Some more settled wintry weather has been a blessing for those of us in pursuit of seasonal adventures. Last weekend we had a lot of snow, much of which melted away in the rain on Monday, but certainly not all of it. Further snow arrived for the rest of this week on very strong winds and all the way down to 400m or so. This afternoon gave us a slight improvement and we even had some sunshine. Buachaille Etive Mor looked beautiful. However, the fierce winds and squalls have been slightly testing at times. Tomorrow, Friday, looks calmer so our faces will get a wee rest from the battering.
Matteo and I have been having fun on a Classic Winter Climbing trip. We started out on Monday by climbing Curved Ridge in deep snow, light rain and strong winds. It's a lovely climb and a great way to get reacquainted with crampons and mixed climbing. It was clearly not too testing for Matteo, apart from getting quite wet.
On Tuesday we went to Ben Nevis and climbed a very soft Green Gully. Serious (due to very poor protection) but quite simple climbing and lots of spindrift as the temperature dropped and fresh snow came in on showers.
On Wednesday we went to Stob Coire nan Lochan and climbed Raeburn's Buttress (AKA Central Buttress Ordinary Route) which we climbed with a non-ordinary step off a tower high up on the route to add a little spice. It was very cold and quite windy. A crazy squall hit us as we started to walk down, blowing us sideways and making it tricky to see where we were going.
Today we went back to Buachaille Etive Mor to climb North Buttress which was lovely. It was cold again and the wind was slapping on the rocks all around.
When it is cold and windy, the snow is dry when it falls and the wind can move it around a lot. So, it does not tend to collect in as many areas. We have soft snow in the few places where it has been properly sheltered. On Buachaille Etive Mor, the snow is collecting in small patches dotted all around the place.
The descent into Coire na Tulaich was OK today for us by walking down just to the right of the gully as we looked down. The gully is holding a strip of soft snow all the way down but it was easily avoidable. Lower down, the gorge has snow on its side and it was quite straight forward to walk down it, making the walk out nice and easy.
Since the snow has been blown away, there are many areas with no snow and lots of loose rocks. On Raeburn's Route and on North Buttress we found plenty of loose rocks on ledges not very well held in place.
A lot more snow has collected in Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis. There were a few avalanches there today and Douglas Boulder was a popular place to climb for the people that managed to fight their way in. A few people decided, understandably, that the café was a better place to be!
It looks like we will have a warmer day on Saturday before it goes cold again for Sunday and next week. The January storms were delayed by the big high pressure, but they are here now. Snow is building up and ice is growing.
If you would like to enjoy some grade IV climbing on 1st, 2nd and 3rd March please get in touch. We have a long standing customer whose climbing partner is no longer able to join him. £150 per day for three days for classic winter climbing like we have been enjoying this week, but less windy hopefully!
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Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.