Saturday, 28 February 2009

WINTERS BACK!






















Great to see a wintery day today with snow falling at 900m. Anne, Quinten, Cheryl, John and I were on the Eastern corrie of Ben Lawers. We made the most of any steep snow of any length in the Lawers range and had a good time in a lovely, remote spot which finishes at the summit. Wonderful to see snow fall after such a long time! We descended down the SSE ridge and found some nice bum slide/glissade slopes back to Lawers and the pub. Forecast is for snow at low levels and much colder through the coming week, at last winter IS back!




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Monday, 23 February 2009

SOGGY SNOW
















It was a mild, soggy day on Aonach Mor today but we managed to find some good snow slopes and even icy ground for some winter skills training. goes to show even in lean conditions there's always plenty of the white stuff around. Dan, Paul & Ben were on a one day course and we had some fun descending on steep ground in the Nid area. Dan got an excellent axe arrest in at the end of the day, combining all 4 positions in one slide! Snow and colder weather forecast by mid week, we hope.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

EAST FACE BEN LAWERS




























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There was a temperature drop overnight and during today so the snow was very good above 900m. I was on the Eastern face of Ben Lawers today, this is a great place for continuous snow in lean periods and lasts all the way through winter until May. There is lots of choices for steep ground to play on and a couple of short gullies of grade 1. There was excellent neve the last 100m below the summit and water ice around. Just as I sat there thinking 'great that winter conditions are back' a couple of guys wandered up to the summit from Beinn Ghlas. They had no ice axes, crampons and only bendy fabric summer boots. They asked me the way to An Stuc and were planning on doing all the Lawers range as far as Meall Greigh, they hadn't even a map between them!! I watched them slither off into the cloud toward An Stuc, mmmmm. I went off playing in the hard snow below An Fhithic before descending to Lochan nan Cat. Forecast is for much colder conditions by middle next week and snow. Snowdrops and panseys are out in bloom, that doesn't mean it's summer though!







Friday, 20 February 2009

ICE!











Good to see and feel the colder conditions today. Justin was out on a winter skills with me today, we covered ice axe arrests on hard snow, axe, crampon and boot techniques and avalanche assessment. It was colder today with a freezing level of about 800m making the snowpack excellent for cramponing. It was quiet on Tarmachan today, we were in the Cam Chreag area and as always saw no one all day.




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Thursday, 19 February 2009

COLDER AND SNOWING!






















Ian, Chaz and I were up in Glencoe today and it felt more like winter, much cooler and we had a few snow showers. We were having another steep ground day and avoided the crowds on Broad Gully area by moving over to Gearr Aonach's ridge which leads onto Stob Coire nan Lochan. We had the corrie and ridge to ourselves and were treated to late sunshine on Bidean's summit later in the afternoon. Snow is consolidating well and above 900m we had some hard snow. Another full day, arriving back at the carpark in the dark.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

WINTER SKILLS
















A really nice day today, very quiet on the hills has we had Cruach Ardrain to ourselves. Chaz & Ian were on their second day of winter skills. We concentrated on walking on steep terrain as we made our way up Cruach Ardrain's Eastern ridge. In summer conditions this is just a steep walk but in winter a different kettle of fish. The snow is consolidating well in the cooler temperatures overnight and today, we even had some neve above 900m. 'Y' gully is looking good and complete. It was only a breeze on the tops and nice views on the summit, indeed our hill was clear all day, unlike the hills further north which looked cloud covered for much of the day.

Monday, 16 February 2009

IT MAY BE WARM BUT ITS STILL VERY MUCH WINTER!







It was a balmy plus 8 degrees C this evening at Loch level but despite the tropical temperatures we still had plenty of winter conditions on the hills today. Ian & Chaz were on their first day of a winter skills course. We covered axe arresting, avalanche awareness and walking on steep ground. We found some nice steep sections and gullies in the Cam Chreag area of Tarmachan. The snow pack is quite wet but reasoanbly stable although cornices are quite big and well to be avoided in this wee warm spell. Looks like cooling down a lot by the end of the week so should be great conditions by then

Friday, 13 February 2009

WILD CATS







George and I were in the wonderful area of Lochan nan Cat today, we were climbing on Creag an Fhitich and An Stuc. Some wonderful ice around despite the rise in temperatures over the last couple of days. We did a nice grade 2/3 climb which leads into Cat Gully's mid section were some great climbing to be had, lots of choices for some great ice. We also climbed Raven's Gully , grade 1/2 , on Creag an Fhitich earlier in the day, though it was at first a little difficult to identify as cloud was at Lochan level most of the day! We managed a wee crag inbetween too, which was once again perfect ice. All this and a 2 hour walk in and back, a good day out! Snow is at 400m, soft in places after the rise in temperatures, a good freeze and everything will be wonderful.


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Thursday, 12 February 2009

WHERE'S THE SUN?







It was back to 'proper' Scottish winter conditions today after all the lovely sunshine & blue skies of the last few days. The cloud was down low, snow, sleet and a bit of wind thrown in. Bill, Liz and I were on Cruach Ardrain near Crianlarich. There are fresh deposits of snow at all levels as it was snowing most of the day, but there are excellent areas of hard frozen snow where some slopes have been scoured. Crampons with anti-balling plates were of great help today. The temperature rose during the day and the snow at lower levels has become wet. A good freeze overnight and it'll be great snow for walking and climbing.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

SUNSHINE, SNOW, SMILES

It was another fabulous, stunning day here in the Highlands. i was out on Ben Lawers, from Tombreck via the Southern ridges-the finest ways up and down the mountain. Amazing amount of snow in the fissure that leads onto the summit area. This is a great spot for snow holing and just now you could dig several hotels into the deep drifts there. It was blue skies all day and you could see from Arran to The Cairngorms from the summit. Quite pleasent lower down in the sun but a biting NE wind on the summit and ridges. Careful route choice still required in places as still lots of windslab but its slowely bonding and now far easier walking on the lower slopes.



























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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A STUNNING WINTERS DAY




























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A beautiful, stunning winters day here in the Southern Highlands. I was in the Eastern corrie of Meall nan Tarmachan climbing a lovely wee buttress which leads onto the NE ridge to the summit, most of the gullies here in the corrie are still full of windslab. Weather and conditions so good that I traversed the ridge back again, I saw no one all day and both the Tarmachan and Ben Lawers Visitor centre car parks were empty all day, probably because the mountain road is still very icy in the forested lower section. This would rank as one of the best traverses I have done for snow conditions and weather. The snow pack is consolidating very nicely, crampons a neccessity on the ridges but there are still big areas of windslab about, take care. Weather is set fine and cold here in Perthshire over the next few days, enjoy! Must remember to pack the shades!








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