Archive for January, 2007

Mild and Damp

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

The weather just now is particularly mild and damp. In some ways this will consolidate the deep snow pack which existed last week. A good deal of snow will be stripped, but hopefully the good ice build-up will be largely unaffected on the higher routes. It looks as though drier and colder weather should slowly return over the weekend and into next week and beyond with any luck. Certainly the forecasts suggest that the current mild temperatures will be halved, with minus levels overnight. This should result in some good climbing conditions returning to the west coast.

Rjukan

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Good Ice in Norway

Another good day on Fabrikfossen, opposite the main centre of Rjukan. The route was grade WI3, which back home in Scotland would have been grade IV. A number of lines were possible, with a multiple abseil descent from in-situ gear on trees. Take a head torch AND start fairly early. We started climbing at around 0930 and still got down in the dark. We have been out for a long weekend. This appears to be a good way to get in some quality climbing at a reasonable price. Ryanair to Oslo (Torp) and rent a car. The drive is around three to four hours each way to the airport. A mixture of accommodation is possible.

Hi Alan,

A bit late but if you want a report: Monday 29 Jan we went up Observatory Gully and climbed Tower Scoop (lots of ice but very wet and running with water) and Good Friday climb (good condition). Plenty of Ice on Indicator Wall and Smiths route. 2 of our staff also did No. 3 Gully Buttress having walked past Green Gully not liking the amount of stuff falling off it in the thaw conditions. We saw a pair of Spaniards who had walked to the bottom of Point 5 but decided again that it was too mild (although looking complete).

Rjukan looked grand – Fabrikfossen gives a lovely day out doesn’t it?

Regards,

Al

Rjukan

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Happy Chappy

Tracy's Eyes

A ten out of ten day according to the lads. This is my first visit to Rjukan in the winter and today was very successful. We climbed Lettvan (WI 2) and Tracy’s Eyes (WI3). Two good starter routes, which would have been grade 3/4 in Scotland. There appears to be enough ice around for a good weeks climbing at least if you have not been here in the past. Some climbers further up the Upper Gorge were on Juvsoyla (WI 6). This was looking pretty thin according to someone who knows better than I do.

Rjukan

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Just spending some time in Norway this weekend, so the Scottish stuff will take a back seat for a short while. If anyone has any Scottish reports for this weekend, please post them and I’ll set them up. Hope to have some ice fall climbing information tomorrow. The weather here is cold and plenty of snow, but as we arrived in the dark I’m not sure how the ice is yet. Along the road it appeared to be forming up well.

Point Five Gully

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Point Five Gully

Hello Alan,

Did point five with Duncan Paterson yesterday. We started very early(i.e. 4 am walk in) to be the first team. It was very windy and lots of spindrift was coming down on the approach so we wondered whether it was possible. Good water ice which takes screws well in the lower half. We climbed the hard bits in two pitches (first on rope stretch) and so the Rogue pitch came a bit unexpected because I thought it would be at least pitch three. However, it was good climbing and I managed to place two screws near the cave and one higher up. We were both climbing on leashless Taakoons which makes placing ice screws much easier. Big cornices on the Ben at the moment but a traverse to the right got us out of Point Five. It cleared up during the afternoon and there were still lots of climbers around. Many gully lines seem excellent at the moment, Curtain is forming well.

Thanks for all your advice and for your ‘blog’,

Henning

Cornice Capers

Quickstep Cornice

PS: These cornice pictures were taken on Quickstep a few days ago by David Talbot. Brave man! The Point Five Gully cornice could be similar. Avoid the Point Five cornice to the right and start heading in that direction well below it!

Fawlty Towers

The fourth picture today shows Fawlty Towers, which is low down on Tower Ridge, just to the right of the Douglas Gap Gully West. It is a very good area to climb on when conditions high up are either hazardous or too tiring, or you are just looking for a short day. Descent is easy by one abseil towards the easy lower slopes of Observatory Gully on the east side of Tower Ridge.

Another similar area to climb is on the First Platform of N.E. Buttress. The climbs are harder here and descent is best by two abseils, either down the route of ascent or down Slingsby’s Chimney. Alternatively try some short ‘sporty’ routes on Moonlight Gully Buttress.

Thanks to David and Henning for supporting this site with some great shots. If you want to post anything please feel free. I moderate what goes on to these pages, warts and all usually!

Deep snow on Ben Nevis

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Number Four Gully

From a moonlit, starry night, just now!

Plenty of deep unconsolidated snow on approaches to the routes on Ben Nevis. Today was a capital day for sunsets and decent weather out west. It was a little gloomy over in the east, but the skies cleared around Loch Laggan, Creag Meagaidh area. Looks like some milder weather coming through off of the Atlantic blocking high pressure. Plenty of smiles on climbers faces on Aonach Mor and Ben Nevis today, especially those who benefited from the good efforts of Plas y Brenin trail-blazing squads in Number four Gully. Thanks folks. Good to see you earning your ‘corn’!

One guest back to the bunkhouse from the Aonach Eagach said the snow was very deep in places, making for some hard going on the ridge. We are now full this weekend, but have some space into next week. The weather for the next week or so looks to be okay with reasonably low temperatures. It would be good to get a little thaw, followed by some frosts to firm things up a wee bit. The ice is good though and plenty to go for.

