Tuesday, 18 February 2014

North East Buttress

Today I was working for West Coast Mountain Guides and out with Naill and Ken.  Their objective was the brilliant North East Buttress and it was great fun.  Covered in snow and a blanket of rime ice, we battled up the route, breaking trail and digging out belays.  Three teams followed our steps but never quite caught up to that the pole position and do the hard work.  It was fine by me, some of the snow formations that hadnt been ruined by footstep were spectacular.  Mike took his team up Observatory Ridge, Tim and Matt did Newbiggens, Dave did SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder and more teams on The Curtain.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Closed the Curtains

Today I was back on Ben Nevis and felt like I haven't been up here for a while.  In fact the last time I was up was back in December when we climbed THIS ROUTE.  It was great to be back up and see the unbelievable amounts of snow.  I was out working with Mike for Abacus Mountain Guide and we had a team of 4 for some nice climbing.  With many routes out of bounds we went and took turns on the Curtain Rain (IV,4) and The Curtain (IV,5).  Both great routes for the current conditions and the ice was pretty good.  I hadn't climbed either of these routes so it was an extra bonus as I have walked past them many times.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Dinnertime Buttress

Alper and Sandra approaching
 Today was day two for Sandra and Alper.  More leading was on the cards for them on Dinnertime Buttress.  Alper led the whole route except for a wee pitch at the top which Sandra had a shot on.  Not bad for her second day winter climbing.  Again the weather was fantastic, cold and clear with a stiff breeze.  Climbers spotted on Raeburns, Scabbard, and Dorsal Arete in SCNL.  This weekend I have been working in the sunshine for West Coast Mountain Guides.
Sandra on her second winter climb getting to grips with half ropes

Alper searching out for more gear

Alper pulling onto easy ground

Sandra about to set off on her first lead

A great place to climb

Sandra enjoying the sharp end

Spot the climbers

Easy descending in all this snow!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Everyday is a snow day

Alper and Sandra
Alper absorbed in his first pitch
Today I was out with Alper and Sandra and we had some great winter conditions.  At the moment we couldn't really ask for any more snow, it's great!  It has meant that we couldn't get up to any of the high crags but we still had a great day on the Zig-Zags in Glencoe.  Alper wanted to consolidate his leading skills so he took the rack and rope and led Sandra, a first time winter climber, up all the tricky sections of the route, placing gear at will and building belays here there and everywhere.  As time was getting on, I took over and led up the easy ground to the top before we headed over to Coire nan Lochain to make our descent.  I have never seen so much snow in there in the last 8 years I have been visiting this crag.  They look brilliant to climb on, just getting to them is either really hard work or dangerous (or both).  Were sticking with the low level options for now.

Alper figuring out the lower crux

Happy to have pulled around the balancey top crux

Alper bring up Sandra

Aonach Eagach looking fantastic in the background

Soom deep snow on our descent

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

One good day on Skye make's up for many savage days.

Lovely sunset
This week I have been working in the North West highlands on a mountaineering course for Martin Moran.  Matt, Judit, Dave and Paul have had a baptism of fire with their first Scottish winter experience.  We have visited and climbed on Fuar Tholl, Beinn Alligin, Beinn Eighe and today we went too Skye.  We have battled strong winds, high temperatures, lots of snow and lots of rain.  Today we were finally rewarded by a Munro on Skye and fantastic panoramic views.  However, all the other elements were present today, we couldn't escape the true Scottish winter weather that easily.  The 10 minutes we had on the summit of Bruach na Frithe (via the NW ridge (grade I amazing-ness)) was worth all the poor weather we had in the last 3 days.  Tomorrow is the last day.  The team are tired but will not go down without a fight!
The team on the Horns of Beinn Aligin

Exposed traversing

Hanging out on Skye - Judit, Dave and Paul (Matt stayed in to watch the curling)

Skye looking amazing

Go there soon, so much snow!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Million cent day on Skye

OK...it wasn't quite as nice as yesterday but I'm not complaining.  It was very windy on the tops and with a deteriorating forecast we decided to stay fairly low (but in the snow).  It was a good day on Sgurr an Fheadain.  Its a good option when the winds are high and coming from the south.  We found plenty of snow on the ridge but didn't hit freezing level.  The steams became trinky to cross on the way out...yes, I got one boot full of water! ;(
Today I was working for Skye Guides.
Pictures to follow.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Million doller day on Skye

My winter is never complete until I have a nice sunny day on Skye and today it came.  I was out for a spot of mountaineering with Skye virgins Graham and Peter.  A sport of the ridge was on the cards so we made our way up to the In Pinn and then traversed over to Sgurr nan Banachdaich via a fantastic and exposed ridge scrambling.  We had the place to ourselves and some stunning views of the surrounding area.  The crest was good, not amazing so progress was never super fast.  Great fun though.  Worth the journey.  Today I was working for Skye Guides.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Battle up the Buachaille

Today I was back out the the Cotswold team.  More testing of the Mountain Equipment gear and we tested it well.  We faught strong winds and driving snow.  We avoided Coire an Tulaich on Buachaille Etive Mor like the plague and took the ridge to the right.  We made the right choice as the cornice was huge and it was loaded with fresh wind blown snow.  I'll be keeping away form that for a while!
Team on the summit

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


Today I was back out working for Plas y Brenin and today we had a slightly more static day and hit some skills.  A combination of sliding, digging and more digging.  And some more sliding!  A very fun day but felt quite slushy for most of the day.  We didn't get above 700m.  Other teams said North Buttress was amazing as well as the ridges above 700m.  One more day tomorrow in Glencoe then off to Skye for a couple of days mountaineering.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Buachaille Etive Beag

Today I have been working for Plas Y Brenin who are running their annual training for the staff of Cotswold Outdoor.  Various abilities were present with various objectives.  I joined the walking group into Glencoe for an ascent of a nice snowy peak.  Most of the group haven't used crampons before so some training on the go helped success to the summit.  We had fantastic views of the Aonach Eagach with some amazing light shining through.  Nice to be back in the Scottish mountains after being away for a week.