Sunday, 31 January 2010


Today I was out with 3 members of the Glencoe MRT, two aspirant members and one full member. They wanted to build on their winter knowledge including navigation, safe and efficient movement, self arresting, step cutting, route planning and using an emergency shelter. We headed up from Mamore Lodge into Coire na Ba, up onto the ridge between Na Gruagaichean and Stob Coire a Chairn and followed the ridge over to Am Bodach. Weather held out OK today, a cold wind but not to strong and mainly clear skies.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Last Post

This was my 4th day out with Ben and he was really keen to get on a Grade 5 classic. I did the 1st pitch of the Last Post (V,5) yesterday, which was class so I was more than happy to go up again and tick off the route today. Very windy for some parts of the day with lots of spindrift coming down some of the routes and down my jacket! Teams on South Post Direct, Easy Gully, The Pumpkin and Postman Pat got an attempt as well, but I was on my way home before I found out how they did.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Creag Meagaidh

Today Kenny and I walked into Creag Meagaidh for a look to see what was going on. Plenty of ice visible whilst walking in. As the weather was due to worsen as the day went on we decided to have a short 'sport climbing' day. Kenny led up the first pitch of Missed the Post (V,5) and the we abbed off a v-thread. Then I led up the 1st pitch of Last Post (V,5) and again we abbed off. The ice was nice, steep and fat on both routes, we both got really wet on the Last Post as there was lots of water splashing down the route. South Post Direct and the The Last Post got climbed.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Aonach Mor

Today Rich and I got the gondola up to the ski tows and traversed over to the Nid area. We spent the day micro navigating around this area, heading further south into Coire an Lochain below the buttresses of Aonach Mor. Visibility was quite low throughout the day, winds were low until we got up higher out of the corrie and it was fairly mild today with the snow pack quite saturated.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Organ Pipe Wall

Today Henry wanted to head up to Beinn Udlaidh as he has never been up there and because he had to be in Glasgow in the afternoon. He wanted to do Quartzvein Scoop, but I had done it twice before we drifted over towards the west sector. I also noticed Quartzvein was under alot of snow, only small sections of ice visible and also a hefty cornice at the top. We headed over to The Smirk, not complete so we walked up to Organ Pipe Wall (V,5) and climbed this. This was Henry's first time on grade 5 ice. The route was dripping but the ice was like toffee, it was perfect. The East sector of the crag looked quite loaded with snow. We saw a team making variations on Quartzvein to find a passable line.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Observatory Ridge

Today Henry, Rich and I climbed headed up into the North Face of Ben Nevis and climbed Observatory Ridge (IV,4). Cracking day today, couldn't believe how quiet(ish) the mountain was. 1 team on tower, 1 on Ledge, 1 on castle, 1 on point 5 and 1 on Darth Vader (or was it some black rock below it?). The ridges were under quite a bit of snow and made some of the route quite hard work, gear was hard to find sometimes. We did the whole route in 10 pitches.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Menage a Trois

Today Rich and I headed up to Beinn an Dothaidh, specifically up to the North-East corrie. We passed teams heading for West Gully and a team who were going for Taxus. It must be a good route, one of the guy's was on his 5th ascent of the route! We went and climbed Menage a Trois (V,6) which is an ace route. Rich went up the awkward first pitch, which had some good climbing, I led up the corner which was really good, technical and gear where you want it. I think there is more gear but it was under snow and ice. Rich shot up the last pitch which also has some interesting little steps, a route full of interest, shame its so short. Light winds on the top but didnt notice snow getting blown about. We came accross no patches of wind slab and I think a couple of teams decended west gully. 24,30

Friday, 22 January 2010

Quick morning stroll!

Today I was out with Lyndon for a quick summit tick before he had to drive down to Manchester. He wanted to be on the road at 12.30 so we opted for Stob Coire Raineach (925m) on Buachaille Etive Beag. Lydon also wanted to pick up some winter skills on the way so I passed on as much as I could whilst we were on the move. He has only been out in the snow once or twice before so he was keen to pick up some tips. We covered using the boot on different terrains, using the axe for support and balance, tested out his new crampons, talked about avalanche awareness, dug a quick pit each, talked about route choice and still managed to get back down in time. Not sure if we hit freezing level, if we did it was probably at 900+m.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

West Buttress

Today Jamie and I headed up to Beinn an Dothaidh, Bridge of Orchy Hills. Jamie suggested Cirrus (IV,4) so off we went. The first pitch was fine, the second was very lean and totally covered in verglass. We didn't fancy it it the conditions we were under, so we headed down and saved the day by climbing West Buttress (III). We headed down West Gully (I) which was starting to get loaded with fresh wind slab. Very windy at the start of the day then easing off, but snow was falling most of the afternoon. The turf on the crag was bomber.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Crest Route SCNL

Today Graham and I head up to Stob Coire Nan Lochain and climbed Crest Route (V,6). Well in to the 3rd pitch I was finding that the cracks were choked with ice and gear was very hard to find in the upper section. I ended up abbing off. Bit of a shame as it was great climbing up to that point. Was windy at the crag, some riming present and it felt pretty cold up there, in fact very cold. Lot of other teams out on Dorsal and Ordinary.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Wild day on Ben Nevis

Strong winds, gales, mild temperatures . . . the forecast was correct. Today I took Stephen Up the pony track on Ben Nevis. The day out was a gift from his previous employer, which I'm sure he'll be more than happy to pass on his thanks. We hit freezing level at around 1200m, it was raining all the way up there. Visibility was poor from half way up the zig zag's but despite all of this we still managed to get to the summit. Isi from the Ice Factor came along to shadow the day to see what need to be done to get someone up Ben Nevis in the winter.

Friday, 15 January 2010

The Screen

Today Dan, Graham and I went for a short day on The Screen (IV,5) on Aonach Dubh. The route was dripping quite alot, I ended up soaked to the skin. Couple of the screws I placed seemed pretty good, axe placements were superb and the ice was nice and soft. The ice was still fat and if we get a good freeze after this thaw it should be still in nick. We didn't want to hang around as it was raining at all levels on the route so I led up in one 60m pitch to the tree, brought Graham and Dan up and then we abbed off! Al and Kenny on Number 6 with their clients and a couple of walkers heading up towards Coire Nam Beith, not suprising it was quite quiet on the hill today.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Number 6 Gully

Fantastic day, great route and great company! I headed out with Graham to do Number 6 Gully on Aonach Dubh today but turned out he was unable to climb, so at the carpark I asked Al 'The Hoff' Halewood and his client if I could jump on the end of their ropes. They were both more than happy to do this and it was great for me as I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. Andy climbed very well and fast which meant we got to the route nice and early but we also topped out quickly and got back to the car before 1pm. The route is in good condition, plenty of fat ice. Some of the ice under the snow is soft but it just sucks in the axes! It was great. Some sections are quite thin but plenty of kicked in foot holds to make the most of. Couple of other teams behind us and a couple of teams up in Stob Coire Nam Beith. Snow falling down to about 300m ish.