Monday, 31 December 2007

Mountaineering day on Cairngorm!

Here are some phtos of Tomaz and Sarah enjoying that last day of 2007. We did some self arrest with ice axes and then moved together up Alladins couloir in Coirie an t-Sneachda.
Wishing everybody a good newyear!

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Wonderful Cairngorm Day

Here we are on the Escalator, a grade II climb on Hells Lum Crag. As you can see conditions are good with plenty ice forming on the climbs. We met one team of climbers who had to retreat from Auld Nick as the ice was not thick enough on the upper-most pitch. There is also a photo of Kathy digging her snow pit for the information service. Behind you can see Shelterstone Crag and Carn Etchacan. We walked out over the plateau down into Corie an t-sneachda via the Goat Track. There were many people climbing there and the main gullies looked to be in good condition with some butress routes also beng climbed..The walking conditions and ski-moutianeering opportunities are opening up. There are many patches of ice and sastrugi.There is wind slab in sheltered gully tops, which means that any unsuspecting hill traveller would be well advised to stay alert and focused, making sure you put your crampons on early and especially before you get committed on the steeper and slippery slopes! Keep you ice axe handy and know how to self arrest, but of course, it's advisable not to trip and fall in the first place!
I apoligise for not up-dating our blog over the past few days, camera problems were to blame! Although I do feel its important to inform you that only a couple of days ago we did witness an important event. This was Blyth Wright of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) - N. Cairngorms using the new Threshold Sums version of the Cornice forecasting model operationally and for the first time! The results are yet to be revealed but we are assured by Blyth that this was a historic momment!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christams Day in the Cairngorms

Yesterday Kathy and I went out to check the snow conditions. We moved together up Crotched Gully with a 25 metre rope placing some runners as we moved up the climb. Conditions were ace in all the gullies with good frozen neve, although there are places where the ice axes pulled through the snow, so some care has to be taken! We then dug a snow pit to record data for the avalanche service. As there was spindrift cascading down the gullies and snow forecast for last night the avalanche risk is CAT 2.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Father Christmas spotted in Aviemore

Merry Christmas to everyone from us at Team Ascent!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

A storm is brewing!?

The temperature inversion has been replaced by more unsettled weather but it's still cold and conditions in the Cairngorms
are still the same. What snow there is in the gullies is nice and firm and there are many water courses in various Corries and Glens that are well frozen making for interesting climbing. This photo was taken at 9am this morning looking out towards the Cairngorms across a very frozen Loch Morlich. The ice on the Loch was creaking and groaning but at the same time it was all very peaceful.


Wednesday, 19 December 2007


Its all a bit worrying... I saw Rudolf and all the other reindeer wandering about in the Cairngorms today... I thought Santa and his elves should have them all harnessed up and ready to go!! I have heard that he leaves things until the last minute though, and I guess if he can go around the world on his sled and deliver all those presents in one night he should be able to get them ready in time...!
Santa's Helper.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Conditions in the Cairngorms

These Ptarmigan were seen in Ciste Mhearad last January. If you look closer you may be able to see that their beaks are in the snow. The reason for this was that they kept getting blown backwards each time they approached the crest of the cornice, with perseverance they all made it in the end. What adaptable little birds!!

The photo of Coire an Lochain was taken around midday today. We still have a temperature inversion as it was freezing in the valleys and +5 on the summit of Cairngorm today. The ground is well frozen and all the boggy areas and seepage on steep ground is frozen solid. There were plenty of Snow Buntings and Ptarmigans flapping about, a perfect day for bird watching. Happy days. Kathy

Monday, 17 December 2007

Cairngorm days

It's remarkable weather in the Cairngorms at the moment and the long term forcast is for high pressure to dominate Scotland for the rest of the week. Remaining snow is now very firm underfoot which makes for nice conditions underfoot (ice axe and crampons are needed though). Most of the lower grade gullies in the Northern Corries are complete, the buttresses are quite bare with dribbles of ice and limited snow on the ledges, but some of the water courses are looking quite frozen due to the cold clear weather. Go on have a duvet day and take the day off work...Opps I never said that did I!?

