Reports - winter conditions and activity

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bowfell Area Conditions 31-01-12

After another cold night with cloud blowing through from the East some Lakes crags have come into great condition.

Today North Buttress Bowfell, Bowfell Buttress and Cambridge Crags were all in great condition.  The turf was well frozen and the crag frosted up in the wind.

 North Buttress

North Buttress and a team on Gnomon 

We got on Sword of Damocles (VIII/8) which was fantastic!

The 1st pitch

 Campbell West about to arrive at the belay above the first pitch

 Campbell starting up the 2nd pitch

The main pitch

The Gnomon (VII/8) was also climbed today as well as Bowfell Buttress.

Should be some great climbing conditions over the coming days, Gable should be good, Engineers Slabs was climbed yesterday and was good.  Get there while it lasts!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ski Touring - Blencathra Area 30-01-12

Had a great ski tour over Blencathra today.  I met up with photographer Dave Willis to take some photos at first.  The last 2 outings with Dave have resulted in a Tgo cover shot this month and another Tgo cover shot next month, always time well spent!

After a few descents to the tarn I headed over the top and made a descent down Mungrisdale Common before dropping down a gully to the cove below Atkinson Pike.  After that a skin up Bannerdale Crags gave a great final descent down the gill to the lead mines on some perfect snow.

 Summit Blencathra

 Scales Fell

The weather was once again great and and whilst the snow cover is not massive, selective route choice gave some really good snow, still light and without a crust where out of the sun.

 Bannerdale Crags Summit

 Cairngorm like scenes looking over to Great Calva

Sun down

Another top day out, the Lakes at its best!?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lakes Weekend Conditions 29-01-12

The last 2 days have been great in  the Lakes.  Whilst the climbing conditions have been marginal due to the turf being only partially frozen, the general winter walking conditions have been fantastic, Saturday in particular was perfect with sun, fresh snow and blue skies....

I've been running a winter mountaineering course over the weekend, on Saturday we did the Helvellyn edges followed by some snow skills on the headwall area.  The headwall had some areas of unstable powder and windslab about which is probably still much the same due to no real thaw-freeze up high to stabilise it.  There was lots of people out and a few looking at the climbs.  Looking across the Lakes a lot of the major crags looked white, however turf will be the deciding factor over the coming days.  Bowfell Buttress, North Buttress Bowfell, Rampsgill Head to name a few looked well snowed up.

 Red Tarn

 Striding Edge

 Summit View

 Fresh Cornice

 Social Summit

Some snow anchors

Today we did Pinnacle Ridge on St.Sunday Crag which was great.  The turf was fairly good really and the route was holding plenty of snow.

 The slab on Pinnacle Ridge

 Corner Pitch

 Great conditions on the route

 Climbers on the Pinnacle 

Haven't heard any reports of winter climbing over the last few days at other venues, think the skiing at Raise has been good though, touring should be ok too with some selective route choice as the tops are scoured.

Great 2 days, thanks to Bob and Glen.

Mountain Circles has also had a 2 day mountain skills course running in the Cairngorms over the weekend.  Alex called in to report what sounds like some great weather up north as well and that the course went well.  It sounds like conditions in the Northern Corries have been fairly settled with not too much fresh snow.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Helvellyn Conditions, Winter Returns! 27-01-12

After a very warm January so far the Lakes has finally had a good blast of winter weather.  The last couple of weeks have given snow showers up high, and then rain stripping all but the older snow from before Christmas.  A 10 degree drop in temperature and some heavier snow showers down to about 300m yesterday have transformed the tops back to full winter condition though.

Red Tarn face

Today I went up to Helvellyn via the Red Tarn face, I dropped in below Brown Cove crags to have a look before finishing down Striding Edge.  The climbing conditions are not there yet really, mainly due to turf not being frozen fully.  The rock was well snowed up however giving things a wintery look but only the most exposed turf high up was freezing.  That said, choosing a steep route with not much turf and that is in the wind just might deliver something over the coming days, would be worth a walk and a look!

