Today on Ben Nevis the conditions were good. Point Five Gully, Orion Direct, Hadrians Direct, Indicator Wall and many others had teams moving fairly quickly, even Psychedelic Wall looked possible! Smith’s Route on Gardyloo Buttress looked possible, although the icicle variant might be tricky. Green Gully, North Gully, Thompson’s Route, Three Gully Buttress were also visited. The ridges looked very well also and snow level was at around 700metres. The week ahead looks dry and cold so head north and west.
Archive for February, 2011
The front seemed to pass on cue this morning, but the dry weather and cooler temperatures to follow did not, rain, rain and more rain. Leading skills day on Moonlight Gully with Jo and Barry, before descent techniques down No.5. Beware collapsing snow bridges, not just across burns in this mild weather, but in the gully lines too, there are some big wet drops about! It is looking cooler tomorrow thankfully.
Orion seems to have survived, not sure about Astral Highway. Hadrians is still there but maybe 5 cm of ice and 10 cm of nothing to rock!? Minus face gone, plenty of debris under no.2.
The weather suggested east was better today, so another early start saw us at the head of the pack getting into Coire an t-Sneachda. Patey’s Route was a little drippy in places, firm ice still well attached in others and a waterfall over the first steep pitch. The snow was soft and the temperature was +6 on leaving the car. It will be interesting to see how much stays before the next freeze, I think it will form again quickly. The upper crux is very well protected and has great hooks. Chris was keen to get to the summit of the route on his final day, rather than abseil from above the difficulties.
This was very fortunate for two young Navy lads who had got a bit bogged down in some soft snow at the top of Aladdin’s Couloir. On arriving at Aladdin’s Seat, it looked like they may need a hand. When asked they said, “yes, please”, a wise decision. We were able to escape more easily up the Mirror side and drop a rope down to these two lads who were very thankful, and thanks for the whiskey on its way in return, very honourable!
A good lesson, snow always looks less steep from below (been surprised myself more than once), until you get onto it, and upward progress will always be slow on leeward scarp slopes when it is plus lots of degrees and the avalanche risk is moderate or higher. Lucky lads, good luck in Afghanistan.
The Corrie was fairly quiet, but a few routes were being done, not sure axes and crampons were necessary on a few. Cold next week.
We left the car this morning with a few plans. Plan A came to fruition, Orion Direct. From Observatory Gully the snow slopes looked OK leading up, but we stayed close to Observatory Ridge and then ran one rope length up and then another across Zero to the start of Orion, lucky we had a few pegs with us. There was a lot of suspect snow at the foot of Zero, from two weeks of southerly winds.
Once on the route, the ice was fantastic, first time placements most of the way. Any snowy patches were skirted and were quite heavy going, but protectable with the icy bulges generally taking good screws. Belays, as ever on Orion were not always the best and the ice screws all took a turn at biting rock at some point during the day, file time!
The day got warmer and damper in the cloud, making the Orion Face feel a bit lonely, luckily James Thacker was following us up with a client too, which made the day a bit more social. Very different conditions to yesterday on Raeburn’s Original Route in Stob Coire nan Lochain (great neve and positive hooks with rock protection available)
After the exit chimney we did not fancy the finishing snow slope, so hopped over the ridge to finish as for North East Buttress, much more pleasant and less threatening snow conditions on that aspect.
Shame its getting a bit wet, all routes are probably climbable just now on Orion, a bit of water and a refreeze soon, will hopefully not change this.
Today there was plenty of action all over Ben Nevis and teams out on plenty of routes. A direct start to Sassanach appeared to be the plan for one party. Vanishing Gully was ‘mobbed’ and really sociable so we opted for a more leisurely ascent of The Curtain. The first pitch has little protection but is very benign just now. The belay at the cave is 100% and fixed. Sixty metre ropes on a stretch will suffice to climb the route in two pitches. All good fun ahead of the storm:(
Today, one team backed off of Orion Direct when confronted with plenty of deep unconsolidated snow on the approach.
I’m back in the hills for my annual trip from Bournemouth.
Here is a shot of Creag Meagaidh taken yesterday, showing the lower parts of the cliffs. Parties were descending off gullies, sensibly wary of the avalanche risk. Those who ventured beyond The Window found the wind so strong on the tops that they resorted to crawling. We thought the better of it.
The other shot could be a ‘Guess the Location’ poser. It is actually the central section of the Ballachulish Horseshoe, Meall a’ Chaolais, taken from near the
Loch Leven Hotel.
Keep up the blogs.
Well done Philip. The Ballachulish photo in particular has some mystery about it.
Evil winds today on Ben Nevis with no idea which direction they wanted to blow! Boomer’s Requiem seemed like a good option as it was in the lee of the wind. However as the blow rotored around Nevis the spindrift came from all directions, especially below. Fortunately the climb was set up for abseil from above the difficult sections and with two 60 metre ropes the relative calm on the glen was gained without a battle over the tops.
The Curtain is getting plenty of attention, along with Vanishing and one or two other routes.
Thanks to Chris Coppellotti for some of these photos. Leyton Orient not being his favourite team at present, although Arsenal should triumph at the Emirates (?) only to face Manchester United at Old Trafford!
Today started windy and showery and the weather turned better as the forecast suggested. Thanks to Dan Goodwin for these three photos.
Minus One Gully tested the commons sense of at least one team this morning, before they retreated to fight another day.
Busy day on the Ben today, teams from the hut eager to get out after a bout of cabin fever this week. Teams out on Waterfall Gully, a French team looked at the Shield before running away and climbing Rubicon Wall. Another team set off up Minus 1 slowly and then retraced steps and climbed the Kimber classic from 76, Astral Highway. There was enough ice, or was the snow a little suspect to climb direct across the basin and direct up to the ice on the main pitch. Minus Two was climbed too. A brave team ventured onto Hadrians and appeared to stay on the snow crust. The ice climbing looked good. We were a little bit worried about one soul on Indicator Wall, then the cloud dropped a bit. Tower ridge saw three guided parties, so the belays should be well dug out, until the wind blows again (tomorrow). We had a great day today, plan A is on hold, but as is so often the case, the best ones are always unplanned, which allowed us to see the above and on summiting see several people descending the Ciste.
Thanks Bruce, I opted for the pleasures of Aonach Mor and plenty of teams were out on both sides in glorious weather.
Was in the Lochan today on Central Grooves… nice. Soft heavy snow on approach but teams on Raeburns, East Face Direct and others…
plenty of Frenchies about… almost felt like Chamonix!
Best Wishes… T x