Friday, 25 March 2011

Ben Report

Folks have been out today to take advantage of the cold nights over the last couple of days. Lots of the classic grade IV's are still in good shape, as well as a couple of the classic V's. The Point is not in good shape and has a hole in the second pitch, which made Bruce back off yesterday. The weather is due for another change over the weekend so many bring a little more snow back.

I am back down South tomorrow, so this will be my last winter report unless conditions improve massively to draw me back up.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

CIC Week

This week was meant to be a good week in the CIC climbing classics, a great way to finish my season up here. Unfortunately, a gastro virus has killed me off early, but it started well.

We walked up Sunday evening with our heavy bags for the week, thankfully the bus blocking the track had been moved (good work Bruce and Tony), so we only had to walk from the top car park. The weather forecast for the week had turned to the less than perfect one (warm but dry), but I was still hopeful we would get loads done. After discussing aims etc. We had a plan for the next day.

Monday: Warm, windy and dry. Having spoke to a few folks I had good knowledge that a walk up Observatory Gully would bring results. We broke trail up to Observatory Buttress with the view of climbing the direct, but it was to thin so went for the original. The ice was very wet due to the snow melt running over it, but did offer plastic ice all the way up this 3 star classic. We made short work of the route and navigated down to the abseil posts in a good white out and back to the hut. a good start.

Tuesday: Warm, windy and wet. Again we walked up Observatory Gully less than hopeful. The rain and wind were stripping things in rapid fashion sending ice and rocks down for good measure. After a quick look at Hadrian's we ran away and went up Tower Ridge. This was bare up the starting chimney, then very icy after, there where even places you could have placed ice screws on the route. It had cleared to be a nice day by mid day, so we could see the damage the weather from the morning had done. It was pretty bad. I had heard and seen ice falling down all day so was not surprised at the effects. Hadrian's, Indicator, Smith's had all held in there and the Point looks awesome, except for the big things still hanging above it. Looking up into Corie na Ciste we could see that lots of the high routes still looked in good shape, but again cornices are the concern. Day 2 in the bag and another Classic.

Wednesday: No longer care about the weather. My Wednesday starts at approx. 1:30am with stomach cramps that keep me awake. By 2:30am I am violently sick, but at least there are 3 others in my situation as well. Being ill and looking into a long drop does not help settle your stomach, I could even say it makes things seem worse. By 9am I have nothing left to come out, even though my body insists on trying as I walk back down to the car park. A long story short, down, visit to doctors, 2 injections and a prescription and a lot of sleep later and I have finally eaten again. Dried toast never tasted so good.

Hopefully the folks left in the hut will be well and take advantage of the better weather today and Friday. Thanks to the folks from the Fell and Rock Club that also had to come down for the lift to Alan's. I am psyched to leave my bed today and might make a redpoint attempt on the living room.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Where The Mood Takes Me

Above: Crimping hard on Where the Mood Takes Me E5 6a*

I had a day to myself today after a good stretch of work and was hoping for a nice lay in. Unfortunately I was up early (I'm in the routine), so got up and out up the Glen before the weather came in. I walked to upper Simitar and had a look at Where The Mood Takes Me E5 6a*. This is the only route on that buttress I had not done, so thought it would fill an hour. I abseiled down to make sure it was clean and had a look at the moves. It seemed ok, so I gave it a bash. Sequencey climbing leads through the crux to a straight forward top out. A nice route, good solo and finished before the rain.

Above: Working through the Crux

I will be in the CIC hut from Sunday till Friday, so limited updates till then.

Tired Legs and Dry Rock

Above: Dave cruising Right Wall VD

With the amount of snow this week it has taken its toll on the legs, so we opted for an easy day in Glen Nevis. This gave us the chance to revisit some of the belay skills we had covered on day 1 whilst doing a few routes as well. Dave and John led the Gutter D*** and Right Wall Vdiff* breaking them down into many pitches for max oppoetunities to practise. Is was a nice way to finish the week, and the cake in the cafe helped as well.

