Sunday, 30 November 2008

Very little fresh snow but FATTER ice

Very little change from Friday with many of the rock routes on the Mess of Pottage, Pygmy and Fingers Ridges still looking pretty bare although slightly whiter. The good news is that the ice is getting a lot fatter in any drainage lines. The bad news is the ice is getting fatter on the paths too!
The Escalator over on Hells Lum has been climbed. Today Mark (Chadders) and Desire climbed the rather thin and sporting looking Mirror Direct - you can just see them if you click on the picture above...! Compare the ice buildup to the Mirror Direct in Easter 2008. See
Full report and lot's of photos from Sunday can be found on Fi's Blog at
BTW according to the BBC weather report Glasgow had it's coldest November temperatures for over 23 years - wow!
Saturday, 29 November 2008

Very Cold and Frosty

It's been very cold and frosty since Thursday which has firmed up the limited remaining old snow in the Northern Corries and has frozen any water seepage lines at the base of the cliffs and in the gullies. Unfortunately the cliffs had not rimed up on Friday and the higher you climbed the blacker and drier the rock became - good for rock climbing though and to be honest that's what some of the winter routes being done were...! There's now plenty of rock hard neve on the plateau so winter walking should be easy into your selected rock or ice climb - I'd leave the skis behind though...!
Very few easy routes were in good winter condition with the gullies being a mix of water ice, verglassed rock and patches of old snow. The harder mixed routes on the Mess of Pottage were black apart from the initial verglassed approach though we found a steep, slightly iced chimney line and finished up Jacob's Edge on frozen grass! The steeper lines further left were bone dry rock after the 1st pitch and even the upper part of The Slant and Hidden Chimney were completely bare dry rock.
The Trident area looked best for complete easier winter lines and were being climbed on ribbons of good snow ice and water iced runnels - hence the name..! There's a lot of thin water ice about on drainage lines. Similar types of routes on southerly aspects should be building up over this continuing period of subzero temperatures. All they need is a supply of water from the sun melting the snow above the cliffs -hint hint...! On the other side of the corrie the Fiacaill area looked slightly whiter with the Seam and Invernookie being climbed.
Over in Coire an Lochain despite being higher the cliffs were just as black though with more areas of old snow and with the Couloir looking almost complete. A few teams out climbing Ewan Buttress and Deep Throat.
One of the benefits of the limited snow cover is the wet ground is really starting to freeze up well and any loose blocks are being cemented in place by the water ice. Hopefully after the forecast snowfall on Sunday and continuing cold weather next week the winter climbing prospects will be looking really good for the New Year.
Saturday, 22 November 2008

Very wintry and icy on the roads

Winter is certainly here this weekend with the back roads being particularly snowy and icy. We took a quick look at the Cairngorm ski area and were surprised to see that the overall cover was thinner than in the valleys and forests due to wind scouring. It looks like we are in for a number of good thawf reeze cycles over the coming week which is ideal building up ice and consolidating the snow.
Friday, 21 November 2008

Lots of snow in the garden

Everything in the forest here is white and very Christmassy. We have about 7 cms in the garden at Slochd and Aviemore is white too.
Cold and windy on Saturday, slightly milder but still wintry on Sunday with Tuesday looking cold calm and sunny :-)
Monday, 17 November 2008

Colder wintry weather arriving again on Thursday

New Jacob's Ladder YouTube video from 27th March 2002...

If you can't see the Winter Mountaineering course YouTube video in the window above please click on the following link The original 2002 video was 795 Kb and of much lower quality!!! See

After the very hard frost on Sunday evening (-5 at Slochd) it has warmed up again. The weather has been pretty stormy too. The latest weather forecasts suggest that during Thursday a cooler northerly air flow will spread across many Scottish mountain areas and persist into the weekend. Friday and Saturday will be bitterly cold with persistent blizzards over northern hills....

So far it sounds good for the gradual buildup of some winter gully climbs and promising for a bit more scratching action if it's not too wild!.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Light Snow and Frost

Blue skies, sun and a bit more wintry on Sunday...! There was light dusting of snow down to 600 metres today. The old snow patches will continue firm up with the hard frost on Sunday night. Some more snow is forecast for Monday morning before the temperatures again rise. The largest areas of old snow are on high north east facing slopes such as in Coire an Lochain and in sheltered hollows on the Cairngorm plateau.
Friday, 14 November 2008

The Hairdryer Effect!

