Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Saturday, 18 February 2012

17-02-12, Aonach Mor, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

Ben Nevis above the cloud from Aonach Mor
This week I have been climbing and working on the West on Aonach Mor and Ben Nevis for Adventure Peaks. Liam and Martin were on a Improvers Snow and Ice climbing course. The idea being to climb Ice and mixed routes between grade III and V, learn about technique, runners, belays, stances and how to survive winter climbing, with a aim to become independent and be leading easy winter winter routes on their own. The start of the week had glorious weather, freezing level below the summits with lots of icy routes in good condition high up 900-1000m altitude, as the week progressed, mild weather and rain and wind became the norm. On Sunday I was out climbing for myself with a friend on Aonach Mor, the ice routes were in great condition, we climbed Aquafresh, Roaring Forties and Siamese Twin all grade IV. Monday with work, the team had already have crampon and some winter climbing experience we headed back to Aonach Mor and climbed Tunnel Vision III. Tuesday and Wednesday to Ben Nevis and climbed the first 3 pitches of Nasturtium IV (which was in poor condition - relatively low and probably very hard now with the recent thaw), and Wendigo IV (a great ice and mixed route on Coire na Ciste Crag). Thursday was very mild and raining heavily in the morning so we had a rest day and worked on dry tooling technique (on Onich Slab) and some rope work at Polldubh crags and climbed a 2 pitch route The Gutter, Diff in the sunshine! Yesterday, Friday myself and Liam climbed Faulty Towers, III right of the Douglas boulder which gave 3 good mixed pitches, on snow ice and turf.

Looks like the weather may have ended the winter season yesterday, however it is a blizzard of snow in Grantown on Spey at the moment, so the freezing level has dropped and the snow is returning to lower levels! I will be in the NW Highlands this week, hopefully, the routes are looking white and frozen.

Siamese Twin, IV,4 with rescue helicopter helping an injured team near by.

Siamese Twin IV,4 - excellent steeper variation to Left Twin on Aonch Mor.

Tamsin, guiding a pair up the classic Left Twin, III.

Nasturtium, IV, 4

Faulty Towers, III

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