Friday, 23 April 2010

Point 5

Vic bought me a days guiding with Alan Kimber for my 30th, so we went for Point 5. Above, Alan leads the 2nd (chimney) pitch (crux). Below, Alan leads the 3rd (rogue) pitch. Video is Vic climbing the rogue pitch. Owing to a windy morning, we didn't leave the hut until 11.30, but still topped out at 6pm - a reasonably quick time.

Tower ridge

An alpine start (3.30 from car park) meant we got the best of the snow conditions on 11 April. We were first on the ridge, and conditions were good. The ben was surprisingly quiet.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A grand day out in Applecross

We had a weekend out west. A lazy warm day on Saturday was followed by an early cold start for Beinn Bhan in Applecross. The long walk in paid dividends as conditions had benefitted from the refreeze. We were the second pair of 3 on March Hare gully (300m IV,4 **). The bottom section of the first pitch and a couple of smaller steps on the next 2 pitches were a bit thin and drippy, but the rest was superb.

We topped out in 3hrs 45mins, and went to the summit for a well earned lunch. We were down before dark and had dinner in the Kinlochewe. A grand day indeed!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

A day saved

I'd arranged to do point 5 with Alan Kimber, and with snow and wind due to arrive around noon, we met at the car park at 0500. Unfortunately, the weather arrived early, so we called it off, not wanting to deal with either a) spindrift funnelling down the gully, or b) possible avalanches. So I was back home by 7am! With a spare day, i went to explore a waterfall that is marked on the map up the glen at Garve Bridge. It's not in the guidebook, and was well frozen, but is unfortunately only about 8ft high!

I consoled myself with exploring Guisachan Falls (III) 30m, which is best approached from downstream by the right bank. Again, it was well frozen and gave a good solo.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Alpine weather on the Ben

What can you say, other than 'stunning'! This weekend we were with Adventure Peaks for a familiarisation weekend. The group was going round the CMD arete to the summit of the Ben, and in view of the snow on the forest tracks, we scrapped plans for Tower ridge in order to help with the transport. 13 of us piled in to my defender and another chap's disco 4 to get to the top car park!

There wasn't a breath of wind, and the sun shone for all but about 10 minutes. We started in daylight and finished in day light - most un-scottish! Teams out on NE Buttress, Tower and Ledge Route reported ok conditions. No body on any gullies - very sensible given the amount of unconsolidated powder.

Monday, 1 February 2010

fooled by the forecast

On Friday I met my brother, Nige, halfway in Glencoe. The forecast was poor, high winds, low cloud, very cold, snow showers. A short conference in the car park in a hoolie concluded that we didn't want to be hanging around on belay ledges, and that a mountaineering day in the Lost Valley was in order. After 3 hours of trudging up the glen under steadily improving skies, we realised we'd made the wrong choice, and that we didn't have the hardwear with us to take advantage of the excellent conditions.

We went up Right Hand Gully (I/II) and encountered some patches of windslab and one very tiring patch of seemingly bottomless soft snow, moved together, and finished up the right hand side of the headwall, possibly on the line of Granny's Groove (III). It must have been very banked out as we saw no sign of the 'good belays', or the 'cul de sac' in the gully, or the 'scoop' or 'overhang' on the right!

There was no cornice on the bealach, and it was a pleasurable descent back to the clachaig for coke and chips. Far better than being in the office!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

West is best

On Friday myself, pete, karen and their 2 dogs went for an explore up beinn dearg east of Ullapool to see what conditions were like. There's been a thaw over there, and the snowline is now about 650m. Emerald gully is missing its top icefall, and Fenian looks thin. Orangeman's gully looks good, and there appeared to be lots of ice on the Ice Hose, so Penguin should be in. Pete went up the Cadha Amadan with the dogs, while Karen and I soloed the Rev Ian Paisley Memorial gully, which had some soft patches and a couple of steps of II, but was ok.

Friday was intentionally short to save energy for the Saturday - a traverse of An Teallach. We left the road at 8am and were down at 7pm. The snow is as good as you could hope for, and recent northerlies have even banked out the bad step, which combined with light winds and some great cloud formations made for a great day out. Surprisingly we only saw one other party, and we think they had climbed a gully, as we didn't meet anyone on the ridge.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Thaw now, but what a freeze!

Warm wet weather has replaced the cold, but we made use of it. Last weekend saw us on Steall falls on Friday, in Strathconon (Alt Mhairi) on Saturday, and on Fain Falls (Dundonnel) on Sunday. The latter is graded IV, 4, but we found it quite hard. It's in condition so infrequently, but the cocensus seems to be top end IV,5. So we did our first technical 5 by accident!

Photos - Alt Mhairi, Steall, P1 Fain, Vicky seconding P2 Fain (credit for photo Steve and Ryan, Aberdeen), P2 Fain