Archive for January, 2009

Plenty of deep Snow

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Emerging into Tower Gap on Glovers Chimney today. The first pitch was in good shape with well-formed ice. In between the first and the last pitch we encountered a significant amount of unconsolidated snow.

The easy middle section of Glovers Chimney.

A very windy day today and the snow around Ben Nevis still requires a good wetting, before a freeze to stiffen it up.

Wet then Cold and hopefully good.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Ben Nevis yesterday had loads of unconsolidated snow in Observatory Gully, making travel difficult. Our target was N.E. Buttress via a route on the First Platform. After spending 120 minutes on Raeburns 18 Minute Route, time and snow conditions were not on our side and we descended the normal approach to the buttress into Coire Leis. Point Five Gully and Orion Face look to be holding ice, but the snow in between needs to firm up. Gardyloo Buttress has the icicle variant formed as far as I can see. The next few days look unsettled, but a return to much colder and benign weather will hopefully bring conditions back in quickly.

The weather detail below from a friend and climbing client, who is also a long-serving professional weather forecaster suggests we may be in for a bonanza in the coming weeks. Watch this space folks and never second-guess Scottish weather! I have a few more weather links and will post them shortly.

Yes the High and lows are not entirely sorted yet. Some sort of east or south easterly flow looks likely, but each different run of the models come up with a slight variation. Very cold temps look most likely with 2-4C across much of the UK and yes mainly freezing conditions up the hill and frost at LL. However a south easterly has in one or two of the latest runs brought in Med air rather than E European, some 3 or 4 degrees warmer. Can’t see a widespread thaw on higher slopes. I would think Feb could well be a cold month, with only brief incursions of Tm air. Something to do with the polar vortex??????

The Cairngorms are in good shape just now, with reports of good snow and sunshine. Very novel.
This picture below from James Thacker earlier in the week on The Seam. Thanks James. James is over there again today, so more sunshine shots no doubt in the pipe line this evening.

Cold Russian Air

Monday, January 26th, 2009

As the next week progresses it appears that a very cold easterly could establish itself for a while into next week. In the meantime most of the snowpack will soften and harden under some small freeze/thaw cycles. Just what is needed in fact. Check out Weather Charts to see what I mean. Anything blue or green is colder air.

Hi Alan

Good ice over east was working there on Sunday almost continental with good ice all over Lurchers, sun soaked dry rock and no wind. Have attached a pic in case you dont believe me !!

Cheers Danny Dan Goodwin


A final shot from Rjukan a couple of days ago (Saboteurfossen, WI5***). Lots of new snow during the week and a bit of a thaw should be setting things up for some cracking conditions when it gets colder again. Returned to some typical Cairngorm weather on Fluted Buttress Direct!



Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Thanks to Chris Ensoll for these two photos taken today whilst descending from Ben Nevis. Chris is running his guiding from our basecamp for a few days.

Above the “Halfway” Lochan today.

Coire an’t Sneachda today with a little less snow than on the west coast.

Hidden Chimney – Mess of Pottage.

Crumb of comfort for a Snow Bunting.

Carbo-loading after a day out. Check out Mountain Cafe Aviemore Watch the calories girls :-))

Thanks to Tim Blakemore for these lovely shots taken today in the Cairngorms. Tim is running his courses from my place this week.

Plenty of good weather and snow on Ben Nevis today.

The CIC Hut extension is looking good.

New ice forming at 700 metres.

Point Five Gully is complete but almost certainly full of suspect snow. Weather forecasts are suggesting a short mild spell and that might stabilise the snow pack. But, be very careful for a while yet.

Teams returning from the Aonach Eagach reported very good conditions on the ridge.

Significant Snowfalls

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Plenty of snow still arriving in large amounts. Apparently Nevis Range are concerned that they have the wrong sort of snow! It’s the material that their snow groomers are finding difficulty with. Too much powder makes grooming a problem and snow does not stick too well in cold windy conditions. Sales in snow-shoes are on the increase!

Tough conditions today in Glen Coe.

Stob Coire nan Lochan – Ordinary Route – Central Buttress today.

Climbers out on Central Grooves/Buttress area on Stob Coire nan Lochan today. Thanks to Tim Blakemore for these lovely shots. Tim is running his courses from my place this week.

A Fine Day

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Stob Coire nan Lochan with plenty of snow today.

Thanks toTim Blakemore for these lovely shots. Tim is running his courses from my place this week. Aonach Eagach Ridge in the background.

Route 999 on page 158 of the latest SMC guide book. A very sensible place to climb on a day like this, when the avalanche hazard was category 4.

Follow the blue line. Plenty of other routes to climb in this area.

Winter with Attitude!

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

No let up in the returning polar maritime airstream, pumping in plenty of new snow. Route choice will be crucial in the next week to avoid sliding downhill on the big white mattresses of windslab! Today it has been snowing on and off in Fort William. Ridges and buttress climbing with safe approaches and no big snowy headwalls are to be recommended.

I promised you an update from Rujkan. Following a period of too warm weather, and a lack of snow and ice, it is now much colder, and has started to snow. Forecast looks good for the rest week or so as well. Most areas are in, less for the lower areas such as Bolgen, which still lack ice. We have been climbing on Gaustatoppen, Kroken, Vermork, Lower Gorge, Ozzimosis and Rujkan Centre. Plenty to go for! A few photos attached; hot news is that Vairai (WI3), which the guide says should not be climbed, is now open to traffic, as the water source for the village has changed.

Thanks Duncan. Leashless is the way to go:-)

More Snow to Come

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

More snow on the way. The Nevis Range today.

Snow – Wind – Blizzards

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Batten down the hatches folks, some shaky weather is approaching Britain with snow following behind.

Avalanche – Lost Gear and fine weather

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

This report relates to yesterday. Today was very warm, especially in the Ice Factor:-)

Gardyloo Buttress (Smith’s Route) looked in good shape yesterday. A climber can be seen at the top of the main hard pitch.

We set off a small avalanche just to the left of the foot of Tower Scoop. We lost a flask and a ski pole in the debris. Anyone who finds this gear, maybe consider returning it. Thanks. Our intended route of Gardyloo Gully was forsaken for some training on the lower section of Tower Ridge. Better to turn back in the face of obvious avalanche hazard. It’s easy to overcome disappointment. Death is another matter entirely.

Of interest is the fact that the team of two that were at least one hour ahead of us and who crossed the same ground did not appear to have problems with the snowpack. Avalanche hazard can appear in a short space of time and maybe our party of four just tipped the balance regarding stressing the layers.

Looking up Point Five Gully yesterday. It looked in good shape.

Yesterday we had a good cold and benign start to the day, which later turned into rain and wind.

The lower initial section of Tower Ridge yesterday. A good place for training with an abseil descent of the Douglas Gap and down its eastern gully. Observatory Gully in the background.