Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Thompsons Route

This morning John and I went up Ben Nevis to see what conditions were looking like. I had mixed in mind but on arrival all the buttresses were totally stripped! Another team were up to do Darth Vader but on arrival realised it was a no go. We got on Thompsons route, I have climbed this before so John took the rack and headed up. The ice was very mushy and slushy, not the best conditions I've had so far this season. On the way down Mike was heading up Thompsons, the team who headed for Darth went on Gremlin's, another team headed for either Green Gully or Number 3 Gully Buttress. We were back in Nevis Sport for a brew at 1.30. Heading to the Ice Factor for another session now.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

2 Routes Today

Today John and I headed up into Ben Nevis's north face. We headed up to Trident Buttress to climb The Slab Climb (VI,7). This is an excellent route in great condition at the moment. Gear is really good when its needed. We climbed the route in 3 pitches and then traversed off into number 4 gully. We got back to the bags at 1pm so we went and climbed Wendigo (IV,4) on Creag Coire na Ciste. This also was an excellent route which we also did in 3 pitches. All the mixed routes looked good high up on the crag. Other teams on Green Gully, Tower Ridge, North Gully, Jubilee Climb, Gargoyle Wall, Thompsons Route and many more over near Observatory Ridge Area. Ken was out on a route near to us.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Point 5 Gully ... At Last.

I have been up to do this classic Cold Climb on Ben Nevis many times but have always been beaten to it. Not today though. Jamie and I had a super early start and got to the route before anybody else! Unfortunately the visibility was very poor but the ice was superb. Great for climbing on, not very helpful for protection though. The steep pitches felt very run out! And to top it off Jamie's crampon came off on the Rouge Pitch! It went the full distance so we proceeded with Jamie only climbing with one crampon. Step cutting is actually quite good fun on steep ice! Despite this slight draw back we topped out in good time but had to walk down the red burn instead of going down number 4 like everyone else.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Back in Stob Coire nan Lochain

Today I was up early for first light in Glencoe. The views and morning colours were spectacular. As yesterday the crags were looking great. Several teams on Dorsal Arete again, a team had a look in Twisting Gully but decided it hadnt consolidated enough so they retreated.

Chimney Route

Today was another cracking day with very little wind and plenty of blue skies. Campbell and I opted for heading up into Stob Coire nan Lochain in Glencoe for a look at the crags. On arrival there was lots to go for so I suggested doing Chimney Route (VI,6). A route that neither of us had done didn't disappoint. I led the route in 3 pitches to get us onto the crest where we bumped into John and his mate who had just done Twisting grooves. A soloist climbed Dorsal Arete and another soloist on Boomerang Arete. The whole crag is looking great for the mixed routes. We descended Broad Gully.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Tower Face of the Comb

Today John and I headed up into the North Face of Ben Nevis to have a look and see what has been left over from the thaw. We saw very little, visibility was very poor with all the falling snow. We headed up to Comb Buttress and climbed Tower Face of the Comb (VI,6). The route was fantastic, excellent climbing and best of all it was in perfect condition. Plenty of good neve, solid turf and not too much snow! The mountain was quiet today with very few people venturing out. A team of lively french men had climbed Mercury (V,5) but reported dry tooling on the lower pitch as there was no ice. Mixed routes are in great condition. Gully's are getting there but now have quite a bit of snow in. We avoided coming down number 4 gully and walked down the red burn. Just back from a dry tooling session at the Ice Factor so very tired arms. All packed for more climbing tomorrow though!!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Soggy Expedition

This weekend was meant to be spent snow holing but as the weather has created a rather substantial thaw, we opted for a bothy. We went to the Lairig Leacach bothy below Stob Ban in the The Grey Corries. It rained constantly for the two days with winds up to 90mph! At one point Izzi was crawling up the hill. On arrival to the bothy there was smoke in the chimney which was a pleasant surprise. Two guys from the lakes were there for the weekend so it was very sociable. On the first day we attempted to walk up Stob Ban but at the 800m line we couldn't fight the winds anymore so we headed down in to the valley and did plenty of navigation practice before heading back to the bothy to dry off in front of the fire. Day two consisted of a walk up two Corbett's, battling the wind, rain and occasional snow flurries. We did pleanty of navigation before heading back to the car so Izzi could catch the train back to Essex. A tough week with the current weather conditions but still productive. No photo's of the rain, forgot my camera.

