Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Thursday, 19 February 2015

19-02-15, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing and Mountaineering

 I have been working with some students from Bolton Grammar School the past 4 days. Monday and Tuesday we have been enjoying the ice on Ben Nevis, Harrisons Climb, Waterfal Gully, Curtain Rail and some ice lines in the Gulch. Yesterday was very warm and rainy so the Ice Factor fitted the bill. Today we went up Ledge Route to the summit, in some full on winter conditions. Many of the ice lines above 900m have stayed in tack, Compression Cracks, Boomers, Harrisons, Shroud!, Curtain are hanging in there, CIC hut falls, Gulch ice, Waterfall Gully, Gemini, Shield have not. A lot of wind blown snow at the top of number 4 gully with a wispy cornice.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

15-02-15, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

Nordwand today on Ben Nevis. A good long ice climb with some snowy rambling in between the ice pitches.

Another stunner in Snowdonia on Tuesday.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

08-02-15, Glyder Fach, Snowdonia - Winter Climbing

 I am back in Wales for a week and what a week! The conditions not quite as ace as in Scotland but there is some wintry climbing about. The high pressure weather makes the mountains feel magical. Dave and I went to Glyder Fach today and climbed some mixed turfy lines on the left hand side of the main cliff. Rock at that altitude not rimed, snow and turf was frozen at the start of the day. You probably have to head higher tomorrow.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

06-02-15, Creag Meagaidh - Scottish Ski Touring

 A fantastic day ski touring on Creag Meagaidh. Up and down Moy Burn, fine views of all over the west, north, east and central highlands. The snow softened nicely in the sun to give a fun ski down also!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

04-02-15, Beinn a' Bheithir, West Highlands - Winter Mountaineering

 Another 2 Munros in the bag for Simon today. Ballachulish horseshoe gave a great day with fine views.

Monday, 2 February 2015

02-02-15, Stob Ban, Mamores - Winter Mountaineering

 A lovely day in Lochaber today, cold and calm winds. We had a slightly late start, picking Simon up  off the train, we headed to Glen Nevis and went up and down the North ridge on Stob Ban. After the initial steep slog through shin deep soft snow we had some fine firm snow on the slopes and an excellent snow arĂȘte. There was loads of wind slab on the east side of the ridge.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

01-02-15, Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorms - Winter Mountaineering

 I have been working in the Cairngorms this weekend on a mountaineering course. Lots of snow arrived Friday evening, making movement through the snow an issue! Today was less windy and with some visibility. We walked into Coire an t-Sneachda and up the goat track. Most of the coire is scoured, with hard icy snow on approaches apart from the Fiaciall Buttress which has an extensive band of wind slab across the approach slopes.

Friday, 30 January 2015

30-01-15, Stob Coire nam Beith, Glen Coe - Winter Mountaineering

 Another good weather day in Glen Coe. Winds were light, maybe slightly warmer today but still cold enough for lots of snow to be around. After yesterdays experience of firm, consolidated, hard snow on W/NW/N aspects on Beinn a' Beithir, we had (perhaps optimistically) hoped that Summit Gully on Stob Coire nam Beith may have a similar hard snow within. We managed to get maybe 1 quarter of the way up this 450m grade I/II gully climb, before we could no longer avoid very deep unconsolidated wind blown snow at a narrowing. We were sensible and descended as getting involved in that snow on that terrain would be very unwise!
Church Door Buttress.
Aonach Eagach.
Stob Coire nam Beith.
Approaching Summit Gully.
Too much unavoidable deep soft new snow on a hard base!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

29-01-15, Beinn a' Bheithir, Ballachulish - Winter Mountaineering

Sgorr Dhearg, Beinn a' Bhethir.
Plenty of new snowfall overnight and into the morning, with freezing level well down to sea level. We initially had a false start, but regained control and went winter mountaineering on ENE ridge (School House Ridge) of Sgorr Bhan part of the Ballachulish Horseshoe. We were rewarded to fine views of Glen Coe.
The interest on School House Ridge.
Ascending snow slopes on the approach to ENE ridge.

Monday, 26 January 2015

26-01-15, Ben Nevis - Winter Climbing

Out on Ben Nevis today. We had optimistically hoped for some fine ice climbing after the thaw yesterday. However the temperature probably hadn't dropped soon enough to make Harrison's Climb refreeze, we found a constant shower coming from The Shroud above. After climbing the first pitch we abseiled off. Round the corner some teams were on Waterfall Gully, Gemini and The Shield. Plenty of teams climbed The Curtain and Vanishing Gully. We climbed part of The Curtain Rail with an icy step towards the top but the main parallel ice pitch was not there. Overall the mountain was very wintry and there is ice in abundance but the freezing level needs to drop for a bit longer. 

Shield Direct.
Abseil away form the wetness!
The easy start to The Curtain Rail.