Saturday, 31 May 2008

A hot and sunny day in the Cairngorms

Another beautiful hot and sunny Saturday - pity I was working indoors at the Lodge climbing wall!
Friday, 30 May 2008

News update - great May weather in Scotland

Over the past few weeks the weather has been great for rock climbing though work commitment with several school and activity groups prevented us from doing much personal climbing until recently.
Last week we were over in the west enjoying the rock climbing in Glen Nevis and on Ben Nevis.
A busy holiday weekend and a very busy Saturday afternoon and evening for the rescue services who seem to have been operating a helicopter shuttle service on Ben Nevis as people got into difficulty.
We were camped in Glen Nevis and it reminded us of the campsite next to the hospital in Chamonix with the constant buzz of helicopters!
On Saturday Fi was shadowing Al H of the Ice Factor on Tower Ridge. On Sunday we climbed in Glen Nevis and on Monday Fi took Cat up Tower Ridge in preparation for her charity climb on Mont Blanc with Kenton Cool.
It was an absolutely stunning alpine like day with climbers on all of the big classc Ben Routes such as Minus Buttress Direct, Centurian, Observatory Ridge and more.
I took the opportunity of recording it all on video using three cameras as the batteries ran down or the memory cards were used up as we climbed up Tower Ridge...!
Anyway I've now got over 6 GB of video to edit down to under ten minutes and at some point upload onto YouTube!
More details and a photos can be found on Fi's blog at
Saturday, 17 May 2008

Winter returns and scrambling video from 6th May

If you can't see the 6th of May video below I've now uploaded the Fiacaill Ridge video to

Yes it looks like the freezing level will be below the higher summits over the next few days. With the clear skies and overnight frosts the easier snow gullies could be in quite good winter condition...!

"Remaining dry and cold nearly everywhere into midweek and perhaps beyond, with remaining snowfields freezing each night under clear skies. Winds will be generally light, and the air is likely to be very clear."


Thursday, 15 May 2008

Nice dry rock away from the snow melt

Good climbing conditions on lovely dry rock as long as you avoid crags such as Hells Lum that are severely affected by the drainage from the snow melt on the slopes above.
Also care required and an ice axe is useful on the snowy (often icy in the morning) approaches to some of the Cairngorm crags - if you know what you are doing routes such as Savage Slit might be better approached by abseil from above!
Monday, 12 May 2008

Warm and sunny again

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Grey and thundery over the weekend

The good hot weather had to end and it did so with heavy thundery downpours and a bang as the lightning hit my phoneline - it's still not working!
Apparently the windows of a house near Aviemore at Kincraig were blown out as well as numerous phone lines, home electrics and satellite dishes by the lighting strikes....!
It looks as though it's to be a lot cooler though sunny next week.
Still some deep snow in the gullies and sheltered hollows though with temperatures in the mid twenties last week the snow pack has very much diminished and the skiing has ended for the season.
Large snowfields are still present above and below many of the popular Cairngorm Classic Rock mountain routes.
Thursday, 8 May 2008

Hot and sunny

Great pre-midge season valley rock climbing in Scotland. Many of the higher mountain routes such as Savage Slit still have steep snowy approaches and Hells Lum has drooping cornices and meltwater from the snow fields above!
Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Nice dry rock but feeling colder in the SE wind

Robin, Laura, Fi and I had an enjoyable day scrambling, rock climbing and looking at basic ropework on our way up Fiacaill Ridge and around Coire an Lochain.
More cloud and a fresh SE breeze made it feel a lot colder today.
On the walk in we met the two keen rock climbers we saw yesterday. They were obviously not put off by the snow and were seen heading to climb Magc Crack via the start of Genie....?
We started from Coire an t-Sneachda near the foot of Fiacaill Ridge kicking and cutting steps in the firm snow onto the main ridge where we gained shelter from the wind on it's west aspect.
After scrambling and some easy rock climbing on lovely rough dry granite we had lunch on the plateau.
Later we walked over Cairn Lochain and found more icy snow to practise step cutting. We descended via Lurcher's Ridge and had great views into a very snowy Coire an Lochain.
Monday, 5 May 2008

Stunning hot sunny weather and good conditions for winter skills!

