Monday, March 30, 2009

Northern Cairngorms conditions

Today we attempted to beat the warm front that was coming on from the West. We got up early and were the first into Sneachda, but we had our sights on the top tier of Carn Etchachan. The snow was starting to go slushy at about 8am and the video taken in Sneachda on the way there and on the way back shows the effect of the hot air on the buttresses. We wandered / rambled (explored? ;p) up down across and up the cliff then decided to finish up the top section of Route Major. The turf was excellent on the the cliff but the ice was falling off and the buttresses became blacker by the hour and were running with water by then end of the day.
On the way out we saw a party on Pygmy Ridge and a couple of steps going up an easy gully but it was a probably quiet in the corries.

There isn't going to be a freeze for several days so i'm going rock climbing and hill walking till it gets colder again.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

North West Conditions Update

I was on AnTeallach on Saturday and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of snow (see picture). The main gullies are all complete and the corries and ridges are really snowy. The turf was quite variable but the neve was excellent.
Also on Saturday, a winter ascent was made on Ben Nevis by Iain Small and Gareth Hughes based on the E2 Metamorphosis with the Cranium start. It sounded hard.

Today i was out walking in the local hills, preparing for summer navigation courses that i'll hopefully have on the site at some time in the future...

I'm in the Cairngorms tomorrow and reports from today spoke of heavy rime in Corrie an Lochain, but unfortunately loose blocks on the steep parts of No.3 buttress. It is warming slowly tomorrow but an early start should find good conditions.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Conditions in Cairngorms, West and NW

Ive been roving around this last week. Last night the temperature dropped and the rain that fell at my house near the sea in Conon Bridge fell as snow down to about 600m on The surrounding hills. This snow fall would have been patchy in the NW and some hills will have received more than others. However this is great news as things were getting pretty bare outside the easy grade I gullies in the NW. Now for the next few days mixed buttress climbing is an option, but a careful route choice is needed as the turf isn't frozen in the NW.

Iv'e been doing more micro navigation instruction courses and again was out in the evening in Strathconon doing night nav. It was pretty Spring like and things are starting to grow again at lower levels and the dawn chorus is singing the praises of Spring.

The Cairngorms have also received some much needed snow, the rock has either been bare or dripping recently, but the new snow on the buttresses will bring the hard mixed climbs back in. The turf wasn't frozen in Sneachda a few days ago and the steps in the easy gullies and getting bigger and bigger but some of the bigger patches of turf in Lochain were ok; choose your mixed route carefully and get on one that doesn't have any turf.

I spent Saturday and Sunday guiding steep ice on Ben Nevis (well looking for it anyway). Leaving the car park at 9am on Saturday i think that there were 70+ cars. Not really suprising as Annoch Mor is reported to be fairly poor, with only the deep slots in the shade holding any ice according my freinds who went. They opted for the shadier Annoch beag north Face and found some stepper ice there but nothing to get too excited about. On the way up we met many parties coming down as they failed to find their desired route in the heavy mist. Our 'late' start meant that we missed all the queues and got on Green gully finding good, but wet and chopped up ice. The sky cleared and we lolled about the summit in the sunshine and walked down (see video). My clients both had sunglasses - i didn't and regretted it!

On Sunday we again met many parties heading down as we went up (it was raining heavily and warm to be fair). We never the less continued and went to have a look at Indicator wall. This was streaming with water and what i could see of it in the thick mist looked thin. We instead opted for Good Friday Climb on soggy snow and good ice at the steep bits and scuttled off the summit double quick (it was at least +3 on the summit and raining). A couple of friends of mine opted for Tower Scoop and aside from a party that followed us up Good Friday Climb no one else was climbing in that area (a party backed of Hadrian's Wall Direct).

I'm having a couple of days off and having got the passwords for the website (cheers Geoff!) am going to sort the 'Summer' pages out. However, given my lack of computer skill it could be the Autumn before they are ready!

Monday, March 16, 2009

NW and Cairngorm Conditions update

Ive been out and about in the NW and the Cairngorms these past few days doing a mixture of guiding and teaching navigation. The weather has been warm with the freezing level generally over or just at the summits. We have had rain slowly washing away the snow, but much remains in the usual easy gully lines in the NW and the Gorms.

At the w/e the Norries were very quiet, and on Saturday we found winds gusting 90 and rain as we ascended spiral gully on great ice and snow.

Sunday was a quieter day from a weather point of view and it was slightly colder with the freezing level just about the top. We opted for the higher crag of Lochain and climbed milky way under great ice, snow and amazingly well frozen turf. Another party were on Astroturfer on good snow. Other parties were in the gullies, y gully right hand appeared to have a droopy cornice, take care if the F.L. stays high there.

I'm out and about here and there this week, but it doesn't look like there will be much of a change till the w/e where the long range forecast mentions a lowering of the F.L. , hopefully in time to correspond with some steep ice guiding i'm doing at the w/e. Fingers crossed.

Apologies to the two people that emiled me to ask when i was putting more articles on the main site - i have lost the site password and Geoff if you are reading this can you email it to me please!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NW and Cairngorms conditions.

We've had quite a lot of new snow this past week in the NW and the Cairngorms. Ski touring on the tops in the Gorms and places like Ben Wyvis are again now pretty good.

Ive been working in various places in the NW, many of the easy gullies whilst full of snow are a bit of a wade at the moment. The brief sudden thaw event coming Wednesday will give a significant avalanche danger increase but when it freezes again after that conditions should be excellent with firm consolidated snow abound.

The turf is still not great mind, the larger pieces are not fully frozen, but may be better above 900m.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

NW and Cairngorm conditions

Ive been at various locations in the NW this past few days and am enjoying a rest day after 10 days on the trot before i start up again. We have suffered warm and wet conditions these past 2 weeks in the Highlands, but last night we had fresh snow down to 200m and it is much colder. I would think that the turf under the new snow will still be soggy mind.
I was in the Northern Corries on Monday and noted that the freezing level was above the top of the crag (the forecast was wrong) and the turf wasn't frozen. Careful route choice is important.