Tuesday, 30 March 2010

CIC Falls.

Snow chains were needed this morning on the way up the Ben track (wearing the required gloves while fixing them in place). On the walk-in the winds stopped us dead at times. No wonder most people were walking the other way.

With the snow forming slabs on various aspects we decided to keep things simple climbing the remaining ice right of the CIC falls. A fair bit of new ice had formed overnight either side, though not possible to climb as yet. The route had a small hole or two part way making the moves more interesting, as you weaved between them.

Currently heading south from Glasgow in the remaining open lane. Northbound is impressively blocked by a jack-knifed lorry. Snowy, snowy.

Ben Nevis, CIC Falls

Monday, 29 March 2010

Point 5, The Ben

Fortunately the drive back north was worthwhile, finding good and enjoyable conditions on Point 5 today.

I had promised my mate Tom that we would do the route this year, and with the season coming to an end we had to take our chances. We found great neve all the way coupled with fine views. I think Tom just wished his calves didn't hurt so much!

Other teams were on Hadrians, Green, NE Buttress, No. 3, and possibly still enjoying Tower and Orion.

Weather looks a bit different tomorrow but we will see.

Point 5, Ben NevisPoint 5, Ben NevisPoint 5, Ben NevisPoint 5, Ben NevisPoint 5, Ben Nevis

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Dee, 3 star assessment

Sun and warmth on the Dee today, very different from when Leo and Gary last came up. Back in January the site was on its way to freezing over!

I finished off their 3 star assessment today, which I'm pleased to say they passed. We journeyed up the canal then returned down the river.

Currently driving back up to Scotland for a final quick hit. Though saying that it looks like winter is coming back with a vengeance this week.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Afon Glaslyn

The rain came as promised on Thursday night, being heavy enough and lasting long enough for the Glaslyn to rise. I was in a little turmoil at the start of the day as it had peaked at 3am and had already dropped to medium levels by 5am (according to the data on 'Fishing Wales'). Fortunately the question to drive or not to drive south was the toughest part of the day, with ideal levels found upon reaching the put-in.

We even managed to squeeze in a last run to Jim's to finish the week.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

River Dee, Llangollen

With dropping river levels we had to keep driving East to Llangollen to find white water. The site was at 4 on the gauge.

We used the whole site, working on skills in the morning up by the railway bridge and running the main rapids in the afternoon a couple of times.

It has started to rain again, so to save the drive it would be great if the Glaslyn came up. We will see.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Forestry Falls, White Water

A little bit of rain overnight provide the necessary top-up for the local rivers.

We put on at Pont Cyfng, taking out before the Ugly House. The river was at a low level, but ideal for the PYB course I was working on.

Stu and Terry showed off their new-found skills at Forestry Falls (III), running the rapid with ease.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Day 2 on the Afon Llugwy

The levels had dropped this morning to a medium/low level. This enabled us to re-run the sections down to Jim's, but this time working a variety of circuits at Jim's itself.

Yesterday we had focussed on breaking in and out of the flow, today we brought in the concept of ferry gliding and a little river leadership. An alternative style of leadership was demonstrated by a local LEA centre for comparison - at least two swimmers at any one time and one boat folded in half.

More rain tonight so fingers crossed the rivers will be affected.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Whiter Water on Afon Llugwy

Today I got the opportunity to sit in my boat, first time since early December. I am running a white water course this week for PYB.

Since the middle of last week warm and wet weather have stripped the snow in the mountains, bringing the river levels up. I presume the ground is now quite wet as it didn't take too much rain for the Llugwy to rise to a good medium to high level this afternoon.

We sheltered from the wind in the morning then had a trip down to Jim's Bridge in the afternoon when the sun came out.

It looks like a wet week, so there should be lots of venue options (as long as it doesn't rain too much!)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Stress over.

For the last 4 days I have been on assessment, which I'm pleased to say I passed.

The weather turned this week to a more normal wet and wild forecast, making the decision making a little more troublesome after being used to low level ice venues.

Through the week we have been on Curved Ridge, which was a little rocky, Boomerang Arete, which was a little loose in the thaw, Thompson's Route on the cold day, which was great, and skills in the Lochan that had a distinct wet feel about it.

At least the wetness has helped in my transition from winter to whiter water work that starts next week.

Friday, 12 March 2010

West Gully, Beinn Udlaidh

With the promise of a dropping freezing level we decided to find ice. It has been so fat in Udlaidh recently, a wee thaw hadn't affected it too much.

Pete and Jon, on a Jagged Globe course, led the initial snow pitches before I took them up the upper ice. At the top we did a left hand variant that provided great climbing on chewy ice.

Back to fine views and dry conditions today. Other teams were on Central and Organ Pipes though with the upcoming forecast I don't think the ice will last much longer.

Dorsal Arete

The guys were keen to do some leading themselves, so Dorsal Arete was the target for the day. This provides fun and straightforward climbing on the initial pitches with various good belays on spikes and nut placements. To finish I took them over the final rib.

Not much in the way of views with a gusting wind throwing snow into our faces as we made the top, a reminder of what normal Scottish weather is all about.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Castle Ridge, Ben Nevis

With a change in the weather tomorrow we decided to take the opportunity to do a good route on the Ben. Castle Ridge was the objective and it turned out to be a good route.

With a hard frost last night the snow low down was well frozen and good neve up the Castle Gullies led us up onto the ridge itself. The main pitch was quite dry but elsewhere there was some great neve and ice in the grooves.

Other teams with Jagged Globe went up Ledge Route and Tower Ridge.
More Photos on Flickr

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Curved Ridge, the Alps?

Dry rock, good neve, blue skies it all felt very Alpine. Today I was working for Jagged Globe on the winter mountaineering course. It was the first day winter climbing for Andy and Pete, and they seemed to enjoy the experience - though it is hard not to with the stunning views.

