose rock littered on the surface especially near red gully/goat track gully area – a lot of it is being sent down by climbers on cold days – not just when it is thawing – its just too lean to be holding much of it together. Plenty of neve and big patches for skills though, took a group up the Cas, down Domhain, under Hells Lum (has been icey but all falling down on Saturday – no routes complete) quickly to avoid odd lump of falling ice, up the left side of Feith Buidhe and down above the twin burns of Lochain. Then on saturday built belays and mountaineered our way up and down the side of the Twin Burns in Lochain.



More Cold Weather on the Way

Ben Lui
Alan, climbed Ben Lui yesterday (saturday) in fantastic weather. Central Gully and indeed the entire face of the mountain, although not the ridges, have held onto a substantial covering of iron hard neve, with previous climber footholes providing a staircase to the summit. The climbing was straightford but very enjoyable none the less. My photos shows my buddy Fred Cochrane close to topping out and the East summit from the West. All in all the day proved Ben Lui still provides a classic ‘mountaineering’ day out.

Ross Nicol, Dundee

Thanks Ross. It looks like some good climbing conditions for places which have held on to large amounts of snow, namely Ben Lui and Ben Nevis plus Aonach Mor. The forecast is showing freezing at sea-level for the next few days. It’s a clear night tonight, after a muggy day in front of the TV watching Man Utd notch up another four goals to stay clear in the Premiership:-))

Sunny and Cool

The Couloir Coire an Lochain

Another very fine day out west. Thanks to David Haygarth for the picture of The Couloir (?) in Coire an Lochan yesterday in the Cairngorms. Check the neat stacking of ice axes, which are clipped into slings and carabiners to avoid dropping them. Also a three-point anchor and a runner close to the stance. With the cooler airstream any, snow left in the high gullies will now be well consolidated. The forecast looks good for a wee while yet.

Sunny and getting Colder

Good weather for ducks
A very fine day today with cooler weather on the way. No groups out just now, but will report back ASAP. At least the Mallard Ducks on Loch Morlich look happy, even if the cliffs in the distance are looking pretty sick just now!

Reports back from Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor reinforce the feeling that conditions are good. Two-Step Corner and Indicator Wall were climbed today and a number of good solid routes on Aonach Mor. The cooler conditions appear to be working there magic.

I have allowed one anonymous comment on to this site recently. It will be the last one, as I believe if you want to make a point you need to come out of the woods and identify yourself. The comment was connected with short-haul flights to Norway for ice climbing and how they are possibly having an effect on global warming.

I don’t dispute that this might be the case, but none of us really know if the problem is of our modern making or equally connected with the Industrial Revolution and our Victorian forebearers as well. Also, if we take it to its logical conclusion, none of you south of the ‘Highland Line’ will ever drive or fly to Glasgow and the Highlands of Scotland ever again. What we must all do is to invest in payments in various forms which will be used to develop carbon neutral practices. I hope that by all paying towards this technology, we can all enjoy long holidays in far away places.

No doubt this thread will open up a large can of worms!

Mild and Damp

The weather just now is particularly mild and damp. In some ways this will consolidate the deep snow pack which existed last week. A good deal of snow will be stripped, but hopefully the good ice build-up will be largely unaffected on the higher routes. It looks as though drier and colder weather should slowly return over the weekend and into next week and beyond with any luck. Certainly the forecasts suggest that the current mild temperatures will be halved, with minus levels overnight. This should result in some good climbing conditions returning to the west coast.


Good Ice in Norway

Another good day on Fabrikfossen, opposite the main centre of Rjukan. The route was grade WI3, which back home in Scotland would have been grade IV. A number of lines were possible, with a multiple abseil descent from in-situ gear on trees. Take a head torch AND start fairly early. We started climbing at around 0930 and still got down in the dark. We have been out for a long weekend. This appears to be a good way to get in some quality climbing at a reasonable price. Ryanair to Oslo (Torp) and rent a car. The drive is around three to four hours each way to the airport. A mixture of accommodation is possible.

Hi Alan,

A bit late but if you want a report: Monday 29 Jan we went up Observatory Gully and climbed Tower Scoop (lots of ice but very wet and running with water) and Good Friday climb (good condition). Plenty of Ice on Indicator Wall and Smiths route. 2 of our staff also did No. 3 Gully Buttress having walked past Green Gully not liking the amount of stuff falling off it in the thaw conditions. We saw a pair of Spaniards who had walked to the bottom of Point 5 but decided again that it was too mild (although looking complete).

Rjukan looked grand – Fabrikfossen gives a lovely day out doesn’t it?




Happy Chappy

Tracy's Eyes

A ten out of ten day according to the lads. This is my first visit to Rjukan in the winter and today was very successful. We climbed Lettvan (WI 2) and Tracy’s Eyes (WI3). Two good starter routes, which would have been grade 3/4 in Scotland. There appears to be enough ice around for a good weeks climbing at least if you have not been here in the past. Some climbers further up the Upper Gorge were on Juvsoyla (WI 6). This was looking pretty thin according to someone who knows better than I do.


Just spending some time in Norway this weekend, so the Scottish stuff will take a back seat for a short while. If anyone has any Scottish reports for this weekend, please post them and I’ll set them up. Hope to have some ice fall climbing information tomorrow. The weather here is cold and plenty of snow, but as we arrived in the dark I’m not sure how the ice is yet. Along the road it appeared to be forming up well.

Point Five Gully

Point Five Gully

Hello Alan,

Did point five with Duncan Paterson yesterday. We started very early(i.e. 4 am walk in) to be the first team. It was very windy and lots of spindrift was coming down on the approach so we wondered whether it was possible. Good water ice which takes screws well in the lower half. We climbed the hard bits in two pitches (first on rope stretch) and so the Rogue pitch came a bit unexpected because I thought it would be at least pitch three. However, it was good climbing and I managed to place two screws near the cave and one higher up. We were both climbing on leashless Taakoons which makes placing ice screws much easier. Big cornices on the Ben at the moment but a traverse to the right got us out of Point Five. It cleared up during the afternoon and there were still lots of climbers around. Many gully lines seem excellent at the moment, Curtain is forming well.

Thanks for all your advice and for your ‘blog’,


Cornice Capers

Quickstep Cornice

PS: These cornice pictures were taken on Quickstep a few days ago by David Talbot. Brave man! The Point Five Gully cornice could be similar. Avoid the Point Five cornice to the right and start heading in that direction well below it!

Fawlty Towers

The fourth picture today shows Fawlty Towers, which is low down on Tower Ridge, just to the right of the Douglas Gap Gully West. It is a very good area to climb on when conditions high up are either hazardous or too tiring, or you are just looking for a short day. Descent is easy by one abseil towards the easy lower slopes of Observatory Gully on the east side of Tower Ridge.

Another similar area to climb is on the First Platform of N.E. Buttress. The climbs are harder here and descent is best by two abseils, either down the route of ascent or down Slingsby’s Chimney. Alternatively try some short ‘sporty’ routes on Moonlight Gully Buttress.

Thanks to David and Henning for supporting this site with some great shots. If you want to post anything please feel free. I moderate what goes on to these pages, warts and all usually!

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