Friday, 14 January 2011

A wet letter day

Today Izzi and I donned the full waterproofs, sealed our dry bags, cased our maps and braved the weather in Glencoe. We opted for the Zig Zags on Gearr Aonach which, as predicted, was completely stripped of snow. We made a quick ascent onto Gearr Aonach and then buried our heads in our maps looking at navigation skills. We navigated ourselves up the North East ridge in very strong winds, gusts up to 60+mph. We battled our way down the north ridge and navigated our way back in the corrie floor. Time was running away from us as was any dry stitching in out clothing so we headed back to the car. Heading out for a little 2 day expedition into the Grey Corries for the weekend. Feel free to bring more fire wood up to the Lairig Leacach Bothy!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Soggy Nevis

Today Izzi and I were keen to find some ice to climb before everything is stripped away. We headed up to the CIC cascades to see what was left of them. On approach it didn't look hopeful, especially when a large amount of ice fell off the steepest line! Fortunately we were able to climb the next line giving good but wet climbing at grade III. Axe and crampon placements were great as the ice was so soft and even the ice screws seemed to be pretty reasonable. We abbed off the block at the top and made a hasty retreat back to the car. Lots to dry out tonight! Think I'll leave my gear to the radiator and go for a climb at The Ice Factor.

Wet and Windy

Despite the bad weather Izzi and I got up to Aonach Mor for a little run around in the snow. Temperatures were high and snow was thawing rapidly. We found patches of ice here and there to use our crampons and the wet snow was great for sliding on. We spent the day over at the Nid area, eventually working our way up the ridge and had a dig at bucket seats and snow anchors. Not a great day for hanging around.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Little Shephard of Etive

Today Emma was out for her first winter walk and we just wanted something small and sweet. We headed into Glencoe and took a wander up Buachaille Etive Beag. On the bealach we decided to just go up onto Stob Dubh (958m) and catch the nice views over onto Glen Etive. We talked about avalanche awareness on the move, looking at hasty pits, walking ruchsblock test and identifying visable signs of snow transportation. Several other walkers were out enjoying the spectacular views and great weather.

Friday, 7 January 2011

North Face Route

Today Graham and I headed up to Buachaille Etive Mor. We got on North Face Route (V,6), a route that rarely sees traffic in the winter. It was brilliant. Quite a bit of snow to clear but turf was bomber and cracks were clear. Every pitch had a tricky bit on it and I found it quite tiring. We abbed down from the top of the route back to the start in 3 full 60m abseils. Great day. Several other teams on Curved Ridge. Time for a take away!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Snow Ploughing

This morning Graham had a physio appointment at 9am so we had a late start, leaving the car at 10.40. We headed up into Stob Coire nan Lochain in Glencoe and arrived up there at 11.40. We saw several teams out, counted about 6 parties. All on Dorsal Arete! I think all the gear placements and belays will be nice and clear. As we only had a short amount of daylight left. We went up Scabbard Chimney (V,6), and then once we got onto easier ground we abseiled back down. It was pretty hard going clearing off all the snow but is a great route which I have wanted to do for a while. The winds were pretty low today and plenty of blue sky around.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Perfect Choice

Today I was kick starting my next winter stint with a trip over to the Cairngorms with Kenny. We met up with Andy, Kennys client, aswell for a very sociable day. It was disgusting weather leaving Fort William at 6am but as we got further East it was clearing up nicely. On arrival to the crag it was blue skies and a cold wind. We firstly climbed The Message (IV,6), topped out at 1pm, nipped back down and then climbed the Direct Start (IV,5) to Hidden Chimney (III). Many other teams out today on routes like Fingers Ridge, Jacobs Ladder, Original Route (I think), The Runnel and a few others. Snow was falling quite heavily as we were driving back to Fort William.