Neil and Robin have been enduring some windy and wet weather on the Three Day Winter Mountaineering Course that ran over the weekend and today. They went to The Zig Zags on Gearr Aonach on Saturday to look at all things to do with rock anchors and climbing winter ridges including an abseil on the way back down. This also made sure they avoided any of the big avalanches caused by the thaw and rain on the soft snow. Yesterday they went to the Cairngorms to enjoy a drier day. They built all sorts of snow anchors and tested them in belays, the kind of skills they will use when they climb big snow gullies. A huge thanks to Annie for teaching the guys all this in some tricky conditions!
Today was the final day and it was so good to end on a high with a climb of Curved Ridge. The temperature dropped early on and we got a few snow showers during the day. So the old snow was starting to freeze, and was pretty well frozen in the wind on top. The fresh snow made the rocks nicely wintry too, not that it was needed. There is a good amount of old snow on Curved RIdge, much more than I was expecting. In the old boot trauil the snow was pretty firm but soft still outside of the trail. We had views all day long and it looked amazing!
Our three day Winter Mountaineering Courses are aimed at people with winter walking experience already, who want to progress into roped climbs of grade I and II gullies and ridges. Curved Ridge is a grade II/III and the experience of this will help Neil and Robin when they go out to climb their grade I and II ridges in the coming weeks. All the skills are the same but the climbing is a bit harder. Curved Ridge is also in a very dramatic position with huge atmosphere.
Over on Ben Nevis there is still lots of ice after the thaw at the weekend. Hadrian's Wall Direct looks pretty good as well as Observatory Buttress. Smiths Route and Indicator Wall are a bit thin though. Number Three Gully Buttress was climbed by Ken and Vic as a warm up for Vic back into the winter climbing. The conditions on this climb were excellent and there are a few icy variations that are possible too. More snow over the coming days will start to cover up some of the ice and make the approaches tricky so take care.
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.