Archive for February, 2010

From the second week of February

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Hi Alan and Sue,

I hope conditions are still ok on Ben Nevis and that you are still doing some good guiding.
Thanks again to both of you for making it easier for us with the stories of baggage loss, etc…
We had a fantastic week, the best I ever had on Ben Nevis at the moment.
I send you a short selection of pictures.

We could climb the following routes, all of them in perfect conditions (Curtain a bit dry, a short selection of Camalots is useful for the beginning).
Sunday : Carn Dearg Cascades and 2 first pitches of Vanishing Gully
Monday : Hadrian’s Wall. After we saw you at the hut, I climbed alone Point Five
Tuesday : Glovers’s Chimney and Pigott’s Route, a very nice one, thanks to the Marshall ans Smith week movie makers advice.

Wednesday : Point Five Gully. After turning back to the hut with the clients, I took advantage of the afternoon perfect weather to climb alone Orion Face Direct (at last, 20 years after the first time I climbed it), Zero Gully, Tower Ridge (all of these going down through Tower Gully) and Green Gully before dark, too much starving and a need of whisky. A lot of pleasure, going light and listening hard rock on routes in perfect conditions !

Thursday : Minus Two Gully, exit North East Buttress to the top, a another one I had dreamed of after reading Dougal Haston’s book “En haut lieux” in french, when I was young. A very cold day especially on the ridge with clouds and wind.

Friday before taking the bus : The Curtain, very nice with a short mixed section at the beginning and thin ice for a few meters.

I thought it would be my last year with clients, but I will come back, it was too good !

Thanks again,


The Great Tower.

Topping out on Point Five Gully.

Hadrians Direct, chimney pitch.

The Curtain

Cairn Toul – Braeriach

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Thanks to Roger Wild for this photo taken from the Braeriach plateau on a recent ski tour over all the the big eight peaks around the Cairngorm Mountains.

More from last week

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Hi Alan

Just got back to Bournemouth after a fantastic finish to my annual week North of the Border. What weather, after a rather dismal start. The drive across Rannoch Moor on the way home was unforgettable, and well captured in your recent post.

Here are some contributions taken during a traverse of the Carn Mor Dearg Arete last Thursday, showing the soft conditions, some impressive cornices and the great view across to the Ben. On Friday I was below the West Face of Aonach Mor and noticed a party of four nearing to top of the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach. Looks like an interesting expedition for another year.

Keep up the good work.


Philip Santo

Thanks Philip. My ISP/Blogger is playing up just now, thus the late posting of your superb pictures. The weather is very similar just now, but much more snow, if that is possible!

Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

Approaching Carn Dearg Meadhonach.

Ben Nevis North Face panorama.

Climbers on the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach. This is a very worthwhile outing.

Ski training

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Bruce Poll training for an attempt on….Watch this space!

Sgurr Finnisg-aig

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Good climbing on Sgurr Finnisg-aig and Steall Falls just now, but ‘the track’ is shut for driving due to deep snow. Oh well, we will just have to walk up with the rest of you folks;-(

Beaten back again by the deep snow on the ‘Ben Track’. This time I made an extra 50 metres of progress.

Steall Falls today. Thanks to Tamsin Gay for these photos.

A very sociable day on Steall Falls today.

Sgurr Finnisg-aig yesterday.

Sgurr Finnisg-aig yesterday.

Loads of Snow

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Not much chance of driving up the track to Ben Nevis just now.

Beinn Udlaidh – 24th February

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Thanks to Pete Love for these pictures taken earlier this week. Beinn Udlaidh MAY be a POSSIBLE location to climb under the current heavy accumulation of snow. However, route choice and avoidance of any sort of undulations in the slope profile, gullies or open slopes are key to safety.

Quite rightly, climbers are concerned about the avalanche hazard just now, so choose your approach and exit from steep icefalls with great care. As usual any reports of locations that have proved to be possible will be a great help to all of us. HOWEVER, a location which is good at 1200hrs can be lethal at 1400hrs or the next day.

It is so important to continually assess snow properties on a regular basis during the day and climb defensively under the current conditions. I doubt if any of the big routes on Nevis will be approachable for a few days yet and even though the weekend looks set for good weather, please do not be attracted to a potentially dangerous location just because of the blue skies and low temperatures which are forecast.

Take care.

The Smirk, Beinn Udlaidh.

The Smirk Beinn Udlaidh

Junior’s Jaunt

New Snow

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

We are currently experiencing a lot of new snow falling at all levels. A foot of snow fell last night in my backyard and it is still snowing.

This morning

Ben Nevis hitch-hikers, free-loading a ride up the track last week!

Tuesday 23rd February

Last week in quiet locations

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Hello Alan and Sue
I see your photos and comments on Beinn Udlaidh, which caused a stir in numbers on Sunday. When I drove past there were 30 or so cars parked and lines of people heading up. We pulled into a layby further along and consulted the guidebook as I was not prepared to join the crowds. Went to look at Jimmy Dewars Icefall up Auch glen which was thick in its higher part but slight and delicate low down. Further up the track we found another icefall which gave a pleasant steep 4 pitch grade 4 to do. Only a few walkers going up and down the glen and stunning views of the mountains opposite. Monday saw me at Eas Anie again with a different person and the gold miners were in action with there drill rig and otherwise it was total peace and pristine climbing. It is lovely to have untouched ice streaming ahead of you and lovely and thick too.

Hope you are well and busy as I expect you will be.
Best regards Robert

Thanks for this report from Robert Kincaid. Good to see your leg is on the mend.

Cairngorms earlier this week

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I have got my broadband back for the time being so: Old report from Monday 22nd February. Today 24th February we have much more snow, so this report is only of archive value I think.

Hi Alan,

Had a spin out today with the thought of a few routes and a wee ski tour. Few folk in Sneachda up to the usual mid to low grade routes. The plateau and surrounding hills are fast becoming tracked out as lots of people out ski touring.

See photos attached, Cascade has now fractured in several places and half of it is on its way to the Loch, melting fast today with the sunshine over the weekend seeing to its demise.
Hells Lum was deserted with tracks into and up The Wee Devil, this looks in good nick although elsewhere a lot of crud and in need of thaw / freeze.
Carn Etchacan was also deserted with no signs on any routes having been done here (no tracks) and a lot of snow on upper section.
Shelterstone had a party or two on Sticil Face with people moving quickly up the ice pitch and upper slabs (looks in good nick), although possibly a lot of snow in the chimney finish as slow to appear from this.
…and Coire an Lochain is on its way to becoming a ski slope…lots of snow on everything!

Hope your enjoying the good weather over there.


John Lowther

Hell’s Lum

Coire an Lochain.

Shelterstone cliffs.

Broken Cascade.