There were a few other teams doing various skills courses in the corrie which is well tracked.
Curved RidgeCurved Ridge
Mark Walker guiding in tights with Jagged Globe doctor David

Monday, 8 March 2010

Salmon Leap & Poachers, Liathach

An early start, 5am to be exact, nearly 5 hours driving through the whole day and a day-off that was meant to be a rest day but it was all worth it.

Beautiful weather up in the Northwest, with an easy walk-in, either on dry ground or frozen neve, took us up to the Northern side of Liathach and the fat ice tumbling down the cliffs. I was climbing with Baggy (after a late night U-turn to stay up North one day longer) and Ian Hey.

We initially climbed Salmon Leap (VI, 6) which had some steep ice and an interesting corner - just the initial curtain was a little thin and fragile. Baggy was sent up this - if it could handle his weight myself and Ian would be fine. An abseil descent put us on Poachers (V, 5) which we followed to the top, again providing steep ice and a fun corner / groove.

Time was spent on top taking the compulsory summit photos and congratulatory handshakes.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Curved Ridge

Looking for an early finish, and somewhere on the way to Glasgow, we decided to head up Curved Ridge - again with Patrick and Johnny through Abacus Mountaineering.

There hadn't been many people on the ridge since last week, it seemed like just one party had forged a trail through the snow (thankfully). We did a bit of ice and found good neve to climb and walk on up past Crowberry Tower.

A bit of snow came down while we were on route but it had all cleared when we returned to the vehicles at 1430.

Curved Ridge

Slingsby Chimney & NE Buttress

The full car park said it all, as I found a handy ditch to leave my van in. The track is still snowed up so a start from the bottom was required. I was working for Abacus Mountaineering with Patrick and Johnny.

We had Minus 3 as a plan but as we approached the que moved down from Minus 2 so we nipped up the empty Slingsby Chimney and onto NE Buttress. I could only see one team high up, how wrong I was. Upon reaching the second platform the 3 teams waiting surprised me, later the 8 people above the mantrap (and one team stuck on the 40ft corner) had me snookered - and a long wait and a late finish was inevitable.

Nice day though with more fine views.

NE Buttress, Ben NevisNE Buttress, Ben NevisNE Buttress, Ben Nevis

Friday, 5 March 2010

Beinn Udlaidh, Doctors Dilemma

A unknown substance appeared to be falling from the sky this morning in Fort William, some call it rain but it hasn't been seen in these parts for a long time. To avoid it I headed south to Udlaidh, which proved to be dry and calm - except for the dripping ice.

A few other teams had similar ideas but we managed to slot in on Doctors Dilemma, though climbing a completely different variant to Monday, at the same grade of IV, 4. It was a bit warmer today with soft ice providing easy placements and wet gloves.

One team dared to go onto the East sector. We all drew breath as they surmounted the top snow slopes, amongst the sizeable drooping cornices. Maybe they knew something we didn't, but I'm glad we didn't chance it.

Today I was working with Patrick and Johnny for Abacus Mountaineering.


Cirrus, Beinn an Dothaidh

Last day for the Dutch team, and we went out to find a route with some interesting and fun moves. Cirrus fitted the bill, being slightly lean there are some thought provoking and off balance sections - all interesting and fun. Possibly grade IV, 5 in the conditions.

Great views on top as we strolled down the well tracked trail.

This week I have been working for West Coast Mountain Guides

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Ben Nevis, NE Buttress

A last minute decision this morning, after hearing reports of scoured slopes, meant a late start from the North Face car park - after 830 to be exact. Fortunately Huibert and Bastion are over 6ft and had no problem striding out up the path, while I scurried behind.

We found good neve on the route, with even the snow slopes at the start feeling fine. The mantrap was bare rock and the 40ft corner is more mixed than ice. We topped-out at 230 for lunch on the summit.

People had been walking up the tourist path but we decided to follow the trail down the abseil posts on good snow. There was just a little unstable windslab as the angle eased. Seeing the size of the slides around Red Burn on the SAIS blog I'm pleased I took the described route.

Other teams were on Minus 3, Orion, Point 5 and Vanishing.

NE Buttress, Ben NevisNE Buttress, Ben Nevis

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Aonach Mor, Morwind

Today we found peace and quiet on the East Face of Aonach Mor (though not on the walk up the ski area). We abseiled in and had fun climbing Morwind, which had a good amount of neve and ice.

All the crags to the South of this route are very much buried but to the North the sun has stripped snow leaving dry rock. The cornices though are large, and only the Morwind buttress is possible to top-out on. Someone had been down easy gully and by the afternoon a few had skied down from the climbers col though there is a lot of soft snow down there.

Aonach MorAonach MorAonach Mor

Monday, 1 March 2010

Beinn Udlaidh, Doctors Dilemma

Blue skies and good ice. The crag was split between the snowy side on the left and the scoured slopes on the right. There had been a resonably big avalanche below the East sector with the ice mainly hidden. On the West sector people were climbing The Smirk and had been up Organ Pipes. Another team went up West Gully, and said the snow was ok at the bottom.

We climbed Doctors Dilemma, giving 4 good ice pitches at IV, 4 with scope for some harder variants. The ice varied from initialy being very hard and dinner plating to damp and dripping on one section (I created a leak with the spurt of water funnelling down my sleeve!).

The snow was very variable. On top we found hard windslab that easily released on a bed of suagry facets - easily noticed by the 'whompfing' sound when stepped onto. Other northerly slopes showed a more homogeneous snowpack that was hard to release.

Beinn Udlaidh Beinn Udlaidh Beinn UdlaidhBeinn Udlaidh