Friday, 28 June 2013
Over the summer were based in Chamonix, Mont Blanc and time permitting will be uploading regular Alpine condition reports.
So far the weather the weather in the Alps has been unusually cool and unsettled for early summer with a lot old snow still remaining at lower levels.
Climbing conditions are more like May which is good news for the classic mixed snow and ice routes that are rarely in condition during the summer these days.
A brief Blog report and photos are on Fi's blog here and recent condition photos are on my Facebook page here
Thursday, 16 May 2013
We then headed over to climb Spiral Gully which looked great and was in surprisingly good nick for mid May.
In the gully we were joined by another climber which turned out to be Colin W, who with Stephen R I'd by chance photographed in March Hare Gully recently and had also sold a jacket to last year! It was great to put a face to our correspondence and chat about mutual friends on our way back to the car ... :-)
Thursday, 2 May 2013
A ridge of high pressure arrived late on Wednesday and with clear skies and a hard overnight frost being forecast (minus 5). The prospects were looking good for some late Winter (Summer!) ice climbing, in the Cairngorms on Thursday morning.
One problem though, the weather forecasts were all slightly different with the BBC and Met Office showing the weather deteriorating markedly by early morning, whilst the MWIS had the weather showing as good until the afternoon.
I decided to pack and set the alarm early for 5.00am and would look out the window to see if the sky was starry and blue and if the trees were still - if not perfect I'd go back to sleep!
The alarm went off and it looked good, with a golden sunrise, clear sky and still trees. A quick breakfast and a long half hour drive to Cairngorm had me climbing by 8.00 am. The weather, snow and ice conditions were really good until 9.30am although by 10.00am it was cloudier and the wind had picked up, with a few snow flurries.
By 11.00am it was getting quite blustery on the plateau with heavier snow and graupel and some snow sloughs. It was still fairly calm climbing in the coire but by then with over dozen winter routes, several variations and link ups, I was content (knackered!) and happily headed home.
Aladdin's to the Goat Track - showing some of the routes climbed today which included several variations of the Mirror Direct and an unlisted ice fall and chimney (III) between Aladdin's upper Rib and Pygmy Ridge, Red Gully, several variations of Goat Track Gully and several short ice pitches even further right and the descents routes via Aladdin's Couloir and Central Gully Left.
Mess of Pottage - Jacob's Ladder and the upper Jacob's Edge together with Hidden Chimney Direct and the Slant as descent were just just some of the routes climbed this fine (Irish!) Summer morning...
|Aladdin's Mirror Direct (IV,4)|
I first climbed a banked and well iced Hidden Chimney Direct and then descended the lower Slant to head up Jacob's Ladder for the missing sling - which was gone! However having made the effort, I realised I had just enough energy to do another route, so continued up to the Jacob's Ladder cornice, which thankfully was well frozen and straightforward.
By now being well and truly knackered the plan was to head down at 'Windy Col' but realising the cornices and snow conditions were still good, I could still bag another two routes! I descended 'The Slant' then up Jacob's Edge for the FINAL route this time!
An early start and finish by noon gave me nine guidebook listed and four unlisted winter climbs - not bad for the start of Summer (Irish)...:-)
|Hidden Chimney Direct (IV,5)!|
It's been raining and snowing heavily since I arrived back so conditions will have changed with fresh snow for the skiers. With more snow being forecast they'll be fresh cornices and a higher avalanche risk on many routes this weekend so check the latest Cairngorm SAIS report here!
There are more photos from the 2nd May 2013 on my Facebook album here.
Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Saturday, 27 April 2013
Great snow cover on the plateau and the northern corries. Winter is still hanging on in the Cairngorms with good skiing on and off piste.
There's still some fun winter ice climbing in the easy and mid grades and the trick is to do the climbs in the morning then ski the gullies in the afternoon once the snow has softened and not the other way around! Jumping Jacobs cornice onto the frozen gully below at 02.00 with a headtorch is not a great idea nor is climbing it at 15.00 when it's in the sun!!!
Many of the climbing gullies have been skied as well as climbed as can be seen from the selection of excellent videos below!
Many of the climbing gullies have been skied as well as climbed as can be seen from the selection of excellent ski videos above!
Friday, 19 April 2013
Sunny and calm with good firm well banked snow for climbing in Jacob's Ladder and then finishing on Jacob's Edge to avoid the large cornices.
Giancarlo was keen to climb Jacob's Ladder and as the forecast looked promising for Friday we arranged to meet and have a look. In contrast to the past few days of strong winds and heavy precipitation it was calm and sunny. After yesterday's heavy rain, wind and snow on the hilI I was a bit worried that there might have been too much fresh snow and windslab.
After breaking trail on the softer snow on the approach everything turned out fine as it firmed up and provided good firm snow and ice climbing.
There was some evidence of old cornice collapse from mid-week but nothing massive. Despite the warmer temperatures during the past week the cornices are still pretty big. Sensible route choice is still essential but as a bonus there were no other climbers in the coire - which was great!
The final pitch weaving though little rock outcrops was in the sun and had a couple of really fun Grade 2 icy steps protected by bomber thread runners.
It all felt very alpine and Giancarlo and I were absolutely delighted.... :-) More general winter condition photos on the Facebook album here and YouTube video here.
Sunday, 14 April 2013
Strong winds and the first major thaw for weeks or is it months! With the rising temperatures and heavy rain we decided to look at indoor basic ropework before before heading out to practice once the rain had passed in the afternoon.
On the firm snow heading into the Ciste crags we met Freddy Frog hopping along seemingly unperturbed by our presence! With blue skies, sun and a drying wind, the rock was dry and afternoon quite pleasant. We climbed up the crags looking at progressively more advanced rope techniques as Rick and Chris swapped leads.
On the last pitch the wind increased significantly. We ended up needing to use our direct belays for real as safeguard for our descent back to the sheltered Ciste Gully and our cars!
A good day of two halves and a great weekend of two halves... :-)
Saturday, 13 April 2013
I was skiing last week and this weekend I'm again out with returning clients Rick and Chris for a bit of late season winter climbing.
The forecast was for strong winds and rising temperatures later on Saturday but fine and bright in the morning before the winds increased.
We headed into Sneachda which was busier than last weekend although the forecast was poorer.
The guys hadn't done any rock climbing but were keen to try some ice climbing and learn some basic ropework. Keeping things simple we headed up one of the popular Grade 2 gullies that had good rock belays for slings and an avoidable cornice!
Slightly worryingly deep and slabby snow on the approach but much firmer in the well banked and icy Goat Track Gully.
We avoided the large cornice at the top of the Goat Track by moving left onto the side Western Rib just as the winds were starting to increase on the plateau.
Battling across the plateau felt more like January rather than mid April though once back in the ski area carpark it again felt more spring like!
Saturday, 6 April 2013
Another great day, this time avoiding the Mr Whippey cornice on Hidden Chimney...
Being an end of Easter weekend, with perfect weather and snow conditions there were only three teams climbing in Sneachda. There was a team or two climbing on Fiacaill Couloir, one team on Genie (or similar) and us on Hidden Chimney.
We're certainly not complaining about how quiet it is and that the rare Snowy Owl is still residing in the Cairngorms - in fact we're loving it!