Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Friday, 30 January 2015

30-01-15, Stob Coire nam Beith, Glen Coe - Winter Mountaineering

 Another good weather day in Glen Coe. Winds were light, maybe slightly warmer today but still cold enough for lots of snow to be around. After yesterdays experience of firm, consolidated, hard snow on W/NW/N aspects on Beinn a' Beithir, we had (perhaps optimistically) hoped that Summit Gully on Stob Coire nam Beith may have a similar hard snow within. We managed to get maybe 1 quarter of the way up this 450m grade I/II gully climb, before we could no longer avoid very deep unconsolidated wind blown snow at a narrowing. We were sensible and descended as getting involved in that snow on that terrain would be very unwise!
Church Door Buttress.
Aonach Eagach.
Stob Coire nam Beith.
Approaching Summit Gully.
Too much unavoidable deep soft new snow on a hard base!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

29-01-15, Beinn a' Bheithir, Ballachulish - Winter Mountaineering

Sgorr Dhearg, Beinn a' Bhethir.
Plenty of new snowfall overnight and into the morning, with freezing level well down to sea level. We initially had a false start, but regained control and went winter mountaineering on ENE ridge (School House Ridge) of Sgorr Bhan part of the Ballachulish Horseshoe. We were rewarded to fine views of Glen Coe.
The interest on School House Ridge.
Ascending snow slopes on the approach to ENE ridge.

Monday, 26 January 2015

26-01-15, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

Out on Ben Nevis today. We had optimistically hoped for some fine ice climbing after the thaw yesterday. However the temperature probably hadn't dropped soon enough to make Harrison's Climb refreeze, we found a constant shower coming from The Shroud above. After climbing the first pitch we abseiled off. Round the corner some teams were on Waterfall Gully, Gemini and The Shield. Plenty of teams climbed The Curtain and Vanishing Gully. We climbed part of The Curtain Rail with an icy step towards the top but the main parallel ice pitch was not there. Overall the mountain was very wintry and there is ice in abundance but the freezing level needs to drop for a bit longer. 

Shield Direct.
Abseil away form the wetness!
The easy start to The Curtain Rail.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

25-01-15, Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorms - Winter Climbing

 I have been working in the Cairngorms with students on a MCofS University students winter climbing course. Saturday was windy, but cold, and fairly quiet in the coire. We climbed Hidden Chimney Direct, as usual in fun climbable condition. Today the freezing level was well above the summits, no rain, but very windy, the buttresses are black and the snow moist!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

22-01-15, Cairngorms - Winter Mountaineering

 I have spent the past couple of days in the Cairngorms working on a winter mountaineering course. Fine weather, sunshine and light winds. There is plenty of hard wind slab about on northerly aspects, as well as plenty of scoured ground. Not many climbers in Coire an t-Sneachda.
Brocken Spectre, as we approached Fiacaill Ridge.

Carn Etchachan.
Coire an t-Sneachda.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

19-01-15, Buachaille & Cairngorms - Winter Climbing

D Gully Buttress.
 It has been very cold and the snow has remained low in the valleys. I have been working in the Cairngorms at the weekend. Saturday was glorious, Sunday was good but not as pleasant. Hidden Chimney and Haston Line were busy probably with the avalanche forecast in mind! Yesterday Matt and I waded up towards the Buachaille and climbed a buried D Gully Buttress, reasonably tricky for a guidebook grade III! There is lots of snow and ice about at the moment, hopefully it will hang around for sometime.
Buachaille shadow, overlooking a very snowy Lochaber.
Fiaciall Buttress, Coire an t-Sneachda.
Top of Hidden Chimney.

Friday, 16 January 2015

16-01-15, Beinn a'Chaorainn, West Highlands - Winter Mountaineering

 Back to the East Ridge of Beinn a'Chaorainn today, we have had a lot of snow and a very strong Westerly wind. I don't think it was quite as windy as forecast, but the summit was very Scottish. I need to thank the team that was ahead of us for putting in a fantastic effort and getting a track in the knee deep snow for us!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

14-01-15, Mam na Gualainn, West Highlands - Winter Hillwalking

More snow down to sea level today. The road up to Glen Coe wasn't getting cleared very quickly and plenty of abandoned cars. We went for a walk along the broad ridge of Mam na Gualainn towards Beinn na Caillich, plenty of post holing was had!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

13-01-15, Beinn a'Chaorainn, West Highlands - Winter Mountaineering

Start of East Ridge, Beinn a'Chaorainn.
Finally some new snow, down to the glens. Plenty of snow on A86 too! A drop in wind speed, made for an enjoyable day on East Ridge of Beinn a'Chaorainn. Very wintry feel, lots of drifted snow, cornices and wind slab about, some nice icy patches and neve. There was a short spell of calm and blue skies but plenty of buffeting for the most.

Friday, 9 January 2015

7th,8th January 2015, Ben Nevis, Stob Coire nan Lochan - Winter Skills

Bidean nam Bian.
Appalling weather on Tuesday, heavy rain on summits very windy, complete saturation of everything. We walked up to Coire Leis on Ben Nevis to try and find some wet snow, the river was massive and there were several avalanches evident from number 5 gully, Castle gully and at the bottom of Trident buttress. I imagine the ice up high above 1100m will have improved with the thaw and re freeze that occurred during the following evening. Wednesday was a nicer day but still blustery and at least snowing as the freezing level was below 900m. We headed up Stob Coire nan Lochan, lots of snow about in the wide gullies and around the base of the crags, but very bare in the summit and west ridge. The cliffs did look more wintry with the new snow. We will be storm bound for the next couple if days!

Ben Nevis, Observatory gully, 07-01-15

Ben Nevis, Ciste.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

03-01-15, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

 After a few days of thawing, wetness and wind in the Scottish Highlands, today was lovely. We climbed Glover's Chimney on Ben Nevis, which was in good condition. Lots of teams out today, we saw teams on Ledge Route, Central Gully, Green Gully, Tower Face of the Comb, Comb Gully, Comb Gully Buttress, Tower Ridge, Smith's Route, that is just what we saw, many other routes looked in good climbable condition. Lots of ice and neve about mainly in the bigger gullies, the thin face routes have a way to go.