Very fine weather to start the day. However, by mid-afternoon the sky filled in and now it is snowing heavily again. The coming week looks set to add to the snowpack down to lower levels on the west coast. Strong winds are forecast and this will add to the avalanche hazard. Also, mountain approaches will be hard going in the deep snow. Not a bad start to winter weather though.
This weekend I have attended a conference at Ratho climbing centre, trying to find ways of improving even more, the knowledge of winter mountaineers in relation to avalanche avoidance. The programme was put together by the Scottish Avalanche Information Service in collaboration with SAFOS
The event was open to both recreational mountaineers and professional winter course providers. Understanding the snowpack and how to avoid avalanches is a skill which we all need to consider seriously. A glance at the avalanche forecast is only a small part of the jigsaw of facts we need to put together. Even so, many winter mountaineers still approach areas that have been shown to warrant care, possibly oblivious of the danger they are exposed to.
This blog is no place to explain in detail how to avoid becoming an avalanche victim. A great deal of trusted information exists, especially on the SAIS site. Also try this quiz compiled by Glenmore Lodge As with all good commercial providers of winter courses, West Coast Mountain Guides will be running refresher courses for instructors prior to the winter season. This is no guarantee of 100% safety but hopefully means we deliver the latest, correct information on how to make good route choices in winter terrain.
A very fine day today with barely a cloud in the sky all day. The higher rock routes such as the Walker Spur look a little plastered and at this time of the year with autumn just around the corner, they may not clear. The lower rock pitches on the Frendo Spur also look to have a dusting of new snow.
Having just arrived, today was a work out to stretch my legs in the Aiguille Rouge and down to the Office Bar in Argentiere in time to see Arsenal suffering against the young Manchester United side at Old Trafford. Not a bad day really:)
How much do you know about weather? Try this game that has been produced by the Met Office
Spurs were unable to match the pressure!
A change of location further east to Braemar and Glen Lui. The midges were just as fierce as the west coast though! This afternoon the weather cleared up, revealing the smooth rolling southern Cairngorm hills. Great country for travelling long distances over many summits, aided by mountain bikes on approach and descent.
This report from Spike Sellers today on Tower Ridge. The two photos have been taken five days apart and show a considerable reduction in the amount of solid material at Tower Gap. A few years ago a significant block took flight on the uphill side of the gap and now the winter frosts have dislodged another ‘bomb’. It is clear that care will be required in this area and that the step down into the gap will now be harder than in the past. The advice from Spike is sound…….”Climbers heading for Glovers chimney might want to review the stumps of the pedestal we have directed folks’ feet onto in Tower Gap before this weekend’s accident. A little more trundling (with a lookout in No4?) after a longer step down required before the winter crowds perhaps. You might even want to leave a runner behind;)”…..
Today was a very fine day, starting from the Kingshouse Hotel and trekking back to Glen Nevis along the West Highland Way. A distance of around 23 miles. Fifty one participants took part on behalf of Marie Curie Cancer Care. Well done everyone. A great effort in good weather.