Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Thursday, 28 March 2013

26-03-13, Liathach, Torridon - Winter Climbing

Salmon Leap

Poachers Falls, Pitch 1
Poachers Falls, Pitch 2
Poachers Falls, Pitch 2
Poachers Falls, Pitch 1

Monday, 25 March 2013

25-03-13, Buachaille Etive Mor, Glen Coe - Winter Mountaineering

Midway up Curved Ridge.
Today seeing as we were on a mountaineering course, I thought it would be a good idea to do some mountaineering! So what else Curved Ridge, in the sunshine - Magic! Still a bit windy today but nothing as to what we have had over the past 5 days. There were a couple of other teams on the mountain today - climbing North Buttress. There is some good ice to be had at the start of Curved Ridge (Easy Gully), and the water-slide has some impressive icicles dripping from the slab. We descended down Coire na Tulloch, but there is a lot of wind slab about.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

24-03-13, Sgurr Finnisg-aig, West Highlands - Winter Climbing

Andy, Smashing it in on Finnisg-aig.
The weather has been very stormy and especially windy lately. I am working on the west on a mountaineering course. Yesterday wasn't really a mountain day to get something done! We waked up into Stob Coire Nan Lochan to poke our noses into the storm force winds... it was windy! Today we climbed some low level ice on Sgurr Finnisg-aig on the side of Aonach Mor. This climb is in good condition right now. Several different lines can be climbed, about grade III for most of it maybe the top pitch is a bit harder? We climbed it in 6 short pitches but you could do it in 3 long ones. After topping out it is a short 10 minute walk to the top Gondola station then down the bike track.
Top Pitch.

Second Pitch, grade II.
Sgurr Finnisg-aig.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

20-03-13, Cul Mor, Coigach, Northern Highlands - Winter Walking

Cul Mor.
 Walk into Coire Gorm on Cul Mor today. Windier than forecast, but freezing level still low and plenty of snow and rime about similar levels to yesterday. We had thought about climbing The Cul on the back of Cul Mor, but when we eventually got there we weren't too psyched with all of the chimney action, as aesthetic a line as it was! Walked up the other side of the corrie for some great views of Stac Pollaidh and the rest of Coigach we bagged the Corbett and walked back. There is a fair amount of wind slab about, it has been windy.
Stac Pollaidh.
Cul Mor Coire Gorm.
Cul Mor, Cul Beag, Stac Pollaidh.

19-03-13, Quinag, Assynt, Northern Highlands - Winter Climbing

Fantastic steep well protected quartzite climbing on Pick Nicker, Quinag
 I have been working in the Cairngorms on an winter climbing course, it has been a considerable avalanche hazard everywhere, so we climbed the Fiaciall on Saturday, then on Sunday abbed in and climbed Anvil Gully on Cha-no crag when we eventually managed to find the crag in the thick soup! Today Kathryn and I drove North with the thought of climbing some ice in Torridon. There has been a lot of snow overnight, Inverness and Garve had plenty by the roads, we were already slightly worried about the snow above the ice! We thought something else maybe a route on Stac Pollaidh just north of Ullapool might give some good sport so we motored on. We arrived in Coigach and Stac Pollaidh was clearly dry and summery - I think to be successful on a winter climb on this micro mountain, you would have to be staying in Ullapool when it comes into condition as the roads from the south would be un passable! We carried on driving further north to Quinag, in the hope that the high quartizite Bucket Buttress would be frozen and have rime on the rocks - luckily it did. The snow line is at about 600m, and harder neve and rime ice is found at about 700m, plenty of  windslab about with rime on the windslab, making it look like neve. We climbed a classic mini route - Pick Nicker V,6 *** well worth the shortish 1.5 hour walk. This crag is ace, short, but steep, corners, cracks and gear everywhere, as good as any pitch in the Northern Corries!
Approaching the crag.
Spidean Coinich, with Bucket Buttress high on its North East Face.
Excellent Corner.
Corners, Cracks and Aretes everywhere.
View at Coigach, Stac Pollaidh just right of centre.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

13-03-13, Sgorr Ruadh, Glen Carron, North West Highlands - Winter Climbing

Fuar Tholl and Sgorr Ruadh.
Something slightly easier requested today - so that will obviously be Easy Gully, II on Sgorr Ruadh then! Ridiculous name, ridiculous grade. It was definitely still grade III today as it was a couple of weeks ago. The first proper pitch has a significant steepening, on helpful hard neve, but steeper than II. There was some powdery snow on the lower pitches but the top half was excellent hard neve. Another beautiful blue bird sky, it did change by 3 with some new snowfall and cloud but still very pleasant.

