The Matterhorn today from Mike Anderson who is visiting Fort William this coming weekend, such are the magnetic qualities of Scottish Ice.
A clear evening to assess the remaining cornices, bit of a stripping this a.m. Point 5 sounded like a river and was backed up by Hadrians, but they have survived. Ridges were the only option, teams out on Tower Ridge, Castle Ridge, Ledge Route. On Orion the exit from the basin is badly stripped and Zero has a few holes. There are plenty of Grade IVs in, in Coire na Ciste. Thanks to Bruce Poll for this report.
Unfortunately the hoped for overnight frosts are not materialising yet. However, today the teams at the CIC Hut have climbed Observatory Buttress. Sticky wet ice. Plenty ice in place and when (if) it goes colder the ice climbing will be good. Cornice collapse was heard in the mist.
Thanks To Bruce Poll, a much travelled man. This last week at the Wild Strubel Hut in the Eastern section of the Bernese Alps in very serious blizzard conditions, ski-touring as part of his induction into the BMG/IFMGA scheme. Tomorrow morning early he will visit the ‘reality-bath’ for a week at the CIC Hut running a fully booked CIC Hut course alongside of Adam Hughes. More reports to come as the week progresses from Ben Nevis. Thanks Bruce.
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:)