Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Friday, 27 January 2012

26-01-12, Sgurr Mor Fannaich, NW Scotland - Winter Climbing

Sgurr Mor Fannaich, 'The Resurrection' takes the 300m centre line up the face finishing on the summit.

Yesterday, after the warm conditions on Wednesday the freezing level fell dramatically overnight, we hoped snow everywhere would have firmed up nicely, so headed to the Fannaichs to try and climb the classic face route 'The Resurrection' on Sgurr Mor. It was a long day with lots of walking but ultimately worth it. The route is serious with long pitches, poor runners and really poor belays in compact rock. The climbing overall was fairly straight forward grade III in guidebooks, but long 300m, we did it in 6 long pitches. The whole face was plastered in icy/neve snow with pockets of new soft. A steady angle, with much of it on an open face, felt very much like an alpine face route, good to climb but poor for ice screws. A great feeling when we realised the top was firm neve, with no cornice, and it tops out on the summit cairn (easily the best belay of the day)! At the moment, its in great condition, but if it has snowed a bit with a SW wind, the face could be a super massive avalanche.

Kath and Garry, heading up the easy alpine face like snow field in the middle of the climb.
An Teallach

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

24-01-12, Torridon - Winter Mountaineering

Enjoyable winter mountaineering along the 'Black Carls' east Bein Eighe. 

I am in Scotland now till the end of March. The Cairngorms are fairly lean, despite snow falling in Grantown over the weekend. I have been working on winter skills course at Glenmore Lodge. Very high wind speeds with snow accumulating on eastern aspects. Yesterday I was in Torridon helping with a winter mountaineering group from Martin Moran. We headed up a snowy Creag Dhubh on the eastern end of Bein Eighe, traversed the Black Carls, looking at using the rope to keep everybody safe on a ridge line in winter.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

17-01-12, Morocco - Ski Touring and Mountaineering

Summit of Toubkal (4167m) in High Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

I have spent the last week in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco with 8 friends. Our itinerary was to spend a short time in Marrakech (do some haggling and avoid getting ill!), then head straight to Imlil the gateway to Toubkal and do some ski touring in the mountains. Unfortunately snow cover wasn't as good as we had hoped for, apparently it hasn't snowed for 6 weeks! We did ski some of the north facing cwms and ascended Toubkal itself, probably carried skis on back as much as on our feet! One day Kathryn and myself decided to climb Ras (4083m) and Timesguida (4088m) via the central couloir, with hard neve everywhere and a light (ski-less) bag these peaks were very nice!

I would recommend a trip to the Atlas Mountains or even just Morocco. It is very in expensive and feels very different and only 3 hours away by air. A great thing about the mountaineering is the advantage of mules, that can carry your kit up to the snow line (in our case 2 thirds of the way). There are two huts next to each other surrounded by five 4000m peaks. We stayed in the Mouflon Refuge which I would highly recommend. Plenty of logs on the fire in the afternoon/evening, lots of food and a great hut guardian.

I am off to Scotland for work and play for the season. I will be working on Winter Skills / Mountaineering / Climbing courses. Conditions are a bit lean at the moment, but you should never second guess a Scottish Winter!

 Narrow streets in Marrakech.


 Mules with our bags and skis - easily worth £4.80 for 5 hours of uphill walking!

 Dodge the rocks!

 Plenty of walking with Skis!

 Central Couloir, Ras (4083m).

A morning of Ice Cascade climbing in the gorge near the Hut.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Fall 2011 - USA

Here are some photos of my trip to the states in October / November 2011. We flew out to Las Vegas, Nevada and climbed in Red Rocks and Zion, Utah. Unfortunately I managed to fall off a route, breaking and dislocating a couple of fingers which ended the climbing trip. A few weeks of sight seeing and touring Utah with all of its rocky national parks has made me want to return sometime.

 Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
 Black Velvet Canyon, Red Rocks, Nevada
 Bryce Canyon, Utah
 Bryce Canyon, Utah
 Canyonlands, Utah
 Crimson Chrysalis, Red Rocks, Nevada
 Crimson Chrysalis, Red Rocks, Nevada
 Collared Lizard, Red Rocks, Nevada

 Great White Throne, Zion, Utah
 Lizard, Capitol Reef, Utah
 Mesa Arch, Canyonlands, Utah
 Native Indian Drawings, Capitol Reef, Utah
 Red Rocks, Nevada
Tarantula, Red Rocks, Nevada