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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Winter instruction and courses

Fi been running day's one and two of our festive Winter Mountaineering course while I've been running some private instruction.
Yesterday at 900 - 1100 metres the weather actually felt quite mild and relatively benign. There were lightish winds in the sheltered corries with the temperatures just a degree or two below zero.
A few more climbers about but still fairly quiet compared to normal. Simon and pals headed towards Patey's route and Andrew and Gaz's pals climbed Red Gully.
Despite heavy drifting of snow in the southerly winds the NW facing slopes were being scoured and were surprisingly icy as height was gained.
This was excellent for step cutting on the lower crusty ice and then really great for perfecting good crampon and self belay techniques higher up!
Initially Andrew and Gareth wanted to build on their summer rock climbing with a bit of winter climbing. However it soon became apparent that learning and practising the basic winter skills was essential before progressing any further up the icy slopes...!
Fi's Winter Mountaineering course found completely different conditions lower down. The Ciste's NE slopes had caught the drifted snow and were nice and soft for ice axe braking and building snow shelters though not so great for cramponning!
Today the southerly winds were very strong first thing in the morning which meant a change of location before they dropped later.
See Fi's blog here for photos and full details.
Still excellent snow cover in the mountains but lower down in the valley the snow and ice has been receding fast. Many of the roads are now clear and the roadside icefalls ready to collapse...
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