Monday, 28 February 2011

Patey's Route, Coire an t-Sneachda

It was a beautiful day with heaps of sunshine and blue sky so I went out climbing with Ron and Chris on Patey's Route. The ice was fun but a bit thin over the first tricky bit then the harder tricky bit near the top of our second pitch was exactly that - tricky and hard! We romped up to the plateau on some lovely neve with odd pockets of graupel here and there.
For more information from Ron click here.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

More from Aberfeldy

I was down at Aberfeldy on Friday working with Stuart Johnston and a Climbmts course then more on Friday evening and Saturday for Stuart's Edinburgh Tiso Winter Skills course.
On Friday we were over at Schiehallion and whilst it started off as a fair weather day, we all ended up rather wet! The temperature had been around +11c when I left Aviemore early in the morning and it actually got a bit colder as I headed south. The snow was soggy still but useful for looking at steep ground techniques.
So a quick trip down to Edinburgh and an even briefer visit to my Mum then I was back up to the Ben Lawers area this morning where it was quite a contrast to have colder temperatures and sunshine over on Meall Corainnich as we practiced movement skills, snow and weather, how to use the axe and a brief look at cramponning, the snow was just too soft but we found some great patches of ice to play on! A few snowy showers blew over us as the day went on.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


I was out over the weekend working for Stuart Johnston's Climbmts with Dave and Tommy who had returned to experience some more of the Scottish winter.
On Saturday we had someearly snow which made driving about a bit tricky so we found an easy to get to area to look at winter navigation, some snow bollards to abseil from over little cornices and lots more basic ropework skills. Sunday was a bit better weather-wise so we could go a bit higher again to some great drifts to dig snow anchors. The fresh snow and drifts gave us lots to discuss when thinking about planning routes.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A windy skills day

It was a bit windy this morning so KC and I spent some time indoors discussing navigation techniques and practising some knots. Once the wind dropped a little we went to a great big snow drift close to the car to dig in the snow some more - as if we hadn't done enough digging on our snowhole trip! We created some snow belays, did a some basic emergency ropework and abseiling and climbed up through some little but steep cornices using the feet, axe and even the helmet!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ciste Mhearad snowhole trip

KC and I navigated our way up in the low cloud from the Coire na Ciste car park around Coire Laoigh Mor to drop down into Ciste Mhearad. Intermittent breaks in the cloud gave us some views of the long queues of skiers enjoying the fresh snow.
When we reached Ciste Mhearad, we found a suitable spot to start digging and then we dug and dug and dug! Underneath the newly drifted snow, we came across lots of icy layers and we didn't quite make the progress we wanted so finding a suitable pre-dug hole nearby, we changed our plan and renovated it instead.
Some shouts later on alerted us to the arrival of some neighbours, Joe and Andy, who moved into another large snowhole that was also already there.
Plenty of hot food and warm sleeping bags meant that the cold night was a comfortable one. Apparently it was -5c at the Ptarmigan restaurant in the morning. Overnight the snow had been blowing about creating big drifts all around us and some breaks in the cloud showed a beautiful, white world under the blue skies.
The wind was picking up as we walked out and visibility was coming and going as we returned to the car.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Coire na Ciste and a lot of snow

It was a different world out on Cairngorm today compared to yesterday with heavy snow falling throughout the day. KC and I went to Coire na Ciste today to find somewhere a bit sheltered to practice lots of skills for moving safely abut the wintry hills. There was even a convenient snowhole which we could pop into now and again for the occasional cup of tea!
The drifting snow also gave us lots to look at and we were low down so it will be interesting to see what conditions are like higher up tomorrow.
Back down at the Ciste car park it was very wet so we went back down into Aviemore to plan and pack for our overnight expedition tomorrow.
I was working for Talisman Mountaineering today and Ron was out and about in Coire an t-Sneachda with Su.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Cairngorm North Ridge

It was a very atmospheric day on Cairngorm today with a bit of mist and low then glorious sunshine. I was working with Stuart Johnston's Climbmts Tiso navigation group from Inverness. We had enough low cloud intially to give us some real navigation points then as the sun came out, we used out imagination to ignore the views and nav some more.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Spiral Gully

The weather forecast was far too promising to spend the day inside so Sue and I went into Coire an t-Sneachda to climb Spiral Gully. We were lucky that there was only one party above us and they were pretty far up the route before we started so we almost had it to ourselves except for the rather brightly dressed guy who soloed up behind us. We let him pass and he romped away off to the top whilst we were still getting ourselves sorted at our belay.
There was lovely ice in our second pitch and some very solid ice in our last pitch. The rest was perfect neve - couldn't have been better!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Talisman mountaineering course day 2

I went in today with Ron's Talisman Mountaineering Course to a very busy Coire an t-Sneachda with the conditions underfoot being decidedly slippery!
Bob, Maz, Mark, Steve and I went over to the moraine ridge to dig emergency shelters, to consider the effects of the wind on the snow and the drifting on the more sheltered slopes and to practice the techniques that Ron had shown the guys the day before.
The corrie was busy with many groups and climbers and what looked a rescue team training exercise on Aladdin's Couloir.

Saturday, 5 February 2011


Over at Glenshee today working with Stuart Johnston's Climbmts Tiso winter skills group from Edinburgh.
The weather was certainly much better than it has been over the past few days as the rain dried up, the wind dropped and the sun came out too.
We found great snow over the back of the col on the Carn Aosda side of Glenshee and spent the day practicing step-kicking and cutting, ice axe braking, snow, weather, kit and crampons. The scoured, icy areas proved to be excellent for the crampons.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Girls' night out!

Sue, Carron and I had been planning a "night out" or rather an overnight trip out into the hills so undeterred by the huge winds forecast for our chosen night, we packed the rucksacks and headed up Cairngorm by the most sheltered way we could find.
The weather yesterday wasn't so bad and we were relatively sheltered where we decided to dig ourselves a snowhole for the night. Four and half hours later, we had a very comfortable space for the three of us and the stoves were on for supper.
During the night the wind speed increased and the direction changed slightly from south west to west so we woke to find our entrance had drifted over with the spindrift and we guessed there must have been some fresh snow so time to pack up and get out for as quickly as we dug out our entrance, it just filled in again. Getting back over the little bit of the plateau we had to cross was quite a challenge and the wind was recorded as gusting at more than 80mph at the Ptarmigan Restaurant. For once we were all glad to have heavy rucksacks to weigh us down.
Back down at the Coire Cas car park, it was quite a different world out of the wind and much more sheltered as a surprising amount of climbers were setting off to go climbing. We wished them good luck and set off to Aviemore for hot chocolate and bacon rolls!