Reports - winter conditions and activity

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Glen Nevis, Rock Climbing - Tower Ridge (Monday) 30-03-12

For the final day with Chris on his 'Alpine prep' course we decided to have a more static day focusing on using trad gear to protect a route as all Chris's previous experience has been on bolted routes.  We had covered plenty of mountain miles over the week so the shorter routes and approach gave us plenty of time to focus on gear and leading.

We headed to Glen Nevis and had another dry and eventually sunny day on the crags.  We climbed various routes in big boots including the Gutter and Pinnacle Ridge.  With lots of focus on gear placements and belay construction Chris went on to make his first few leads on trad gear, finally managing to lead 'Severe' in big boots with no drama!

Thanks to Chris for a great course and best of luck with the big plans in the Alps and the very big plan in the Himalayas....

Also below are some photos sent through from Simon and Matt who joined us during the week and had a great day out with Mark on Tower Ridge.  Thanks for the photos and a great day out.

Glen Nevis

 Chris on his first trad lead

Tower Ridge with Simon, Matt and Mark

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ben Nevis 29-03-12

Great on the Ben again today, some cloud about but we were above it most of the day.  Seems there was a lot more moisture in the air though and there had been no overnight freeze so the ice was running with water with lumps coming off now and then.

We changed our plan from Smiths Route and went for a dash up Gardyloo Gully, then looked at snow bollards with an ab into Tower Gully.  We then finish with a couple of pitches of grade III ice just left of Tower Cascade left-hand.

A freeze is now needed to help secure much of the ice that is still about.  Ridges and rock routes were still looking good with fairly dry rock, Centurion has been climbed a few times over the past few days.

Gardyloo Gully Tunnel

Ab into Tower Gully

Far Left Cascade III

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ben Nevis 28-03-12

Today I was out again with Chris on day 3 of his 5 day Alpine training Course.

Today gave another warm and clear day on the Ben so we decided to do another of the classic ridge/buttress routes and headed for NE Buttress.  We looked over various ways of moving efficiently over this type of ground and at retreat anchors etc.  Again the summit was warm and clear.  Not many out climbing now though, No.2 Gully was climbed and was said to be good.  NE Buttress was also great but is now passable without crampons or axe all the way.

NE Buttress is the upper left skyline

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ben Nevis 27-03-12

The last few days have been clear, warm and sunny on the Ben.  We have been out doing a mix of rock routes and ice.  There have been teams on the classic rock climbs enjoying warm rock whilst others have been on good ice higher up.

The ice is obviously getting limited but whats there is still good.  Smiths, Tower Cascade and Shot in the Dark have all been climbed over the last few days.  The first pitch of Tower Scoop is now incomplete and seems very unstable and worth avoiding.  The biggest problem currently is ice/rock fall.  There have been some big falls over the last few days, some big lumps came off Tower Cascade Right-hand yesterday as the sun catches the route.  Today a big fall came out of Gardyloo Gully and it was good no one was in there or even in Observatory Gully.  Tower Ridge, Castle Ridge, Observatory Ridge and NE Buttress have all been getting ascents and are mainly passable on rock, definitely still plan to pass some snow though so not time to leave the axe behind yet.

Tower Ridge

Tower Cascade

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ben Nevis Update 17-18 March

Having had some fresh snow on Friday night and throughout the day on Saturday it felt like a return to winter on the Ben.  The fresh snow fell mainly high up but the likes of North East Buttress looked snowed up from the base as well as Tower Ridge.

We climbed Good Friday Climb on Saturday, it was in great condition and kept us away from the crowds on the Scoop...

Today we managed to arrive as a gap opened on Tower Scoop and despite the masses out climbing actually found the route fairly quiet.  We then traversed across and did Gardyloo Gully to get the novelty finish up the unusual ice tunnel, this gave a great finish to the day.

Tower Cascade, Smiths, Shot in the Dark, Comb are all still good or worth a look at least.  Also some mixed on Comb Gully Buttress, Tower Ridge, Observatory Ridge etc.

 Good Friday Climb

 Ropes emerge from the tunnel on Gardyloo

 Hugh getting annoyed because people keep asking can they buy his helmet, or commenting on the blue fleece trousers, crampons and slightly dated axes....

 Great weather for walking down on Saturday

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Dave Willis - Photo Experiment

Ice Climbing at night in the Lake District by Dave Willis

Professional Outdoor Sport photographer Dave Willis was keen to do some experimenting with some lighting techniques for shooting ice climbing at night this winter.  A few weeks back we got some good ice forming and so went out to have a go at using some lighting techniques Dave had heard a bit about known as 'light-painting'.

Dave wrote up some info on this which should be of interest to any photographers and also runs workshops with other top outdoor photographers through NASOP.

NASOP info at -

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Ben Nevis 05-03-12

Lots of stuff to go at on the Ben, the ice routes are as they were though a bit more solid after colder weather, the fresh snow though has given the whole crag a covering and there is plenty of mixed routes looking good now.  Many people out climbing and looked like a new route possibly going up left of Smiths Route.

 Tower Ridge

 Smiths Route

 Sioux Wall

 Possibly a new route going up left of Smiths Route?

Tunnel hole on Gardyloo Gully

We did Tower Ridge which was great and was well snowed up and mixed from the start.  The fresh snow on bare rock below meant it was not in its easiest condition and we climbed many variation pitches out right to pass the crowds....

 Top of  Tower Ridge

Well done Jill, great effort for your first 2 winter routes!

There is a full crag shot from yesterday on the Epicentre Facebook page.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

SCNL 04-03-12

Woke up this morning to fresh snow down to about 500m and a freeze to about the same level overnight.  A last minute change of plan took us to Dorsal Arete with the Chimney finish.  Lochan was feeling the part today with fresh snow and sunshine.  There is good old snow about and exposed turf was firming up though anything deep was not frozen, cold again tonight though so may improve.  The steep mixed routes were looking the part also, Unicorn and Inclination looked white, Scabbard also.... not sure about how well frozen though.