Friday, 25 January 2013

24.01.2013 - Left Twin and Right Twin, Aonach Mor

Yesterday Conor and I headed up the climbers gondola to climb on the east face of Aonach Mor.  Surprisingly there were not too many people around and we managed to be the first team on Left Twin III,4.  The route itself I personally felt was a bit beyond a grade III but was of the tech 4 mark.  Conditions on the route itself were very variable from bomber neve to dinner plating hollowed out water ice, of all the screws I placed (circa 8) on the first pitch, I dont think there was one I would be happy to fall on. After topping out and a brief visit from the screaming barfies (hot aches), back down Easy Gully (I) we went and on to Right Twin II.  My personal opinion is that in no way was this climb in the grade II bracket yesterday, more shit dinner plating ice and a lot of heavy spindrift made this route considerably harder than its grade would suggest.  All in all, more mileage and logbook days.  Big thanks to Conor for the photos and an interesting days climbing!

Me leading off on the second pitch of Right Twin II

Leading off on the first pitch of Left Twin III,4

trying to man up when the barfies strike! 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

19.01.2013 - Susan's first ever winter climb

This morning Susan and I set off up the Hurt lochan for Susan's first ever winter climb.  As we headed up the lochan path, I was both very surprised and happy to see a lot of good ice forming from a low level to the plateau. With winds not nearly as bad as forecast and the lochan still looking reasonably quiet, we headed for Dorsal Arete II,3 which Susan easily seconded! whilst descending Broad Gully I, we noticed that almost every step of the way on Dorsal Arete was littered with people! Beat the crowds ...JUST!   After a quick descent we decided to check out NC Gully II to make the most of the conditions and were quite happy with the conditions we found there, good neve was found once we entered the gully proper and only a small broken step at about mid way.  After topping out on our second route of the day, another descent of Broad Gully and a long walk back down the hurt lochan we soon found ourselves back at the car with some good banter from a few fellow hill goers along the way!  

Sadly on our return we learned that 4 climbers had lost their life in an avalanche incident on Central Gully, Bidean nam Bian.  My deepest sympathies and thoughts are with all of the families and let us not forget the sterling efforts of the mountain rescue teams in attendance.  A sad day indeed. 

Ice forming just below the plateau of Stob Coire nan Lochan

SCNL this morning

Susan looking quietly confident

Susan enjoying Dorsal Arete II,3

Nearly there!

Susan tops out on her first ever winter climb, well done!

Atmospheric conditions in NC Gully II

Susan tops out on NC Gully II, her second route ever!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

15.01.13 - SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder

Today Dave and I headed up for a crack at the SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder. With a grade of III - IV,5 depending on what guide book you read, I personally would group it as the latter. The first pitch of the climb was definitely tech 5 and a bit desperate at times, however this pitch can be avoided by going a little way up the gully and climbing a turf ramp that leads to a good belay.  Conditions on the route were shit, loads of loose snow and no neve, nothing positive and sustained hard grade IV climbing throughout with good gear where you need it.  I think with a bit on neve and maybe even some ice the value of this route would improve, crackin lead on the first pitch by Dave!

Ben Nevis at sunrise, nowhere else I'd rather be

Carn Dearn and No5 Gully

SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder IV,5

Looking over to Ledge Route II

Dave and the SW Ridge

Tower Ridge IV,3

Monday, 14 January 2013

14.01.2013 - Stob Coire Sgreamhach North East Ridge II

Today was supposed to be an easy day taking a look at how conditions were developing in Glencoe after quite a lot of recent snowfall.  We decided to do one of the less popular routes on Stob Coire Sgreamhach, the North East Ridge graded at II.  Starting at the car park at the Lairig Eilde, Craig and I made our way up the decent foot path used to approach either Buachaille etive Beag or Sron na Lairig. After crossing the stream we headed up an obvious ramp on the very tip of the NE Ridge, we soon became aware that there was a lot of powder on the ground and made fair progress up and along the ridge. It snowed continually throughout the day and I even triggered a very small powder avalanche at the bad step.  To sum the day up, I'd say, Constantly swimming through deep powder, stingy spindrifty sometimes strong ish winds but on occasion we were treated with good views however brief.  We descended back down towards and through the Lairig Eilde, past the top of what looked like a busy Sron na Lairig.

