Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Another perfect project

Today we had an ace time but failed to get up our secret new project. It's potentially an ace climb and a lot steeper and the wind was gusting just too much for little old me to commit to leading the rest of what I expected to be the crux pitch. But still it was an ace adventure, and well, you cannot expect to win them all and life would be a bit predictable if one did!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Climbing at Aonach Mor

My good friend Alan has arrived here after his flight from Vancouver, so today we were over at Aonach Mor. It's about an hours drive form Aviemore and we found good conditions there. The butresses have been somewhat stripped but the remaining ice is quite frozen giving good placments.The turf is also frozen but smaller tufts were not so great. It was super for all of us to climb together as a team again. Alan, Kathy, Andy and myself. We established two new lines, Jet Lag and Wise Goat both called after my friend Alan... for reasons which should be obvious ! One route is Scottish Grade 3 and the other a 4.V.
Arriving at Aonach More we found about 1 cm of fresh snow this morning on the higher ski slopes and we had snow showers for most of the day. The wind increased and there were occasionall falls of spindrift in the gullies. Climbing conditions should get even better in the next few days and the skiing and boarding should improve.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Winter skills on Cairngorm

Here we are again in the delightful Grampian Mountains on Cairngorm. Over the last few days we have been instruction snow caving, climbing, mountain walking and night navigation. The weather has been wild with high winds and a raised freezing level. This has resulted in the gullies being still good for climbing and the buttresses being striped of snow. However the river spay has broken its banks in many places and the flooding water has caused lots of damage and hassle. On the Crags, the Turf is still well frozen and snow is forecast for the higher ground so in day or two climbing should be good again. Here are photos of Jasson and Pete. We spent last night in a snow cave on the plateau at Coire Domhain, the cave took about three hours to dig out and we had strong westerly winds to contend with. We had a few hours of night navigation and then slept like proverbial logs in our quiet and wind free snow hole. Stars broke through fr a while but soon they were obscured by coud and there were a few drips from the cealing of our snow cave by morning time. Really the snow did not freeze at all last night, but still it's windy and this adds to the wind chill when you are out on exposed ridges.
When snow caving in Cairngorm we have to save our poo and carry it down the hil to dispose of it in a safe and tidy manner. Mountain guides and Glenmore lodge ( our Scottish Outdoor trainning centre) have been doing this for years however now Cairngorm Mountain and the Ranger service priovide fantastic facillity for this and you can collect your bio-degradable poo bags and secure carrying container from the Rangers office at Cairngorm Mountain.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Spindrift day in the Corries

This is Central Gully, been a wild day with lots of spindrift, still climbing conditions are good!

Friday, 25 January 2008

Wet and windy

It was a very wet and windy day today, with gusts over the summit of over 129mph. This is how Coire an Lochain looked today. All isn't lost though as tomorrow is expected to be freezing cold again with a lot of snow!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Blizzards in the Cairngorms

We've had a lot of snow in the Cairngorms today. After yesterdays thaw all the melt water has re-frozen so there is a lot of sheet ice around underfoot in wind scoured areas (good for the climbing). The skiing was amazing at lower levels with several inches of fresh fluffy powder snow on top of a firm base. There were white-out conditions at times higher up during the heavy snow showers.
Today's view is from the SE side of Cairngorm looking out towards Bynack Mhor.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Wind and rain

We've had strong winds and rain at all levels in the Cairngorms today. Tomorrow summit temperatures are going to plummit again to minus 5 re-freezing everything again. The ground is still frozen and hard so hopefully the snow and ice wont be too damaged from the thaw.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Conditions in the Cairngorms.

Winds increased during the day and temperatures have slowly risen. This shouldn't affect the climbing conditions too much as tomorrow cooler weather is expected again. There is quite a depth of snow around in some of the re-entrants with depths well over 3 metres in places. Very good for snow-holing!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Large Cornices.