Thanks guys for another good week.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Raeburn's Route

Above: John finishing the hard climbing on the long first pitch

Now the high pressure system has moved in the weather has improved. Cold and clear with blistering sunshine today in Glencoe. We slogged back up in SCNL and climbed Raeburn's route, which had suffered a little on the first pitch due to the early morning sun, it might not be there tomorrow. Once on the upper pitches it was steller climbing to the top. John and Dave again commented on the quality of the climbing, they seem to be developing a liking for mixed climbing. There were loads of teams out today on all the usual classics, taking advantage of the trenches to the routes. There was a fair bit of snow being moved at the end of the day and I have heard that Obseratory gully avalanched today as well as some folks getting avalanched out of the base of Glover's. It is warm so take care out there.

Above: John and Dave enjoying the route and the weather
Below: Dave nearing the top

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Far Eastern Buttress

Above: Me on the first pitch

Today I went up to the Far Eastern Buttress on Aonach Dubh with Dave and John. We climbed a route called Houy Choy (I'll correct this when I get it right) IV,5, which felt more Vi,5 today with the thin, not so good ice and extremely poor/none existant gear. This is much steeper than it looks and gives some good climbing spread over 2 pitches, both of which were thin ice climbing. Dave and John felt challenged and got a lot out off the day, but we might have an easier day tomorrow, maybe.

There is now a good track into the corie where folks were climbing a range of routes. Still loads of snow, which is wet and heavy.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Back to North Buttress

Above: Dave finishing pitch 2

We ventured into Glencoe today with a few ideas in mind, but North Buttress was top of the list as I knew it was in good shape to climb if we could get to it. It was hard work as soon as you stepped off the main road, into the knee deep snow. Fortunately, some kind soles had broke trail. Unfortunately, they appeared to not know the way, so the approach was a bit up and down. Once off the footpath and on to the ridge approach it was fine and the amount of snow was substantially less. The route was still in great condition, and we made rapid progress up the pitches. John and Dave had not lost any skills since last year. We abseiled back down and avoided the wade to the top. There was 1 other team behind us, but we never saw them again after abbing. I did the nice thing (or stupid) and broke a trail back down the footpath to join the path that was broken this morning which should help folk pick a better way in.

Above: John finishing the second pitch
Below: Dave on easy ground after the crux pitch

Apple and Blackberry crumble with custard in the Clachaig went down a treat. Other folks we met had ploughed up into Lochain and turned back. There were tracks heading towards curved ridge as well. Teams from the Brenin went up the zigzags and down Dinnertime buttress as well.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Loads of Snow

Today I started a 5 day climbing course for Alan Kimber, but a lot of snow yesterday and overnight has made finding places to climb today difficult. John had a slight hangover as well so we opted to have a relax session looking at belays etc. at Alan's. This proved to be useful and we will put it into practise tomorrow hopefully.

There was an impressive roof avalanche off Alan's garage which partly covered a couple of the cars and ripped off the gutters. I had seen evidence of this in a few other places around the fort today, so can only imagine what has been happening up high today.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

North Buttress

Above: Getting stuck into North Buttress

With the wild weather forecast again we headed to North Buttress on the Buachallie. It was a busy day with loads of teams with the same idea, but we managed to work around each other. The route was in excellent condition, but the weather was as wild as predicted with even more snow. dave and Colm led the first 2 pitches between them as I worked above to help clean gear placements etc. I then took over to lead the the crux pitch before we abseiled off.

Above: Leading up the second pitch
Below: Paul and Ronan keeping positive in the ming

Campbell and Andy were behind me, and John had gone to Curved ridge but bailed due to too much snow. Ken had a group on the North Ridge of Stob Ban. The had been quite a bit of snow fall during the day, with 4 inches on the car at 14:30. Conditions will continue to be challenging.

