Monday, 26 January 2009
Back on Friday I went out with Blair as he prepared the forecast for the SAIS (Scottish Avalanche Info Service). We dug a pit up on Aonach Mor and assessed the snow as we descended down to the base of the Nid. It was interesting to see the forecasting process and learn more about the complexities of snow.
On Saturday I went out to do some skills with my (slightly sick) partner Sarah along with Dave and Joe. We ventured onto the slopes of Ben Lawers where we found snow from around 400m, though much of it soft.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
The turf is now well frozen but the crags are hidden under soft snow and significant windslab is forming (it didn't quite rain at all levels last night).
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
There wasn't as much snow as the west, and what we discovered was much more compact making for an easy approach. All the turf was well frozen, though most cracks were hidden beneath soft snow. It is due to warm a little overnight with freezing levels drop by mid-morning, which will only help to consolidate the snowpack.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
On the way down the snow was a lot wetter and it felt that the freezing level had risen to 800/900m. Tomorrow it is set to drop to 600m with a frost overnight - hopefully helping to consolidate the existing soft snow.
On the descent we decided to abseil down the grade 1 gully as it was loaded with a lot of snow.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
Saturday, 17 January 2009
We jumped on Tilt (VI, 7), which has a lot of good climbing on. Snow had plastered the whole crag and the turf on the top half of the route was frozen. Unfortunately I discovered it wasn't quite so well frozen lower down as my axes unexpectedly ripped and I found myself 15ft lower.
We were just finishing the last pitch when the storm arrived firing snow pellets into our faces and blowing us around at will. By the time we made it back to the car park we were drenched through and struggling against the wind even in the car park.
With all the snow falling, loading the slopes, all the gullies were releasing lots of slough avalanches. I also heard of avalanches releasing on Aonach Mor and the Ben, so keep clear of them gullies.
Friday, 16 January 2009
A frozen crust had formed over the the wet snow from yesterday, stabilising the pack. However with the fresh snow being blown onto Northerly aspects, and more being forecast, the SAIS have forecast considerable avalanche risk at category 3.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Sorry about the quality of pictures they all turned out to be a little hazy today.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Today Paul and I made the steep 2 hour walk into Church Door Buttress, Glencoe. We climbed the interesting Crypt route. It takes a few excursions into the cliff itself over the first 3 pitches, requiring the ability to crawl through tight squeezes and wriggle up chimneys. The last two pitches, above an impressive arch, follow Raeburns Chimney - originally climbed in socks to loud cheers when completed back in the day.
The ground was much more frozen today after a slight frost, with the turf providing much better placements than yesterday. On the descent windslab had formed on Northerly aspects but with good neve below.
Unfortunately with the wet and warm weather tomorrow much of the fresh snow, which had dropped to 500m by the evening, may dissappear. Winter Mountaineering Courses
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Today Kath and I went up to the Lochan in Glencoe to climb Scabbard Chimney (V, 6). We discovered that the wet snow had frozen but so had the wet crags, choking the cracks with ice and hampering the placement of protection. As we left it started to snow down to 600m.
Paul, Tom and Julie (with whom I'm living with outside Fort William for the season) climbed Green Gully on the Ben. Apparently it was a bit like slush puppy until the last 50 to 100m. A good freeze tonight and cold temperatures will sort that out.
Saturday, 10 January 2009
I took my Dad and partner Sarah up into Cwm Idwal today to sample the ice and swing some tools. We ventured over to variety of frozen rivers between Devils Kitchen and Y Garn, which provided a mixture of pitches from grade II to a couple of short pitches at III/IV. Fun was had by all!
Unfortunatly rivers had started to form down the ice falls by the afternoon, and with warmer temperatures tomorrow I fear everything is going to be a little slushy. Not all is bad though as Scotland looks like it will get a good dump of snow tomorrow and falling temperatures on Monday, so if your interested in winter mountaineering up North email me - firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter Mountaineering Courses
Thursday, 8 January 2009
Another cold day meant another day walking up to Cwm Cneifion to make the most of the conditions. I was climbing with Mark again, sharing pitches up the (now classic) El Mancho VII 7 - which proved to be worth the hype.
In the afternoon we added two pitches above Clogwyn Central, keeping to the arete instead of returning to the gully. My pitch went at about grade 5 and another of 7. The final hard pitch was thin for both feet and axes but Mark pulled it off, somehow.
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Mark and I went up to Clogwyn Ddu today to sample its mixed delights. There are a mixture of routes over the buttress all of which can be viewed here: http://welshwinterclimbs.wetpaint.com/page/Cwm+Cneifion+%26+Clogwyn+Du
Mark cranked hard to make a 2nd free ascent of Blenderhead. The crux involved torquing and laybacking up a steep groove, which was strenuous even as a second.
The turf is still well frozen, even though it felt a little warmer today. Hopefully more action tomorrow.
Winter Mountaineering Courses
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
We climbed 2 new routes at about IV, 5 and a winter ascent of Square Chimney Buttress at V, 5 adding a new start. All were good climbs, well worth repeating.
On the walk-in we noticed that the ice was fattening up at the back of Idwal with more than a couple of parties enjoying the numerous routes that are in condition.