Rain last night cleared away as the temperature dropped leaving a bright day with heavy showers, blustery winds and (crucially) fresh snow down to about 500m. As we walked up next to the Allt a'Mhuilinn the snow was just above the CIC Hut but by the time we came back down it was lying well below the hut. Heavy showers all day were adding to the amount of snow and it was being blown around the coires by the swirly wind. We had a couple of moments of quite strong winds in the showers but generally it was a good day to be climbing and it was below freezing above about 700m I think.
Sally and I were out with another group of trainee Mountaineering Instructors and a trainee Mountain Guide. Rich, Annie and Phil are all on their way to the MIC assessment and Kevin is doing the winter part of the BMG scheme. They are all very good climbers and guides already and we workshoped a few ideas about general approach to the work, ways to make the rope work more slick and more secure. We climbed SW Ridge of Douglas Boulder and onto the start of Tower Ridge before traversing off the side into Observatory Gully.
The rocks on Douglas Boulder are all very loose. The thaw of the last few days released the grip of the ice and made everything very wobbly. The grass and turf were also mushy down at this level. Colder conditions, especially at the end of this week, will freeze it all back into place quickly I think but be careful until this happens. Dorsal Arete is another nice warm-up route but it also has plenty of loose blocks. As the snow builds up and the temperature fluctuates this week we will have some testing days but in the long run this weather is great for the rest of the winter's climbing.
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.