Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Wet on the arete!

Today Tom Kilby and I walked up into Stob coire nan Lochain, Glencoe and climbed Dorsal Arete (II**). Looking at the weather the day before we saw that it was going to get much milder in the afternoon and also start raining around 3ish (and it did!), so we started nice and early and were the first up to the crag. We climbed Dorsal Arete Chimney Variant (IV,5*) in two pitches which was a great little route, turf was good, protection was moderate and the crux was very interesting, a very tight crack trying to spit you off! We then joined onto Dorsal Arete where Tom lead his first ever winter climbing pitch, and considering this was his second ever winter climb, he did very well. After he led his pitch, he didn't fancy leading any more so I led the rest of the route. We descended Broad Gully (Easy/I**), it was firm with softer snow on top but no cause for concern in terms of avalanche. As the day progressed, it did get milder and the snow underfoot was becoming very wet and sticky, lets hope we have a good freeze, then conditions will be even more inviting.

I'm off to Norway for a week of ice climbing on Sunday, check back here on Tuesday 5th February for some pictures.

Have fun in the hills.


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

An amazing day on Ben Nevis

Today Kenny and I were spoilt for choice on the Ben as the conditions were priceless! So many route were in! We ended up on Stringfellow (VI,6***) on Pinnacle buttress of the Tower. It was quite a 'slog' up to the base of the climb, but the snow underfoot was very firm so we were able to make good progress. On arrival to the route, we saw 2 climbers already set off on Stringfellow so we decided to climb up the 1st pitch of Face Dancer (VI,6*) to get ahead of them, and return onto Stringfellow. It turned out they retreated anyway. The route was outstanding, but gear was extremely hard to find/place as the rock on the route was very compact, but also nearly every inch of the rock has a thin coating of ice (cams were useless). Some of the ice routes are forming nicely such as The Curtain and Gemini on Carn Dearg Buttress, the minus gullies were also looking good, comb gully was banked out with snow and 'the Point' is plumping up! Despite the awesome conditions, there were only a few other parties out, couple on Tower Ridge, Ledge Route and I saw one guy wandering down number 4 gully. All in all, a great day with great weather.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Winter walking in Ardgour

Last Thursday Jamie Hageman, Lozenzo and I ventured out in the the wet and wild weather in serch of some snow. We chose Ardgour as it was fairly local but also it was an area I havent explored, even in the summer months. We made a complete circuit of the coire to the east of Garbh Bheinn, Coire an Iubhair. The pictures attached give some idea of the snow cover even that far west in an area normally heavily influenced by moist air from the sea. We had a great day, unfortunatly we have no views after 500-600m as the cloud was quite low, we made great progress, arrived back at the car just as it got dark.

Happy New Year

Over the last month I've been out of Scotland, and as a result I haven't been out climbing. I was over in Italy in the foot hills of the Alps visiting family, unfortunately there wasn't enough time to get up into the hills. I then flew back to Birmingham and worked in the centre of the city on a mobile ice tower for a long week. After Christmas I toured around Ireland with my father where I walked up St Patrick's Mountain, probably one of Irelands most famous, on New Years day. Visibility was poor, and I passed around 100 people! So much for escaping to the mountains for peace and quiet! When I arrived back in Scotland on the 8th January, I couldn't wait to get back into the hills.