Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Four Seasons in One Day

Winter made an appearance on Tuesday and we had snow for a brief period down to sea level in the North West. I drove back to Glenmore Lodge and hooked up with two Latvian climbers, Jenis and Normunds. The wind was storm force in the morning so we had a late start and walked in through the now fine drizzle into Sneachda. The cloud was in but we thought the whitest bit of cliff was Fluted buttress area. We climbed an excellent 5 pitch V,5 which is not in the guide book but did show signs of passage on a couple of the pitches. Every pitch had interest and the drizzle turned to hail snow as we started climbing and the day was spent with the hood up and all the clothing on. Miraculously as i climbed the last pitch to the plateau the clouds parted, the wind died and for a brief moment the sun (almost) came out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Beautiful Ben

The International meet went over to the Ben en mass on Monday. Teams were on Point 5, Indicator right (and maybe left), Albatross, Psychedelic Wall, Smiths, Tower Scoop, N.E Buttress, Tower Ridge, Glovers Chimney, Comb Gully, Green Gully, Slab Route on South Trident Buttress and Many others. The Mixed routes have improved massively in the last 24 hours and Steve Ashworth and partner took advantage oth this to add a new VII, as yet unnamed near Lost the Place at the top of Corrie Na Cieste. Simon Richardson and partner were also active on Breariach adding a new V,6 mixed line (unnamed at present)

I had a late start and followed the crowds up Psychedelic wall guiding Fidde, from Sweden and Jo from Belgium up it. They were full of enthusiasm for the line, thin Ben Nevis face climbing at its best and were suitable gripped even seconding, Ben Nevis ice doesn't take too many 22cm ice screws! Photo's show Indicator wall, Dougal (Colorado) and his host Des Rubens from Edinburgh who were on the line in front of us, and Fidde and Jo on the route.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Day two, could it get wetter?

Well, yes it was wetter than yesterday. Dom and i walked into Sneachda this morning and chose to head over to the Mess o Pottage. We climbed the direct start to Hidden Chimney as it streamed with water before moving up wet snow to the the top. The turf was not well frozen today in Sneachda but we avoided all greenery and used the rock. We had a lazy day but didn't feel too bad about being back at the car early as the rain came over from the west at about 2pm and just managed to get us even wetter as we walked out. Several parties were on the easy gullies which were climable but totally sodden with set snow. Other teams chose wet rock lines sans turf. It was slightly better in Lochain today and teams were on Ewan Buttress and Central Crack route. Several folk went over to the Ben today but ive not heard 'owt from them as it's still early and they are not yet back. I suspect it will have been busy though. My plan is to go over to the Ben on Monday hoping that the freeze will work its magic and have a lung buster day as i'm not climbing Tuesday.

Pictures show Dom on the direct start to Hidden chimney and at the belay above the difficulties and back at the car park suggesting the esential equipment to take winter climbing in Scotland. He's not far wrong.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Opening Day on the International Winter Meet

The conditions in the Northern Corries today where best described as character building! All the members of the winter meet went into the Corries and played about on the easy gullies and got the snorkles out for some routes. Domfrom Croatia and i did Ewan Buttress and amaxingly found well frozen turf under the slussy snow. Thinking about it this makes sense as the snow is still below freezing. We also did Central crack route which was good but went a route to far as we started up the Overseeer Direct and binned it after the first pitch as i had a waterfall running down each arm and DOm was getting hypo. Pictures show Dougal from Colerado on central crack route and another lad on Ewan buttress.
More tommorow but hopefully more of a freeze.

Friday, February 16, 2007

NW update

We've had a lot of snow loss in the past couple of days. The temp was hovering around 2 to 4 deg at my house in Conon Bridge but it's now 7 to 9 deg. The freezing level is right on the highest summits. It might be a good w/e to bag that Munro that you still have outstanding rather than ice fall climbing in the NW!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cairngorms on Saturday

We got up early (again!) and Tanya, Olly myself and another James who is up from London, went to the Northern Cairngorms. However, we found the snow gates at Glenmore to be closed and the skiers taking their fun to the snoe slope by the gates. Olly and London James braved the driving snow and high winds and walked up the ski road before bailing out at the car part due to the terrible weather and the fact that the cliff would have been really avalanchy.

Tanya and I opted instead for a walk up Gleann Einich as it has decent tree cover for most of the way and thus kept us out of the majority of the strong winds. However, we turned around at the end off the trees then walked back around the castle in the loch.

NW conditions, new lines and repeats (Friday)

On Thursday evening Olly and i hatched a plan with Roger Webb to go to Beinn Dearg Mor, which is to the South of An Teallach. In the morning we drove passed two climbers preparing to leave their car and go into the Fannachs. As it turned out this was Gareth Hughes and Nick Carter on their way into Sgurr Na Clach Geala to climb Skyscrapper Buttress. Gareth and partner also climbed a new line on An Teallach on Wednesday.

It took us 5 hours from the car to the base of the cliff. The corrie is shown above Rogers head in one of the photos. The path was mostly well frozen except for the bit i fell in (see pic). We waded 2 rivers on the way there and another two on the way back and these were passable (in rain or thaw you can be cut off). We found a way up the cliff at about V,6 and was quite long at about 400m.

Stu MacDonald and Martin Moran went into Beinn Bhan and climbed Die Resenwand and thought it a fantastic adventure. They noted footsteps coming out off the top of The Godfather and this spiked great interest. However they belonged to Blair Fyffe and partner who abbed into the last pitch to collect Pete Benson's runners after he fell of and bust his ankle. Blair and partner also managed a new IV on Beinn Bhan that day.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

NW is best

Olly Metherell and were swithering about what to do where and with who. We played it safe and went into Beinn Dearg from Inverlael. The path is fast at the moment though watch out for ice under the snow! We chose a nice 7 pitch line which turned out to be about V,7 and gave some very good sport on a few sections. I think we'll call it Finlay's Buttress, but may change this name to Natasha's Buttress!

Pictures on the route and a shot on the way to West Buttress. It was hard to tell if the Ice Hose was connected or not. I think that Penguin was thin.