Easy Gully.
Terrance on the approach slope.
Meall nan Ceapairean.
Fuar Tholl.
At the top of the steepening on pitch 1.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

12-03-13, Druim Shionnach, Glen Shiel - Winter Climbing

Terrance enjoying the second steep pitch.
A more wintry day in Glen Shiel today. Terrance has climbed a grade IV ice climb yesterday so we had a mixed climb on the cards. Walking into Druim Shionnach we were happy to see the crags well frozen with a dusting of snow. There was some wind slab forming around the base of the crag and on the upper snow slope bowl of Cave Gully. We climbed Boxer's Buttress, which gave 2 good mixed turfy grade IV pitches, then an easier grade II pitch and a snow plod to the summit. There is some ice about but I think it is mainly the turfy mixed climbs which are in condition on these crags at the moment.
Coire an t-Slugain, Glen Shiel.
Summit snow wind Druim Shionnach.
Approach, winter again.
At the top of the first pitch.
Druim Shionnach West Face.

Monday, 11 March 2013

11-03-13, Liathach, Torridon, North-West Highlands - Winter Climbing

Classic Torridon.
Another week of North West paradise in the diary this week. I am working on a Moran Mountain Intro Winter Climber course. Terrance and I went to Liathach to do some ice climbing. Poachers Fall, The Salmon Leap and Umbrella Fall are looking in tremendous condition. The hard neve is still in abundance with only a slight dusting of new snow to speak of. We climbed George (obviously my favorite route up here!) but finished with the Sinister Prong. This was well iced and had a couple of bulging vertical pitches, great value at IV,5. Topped out to yet another stunning Liathach view - 'you've got to love the north west when there's high pressure (why aye)'.
Terrance approaching Spidean.
Top of first steep crux of Sinister Prong.
Pleased to be at the top of the difficulties.
Approach slopes.
Spidean - 'rime ice bigger than man'.
I never bore of taking this shot!
View from the office today!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

10-03-13, Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairgorms

Perfect start to the day.
Another quiet day in the northern corries only a few teams climbing, very fine conditions in the morning with the weather deteriorating in the afternoon.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

09-03-13, Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorms - Winter Climbing

Fiaciall Buttress, well rimed and scoured approach.
 Regular Winter service has resumed! plenty of wind and bitterly cold easterly wind. Some new snow drifting and cross loading many slope aspects. We found some very scoured slopes under Fiaciall and a well rimed buttress. We climbed Invernookie, very class, bomber neve everywhere and even though it was cold it was very pleasant. The corries were very quiet. We saw 2 other climbing teams and a few skills groups but not many people at all (probably having it on Ben Nevis).
Bomber Neve.
Enjoying winter climbing!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

06-03-13, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

Compression Crack pitch 1 thanks for the photo Garry.
On the Ben again with Garry, ice still awesome, we left a lot of kit on the mountain yesterday so we could walk in casually with lite sacks. We wandered up to try and climb Raeburn's Buttress but there was already another team on it, Boomer's Requiem looked ace but I have already done that. Compression Crack looked ace so we climbed that, good grade V ice not a hook in sight! We abseiled off then climbed The Castle, a fun route, most of it fairly easy apart from one grade III crux pitch at the top. Great neve and ice a joy to climb. Kath and her mountaineering team climbed South Castle Gully, very atmospheric with a grade II pitch at the start.
The Shroud, Boomers, Compression Crack, The Castle.
Looking down the impressive scenic South Castle Gully.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

05-03-13, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

Garry climbing some steep ice on Hadrian's Wall Direct
 On the Ben today, trying to make the most of the excellent ice and conditions present before the wet thaw kicks in later this week. Garry and I climbed Hadrian's Wall Direct - Quality! Great condition as long as you have sharp picks and crampons, hardly any hooks, it was more like pure water ice on the first couple of pitches. There is ice everywhere up high with loads of routes to go at and not many people about, get on it quick before it disappears.
Hadrian's to Point 5 to Observatory Buttress.
It wasn't as steep as the first photo makes it look!
Don't forget to leave 2 spare Ice Screws for the belay or you will belay off this!