Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

10-02-16, Torridon, Glen Carron - Winter Mountaineering

I have just spent 3 days in North West Highlands, Munro bagging with Simon. It is wintry over there, with snow above 600m, plenty of rime on the rocks, not so much ice however. The freezing level seemed to rise to or above the summits most days making the snow turn heavy by midday. We had a great time on Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Lieth Mhor-Sgorr Ruadh, despite the visibility not always showing Torridon in its fine glory!

Northern Pinnacles, Liathach.
Descending on Horns of Alligin.
Horns of Alligin.
About as close to sunshine as we got from Monday!
Coire Lair.
Sgorr Ruadh and some deer girls.
Liathach the start of the ridge.
Liathach on the way up Spidean Coire Leith.
On the Liathach Pinnacles.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

06-02-16, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

Some good ice still about on Ben Nevis, plenty of new windblown snow as well as avalanches in number 3 gully and observatory gully. We climbed Number 3 gully buttress which was nice with good snow/ice all over it. Poor visibility for most of the day, but frozen conditions looked good!

Final pitch of Number 3 Gully Buttress.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

04-02-16, Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glen Coe - Winter Climbing

A warm day in Glen Coe, We climbed Raeburn's Route, slightly slushy snow, but climbable as always. Plenty of teams on Dorsal Arete. Freezing level was well above the summits.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

03-02-16, Buachaille, Glen Coe - Winter Climbing

High up on Curved Ridge, Buachaille, Glen Coe.

Lovely weather today in West Highlands. light winds, cold great views of snowy mountains. Plenty of soft snow about, made Curved Ridge slightly arduous, but it was still good. Some wind slab about on NE aspects, tops mixed, verglassed rocks, dry rocks, hard neve, hard wind slab. The descent down Coire na Tulloch was hard neve, but low down the soft snow hid the boulders and holes in the gully!

Rannoch Wall.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

02-02-16, Ben Nevis

Views of Ben Nevis North Face from today. A late walk up to CIC hut, most folk who had been climbing said it was fairly wild most of the day!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

31-01-16, Stob Coire nan Lochan - Winter Mountaineering

A welcome return to winter and 2 very different days this weekend. Saturday was especially buffeting, we did however manage to get some essential winter skills covered on Buachaille Etive Beag. Today was much nicer weather, we traversed Stob Coire nan Lochan. Many teams climbing on the buttresses, lots of new snow about in the coire and in the gullies, summit tops quite scoured from the wind.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

27-01-16, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

 A day with freezing level forecast below the summit for a change! We walked into Ben Nevis up high to find something. BMC international meet this week, many had the same idea. Queues on Gargolye Wall, Sioux Wall, Hobgoblin, some people attempting routes on Trident Buttress, gave up and a cheeky French team climbing a black Cornucopia/Secret. Green Gully looked possibly climbable, Number 3 Gully Buttress looked good. We climbed something unknown higher than Winter Chimney at about grade III. To summarise nothing was frozen!
Kondor, new route?!? some short nonsense high on left of number 3 gully.
French team on Cornucopia/Secret.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

23-01-16, Ben Nevis - Winter Mountaineering

Top of Number 3 Gully.
 The thaw has continued. As to be expected the snow line has risen and is heavily saturated at all levels, ice has melted, buttresses are very black. Rich and I walked up to Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis up Number 3 Gully. We passed some unclimbable drippy ice on The Curtain, there had been some avalanches near Garadh Gully, Number 2 Gully and under Trident buttress. A team looking to head up Green Gully! Several teams climbing Number 3 Gully Buttress and a team un successful on an out of condition Thompson's Route. It was dry and breezy, but warm.

Avalanche debris Trident Buttress.
West side of Tower Ridge.
Ciste, looking black, Central and South Gully looking thin.
Number 3 Gully Buttress.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

20-01-16, Cairngorms - Ski Touring

I have spent to past couple of days ski touring in Cairngorms. Wednesday was ace, cloud free summits most of the time, no wind, great snow. Today not so good, quite a breeze, with plenty of snow movement. It has been great but the thaw and rain forecast may put a stop to the fun for a little while.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

19-01-16, Glen Shiel, West Highlands - Ski Touring

 Another claggy day, saturated snow at most levels. Bastien and I hoped for some fine munro bagging and ski touring in Glen Shiel on the mountains north of Loch Cluanie, however very poor visibility meant we decided to finish earlier than planned. We skinned up Coire nan Clach to Carn Ghluasaid and skied down.

No views but still smiling!
Survival skiing!

Monday, 18 January 2016

17-01-16, Applecross, North West Highlands - Winter Mountaineering

The intimidating view of the Chioch headwall.
 A change of scenery, we left Skye and headed to Beinn Bhan on Applecross. Clouds were fairly set in but rose well above the summits by midday, Skye was still looking gloomy. We did the traverse of a' Chioch, which we have done before but still a spectacular mountaineering day out. Ice appeared to be forming but routes like Silver Tear are well off, and March Hares Gully was full of soft unconsolidated snow.
Traversing the Chioch not far from the summit.
Plenty of snow on the way down.

16-01-16, Skye, North West Highands - Winter Mountaineering

Winter Cuillin Ridge Bruach na Frithe to Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh.
 A great visibility forecast for the weekend and knowing there was plenty of snow about, we headed  to Skye to do some winter mountaineering. Unfortunately Saturday was cloudy, snowy and 30mph winds, the visual beauty  of the Cuillin wasn't there for us but the terrain up the NE ridge of Sgurr a' Bhasteir and down the NW of Bruach na Frith, did give us all a great sustained, interesting journey. Plenty of unconsolidated snow about everywhere.

A nice snow arete across the ridge between Sgurr a' Bhasteir and Am Basteir.
Plenty of interest on the way down the NW ridge of Bruach na Frithe.
Snowy peaks in Glen Shiel on the drive through.
Forcan Ridge, The Saddle, Glen Shiel.