I met up again with Robin and Laura who had travelled over from Glen Sheil to dry out and to gain some more winter/alpine mountaineering skills.
It was an absolutely beautiful day with firm snow in the morning for step cutting and crampon practise and soft slidey snow in the afternoon for ice axe arrests and snow belays.
The hard morning snow caught a few rock climbers out in Coire an t-Sneachda making the approaches interesting without ice axes...!
The Cairngorms have lost a lot of snow over the past few days although the corrie heawalls, gullies and east aspects of the Ben MacDui plateau are still very snowy. Western aspects are now quite dry and rocky.
There are some massve crevassed cornices in the Hells Lum area and large crevasses in Coire an Lochain.
The Coire Cas ski run is now very narrow compared to Saturday and all the other middle runs are broken.
Sunday, 4 May 2008

Global cooling

Could the next decade be good for Scottish winter climbing and skiing...

It was very warm today with a temperature of 19 Celsius in Inverness!
Saturday, 3 May 2008

Free skiing and free beer at Cairngorm Mountain!

With the May Fest offer like that I had to go skiing..!
With the strong southerly winds and mild temperatures I had my doubts about the skiing but it turned out OK and fairly bright. The main runs were sheltered and once you got used to the heavy spring snow the skiing was good fun.
The free skiing on Cairngorm Mountain was for previous season ticket holders who had kept there old season passes and the free beer was courtesy of the Cairngorm Brewery. Even if you didn't have an old season pass the ski pass cost less than a tenner - now that's good value!
There were lots of other activities for non skiers and despite a relatively busy car park there were very few queues at the tows or funicular.
The top runs are still good and fairly wide while the Cas provides the best route down to the mid station though the last section of the Gun Barrel is starting to break up.
I finished the day off by climbing to the summit of Cairngorm and skiing down Coronation Wall and the upper Cas on good untracked spring snow - absolutely magic.....!
Looking across from the summit it looks like the Cairngorm plateau still has good cover all the way to Ben MacDui for ski touring and all the big snow gullies and Coire headwalls are full of spring snow that's good for skiing on...
There are some large creep lines and crevasses starting to develope in places such as in Coire an Lochain's great slab so care required in the warmer weather to avoid the full depth avalanche black spots!


Friday, 2 May 2008

Frosty with blue skies and sunshine in the east!

Looks a nice day with reasonable snow cover on the Cairngorms for skiing...

The "Devils Ridge" Ring of Steale

With heavy rain, hail, winds and thundery weather forecast we decided that a traverse of the Aonach Eagach was best left for better weather...
As an airy but more escapeable alternative we decided on the Devils Ridge and this turned out to be a good and enjoyable choice. Being a bit lower than Bidean the summits and ridges were mostly clear of snow or it was easily avoided. As a bonus being slightly more north and further inland we missed most of the wet weather that was forecast!!

Buachaille Etive Mor 30th April

Our time on Bidian looking at basic winter skills proved essential for the safe ascent up the path in Coire na Tulaich which still has a lot of steep snow on the last few hundred metres as well as some sagging cornices.
On the main ridge the mist came in as we headed towards Stob Dearg and then the weather started to quickly deteriorate at the summit cairn with strong gusty bitter winds, hail and snow. Rather than having lunch on the tops we decided the warmest and safest option was to descend back the way we came as soon as we could to the shelter of the main coire.
On the steep snowy descent for extra security we used the rope and axes on the upper section though crampons were not required on the wet spring snow though would be essential if the temperature had dropped...
More details can be found at

Bidean nam Bian Glencoe 29th April

We were over in Glencoe for a spot of guiding with Robin and Laura from Holland. Our first day was on Bidean which was very snowy and alpine on the sharp summit snow ridges. We were very glad of our ice axes and the chance for teaching some basic winter skills!
On our descent from Stob Coire nan Lochan we bumped into Al H from the Ice Factor who we'd seen earlier rock climbing on Quiver Rib.
More details can be found at
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