A great few days for everyone despite the challenging weather.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Compression Cracks

Above: Me leading crux

After our new route yesterday, we were in the market for a bit of steep ice. Compression seemed a winner as we walked in, but was less than perfect when on it. The ice was old and coming away in chunks on the steep sections. Depite this, the lads had a great time and were again put through their passes (as requested). There was a sizable avalanche out of Castle South Gully whilst we climbed as well. We bailed off after the first steep pitch, then picked a safe way down looking at avalanche stuff as we went. Despite some wild weather it was a great day.

Above & Below: Dave and Colm enjoying the ming

Campbell joined us, but John and Andy climbed Faulty Towers. There were teams on South West Ridge of the boulder, Vanishing (which avalanched above), Hadrian's and Orion.

Above: Campbell approaching a belay

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Something New?

Above: Colm and Dave

Today I was out with Dave and Colm who are clients I have been working with for the last 6 years. The aim of the 3 days is to take their climbing forward, so some steeper harder routes are on the cards. We walked up to the Far Eastern Buttress with a few ideas after reports of it being very white yesterday, and with the high winds and avalanche forecast it was a good choice. Some of the snow had gone after the wetter than expected weather last night. We chose the steepest line that was white and went for that. This went up the winter start of Yen, then up the steep crack to the right instead of following it's second pitch. We then finished straight up. The second pitch was the crux and went at VI,6/7. Good sustained climbing at the grade, thin feet and hooks to start up the steepest section, then the hooks improved and good gear throughout.

Above: Campbell on the Eastern Slant

There were 3 other teams out working for me today on the Eastern Slant. Campbell did a variation finish, but not sure what yet.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

York Alpine Club Snowcraft Day

Today was my second day with folks from YAC. The aim of the day was to look at and use a range of snow belays. We walked up to the Fiaciall Corie Cas which had very firm snow and a steep headwakk, perfect for what we wanted to cover. Once everyone had dug themselves a bucket seat and buried axe, it was time to pitch up a steeper slopes. We kept them short to maximise the digging, and force everyone to belay on the steepest section of the slope.

Once we had topped out it was time kook at descent. We used bollards to manage ourselves down the steep section in 2 abseils. This gave each team the challenge of safeguarding themselves whislt cutting a new bollard.

To finish the day we had a quick look at holding a leader fall in a bucket and belaying dynamically.

A great day and very productive.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

York Alpine Club Winter Skills

I was back in the gorms today working with a group from York Alpine Club. The aim of todays session was to cover a range of winter skills. We started on the edge of tyhe Fiacaill Ridge and took advantage of the rock hard conditions to kick and cut steps. Once we had finished this session the snow had softened enough to look at a bit of sliding. After some interesting attempts and many good ones, we walked around to the flat ice and cramponed up. A good session on the flat ice led us nicely to walking up the goat track and into the sun. We then cruised around the coire and over 1141m and down. A great day in awesome weather.

There were plenty of teams out in the easy gullies which mostly still look in good condition. A team climbed Invernookie, but it was looking very thin. All the rock is black and it feels like April up there already.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Rease Heath College

This week I have been working with Rease Heath College again in the Gorms. A total change in the weather this week, with wall to wall sunshine for 3 days this week we managed to get a lot done. We started the week with a skills session in Sneachda and a journey up the goat track around to 1141. The next day was about a journey. We made an ascent of the Fiaciall Ridge and traveresed Lochain, where we looked at approaching an edge. To finish the day we walked back the the Rothemurcis Lodge.

Yesterday we went into the ciste to look at snow belays and anchors. After a long stretch of snow (and many buckets later) we topped out. We then covered bollards as a means of descent. Another good day.

Today we walked back into Sneachda and climbed Aladdin's Couloir to finish the week on a high. Topping out at 11:30, we then cruised up to the top of Cairngorm before heading for hot chocolate. A great week in all.

Some pics to come.