It was a gloriously sunny day with blue skies throughout the day. Karen and I took the scenic West Highland train line to Glenfinnan and went up one of my favourite mountains, Sgurr a' Ghuisacan. There was snow above 800m, some frozen from the overnight low temperatures. Fantastic views over to the Ben and Isle of Mull. Spring isn't far away, then again we still have at least 4 weeks of winter!
Saturday, 26 February 2011
Thankfully a much cooler day today and a few snow showers down to 600m. Today we headed up into the Gardyloo Gully area on Ben Nevis with some more steep ground and avalanche awareness. John, Seamus and Bob got a chance to perfect their cramponing technique in the harder snow. There was some avalanche debris coming out from the gully. The was some big spindrift coming down Zero and point five gullies with a couple of teams in zero. We had some nice bright spells too. Welcome back to winter!
Friday, 25 February 2011
It was another rather wet and windy day again, but spirits lifted with a slightly cooler day. The next two days I have John, Seamus and Bob from Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team, Yorkshire on a winter skills. We headed over to Creag Meagaidh in the hope of a slightly drier day but in the end we had precipitation pretty much all day! The cloud base was high and above 800m the rain turned to wet snow. After some basic walking with axe techniques we went up Easy Gully on The Post Face for a bit of steeper ground. There were a team just heading up Stag Horn Gully which looked rather grassy lower down. Another team were just ahead of us in the gully so pretty quiet.Last Post was running with water though the ice was holding on. A much better day in prospect tomorrow with much colder conditions, hooray!
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
A wet, windy and warm day today on Aonach Mor. Linda and Chris were treated to soggy navigation for their second winter skills day. A lot of snow melt but still big areas of ice on the plateau and plenty of snow, so don't give up hope. Lower temperatures by the weekend. Precipitation was falling as wet snow just at 1100m today. At least it was quiet on the hill today.
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
It was a much better day weather wise than forecasted today. Return clients Linda and Chris are back for more winter action over the next couple of days. We headed into the Ciste Corrie on Ben Nevis today for some steep ground, safe route travel and avalanche awareness. Snow down to 600m and some excellent ice around. The Curtain was looking good with several teams on it today. Sadly all this ice will be gone, I suspect, by tomorrow with the forecast of rocketing temperatures and rain at all levels.
Monday, 21 February 2011
A busy Aonach Mor today with many winter skills groups out and about. After a windy and snow showery morning it turned out to be a dry and only a slight breeze on the tops in the afternoon. Mother and son, Debbie & Ali were out on a one day skills course with me. We headed up onto The Nid area and went through axe and crampon technique, cutting steps and axe arresting. Through out the day we covered avalanche awareness. Excellent wind scoured areas of neve in places so great conditions for cramponing. Still areas of windslab about.
Friday, 18 February 2011
Last day with Ali and Brian. The guys wanted a winter navigation day so we headed up onto the south side of Aonach Beag. Good conditions for navigating, cloud base hovering around 700-800m, with the odd snow shower on a SE wind. Snow lower down was quite wet and careful footing on steeper ground required today We did some safe route choice on the way back down. A very different day from yesterday Alpine conditions. More snow forecast for the weekend and strong winds on Saturday. The guys already talking about another couple of days out with me again.
Thursday, 17 February 2011
What a fantastic day to be out on the hills. Brian and Ali are out with me for the next two days, return clients from only 3 weeks ago, they were so bitten! We were treated to a spectacular day with blue skies, a temperature inversion and warm sun with no wind this morning. We headed round into the Allt Daim, on the west side of Aonach Mor and ascended the beautiful East ridge of Carn Mor Dearg. Fantastic snow conditions all the way along, not a sign of any previous walkers with a wonderful cornice all the way to the summit. The cloud did come in from the south by mid afternoon but we can't really complain about that!
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Terri, Kieran and Tom were out with me today on a winter skills. We headed up into the Red Burn area on a very quiet Ben Nevis. Snow at 500m was damp in the milder temperatures but by the time we got to the wee waterfall at The Red Burn conditions improved as the freezing level was around 800m today. Much lighter winds and some afternoon sunshine so quite pleasent. We were in poor vis at 1000m as we went through axe arresting, indeed we could hardly see the flying bodies as they disappeared into the gloom. Nice to see plenty of wildlife today. Snow buntings as ever and a herd of red deer who didn't seem to be bothered of our antics on the hill.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
A fine start this morning with blue skies but by late morning clouds and strong SE winds blowing a lot of loose snow around. David wanted a winter walk up The Ben today so he got a good mix of snow and weather conditions for his first taste of winter mountains. The snowline was at around 300m today and by the time we got up to the Red Burn there was a lot of wading through windblown snow. We weaved our way up some steeper ground, avoiding the Pony Track as much as possible. Poor visibility by 1000m and goggle donning time. There were only a few other folk out today but they had all turned back once the going got tough (or was it because we stopped for a break behind a boulder?). High avalanche (Cat 4) on W-NW-N-NE slopes tomorrow, indeed there were pretty big pieces of wind slab breaking off on the Pony Track on a 10 degree slope on our way down! The Pony Track is well banked out with snow high up at the moment.
Sunday, 13 February 2011
A very wintry day on Ben Nevis for the guys from Mixeden Activity Center today. It was snowing heavily most of the day down to 400m. There was at least 8 inches of fresh snow lying since yesterday afternoon. Today Steve, Dan and Andy wanted to do some steep ground, snow belays and some avalanche awareness. We headed into the Ciste Corrie on Ben Nevis and found some ice to put the skills into action. There were still a few climbers about, well from what we could see in the poor visibility. Teams out on Moonlight Gully (at 2pm in high avalanche conditions?) and over on Fawlty Towers, Tower Ridge area. A great winters day out.