After a drop in temperature last night and some fresh snow on the tops things were feeling much more like winter today. The old snow was well frozen and there was only a little fresh accumulation which didn't give any problems.
Loads of people heading up high on the Ben and a lot of the high ice routes were still looking surprisingly good, we were up in the Ciste and routes like the Central Routes, The Gift, North Gully, Wendigo, Green Gully, No.3 Gully Buttress to name a few were all climbed. Some mixed possible also, folks on Gargoyle Wall....
We did Central Left which was in really good condition and a great way to finish the course with Jim.
After a day of rope work training and a wet weather big boot climb on the Gutter yesterday on Polldubh Crags we decided to head east today to the Cairngorms.
Ice Factor rope work
We didn't totally get the sun we were looking for over there and it was hard to believe the lack of snow cover. We were able to have a good day none the less on JacobsLadder, Jim and Mick led the route today as their first lead. There was usable snow and some ice about to look at screws etc. The route had a few gaps and was getting to the point were loose rock will be an issue. The others had a similar day on the ground to the right of the Goat Track and said it was all good at about I/II. Apart from these 2 options it is fair to say that nothing else was climbable, that said a team did make an ascent of something in the White Magic area (not joking...!)
Coire an t-Sneachda today
Agghhh!!!! Is it really February?
Probably a better chance of something steeper high up on the Ben still or on Aonach Mor, however high winds will be the problem for the Gondola and climbing up high, possibly some fresh snow due tomorrow also.
Things feeling fairly damp on the Scottish West currently. We had an instructional day in the Ice Factor yesterday which worked well. Today we rapped up in Gore-tex and headed to Corrie Lochan. Lots of people out despite the weather, mainly walking and skills courses. We climbed a busy Dorsal Arete which gave a good adventure in the wind and rain!! Still fairly good snow cover on the arete with useful snow. Easy Gullies are still complete but there is a lot of evidence of rock fall about and Forked Gully has had a big wet slide come down.
Looking better for Thursday and Friday with a cold weekend forecast...
After a hard freeze and some fresh snow the mixed routes on Helvellyn came into great condition. Any old snow was solid, there was ice in places, and the turf was bomber...
Today was day 2 of a weekend climbing course and after learning about leading yesterday the guys were keen to find their limit on something steeper. Tom took Gian and Jamie up V-Corner which was in good condition. I climbed with Nilesh and Gareth who liked the look of one of the harder routes on the crag, Rape and Pillage IV/6, so we went for that. The route was in good condition, turf solid etc. This was a great effort for the guys as their first mixed route.
Back in the Lakes today and the plan was to have a look over some leading. Finding snow was going to be the first challenge, so we put all our money on Custs Gully.
A fresh dusting of snow and drop in temperature to below freezing gave the day a wintry feel, but there was still a lot of water running off the crags after overnight rain and a general lack of old snow about.
Pulling around into Custs I was surprised by the amount of snow still in it, there was a few gaps and mixed steps but it was generally all good, even some ice to place screws in and make some threads...
The other main Gullies were not complete but there was still some old ice about.
Yesterday we did Tower Scoop on the Ben. The route was in great condition still as were many of the higher ice routes. Snow was blowing in from the West and the rock was looking fairly white when we left. Steeper mixed routes may be worth a look...
Observatory Gully and Ridge behind
With fresh snow blowing in and some wind slab building in Tower Gully we abbed of some ice threads at the top of the Scoop.
With some bad weather coming through this morning and the team keen to do some coaching and give the knees a rest we opted for a visit to the Ice Factor, a great coaching facility. We covered movement and placing screws and then did some rope work followed by a dry tooling session.
After a weekends mountaineering course in the Lake District, which still had plenty of snow about despite warmer temperatures, I headed north to the Fortwilliam area.
Helvellyn at the Weekend
Running an Intro to Snow and Ice course this week, we have so far had 3 great days out. We had a skills day in Lochan on Monday when we finished with a climb up Forked Gully. The crags were very black but all the easier gullys seemed good. Routes climbed were Boomerang Gully, Dorsal Arete, NC Gully, Twisting Gully amongst others..
Teams below Dorsal Arete
Lochan looking a bit black
Good views North West
Tuesday we went to the Ben. The ice up high was good, Smiths, Hadrians, Indicator Wall, Green Gully, Thompsons, the Cascades all looked good as well as many others. However the lower ice routes were much thinner, Central was one which a couple of teams abbed off.
Routes in No.3 Gully area, Wendigo, Central L and R looking OK.
The Comb across to No.3 Gully Buttress
Today took us to Aonach Mor. There was still plenty of good ice about. White Shark looked good and was climbed. We did Tunnel Vision which was great, first time placements all the way, the cornice was passable on the right above Morwind. Rob Wills did Forgotten Twin and said it was good also.
Abb into Easy Gully
Cornices above the left branch of Tunnel Vision
Generally fairly warm here so easy angled mixed routes up high are looking OK, but lower down and steep routes are black. High snow and ice routes are good though, still plenty in. Looks like things are set to cool however towards the weekend with some snow. The forecast has suggested the freeze line to be hovering around 900m, though its felt warmer with some drizzle on the summits, will be looking good for the ice after another freeze.
Had a great day today climbing on Great End. The sun was out and the Gullies were in really good condition, the snow was well frozen and useful and the ice was mostly very good. Quite a few out climbing today, all the classic Gullies getting ascents.
I climbed Central left-hand, South East and Window Gully with the Icefall finish. All these routes were really good and Custs Gully worked well in descent.
Icefall on Central Gully left-hand
Chris on Central Gully
Crux on South East Gully
The easy angled mixed routes still looked OK as well and would be worth a look, steep stuff was stripped.
Much less snow in the North Lakes than in the South Lakes. After Great End I went over to Red Screes (by car) to meet photographer Dave Willis who was keen to get some night climbing shots on ice. The ice there was good also.
Red Screes, Kirkstone Pass
Shoulthwaite Gill also looked complete from the road but may be thin, not sure...
Hard to say what the coming days will bring with a bit of a mixed forecast...