Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ben Nevis Double

I was on the Ben today with Colm and Dave hoping to find something tricky to challenge them.  The good weather and easy walk in started the day off nicely.
Stunning views on the walk in
We opted to climb Jackknife V, 6 first.  This gives a good sustained crux pitch up the groove with some thin climbing. The upper wall after the groove is normally avoided one the right.  To add a little harder climbing, I went straight up the steep wall boldly,  to reach the second belay.  I think this may have been the way Andy did it on the first ascent, as the grade is different in a couple of guides.  This way offers some good top end 6 or even the odd move of 7.  Once we nipped up the next steep wall to join the SW ridge, we bailed down and over to Vanishing Gully V, 5.

Thin moves to reach the second belay

Embracing the spindrift

We climbed this rapidly in 2 long pitch to be back down and out as the temp was starting to creep up a little.  Stunning soft ice and hooks made progress easy.  A pleasure to climb.

Stepped out heaven on Vanishing 
A great day in good company.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Zigzags Direct

A nice view this morning 
 Today I was out with the Irish crew again.  More snow overnight and a high wind forecast meant we had to pick a low option.  The Zigzag area gave this.  The route has transformed since we were there on Sunday.  Knee deep snow now covers the route to it's lowest level.

We climbed Zigzags Direct III which gave some nice climbing once I'd cleared the 3ft of snow off the routes.  It was hard going, but made for a full on winter day, which the lads loved.  Once up we decended the normal route.  Paul made up a couple of pitched to get to the chimney pitch of zigzags direct, whilst Colm and Dave climbed a mixed groove and then a flake pitch, before descending and climbing the same chimney pitch.

Despite the odd gust, it was a great day out.
More snow as the day ends

Dave coming back down for more

Monday, 23 February 2015

Upper West Face of Gearr Aonach

Today Paul and I had 2 climbing teams from the Irish crew.  Weather and conditions are extremely challenging at the moment, and options limited.   We made the swim up to the the upper West Face of Gearr Aonach to see if there where any options to climb.  We were rewarded for our efforts with a few routes to go at.  Paul climbed 999 with Ronan and Robbie and I climbed Rescue Team Gully with Morris.  Both routes are not in premo condition, but offered an interesting and full winter experience today.  Colm and Dave came with us and climbed a mixed line up an obvious groove to the left of Jim's Gully.   It looked like the best route of the day and was around grade III,4 climbing.

The mass of snow and the fact we were all soaked, made the decision to head down an easy one.  The wade down was a lot easier than the one up, but still very deep.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Zigzags in the Wild

Today I was out with a motley crew of Irish invaders to do some mountaineering.  With the terrible forecast,  we went for the suck it and see approach on the zigzags.  Despite the wind blowing the opposite way to expected, we found shelter on the route.  It gave a great snowy adventure today, with even more challenging conditions as we walked along the ridge and into Stob Corie Nan Lochain  before descending. There is no path down until near the steps at the bottom, so the knees got a break today.

Let's hope the weather is slightly better tomorrow. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Shroud

The Shroud looking good 
The Ben in fine winter condition 
Today I  walked up the Ben with the legend that is Tony Shepherd.   We were keen to tick off the Shroud VI, 6***, which to my surprise Tony had not done.  There has been a lot of snow up there, but the walk around to the route was safe, but hard work.  There was a team in front of us, so we strapped in for the wait and followed on.  The ice on Harrison's was good, but the ice on the Shroud was better.  Superb, steep and featured climbing made the route great fun. Never too hard, with hands off rests everywhere.  The team in front had not been the quickest, so we took a chilled walk back down.  A great day.
Climbing the icicle of the Shroud

Chilling out waiting for the team ahead to clear. Amazing ice architecture. 
Thank Tony for the pics.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Good Wintery Day on the Ben

After an ice factor day yesterday, we headed back up the Ben today.  We did a mass ascent of Ledge Route II,  which was untracked after the thaw yesterday.  A brief clearing in the snow and cloud gave us some great views along the narrow sections.  Once at the top, we embraced the white room and navigated to the summit in some fine Scottish conditions.
Part of the group at the summit 
After a quick butty in the shelter, we found our way back down out of the cloud and mooched back to the van.   It was a great way to finish off the week.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Back on the Ben

Niall and Ben on Waterfall Gully 
Today I was back on the Ben with 2 lads from Bolton School.   Both Niall and Ben put a lot of effort in today to get things done before the weather came in.  Things started well on Waterfall Gully IV, 4*.  We had perfect dry cold conditions, and the route in top nick.  By the time we walked around to the Curtain area, it was warming up and everything wetting out.  We nipped up the Curtain Rail IV, 4 * to give some evenness to the experience the lads are getting.  To finish off we did a quick pitch of II/III in the Gulch.   It was raining at this point, and had been a while.  So we walked back to the bus as the wind was starting to pick up considerably.

As the world is ending tomorrow, we will head to the Ice Factor.  This is probably the best option as the lads are dead on their feet after 4 days on the hill.