Snow plough

No snow ploughs staying on the A82. One landed up in the ditch apparently! BEAR Scotland sent out another one to drag it back on the road. We followed a well beaten trench on the Zig-Zags on the East Face of Gearr Aonach, kindly made by pupils from Tiree High School and Jamie Bankhead and Andy Spinks. Given the conditions of deep new snow and unsettled weather, it proved to be a good sheltered Scottish location for David, who is training for the alps in moving together skills and a trip with Rob Jarvis in July. Close to the road (1hr). Little objective danger from avalanche and a good  mix of simple climbing and a short abseil in descent. Grade II really. We came back down the route of ascent.

Deep Cut Chimney

One team arriving home today at the accommodation climbed Deep Cut Chimney on Stob Coire nam Beith. They talked approvingly about it. No 6 Gully on West Face of Aonach Dubh had an ascent recently as well. Might be worth a visit, but take the binos along for a quick squint before committing.

Visit Fort William

andyCheck out the best local website in the area. The picture taken above was shot this week.

Wintry storms

Plenty of fresh snow falling on the high tops, keeping the routes looking white. The next few days into the weekend look challenging though! Get the kayaks or a bike out for a bit. Photo taken from a great estate trail on Rannoch Moor. It does not connect completely with Rannoch Station.

rannoch moor

Rannoch Moor


The last week or so

The weekend before last (1/2nd March) saw fine weather and huge queues for the Gondola. Most of the following week was not great and now we have a big thaw and maybe a little respite from the storm. Depending on where the ‘High’ pressure sits, it could be warm or cold, although it appears to have some east wind in it by mid-week and that should improve conditions dramatically. There is still plenty of snow and ice on Ben Nevis and I’d hang my hat on good climbing, at least on the big ridges and possibly some great ice climbing as the week progresses. A weak front is due through on Thursday and BBC iPlayer are not 100% certain of cold weather.
With David and James in mixed and often windy weather, I was working for Rob Jarvis as he was away from home heli-ski-ng in the Alps. I drew the short straw and sampled a very windy Cairngorm climb on 5th March and two soggy days on Ben Nevis and Glencoe. No moral fibre, these alpine based guides!

Today eleven French climbers and guides have left for the CIC Hut with huge packs of good food and wine and some climbing kit, led by Remi Thivel This week the hut is being taken over mostly by French people. Well done SMC.
By the way, we have bed space at Calluna in the next few weeks, starting today. Head north and west folks to where the late winter climbing can still provide some good sport as usual.

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.


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.

Heads below the clouds

Assisting Adele Pennington yesterday, we kept our heads down and visited two very good little hills above the West Highland Way, just an hours trek up from Lagangarbh. Fine views all day in between the wicked squalls, no avalanche hazard to speak of and good practice with map, compass and GPS. Obviously from the attached photos, I drew the lucky card:)

Curved Ridge

Today we had a very fine and dry day. Yesterday with Jon and Belle I climbed Curved Ridge. Some showers and rather cool, but overall in good shape. The descent corrie is now clear of snow in all the important places and no need for axe or crampons.

Wet and windy for a while

Yesterday on Ben Nevis and in Glen Coe. The first heavy rain in almost two months came in last night, but still plenty of snow and ice on the high tops and the forecast suggests more snow heading in on westerly and north-westerly winds. Winter still has legs up north!