Friday, 27 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - West Coast - Wet

Two days of wet and warm weather - but change is on its way.
Yesterday I was on Aonach Mor looking at a range of climbing skills from the Nid up towards the climbing area. Fresh snow had formed new cornices, but during the day the temperature level increased with sleety rain falling on the summit.
Today I climbed Dorsal arete via some thin streaks of softish snow, avoiding the loose blocks that are now showing. It rained for most of the day, but wasn't too windy - even on top.
It looks like one more of warm weather then cold and stormy.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - Glen Coe

Today I took Mike and Simon up into the Lochan and ascended the grade II climb NC gully. With freezing level below the current snow line we found some good firm snow on the route, though it is possible to kick through the initial frozen layer and find soft unfrozen snow below. Other teams climbed Dorsal and Boomerang.

A little fresh snow fell during the day forming small isolated patches of windslab on North to Easterly aspects. The turf wasn't frozen at any level.

A good day was had by all teaching about anchors, ropework and climbing techniques as we ascended to the top.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - Glen Coe

I went up into the Lost Valley today, with a Jagged Globe course, to teach leading on grade 1 terrain. We ascended the snow slopes at the back of the valley looking at a mixture of snow and rock anchors before descending from the col via snow bollards.

It was warm again at all levels, with the snow still being a wee bit soft and wet. The weather was kind though in that it was dry and calm, with fine views back to Glen Coe.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - West Coast

I returned to Fort William today to find a lot less snow than a week ago. There is still more than enough to climb and do skills on, but you have to know where to go.
Today we were up on Aonach Mor covering a variety of winter skills around the Nid ridge. The snow is a bit wet, but there is still deep accumulations on easterly aspects. People were out climbing a variety of grade 2/3 routes on Aonach Mor, but a freeze is needed to before they fall down, and to keep the rock in place.

Skiing in the Alps

Last week was spent in Tignes skiing on good snow with mainly blue skies and a bit of fresh snow mid-week. Fortunatly this also meant missing the thaw that occured in Scotland, with warm weather and strong winds.

We did a variety of off-piste runs, with a few inparticular providing excellant virgin snow - though they did require up to 30min of uphill (felt like a breeze compared to walking in Scotland).

Unfortunalty I kept forgeting to take photos so I only have the one from the week!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - Glen Coe

Another beautiful day, I don't know if I will be able to cope when normal weather resumes!
Today I covered a range of rope skills and snow belays on the slopes of Buachaille Etive Beag then walked along the ridge, which had formed into a nice snow crest in places, to the summit Stob Dubh.
There were pockets of soft snow, but we were mainly on good neve all day.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - Glen Coe

Today, while working for Jagged Globe, we ascended Broad Gully at the back of the Lochan. This is a snow grade 1 gully that provides a slightly steeper ascent than the main ridges. The was had neve below some slightly softer snow, with good tracks from people going up and down the route. The snow is nice and dry high up, it was nice to come down with dry gloves.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - Glen Coe

I was working for Jagged Globe today, taking an intro group up into the White Corries - the ski area at the start of Glen Coe.
It was a beautiful day with the freezing level at the base of the mountain, no wind and fine views. Ice is readily forming, there is good neve in places with softer fresh snow occasionally found in sheltered hollows. We covered a range of techniques from sliding to boot work, crampons to step cutting and bagging a Munro.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - Cairngorm Snow

For the second day snow has stopped play. The ski road has been closed again, after further snow fell last night. It is now up to knee deep at 300m and I would expect substantially deeper at higher levels. Much of last nights snow fell under calm conditions, so has not been moved around. The hills looked noticeably white with only a few people accessing them on skis.
We plan to wade into the corries tomorrow, hopefully the forecast northerly winds will help move a scour the corries (a little). With the slopes so loaded obvious avalanche hazards abound.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - Cairngorms

Today I was out in the Northern Corries looking at short roping and safeguarding on grade 1 terrain.
There were strong winds and a lot of snow being blown about, quickly accumulating on lee slopes and in hollows.

Below this there is good neve and ice seems to be readily forming, so I expect good climbing conditions if you can safely find the routes.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - Cairngorms

I was in the Cairngorms today reviewing a variety of winter ML skills at Glenmore Lodge. The old snow had all frozen hard, with fresh snow being put down all day. Initially it was falling as graupel, which wouldn't help the avalanche conditions giving a loose 'ball bearing' layer for snow to slide on. Strong winds and more snow tomorrow will make for further challenging conditions.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Scotland Winter Conditions - West Coast

Upon returning to Scotland I discovered that the thaw during the second half of last week has stripped a lot of snow, considering how much there was. All is not lost though as cold weather today has frozen the remaining snow nicely creating good gully climbing conditions and ice rapidly forming as low as 500m.
Today I was working for Alan Kimber and West Coast Guides. I took Mark and Aaron up onto Aonach Mor and looked at a variety of skills around the Nid ridge including sliding, kicking steps, crampons, snow belays and climbing ice and mixed routes. Blue skies all day and nice conditions once the strong wind died down in the afternoon.