Western Skies

Hi Alan
Thought I’d give something back to your great site. Don’t know if you’re interested but we had a great weekend on The Ben.We ended up doing Quickstep V on number 3 gully buttress, the first hard pitch was in good nick but the basin was really snowy and corniced. I had a fun time peddalling on powder to get into the cave below the cornice then it took an hour to get out.
High winds and spindrift were also making things difficult on Sunday. Lots of powdery snow building up and I heard of at least one avalanche in Corrie Leis. Loads of debris in the bottom of 2 gully.

Regards Dave

Curved Ridge Glen Coe

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Dorsal AreteCompletely different from yesterday with low cloud and drizzle at lower altitudes, whilst snow and blustery wintry showers pushed through on the hills. One team back so far, had an ‘Interesting’ time with a one-axe ascent of Curved Ridge in Glen Coe.

North Buttress on the ‘Buckle’ was also in belting nick according to the BMG Training Course. Another group back from Aonach Mor praised the quality of Left Twin today as well.

Hello!

Hope all is well.

Had a couple of great days out in Glen Coe and Carn Dearg. Both Dorsal arete and Ledge route had lots of fresh powder on them. Quite hard going at times.

Attached a photo of the better half Kerry finishing up Dorsal arete-her first winter route! Big smiles all the way!

Have a great season

Mat
Curved Ridge Glen Coe

Sunny, Snowy, Stunning

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Stob Ban WadingVery icy and still this morning with freezing at sea-level. The day turned out to be a ‘stunner’ with plenty of cold winter sunshine and blue skies. One group were out on Stob Ban digging snow shelters and they found plenty of deep snow to excavate. This same snow proved heavy going on the East Ridge of the mountain. It certainly appears that although the ice climbing conditions on Ben Nevis and elsewhere are in good shape, the general approaches are deep in unconsolidated snow. The answer here is to start thirty minutes after everyone else and use a well-broken trail!
Stob Ban Diggers
The Northern Cairngorms avalanche report brought a tear to my eye this evening. It ‘Comments’ that observations were difficult due to poor visibility:))) Who wrote that? I thought these guys were capable of reading snow structure in any conditions? Maybe the fact that they have no snow is the real message, and that is why it is hard to observe!! Just in case they have forgotten what it looks like I have attached a picture of some white stuff from the Outdoor Capital of the UK. Taken today below Stob Ban.

Thanks to Dan, for his post, seems like the north to north-east airstream is starting to work it’s magic in the east! Sounds like nothing changes with the snow-ploughs though on their 9-5 shift:-)

Snow in the Cairngorms at last
Hi Alan,

The comments refer to any visible avalanches seen that day, and since the inception of SAIS they have used that term when visibility is bad and they cannot actually see if there has been any visible fresh avalanches that day, it is nothing to do with the observations of the snow structure at the pit site and its more to do with viewed avalanche activity.

Anyway, I am sure you are just trying to wind us up! You must have powerful binoculars if you see the Ben from that desk of yours!!!

Attached is a photo of a nice new route we did today (23rd Jan) in the wonderful Cairngorms! Lots of old avalanche debris walked through on the approach!

Take care, hope life is cool with you guys over there, glad you have snow, must be a bit of a novelty. I guided over that way a couple of weeks ago and was impressed by the blanketed out crags.

Sandy

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

Winter Chimney
Two Step Corner
Winter ChimneyJanuary 21st
Today was dry and cloudy with snow showers pushing through. Lots of new snow in Observatory Gully made for hard-going on the approaches to climbs. Teams out on Gardyloo Buttress (Smiths Route), Indicator R-Hand and Hadrian’s Direct. Also Two-Step Corner and Winter Chimney had ascents. The cornice on Two-Step Corner is passable on the right. Bear in mind the report came from a two metre lanky climber! Thanks to Stu Macdonald and Will Woodhead for the details and pictures of Winter Chimney and Two-Step. Reports from Aonach Mor East Face were positive, especially on Morwind.

Plenty of skiers up enjoying the good start to the season out west. Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe was good, and well frosted up on the buttresses. With the wind swinging into the North-East the Cairngorm may see an improvement in snow cover. However, for the time being the best conditions appear to be over this way.

The snow cover is sufficient for some good ski touring on the Grey corries as well. Plenty of space in the bunkhouse for those of you looking for accommodation this week.

Well done the Arsenal and Liverpool :((

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

January 20th
Certainly, from a distance Ben Nevis appears to have plenty of ice. Careful scrutiny of this picture shows build up on Orion Face and Hadrian’s Direct. The initial pitches of Minus Two Gully look complete and when the cloud lifts there is plenty to look at. Even Vanishing Gully looks as though it is forming. A pair of good binoculars are a wise investment for climbers on the west coast.

The day started with rain showers low down, but it has been snowing on the tops and some ‘beefy’ wintry showers have moved through during the day. I’m not sure that it was such a good move for some of our guests to go over east today to get away from the rain. Anyone out there with on-the-spot reports might like to verify conditions elsewhere and on Ben Nevis & Aonach Mor.