We have some quite large curly cornices in the Cairngorms at the moment. This one was on a NE aspect at 1100m. Tomorrow is going to be much milder with rain at all levels, hence the cornices will become very unstable.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Conditions this Sunday

Views into Lochain.

Cold condtions are continuing in the Cairngorms. This photo was taken looking out towards Beinn Mheadhoin from the South-East side of Cairngorm. As you can see snow cover is good at the moment.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Conditions in the Cairngorms today.

Today's photo is of the avalanche service examining a weak layer below the snow surface on the South-East side of Cairngorm.
After yesterday's brief thaw temperatures on the summit of Cairngorm have dropped again to well below freezing, we also had some fresh snowfall overnight. There was quite a high wind chill with the strong winds and last night summit weather station readings reached a peak of 132 mph. There is still plenty of snow left in the corries and ski area and the snow is re-freezing again, all good for improving climbing conditions
More tomorrow.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Conditions in the Cairngorms

We've had some wild weather here today, as winds increased this morning and snow turned to rain at all levels. There is a lot of snow in the Cairngorms at the moment and after todays thaw the freezing level is dropping to 600m again tomorrow which is yet another thaw freeze cycle which is great for improving the climbing conditons.
This Snow Bunting was taking shelter in his own bird size shelter next to a snow hole in Ciste Mhearad.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Mountain Equipment outer shell clothing under test today!

Wild weather earlier today on Cairngorm but still the intrepid skier are visible in the background! "Heather's weather" forecasts colder temperatures again, so this temporary warming will assist consolidating the snow, and a freeze should bring improved climbing conditions. Kathy was cosy in her Gore-tex M.E. clothing!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

In the Corrie

A perfect day!

Monday, 7 January 2008

Great day on Cairngorm today

The day was poor early in the morning, but soon cleared to become a wonderful, calm and sunny day. Here is a picture of the corries. Winter time is truly here!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Dotterel and Snow Bunting

We have had a very active day today. The first picture is of Andy on Snow Bunting. This is a new grade 111.4 mixed clmb which we climbed today, its 300 metres long and was very interesting climbing.
The next photo shows another new climb we named Dottrele, which we graded V.5 and is 130 meteres long. The climbs are on either side of Central Gully on Lurchers Crag.
The Cairngorms are the stronghold for the Dottrele here in the UK. It's a medium sized member of the plover family which visits in the summer only, usually at the spring migration and they spend the summer nesting here.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Snow Buntings and nature rules on Cairngorm

Another day of wild weather here in Cairngorm! Yesterday we turned back and today we got in a bit further and had a close shave from the scarp slope above the Mess of Pottage coming crashing down from above. The SAIS avalanche f0recast was 3 plus which indicates spontanious release and as is normally the case, exactly right! As one drives up the ski-road and walks into the corrie all the signs are incredibly obvious and amplified by the avalanche forecast, today's close shave was a timley reminder that no matter how experienced one thinks one is, the mountain does not really pay much attention to the fool-hardy endeavours of silly mountaineers - nature rules!
On a happier note the snow buntings seem content in the wild weather. This artic specialist is resident all year round in the Cairngorm National Park. They are around 15-18 cms long and the breeding male is unmistakable with it's white plumage, black back and yellow bill with a black tip. Sometimes it's plumage can be a ginger colour. Plectrophenax nivalis has feathers adapted to help deal with harsh environments.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Winter is back

An interesting day on Cairngorm today, this morning it started out wet but by the time Tomaz, Sarah and I got to the base of our climb, it was behinning to snow and by the top there were small streams of spindrift cascading down the gully. Conditions are good, the old snow remaining quite firm giving reasonable placements for the ice tools, the butresses are stripped but the turf is frozen, so this new snow will help. On the plateau the wind is very strong and visibiliy down to a few metres.It's very slippy underfoot with the boulders exposed, so in the strong wind its easy enough to slip and trip! Climbing conditions will be ace once the wind calms down!