Monday, 28 February 2011

Plan B - Thompson's Route

Sheila topping out on the first pitch

This week I'm climbing with Patricia & Sheila on an Adventure Peaks Advanced Climbing course. Plan A was Green Gully (IV 4) but with a number of teams heading that way we opted for the classic Thompson's Route (IV 4). Despite the extensive thaw of last week the Ben was amazing condition with plenty of teams out enjoying Orion Face, Zero Gully, Point 5, Tower Ridge, No 2 Gully Buttress, No 3 Gully Buttress, Central Gullies, Central Trident Gully & Ledge Route. Patricia turned back during the approach but Sheila and I made a good ascent in 4 pitches including the direct mixed finish. One abseil took us back in to the depths of No 3 gully and a leisurely descent back to the van. A great day to start the week.

Thompson's Route (IV 4) takes the LH chimney. The RH icefall is Gremlins (VI 6)

Reaching the belay at the top of the crux second pitch

Climbing parallel with a team on No 3 Gully Buttress Original Route (III)

Kenny abseiling his team in to No 3 Gully after a quick ascent of Tower Ridge (IV 3) and before an even quicker ascent of Green Gully (IV 4)!!

Abseiling in to No 3 Gully off a snow bollard

The view from the depths of No 3 Gully

Ben Nevis this evening with some high sirrus.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Escape to the Ice Factor

Chris Walker

One year on... Remembering the legend that was Chris Walker.
Sorely missed but still looking good!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Shower bath on the Zig Zags!

Rob on the sharp end for the first time

Tim enjoying the water running down his sleeves!

Clive & Mark splashing past us!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Busy day on Ledge Route

A team on a thin looking Curtain (IV 5)

The crowds heading in to the jaws of No 5 Gully & the start of Ledge Route

The smile say's it all!

The technical crux of Ledge Route (II)

Happy in their work!

Digging emergency shelters in Red Burn

Monday, 21 February 2011

Mountaineering on Aonach An Nid

Tim trying out daggering on steep terrain

Mark enjoying the benefits of crampons

Excavating bucket seats to tackle the steep headwall above.

A solid bucket seat and buried axe belay for Tim

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Stob Coire Nan Lochan

Climbing on to the north east ridge of Stob Coire Nan Lochan

Well rimed rock just below the summit

Making the move on the final scramble to the summit

Plenty of snow on the coire floor

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Buchaille Etive Beag

An original Teradactyl produced by one of my clients!

Enjoying the views on the summit ridge!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Quick blast up Dorsal Arete

Andrew enjoying traditional Scottish conditions

Today was the final day of my week with Andrew & Heather as part of their preparations for the Adventure Peaks Everest expedition in a few weeks time. With a plane to catch we were under a strict timetable so opted for a quick slog up to Stob Coire Nan Lochan and an ascent of Dorsal Arete (II). This is deservedly a very popular route and there were a number of teams heading that way. However with a bit of devious route finding in the clag we were able to get to the front of the queue and make a quick ascent in four pitches. The fin provided plenty of entertainment and provided a fitting climax to an excellent week despite the weather.
The approach slopes were heavily laden with wet snow but everything seemed pretty stable and the coire was a busy place. There were a number of international parties including teams on Central Grooves (VII 7) and Tilt (VI 7). We opted not to descend Broad Gully which contained plenty of spooky snow although a team had waded up while we were on Dorsal Arete.

Heather in action on a very snowy Dorsal Arete

A graceful exit at the top of the fin!

The safe option in these conditions

Andrew topping out on the fin

Friday night film

Eiger North Face HMG from Dan Goodwin on Vimeo.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Castle Ridge

Castle Ridge (III) following the ridge rightwards

This week I'm working with Andrew and Heather to help prepare them for the Adventure Peaks Everest expedition in April. Castle Ridge provided the perfect route to perfect their crampon technique on mixed terrain with a large dose of exposure. We walked in to the Ben in the sunshine while Fort William was still hidden below the cloud inversion. There were teams on Orion Direct, Galactic Hitchhiker, Tower Ridge, Green Gully, Thompson's Route, Ledge Route and Waterfall Gully. There was also plenty of evidence of avalanche activity with a number of crown walls around the Castle gullies. The ridge was in good condition although the upper crux was a little dry and easier without axes. We descended directly to Half Way Lochan on good snow and were back at the hotel in enough time to practice climbing ladders in crampons and mitts, an interesting exercise but which removed some of the fear of the unknown regarding the Second Step on Everest's north east ridge.

Unfortunately we lost an axe today during the descent so if anyone does find a DMM Fly above Half Way Lochan please get in touch and we'll see what we can do...

Andrew on the first crux groove

Heather enjoying some good ice

Perfect conditions for one of the classic ridges

The second exposed crux high on the ridge

Topping out in the sunshine

The descent to Half Way Lochan

On the descent minus an axe!

Practicing for the Second Step on the north east ridge of Everest