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Conditions in the Cairngorms

High pressure is still dominating us here in the Cairngorms.
The Northern Corries are an interesting mix of bare rock on the buttresses with the odd dribble of ice here and there. Many of the main gullies hold firm neve. Lots of people were out enjoying the variety of conditons many in the Trident Gullies and even some very keen Rock Climbers doing The Magic Crack (HVS 5a), pretty wild in these cold temperatures! Kathy

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Today's photo's are of Search dog "Millie", with Heather Morning (Cairngorm Ranger) and Kathy (avalanche observer). Also a view of Alladin's and Fiacaill buttress in Coire an t-Sneachda, and views across to Loch and Carn Etchachan.

It's been a great weekend so far in the Cairngorms. We've had unusual conditions where although summit temperatures have been well above freezing even during the night, the snow has become frozen and hard. Apparently this is due to a very low humidity in the atmosphere combined with a high water density in the snowpack which gradually vaporises into the atmosphere leading to cooler snow. This amazing science has been sent to us by mother nature resulting in nice climbing conditions on some of the easier grade routes. There were a few people out today in the Northern Corries making the most of things. The forecast is set to be very similar over the next few days as the blocking high sits out to the North East.

Snow condition report

Graham, one of the guides in Arolla ( Switzerland) has sent in these photos to show the good snow cover. The skiing both on and off piste is good and the ice climbing is Ok, but not as good as it was a week ago. But perhaps us guides are just to fussy! All our winter ice fall course are available and please contact us direct should you wish some private guiding - Kathy reports that there is good frozen conditions on Cairngorm. Hannah BS was guiding for Team Ascent this week but has not sent in any images for the blog. It's also worth noting that the Scottish Avalanche information Service (SAIS) blogs are active again, for both Cairngorm and the Lochaber areas.

Friday, 14 December 2007

An offshore oil platform and my work buddies

Heres a photo of something completely different! My workmates in the North Sea! It's nightshift and we are all trained industrial abseilers, who have to abseil down the central core of one of the conctrete legs to carry out various tasks including ultrasonic insection of the oil pipelines. We are enthuastic about our work as its exciting, worthwhile and quite well paid. We have a close knit team of very exerienced people. Never the less, working nightshift is tough and we are delighted that Nuts had the good sense to issue a complimentary poster of Gemma Atkinson with their magazine. She is a valuable asset and greatly apprecaited by our team! If you click on the photo it's much clearer!

Monday, 10 December 2007

Snowy Lakeland tops

It's been a beautiful clear day in the Lake District today with a covering of snow on the mountain tops. Myself and Lassie the dog met up with Lakeland photographer Tony Sainsbury to take in some of the marvelous views from Silverhow top above Langdale Valley. Here you can see views of the Langdale fells which include
Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, and Langdale Pikes. Tony is a keen walker and regularly updates his website (or look under links on Team Ascents website) with his latest adventures in the Lakeland hills.
Scottish winter news will be posted on this blog later in the week! See you soon Kathy

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Amazing Day in the Cairngorms

Here we are again: Andy and I on a new route we did in the Cairngorms today. We named it Ptarmigan Ridge. Its about four long pitches with a fifty meter rope and will be grarded Scottish winter grade III, but its only this grade if you take the most direct line and stay on the ridge. Its an amzing route and a great day out and ideal for climbing in bad weather!
As you can see, there is lots of snow in the Cairngorms. There were people telemarking although the snow was wet and a bit scant at the level of the Cairngorm Car park however higher up and on the crags there is good snow cover! Much of it is unconsolidated and with the high winds you need to reamain alert and avoid avalanche prone slopes!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Cairngorm mixed climbing

It's been a great day in the Cairngorms, winds were high, but the climbing conditins have improved a lot in the last few days. The turf is frozen and good placements can be had! Here we are on Hidden Chimney!

European Ice climbing

Conditions are ace in Europe. Here is a photo of a climb in Arolla.. which is one of our main venues for our Chamonix ice fall climbing courses. It was snowing there in Arolla last night but our Team Ascent guides are keen and ready for action. Call us for private guiding +44(0)1479811556.