Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

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.

Friday, 15 January 2016

14-01-16, Stob Binnein - Ben More, Southern Highlands - Ski Touring

Ascending Stob Binnein from the south.
 An excellent day of Scottish ski touring in Southern Highlands. I spent most of the day trying to keep up with Steve but it was cracking weather for my first day in Scotland this season. We had skins on from the van skinned up the northerly valley to Stob Binnein approaching the summit from the south. The 300m ski descent off Stob Binnein's NW aspect was magnificent, steady angle, good regular snow. Skiing off the side of Ben More was slightly more interesting, less good snow, a few cliffs to negotiate. At the end we had a few kms to walk on the forest track.
Trying to keep up!
Good snow cover, descent off eastern flanks of Ben More.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Spring/Summer/Autumn 2015

A lack of blogging for most of 2015 after the Scottish 2014/15 season, ready in anticipation for this season to start! Here are a few photos of some climbing from 2015. I have mainly been working in North Wales on a combination of multi-activity residential school trips, family holidays and mountain skills courses, navigation, scrambling and rock climbing. We have had a big house project on for most of 2015 so trips away have been limited, but we did manage to get to Picos de Europa in Northern Spain during September and a News Years climbing/skiing trip to Cogne/Aosta valley in Northern Italy.

Cervinia, Skiing, had to go up high for the snow!

Imitator, Gogarth, Main Cliff, North Wales.

Classy belay on Shadow Wall, Carreg Wasted, Llanberis Pass, North Wales.

Climbing quietly on Route 66, Craig y Forwyn, North Wales.

Icarus, Rhoscolyn, Gogarth, North Wales.

Britomartis, Gogarth, North Wales.

Picos de Europa, Spain.

Grassy Alps and pointy limestone peaks in Picos de Europa, Spain.

The Magnificent El Naranja, Picos de Europa, Spain.

Naranja, Picos de Europa, Spain.

Mass of Limestone high ground, Picos de Europa, Spain.

Some highball solo sandstone action in North York Moors.

Ice Climbing, Cogne, Italy.

Monte Bianco, Italy.

Ice in Valle Rhemes, Italy.

Alpine ski resorts in much need of some more snow news year day 2016.