Saturday, April 17, 2010

Summer rock and ... a winter coda

Ive been out on the rock this past week and it feels strange to not have tools in my hands but i did enjoy the 'newness' of it all.
However just as i was putting most of the winter kit in storage the freezing level come down and i head over to (a very quiet) Ben Nevis. The rain in the valley turned to sleet at the hut and eventually to snow fall up high. We looked at snow craft, snow belays and ice axe breaking. I always like putting skills into context so we headed up into the gloom and went up No 2 gully on great snow and took a slightly stepper icy exit on the left wall. We made the most off the pea souper on the mountain and navigated up to the summit and the guys controlled the nav down with me taking a back seat and just keeping an eye on things.
I think that i'm heading over to the Cairngorms on Sunday for a family ski tour with my 2 year old (he tells me he prefers the off piste) but we will have to see what the weather brings.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cairngorm 4000ers ski tour

Well, the pieces in the puzzle finally slotted into place yesterday and we enjoyed our tour of the Cairngorm 4000ers but decided that we needed to add the walk up and down the Devils Point onto it as well. We found quite good snow and only had to walk for a few hundred metres from the bottom of Tailer's burn (and wade the river) to reach a gully of snow to skin up on the other side.
We changed our plan to ski down Corie Ruadh and boot up to the top of Lurchers Gully as we didn't fancy the look of the snow in Corie Ruadh and indeed when we continued to traverse round we saw a very fresh wind slab avalanche in part of it. Instead we skied down Sron na Lairige, down Corie Gorm and round into the Lairig Ghru (see picture of the intrepid getting the last few turns into the Lairig Ghru!). From there we had to walk through the Charlemagne gap which wasn't too bad and onto the good footpath to the sugar bowl car park.
I have spent today cycling with my son in shorts and t-shirt and it has been 16 deg in Conon Bridge, the snow on the lower slopes will go very quickly but the snow up on the plateau will still be there for many weeks yet and i'm sure i'll be going over to Macdui again before the month is out.
The pictures really speak for themselves; a lovely day

Friday, April 09, 2010

Piste, off piste and touring @ Cairngorm

Iv'e been on the planks the last few days with Tanya looking at her ski technique on and off piste and basic ski touring skills which we put together today in a tour up on the plateau. Ben Macdui was very popular today and the visibility was refreshingly good for a change (until the drizzle came on at 2pm).
The snow on the low to mid mountain is very heavy and slow and not fun to ski but it is good up high. It hasn't frozen for a couple of days now and won't for the next couple i think.
All this warm weather has caused the great slab in Corrie an Lochain to begin to slip. This usually happens every year and there are several sweep-stakes on when it will happen. There was heavy rain a few days ago which has lubricated the bottom of the snow pack on the smooth rock and it has moved last night. It may hang on for a while or it may go in the next few days with the very warm weather forecast.
I'm out on the classic 4 4000ft peaks of the Cairngorms tomorrow and aim to end up in Lurchers gully rather than the Charlemagne gap because of the snow level so i'll try and get another picture.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


There has been significant snow in the NW in the last snow event. This brought the mixed climbing back into condition quickly and has improved some of the easy gullies.
Today the weather has not been as good as yesterday (bright sun and cold in the shade on Friday) and there has been rain most of the way up the hill today.
The picture is taken looking at the back of Liathach on Friday (hence the sunshine)