Iv'e had many enquirys this season asking if i am still working and climbing as the site and blog havent been updated. I am and have been. I have had a period of time away from the dizzy lights of the internet, but guess it is time to estivate it.
Ive been climbing and ski touring around the NW these past few weeks; i have been staying away from the Cairngorms for a couple of weeks as they are totally totally buried. Last time i was there in mid December i saw two avalanches, backed off and heard the next day about a third.
It is also with a heavy heart that i heard on new Year's eve whilst mid route on the first winter ascent of Safari on the Bonaid Dhonn that my freind and fellow trainee British Mountain Guide Rupert Rosedale was killed in an an avalanche on Ben Nevis. I had heard about it the day it happened but didn't find out it was Rupes till i got a message sent to my phone.
Whilst walking out a friend rang me and told me that the other casualty was another friend Will Wilkinson. Will and i climbed a new line, Chocks Away on Beinn Eighe only a few weeks ago and we were looking forward to a winter of climbing together.
It is a terrible terrible waste. At the moment there isn't an avalanche forecast for the NW; it is such a large and diverse area. I will try and report a couple of times per week on the snow conditions when i am out. We didn't go above 500m on the Bonaid Dhonn (pronounced Bonny Don) but even here there were significant deposits up to thigh level in places. There was a lot of evidence of faceted grains the snow pack - symptomatic of long term cold air temperatures and a steep temp gradient in the snow pack. These grains have very low strength properties and without significant melt freeze to turn them into rounds and increase their strength they will present a significant danger to watch for in the snow pack.