Thursday, 25 November 2010

Mixed Conditions...

Today Kev and myself headed up the Ben to have a go at No. 2 gully which neither of us had done before. I think it would be fair to say that neither of us were feeling psyched on the long walk in from Torlundy but the higher we got the less we muttered and grumbled to ourselves and by the time we reached the CIC hut we were both rearing to go!
Corie Na Ciste

Conditions today were a little strange. The ground is frozen down well below the level of the CIC hut and the prolonged cold spell seems to be having somewhat of an effect on the snow pack. Over the course of the day we must have encountered every snow type known to man, from knee deep powder to bullet hard neve and everything in between!

Once on the route its self we found conditions to be just as variable with the snow pack changing in feel more times than i care to count! None the less we worked our way up the progressively steepening snow slope, passing some rather impressive ice formation. The ice pitch at the narrows looks to be slowly forming but at present was just a thin layer of water ice covering powder. The cornice proved to be small and easily avoidable.
Looking down the route just before topping out

All in all a very enjoyable day in reasonable snow and weather conditions! Sadly back to work tomorrow though!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Tower Ridge.

Today Isi, Rich and myself headed out for a days climbing on the Ben. Things have been a little milder lately so we weren't sure what we'd find but we set off anyway with a vague plan to have a look at Castle Ridge. On the walk in it quickly became clear that Castle wasn't really in condition at the moment so we set our sights on Tower Ridge instead. Rich has done Tower many times now but for Isi and myself it was a first.

The snow on approach was pretty firm and things looked promising. I lead up the 1st chimney pitch to gain the ridge its self and from there we soloed upto the end of the eastern traverse. Here Rich lead the steep section that gains the top of the great tower and we moved across to tower gap.
I lead across the gap and out the other side before we quickly soloed the remaining section of the ridge and topped out into the sun!

Condition are excellent for this early in the season! The lower snows are consolidating nicely and while things higher up are still rather soft the rock is well rimed and ice can be seen forming. Looks like we could be in for another bumper winter!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Deep in it!

We were told that today was going to be a 'self study' day at college, so naturally we all headed outdoors! Myself, Kev, Craig and Callum headed up to Corrie Nan Lochan (2nd time in less than a week for myself and Kev!) with the plan to do Dorsal Arete. The walk in was surprisingly warm but things soon cooled down once in the Corrie itself.

Once above the snowline we found one thing. Powder, and lots of it! Which made the rest of the walk in a rather grueling experience, wading through knee (occasional waist)  deep powder. Once at the base of the route we quickly geared up and made quick work of the easier lower sections, only roping up to traverse the 'Fin' which proved to be a touch more exciting than expected (it really means it when the guidebook mentions a 'steep step!')

A quick decent of Broad Gully soon had us back to the corrie floor and heading for home!
Conditions were soft but seemed fairly stable for the moment. Hopefully the next week will bring some consolidation and we'll be looking at some brilliant early season climbing!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A day indoors!

After yesterdays foray up to Corie Nan Lochan i was feeling a little stiff (clearly not been out enough lately!) so myself and Isi decided that rather than enduring a days hill walking in some truly foul weather we'd get some training in at the Ice Factor.
We spent the afternoon practicing our dry tooling skills in the bouldering room on the routes set as training for the Scottish tooling comp this weekend. After a little practice i managed the complete circuit, minus fig4/8/13ing up the chain for the final moves!
We also took the opportunity to log some air time and practice taking lead falls to boost confidence for when on the sharp end of things. This turned out to be more fun than expected, with both climbers and belayers managing to achieve lift off!


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

First of Many!

Today Kev, Isi and myself took full advantage of the prefect weather and headed down to Glen Coe for the day to try and get in our first early season winter route before the bad weather returns.

A sweaty walk in soon had us in the midst of Corrie nan Lochan and having heard reports that it was in good nick we headed straight for Forked Gully (I/II). The turf was mostly nicely frozen with a good covering of powder and the odd icy step. The gully felt fairly steep for I/II and was probably solid II in the thin conditions. For some added interest i finished the last section up a shallow mixed groove on the left edge of the gully which proved to be an excellent mixed section of the route.

The corrie was busy today with several other parties out on various routes. Conditions are thin but theres still plenty to be done!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A long time coming!

Well its been a while since I've updated this so i felt i'd better fill you all in!

Since my last entry there has been a LOT of rain here in the Fort! Perfect weather for ducks... and paddlers! Sadly on doctors orders im still not allowed near any white water so instead i've been making up for my complete lack of climbing over the summer with numerous trips to the Ice Factor.

I also had a days work with Ptarmigan Events guiding a group of charity walkers up the Pony track on the Ben and amazingly enough it stayed dry all day! The walk was in aid of Kidney Research UK and all the guys did fantastically. We even had some entertainment on the summit in the form of the Essex 6 piece rock  band Kings Cross who had lugged a full PA system, generator and instruments to the summit to play the 'highest gig in Britain' to raise money for charity. A short video of their performance can be found here.