Saturday, 30 January 2010

Emergency shelters, a bit of ropework and some crevasses

Today Fergus and I went out with the Notts Uni MPS group to a great spot for digging emergency snow shelters. We were very sheltered from the wind and even had blue skies in the afternoon. The snow was so good we all got a bit carried away with the digging and design so ended up creating the Munro Pineapple Society luxury snow shelter estate! After just a short time digging we had snow shelters accommodating two, three and four people.
After a very comfortable lunch in the snow shelters we went out to have a look at some basic ropework and then went off on a journey to explore the crevasses above where past cornices had collapsed and refrozen, even giving the opportunity for some natural emergency shelters though I would have to be convinced that the temperatures were going to remain cold before I spent the night out in them!
Ron and Jonathon headed towards Coire an-Sneachda with their groups and more from Ron here at the Talisman Blog

Friday, 29 January 2010

Winter skills, huskies, reindeer and mountain hares

Fergus and I were out today with Nottingham University Munro Pineapple Society mountaineering club for Talisman Mountaineering Activities.
A heavy snow shower shut the ski road just as were were trying to head up so we walked up from Glenmore then they opened the road again! The weather was better than we expected with surprisingly light winds in Coire na Ciste and great snow for step kicking, cutting, ice axe braking and a walk back over towards the ski road on wind scoured slopes which were good for getting used to using crampons.
In addition to all this we had the huskies racing past at Glenmore, the reindeer herd came along to have a curious look at us whilst we were step cutting and a mountain hare bounded past us on our walk back to Coire na Ciste. We walked back along the closed link road which has huge drifts at least shoulder high and also some steep and well frozen snow slopes to play with!
More snow tomorrow!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

La Grave

There was a lot less snow in La Grave than Aviemore when we arrived but some mixed weather in the first week gave some more snowy days then our second week was good with more mild temperatures and some lovely, plastic ice.
We climbed most days and the first photo shows Caturgeas which was too busy on the first day we went there so we went back again but earlier to be at the front of the queue. As we abseiled down at around 1pm, there were at least twelve other climbers there and ice and spindrift avalanches were coming down with increasing regularity as the sun hit the upper slopes of this south facing route.
The next photos shows Saut de la Pucelle, the rather grand waterfall just below La Grave and Valseuses, a steep pillar of ice which I found just a bit too intimidating. Another time hopefully!
After that, Goulotte d'Astarothe, Goulotte de Muretouse and Cagade gave us two great days out as did Le Pylone on our last day when Ron decided to lead one huge 60 m pitch up the steep side! Another great day.
I had one day skiing at Les Deux Alpes with Ian and we just had to stop in the sun for the obligatory chocolate chaud.
Back in Aviemore and most of the snow has been shifted or has melted from the village though many gutters are now lying in gardens including mine! So I'm now looking forward to finding how things are out on Cairngorm.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

La Grave

Off to La Grave for some ice climbing and skiing not that there is not enough snow here! Maybe by the time we get back the eight foot long icicles might have dropped off my roof hopefully not taking the guttering with them!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Heaps of snow again in Aviemore so we went in search of a place to look at snow anchors and some ice climbing. We walked in along the old A9 in deep snow and had to crawl under the trees that have succumbed to the weight of the snow. It was quite fun to see the Talisman Basecamp motorhome blanketed by snow with some interesting looking cornices hanging off the roof!
Our slope for looking at snow anchors had a lot of soft snow but showed how they could work well if created properly and also how easily, in very soft, fresh snow, they could fail!
After that we found some ice for a bit if mixed climbing - steep ice, rock and soft snow all made for an entertaining climb for everyone.
More from Ron here especially about how difficult it currently is to just to get back home!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Micro navigation and cross country skiing

Today the forecast of heavy snow made us think again about our plans to climb so instead I went out to look at winter micro navigation this morning with Steve, Matt, Dan, Gareth and Chad. By lunch-time, it was snowing heavily and cars were having a bit of difficulty getting up the Glenmore Road and the snow gates at the bottom of the ski road had been closed. We hired cross country skis and picked out a route around Loch Morlich through the trees and across part of the loch itself.
Even the Loch Morlich ducks had a coating of snow!
This evening Aviemore is quite cut-off as the A9 is closed at Drumochter and Daviot so it's not possible to go north or south. The train has also been off due to the derailment at Carrbridge and then the bad weather.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Snow and ice

I was helping out Ron today with the mountaineering course as we looked at techniques for moving safely up and down on steeper ground - all sorts of belays using ice, boulders, trees and the snow and different methods of abseiling.
Chad's picture of Dan shows the ice well and more photos from Ron here
Still more snow forecast and the icicles hanging from my roof are now six foot long and growing daily!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Trail breaking, snow shelters, snow and more snow!

Today we set off again away from the ski area and the Northern Corries to find a good slope for ice axe braking and after a good bit of sliding about packing down the snow, we had our slope. After that we headed uphill through the trees along snowy trails with a big team effort at trail breaking to find somewhere we could dig snow shelters and look at the snow in more detail - interesting cornices, drifts and windslab.
The snow was rather too deep and soft for crampons but we put them on to experience just how important it is to clear off the packed in snow from the base of the boot to make sure the crampons fit properly and also how easy it is to lose things in the deep, soft snow. It was starting to snow again as we headed back to Aviemore.
I forgot to take my camera today - bother! One of Ron's pictures above and a couple from Chad.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Deep drifts and lots of queues

The first day of the Talisman New Year winter mounatineering course and traffic queues on the ski road through Glenmore meant we turned back at Loch Morlich to find an alternative location a bit nearer to home. We waded and swam through deep drifts to reach our summit in a brief spell of sunshine. Chad, Matt, Stepehen, Gareth and I then returned to Aviemore to meet up with Dan who had been diverted to Edinburgh airport yesterday when Inverness was closed. After a chat about winter kit and a look at crampon fitting, we're all set for another day out tomorrow.
Happy New Year!