Thursday, 17 February 2011

Creag Meagaidh conditions

Andy Townsend and I were over on Creag Meagaidh today for more guiding practise and conditions were looking fairly good. We climbed The Wand which had quite a nasty egg shell layer of ice over it in places but was still good climbing. After topping out we descended via the Window and then headed up The Pumpkin which is in great condition at the moment.  Other Andy and Paul also climbed Diadem which was in good condition, more neve than ice though.

The cornices above these two routes were fairly small but anything climbers right of Cinderella is threatened by quite a large cornice that has already sunk leaving a crevasse behind it and looking quite unstable.

Creag Meagaidh under blue sky's today 

 Andy Townsend on The Wand

 Paul following Andy Nelson up Diadem 
(there's a much easier start in keeping with the grade to the right)

Very unstable looking cornices

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Good ice on the Ben

For a bit of a change of scenery on Saturday I changed the East for the West and headed up to the Ben with Paul to get a few pitches of ice in.  We ended up climbing the starting pitches of Hadrian's Wall Direct and the Sickle.  The ice was pretty good on both routes for tool placements but quite a bit of luck digging in the right spot was required for good ice screw placements.  We climbed the Sickle in two long 60m pitches to the easier ground before abseiling back down, the second pitch giving a really good climbing up the corner.  Else where we saw teams on Point Five which looked good and although no one was on it Orion Face looked good too.

Earlier in the week Cat and I had been navigating around the Cairngorm plateau in preparation for her Winter ML which starts tomorrow, and much needed practise for me.  From what we saw Hell's Lum was very icy but the other crags in the Loch Avon basin looked pretty black, although some friends reported good conditions on Route Major over at Carn Etchachan and that the Sticil Face on Shelter Stone looked to have 'some' ice on the crux corner but not as fat as normal.  Snow condition dependant I'm hopefully heading over that way tomorrow so I'll have some more up to date condition info.

 Climbers on Point Five

 Paul starting up the Sickle


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Fun days out in Corie An T-Sneachda

A few photo's from a fun last few days out getting to know lots of the classic grade IV's and V's in Corie An T-Sneachda.  The buttresses were looking pretty black over the weekend but took on a much more wintry look on Monday when the latest snow fell.  This snow fell with a lot of wind which has given a very high avalanche danger, climbing on the Mess of Pottage we found wind slab build up everywhere even on the route where we triggered a number of small slides.

 (photo - Andy Townsend)

 (photo - Andy Townsend)

lots of unintentional navigation practise over the last few days...

Thursday, 3 February 2011

A slight breeze in the air

It was a wee bit windy on the hills today.  Once the snow gates had opened Andy, Andy and I (yes it made communication a bit tricky!)  nipped into Coire an T-Sneachda for some guide practise.  We walked in under blue skies after the mornings snow had cleared with the aim of grabbing a quick route before the forecasted afternoon winds gained full force.  We were fairly sheltered on the route so hadn't noticed how much the wind had strengthened and how much snow had started coming down.

Bailing out of the Coire was the easy bit, the fun started once we tried to drive back down the ski road when we discovered the wind was strong enough to blow the car broadside on the icy roads.  We ended up 'walking' the car down with a person either side to spot the road, all quite exciting in the end! An hour and a half later we reached the snow gates, a journey that usually take 10 min max...

 Walking in under blue skies...

 ...and out in slightly different conditions

just to give you an idea of how much the wind had picked up at this time the weather station on Cairngorm was reading a constant 81mph with 114mph gusts