 Viking Buttress

 Steep rock was well snowed up,  looking into the first corner pitch of Rape and Pillage

S facing aspect catching the wind

There is a big accumulation of windslab on N-NE-E facing aspects and especially where this is on top of the older snow will be worth treating with care...  Lots of people walking up to Raise with skis also so must be some drifting between the snow fences.

For winter walking and the classic edges and ridge routes conditions are very good though, definitely a full winter feel to it that will stay over the weekend at least.  Striding Edge was in great condition, crampons and axe will be a good call.

 Striding Edge

 Striding Edge, Hellvellyn Summit behind

People on Striding Edge

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ben Nevis 13-01-12

Today we had a great day on the Ben, there was perfect ice, well frozen snow and wall to wall sunshine!

We climbed Comb Gully which was in great condition.  There were plenty of people out on various routes with all the routes mentioned in yesterdays report looking even better after a cold night and a very light dusting of snow, as well as lots of other good bits of ice about.

Steep mixed routes are still not in.

 Douglas Boulder

 Cascade area

 Corrie Ciste, the Comb and No.3 Gully Buttress behind

 People on Tower Ridge

 The Comb and No.3 Gully Buttress area

Comb Gully

Great weather on the top

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ben Nevis 12-01-12

Today gave a great day on the Ben with much colder temperatures and clearer skies coming in this morning after a wet and wild night.

We did Tower Ridge which was in great condition, dry rock gave fast gear and the crest and all the ledges were covered in hard snow or ice.  We also had the route to ourselves as a bonus!

 Looking over Carn Dearg

Tower Ridge

Smiths Route

Whilst there was not loads of routes in, there was some looking good and getting climbed.  Today Smiths Route, Indicator Wall, Ledge Route, Right Central and Tower Scoop were all climbed and looking good.  Also Cascade, Comb Gully, Thompsons Route, Green Gully and possibly Two Step Corner will all have been climbable.  As well as these all the easy gullies were good with hard snow.

Another cold day coming should hopefully dry up any of the dripping ice and make whats there really good.  Routes such as Hadrians Wall were looking too thin, and Point 5 has a big section missing with some water still running down it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ice Factor 11-01-12

Today we went to do a bit of coaching at the Ice Factor.  This is a great way to provide some close up movement coaching and gives people the chance to explore the limits on ice in a safe environment.

The weather today got worse as the day went on, whilst it was not too wet, it was the wind up high that was going to be the biggest problem.  With 2 much better days forecast to come we decided to split the 5 day course with a semi rest day whilst still getting some great additional training/coaching covered.

 Coaching in the Freezer

Followed by some dry tooling 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Scottish Conditions 10-01-12

So far its been a very mild and wild start to the year.  The Lakes has had a wide spread strip of snow and now Scotland is following.  Last Friday gave heavy rain on the summits in the evening, the last few days have also been warm with some rain on the summits, today there was light rain on top of the Ben.  However, some easy angled mixed routes and ice routes that were well formed have just about survived, and with much colder temperatures set to return for Thursday things could come good again.

I've been working on the west coast recently and we've managed to get routes done everyday.  We've climbed on the Buachaille one day, then Dorsal Arete in Lochan has been the aim on more than one day.  Today we went high onto the Ben, we climbed Green Gully which was actually really good, with just enough to make the climbing good.  The ice wasn't right to take screws where you would want them though so a bold approach was useful.  Other routes climbed today and yesterday were Ledge Route, Tower Ridge, Comb Gully, Thompsons Route and some of the easier gullies.  There will be other routes to climb I'd think with a bit of a hunt about as there is still some good ice about, though a freeze will do things a lot of good and make the ice more secure.  In Glen Coe Twisting Gully, Broad Gully, Forked Gully, NC Gully, Dorsal and the other easier gullies were all climbed yesterday.  Curved Ridge still has some snow on higher up as well.

So some routes hanging in for Thursdays freeze...

Lochan, Glen Coe, 09-01-12

 A black looking Lochan

 Still good on Dorsal Arete

 Dry rock on the Dorsal

 Climbers in Forked Gully

Ben Nevis, 10-01-12
Top out on Green Gully, good ice!