I spoke too soon yesterday!
The bad news is that the stormy and very mild winds have removed much of the snow cover in the corries. Hopefully some of the large drifts in sheltered hollows on the plateau will survive ...
The good news is that the hairdryer effect will have dried off the crags for rock climbing...!
The JVC video camera and Sony Cyber-shot camera have now been both sold.
The Pentax W30 waterproof camera is still for sale and would make the ideal camera for misguided winter climbers going out in piss conditions or water sport enthusiasts...! See
Thursday, 13 November 2008

South on the A9

We travelled south on the A9 today for Fi's dental appointment!
Despite the warmer temperatures which have stripped the rime from the Northern Corries buttresses the Drummochter hills were still looking surprisingly wintry - to be honest the best for a number of years at this time of year.
Unfortunately the warm and stormy weather is forecast to continue for a bit although the weekend could be a lot colder and possibly firm up the old snow enough to bag some easy routes. It's to be windy on Saturday though Sunday is looking a lot calmer but unfortunately milder on some forecasts.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Wintry Wednesday in the Corries

Today Fi saw Climbers on Pygmy Ridge, Hidden Chimney and possibly Fluted Buttress.
For a full winter report see Fi's blog at
Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Wet and windy so uploaded a new video from 1999...!

YouTube video - Climbing on Ben Nevis late March 1999

If you can't see the video above try this link:

Monday, 10 November 2008

Cameras for sale

Snowy and stormy in the Cairngorms...!

JVC GR DV3 Mini DV Video Camera.Originally cost over well over £1,000 around 2001. VGC no marks or damage. Not used for a number of years and complete with docking station all leads, mini DV spare tapes and spare battery £60

Also selling a Sony Cyber-shot DSC P10 camera.
See It well use but still going strong with a new spare battery. Great still and fantastic hi quality video from a the still camera.
See some of the videos filmed with the camera at £40 ono.

Finally I'm also selling a little used (literally as new) complete with box etc Pentax W30 waterproof camera with spare battery. It is the ideal paddler and winter climbers camera. See and

Sensible offers by email.

Cheers Ron


Saturday, 8 November 2008

Winter is returning

Lowering temperatures with a dusting of fresh snow on the tops this morning. The next few days are forecast to be quite stormy with frequent snow showers in the hills. The old snow on the Cairngorm plateau should firm up well and the buttresses start to rime up over the coming week. With the winds coming from the west and later southwest we should start to see a buildup of new snow on northeast facing slopes, corrie headwalls and in some gullies.
Thursday, 6 November 2008

Black buttresses but still ski touring on the plateau

Since Sunday the temperatures have risen gradually above the summits and by Tuesday ALL of the rime ice had stripped from the steeper buttresses leaving just the larger ledges, gullies and approach slopes snow covered.
Over the past few days there has been a temperature inversion with a good overnight frosts in the valleys but warmer temperatures on the tops. This has caught a few "Winter" climbers out as the ground has been frozen on the walk in but soft and thawing on the higher routes.
On Wednesday there were a handfull of winter climbers about when we walked in for some alpine style "Summer" rock climbing with a snowy approach.
Having said all that there's still reasonable snow cover and some thick hollow detached ice in the corries. There's some great winter hill walking condition for ice axe and crampon practise and really good extensive snow cover on the Cairngorm plateau - in fact still good enough for ski touring by a lone ski mountaineer over towards Ben MacDui on Wednesday.
Over on Braeriach and in the Lairg Ghru some of the east facing gullies looked to be complete and if they survive the next few day could be good sport once the temperatures drop this weekend or early next week. I'll post a few photos later this afternoon.
Monday, 3 November 2008

1st November Climbing Video

YouTube Video - Climbing on Pygmy Ridge Saturday 1st November 2008

I've uploaded a short five minute winter climbing video onto YouTube to give an idea of how good this weekends mixed winter climbing conditions were. Please feel free to post your comments - enjoy!

If you can't see the video try this link at

We now have a large selection of climbing videos on YouTube at


Saturday, 1 November 2008

Great mixed winter climbing in the Corries

Mixed winter climbing conditions continue to improve with the buttresses now plastered in thick rime.
Away from the harder mixed rock routes the ground is still fairly soft in places under the deep powdery snow making many of the easier routes and gullies loose and unappealing.
Since we were last out on Wednesday there has been a substantial buildup of fresh snow and ice making some of the approaches to the buttresses now very tiring.
The fresh snow has improved the ski area and today Saturday, Cairngorm was open for skiing for the first time this season.
Also ice is starting to buildup and fatten on some of the popular ice routes which now look climbable although the ice is not quite thick enough for reliable ice screw protection...!
What a great start to the season :-)
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