A very atmospheric Beinn a' Chrulaiste 

Looking ahead to a distant Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Craig enjoying a relatively powder free section by comparison 

looking back along the ridge

Looking over to Sron na Lairig

a brief clearing whilst looking back

The Lairig Eilde 

Sron na Lairig

Friday, 11 January 2013

10.01.2013 - Good Friday Climb III, Ben Nevis

After a very depressing look at the Ben from the CIC hut the previous day, the Met Office had assured us of a better day today.  Another early start saw Dave, Joe and myself head up to the hut again for a second look with a few routes in mind.  The feel of the day itself was totally different to the previous morning, very clear and still conditions inspired a good positive vibe that was felt by all, resulting in new found enthusiasm and optimism.  We headed up Observatory Gully and although looking patchy in places lower down, what was there was bomber solid neve which continued from the first steps on the lower sections of the gully throughout the entire climb. We had decided a look at Good Friday Climb would be an idea and so further up we headed past Tower Scoop which looked bare.  We roped up and built a belay for the easy but very serious traverse across Indicator Wall to reach the bottom of the first pitch.  The first pitch was very enjoyable, bomber neve throughout with a deep fracture about a third of the way up, good rock runners on the right and some very loose large blocks on the right, be warned. The crux itself was a little thin but good plastic 'toffee' ice ensured good first time placements and took shortish screws with confidence, very enjoyable conditions. After the crux pitch we did consider the alternate finish but opted just to get to the top as soon as due to the views we were appreciating.  We soon topped out to spectacular broken spectres and a cloud inversion.  Best winter day out so far!

looking up Observatory Gully from the bottom

Half way up!

Tower Scoop looking pretty bare

Nice view over to Tower Gap on Tower Ridge

Dave Anderson making short work of the crux pitch

Crux pitch on Good Friday Climb III, looking a bit thin but in good nick

I head up the final exit pitch to a great top out view

Joe, Dave and Myself on the top, Crackin day!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Ben Nevis Conditions - 09.01.2013

Today we went for a walk up the CIC hut, just to get a look at what state the Ben was in after this epic thaw and its not good. While there has been a very very light dusting as you can see below on NE Buttress, its far too little. Even today with the MWIS forecast predicting no rain, it was raining and wind speeds were higher than forecast. The freezing level which was predicted at 900m, was more like 1200m We were considering an ascent of one of the large easy gullies such as 5 or 3, but with the snow being like a bad slush puppy drink, and depressing weather, we decided to bail. 

Carn Dearg and Number 5 Gully

NE Buttress and the Douglas Boulder

looking back down the path from the hut

NEB and the CMD

= tears

Castle Ridge and Carn Dearg

Monday, 7 January 2013

27.12.12 - Dorsal Arete and Bomerang Gully -SCNL

Keen to get something done, today Joe and I headed up the hurt lochan to have a good look at the conditions with a view to bag a few routes whilst there! once at the plateau it became clear that we weren't the only people to have thought the lochan might be a good bet, with teams on a variety of climbs and rucksacks stashed under every reasonably sized boulder!  After gearing up we decided to keep the rope in the rucksacks and headed up Dorsal Arete (II,3) which was a very enjoyable solo, we then headed down Broad Gully (I) and continued straight up Boomerang Gully (II) which again was an enjoyable solo, finding some good neve. After topping out on the summit of Stob Coire Nan Lochan, we headed back down Broad Gully which since it had been snowing for the past 2 hours, had collected a significant amount of snow since our last descent.  We did go over for a look into NC Gully (II), but were deterred from continuing up by the amount of spindrift piling down it and disappearing daylight. We headed back down the hurt lochan reminiscing about all things 1980's like a pair of proper old gits!  Brilliant day out!  

Joe enjoying Dorsal Arete II,3 with some walkers in Broad Gully

Looking up at Dorsal Arete and Forked Gully

Approaching the Crux Fin 

The Crux Fin on Dorsal Arete II,3

Joe mid way up Boomerang Gully II

Heading up Boomerang Gully II

Taking photos in heavy spindrift = fail