Thursday, 8 February 2018

Winter climbing guiding - Ben Nevis, Glencoe and Skye.

It's been a busy week since the last blog, with two days of winter skills with students from West Highland College from the School of Adventure Studies and five days of private guiding with Paul.

Paul and I have had a great run of weather and a tour of the West Highlands. We started with Curved ridge and then Western rib on the West face of Aonach Mor, both in great condition and bathed in sunshine. We then decided to make a quick hit to Skye and spent the day covering loads of mountaineering ground at the northern end. Day 4 was a 'rest' day with Paul leading us up the Zig Zags before we made a quick getaway for coffee and cake and day five was the icing on the cake with an ascent of Tower ridge, which was a great day out.

Conditions at the moment are great with a fantastic covering of snow, the ice routes are forming well and have seen some traffic although reports are that they are difficult to protect at the moment. Tower The big ridges have a good covering of snow making them feel slightly easier but belays and protection are hard to come by.

Am Bastier, Skye winter

Am Bastier on Skye.

Skye cuillin in winter

Looking south on Skye towards the middle Munro's.

Ben Nevis in winter

Ben Nevis.

Curved ridge in winter

Curved ridge.

Western Rib Aonach Mor

Western rib.

zig zags, Glencoe

The Zig Zags in Glencoe.

Tower ridge, Ben Nevis

Topping out on Tower ridge after a great week.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Glencoe winter mountaineering and wild weather.

We have had a wild weekend on the west with strong winds and heavy rain at times meaning the snowpack is saturated but the good news is it is turning cold again today and more snow is forecast for midweek. I was out working with a group from Manchester University Mountaineering club on a mountaineering course for Hebridean Pursuits. We spent Saturday going through some of the hard skills in a very blustery Coire na Tuilach, where at the time we found it difficult to stand and yesterday we applied those skills with the group leading themselves up the Zig zags with some discussion about when and where to use the best technique. 

Buachaille etive mor winter

Coire na Tuilach on Saturday 

winter mountaineering Glencoe

winter mountaineering Glencoe

winter mountaineering Glencoe

winter mountaineering Glencoe

Friday, 26 January 2018

Cairngorms mountaineering course.

This week I have been working with a group from the Ulster University Mountaineering club over in the Cairngorms. It has been a mixed few days with temperatures mostly above the summits. There have been some bright spells too and things cooled down on Wednesday but we did take a bit of a kicking in the morning with strong winds and spindrift in the Ciste Gully.
The guys did really well despite all of this and have had a great few days on a rather steep learning curve whilst getting to grips with everything that is involved with winter mountaineering.

winter mountaineering cairngorms

cairngorms winter mountaineering

Cairngorms winter mountaineering

Cairngorm winter mountaineering

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Winter mountaineering in Glencoe.

Thursday and Friday were great days to be out mountaineering in Glencoe. The snow cover was great and both our routes, Curved Ridge and Sron na Lairig were well stamped out making for quick and easy progress.

Things are changing today with the freezing level rising above the summit this evening and dropping again tomorrow morning with more fresh snow. This will help stabilise the remaining snow as it refreezes and hopefully helps the higher ice to form and give us some great climbing conditions in the coming days. There is more heavy snow forecast and on strong winds, so you will have to plan well and travel safely.

Curved ridge winter climbing

Curved Ridge.

Sron na Lairig winter mountaineering

Sron Na Lairig

sron na Lairig winter mountaineering

The exit slopes of Sron na Lairig.

Friday, 12 January 2018

A speedy ascent of Curved ridge.

Curved ridge gave us some fantastic and pretty straight forward climbing today. There is enough snow on the route to have filled in a lot of the ground and there is a line of firm steps up the whole route. We did get a couple of strong gusts of wind today but it was not as bad as forecast but it was also a lot warmer. John and Will moved fast over the ground and we were back at the car in 5 1/2 hours. 

Winter climbing course glencoe

Winter climbing courses glencoe

Winter climbing courses glencoe

Winter climbing courses glencoe

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Beinn Udlaidh conditions.

The ice at Beinn Udlaidh is quite variable at the moment and there aren't that many routes that are fully formed, Quartzvein scoop was definitely the most complete and fattest looking line on the crag today. The strong SE winds from the start of the week have buried the crag in snow and insulated the ice from the cold temperatures.
The Eastern sector is definitely in better shape than the west. Hopefully, a couple more days of cold weather will only improve conditions. It is worth heading up but pickings are slim at the moment.

Winter climbing courses

Dave high on Quartzvein scoop. 
winter climbing courses

Topping out into the sunshine, what an amazing day. 

winter climbing courses

Descending back into the corrie, the western sector in the background. 

Scottish winter climbing courses

Approaching the eastern sector. 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Mountain biking at Laggan Wolftrax

Yesterday's group were given a bit of a choice today. Go out on the hill again and face some potentially fierce winds, go climbing indoor or go Mountain biking? So on the bike, it was for me today then, it was a great day riding the natural trails at Wolftrax, over on the 'Brown side', trying to avoid most of the hard ice that is present at the moment due to this cold spell.
The natural trails where definitely the best place to be for biking today but the traction was still a bit hit and miss and we needed to be on our toes.

Mountain bike skills courses

Mountain bike skills courses

Mountain bike skills courses

Mountain bike skills courses

Mountain bike skills courses