Ski Touring – Blencathra Area 30-01-12

Had a great ski tour over Blencathra today.  I met up with photographer Dave Willis to take some photos at first.  The last 2 outings with Dave have resulted in a Tgo cover shot this month and another Tgo cover shot next month, always time well spent!

After a few descents to the tarn I headed over the top and made a descent down Mungrisdale Common before dropping down a gully to the cove below Atkinson Pike.  After that a skin up Bannerdale Crags gave a great final descent down the gill to the lead mines on some perfect snow.

 Summit Blencathra

 Scales Fell

The weather was once again great and and whilst the snow cover is not massive, selective route choice gave some really good snow, still light and without a crust where out of the sun.

 Bannerdale Crags Summit
 Cairngorm like scenes looking over to Great Calva
Sun down

Another top day out, the Lakes at its best!?

Lakes Weekend Conditions 29-01-12

The last 2 days have been great in  the Lakes.  Whilst the climbing conditions have been marginal due to the turf being only partially frozen, the general winter walking conditions have been fantastic, Saturday in particular was perfect with sun, fresh snow and blue skies….

I’ve been running a winter mountaineering course over the weekend, on Saturday we did the Helvellyn edges followed by some snow skills on the headwall area.  The headwall had some areas of unstable powder and windslab about which is probably still much the same due to no real thaw-freeze up high to stabilise it.  There was lots of people out and a few looking at the climbs.  Looking across the Lakes a lot of the major crags looked white, however turf will be the deciding factor over the coming days.  Bowfell Buttress, North Buttress Bowfell, Rampsgill Head to name a few looked well snowed up.

 Red Tarn
 Striding Edge
 Summit View
 Fresh Cornice
 Social Summit
Some snow anchors

Today we did Pinnacle Ridge on St.Sunday Crag which was great.  The turf was fairly good really and the route was holding plenty of snow.

 The slab on Pinnacle Ridge
 Corner Pitch
 Great conditions on the route

 Climbers on the Pinnacle 

Haven’t heard any reports of winter climbing over the last few days at other venues, think the skiing at Raise has been good though, touring should be ok too with some selective route choice as the tops are scoured.

Great 2 days, thanks to Bob and Glen.

Mountain Circles has also had a 2 day mountain skills course running in the Cairngorms over the weekend.  Alex called in to report what sounds like some great weather up north as well and that the course went well.  It sounds like conditions in the Northern Corries have been fairly settled with not too much fresh snow.

Helvellyn Conditions, Winter Returns! 27-01-12

After a very warm January so far the Lakes has finally had a good blast of winter weather.  The last couple of weeks have given snow showers up high, and then rain stripping all but the older snow from before Christmas.  A 10 degree drop in temperature and some heavier snow showers down to about 300m yesterday have transformed the tops back to full winter condition though.

Red Tarn face

Today I went up to Helvellyn via the Red Tarn face, I dropped in below Brown Cove crags to have a look before finishing down Striding Edge.  The climbing conditions are not there yet really, mainly due to turf not being frozen fully.  The rock was well snowed up however giving things a wintery look but only the most exposed turf high up was freezing.  That said, choosing a steep route with not much turf and that is in the wind just might deliver something over the coming days, would be worth a walk and a look!

 Viking Buttress
 Steep rock was well snowed up,  looking into the first corner pitch of Rape and Pillage

S facing aspect catching the wind

There is a big accumulation of windslab on N-NE-E facing aspects and especially where this is on top of the older snow will be worth treating with care…  Lots of people walking up to Raise with skis also so must be some drifting between the snow fences.

For winter walking and the classic edges and ridge routes conditions are very good though, definitely a full winter feel to it that will stay over the weekend at least.  Striding Edge was in great condition, crampons and axe will be a good call.

 Striding Edge
 Striding Edge, Hellvellyn Summit behind
People on Striding Edge

Ben Nevis 13-01-12

Today we had a great day on the Ben, there was perfect ice, well frozen snow and wall to wall sunshine!

We climbed Comb Gully which was in great condition.  There were plenty of people out on various routes with all the routes mentioned in yesterdays report looking even better after a cold night and a very light dusting of snow, as well as lots of other good bits of ice about.

Steep mixed routes are still not in.

 Douglas Boulder
 Cascade area
 Corrie Ciste, the Comb and No.3 Gully Buttress behind
 People on Tower Ridge
 The Comb and No.3 Gully Buttress area
Comb Gully

Great weather on the top

Ben Nevis 12-01-12

Today gave a great day on the Ben with much colder temperatures and clearer skies coming in this morning after a wet and wild night.

We did Tower Ridge which was in great condition, dry rock gave fast gear and the crest and all the ledges were covered in hard snow or ice.  We also had the route to ourselves as a bonus!

 Looking over Carn Dearg
Tower Ridge

Smiths Route

Whilst there was not loads of routes in, there was some looking good and getting climbed.  Today Smiths Route, Indicator Wall, Ledge Route, Right Central and Tower Scoop were all climbed and looking good.  Also Cascade, Comb Gully, Thompsons Route, Green Gully and possibly Two Step Corner will all have been climbable.  As well as these all the easy gullies were good with hard snow.

Another cold day coming should hopefully dry up any of the dripping ice and make whats there really good.  Routes such as Hadrians Wall were looking too thin, and Point 5 has a big section missing with some water still running down it.

Ice Factor 11-01-12

Today we went to do a bit of coaching at the Ice Factor.  This is a great way to provide some close up movement coaching and gives people the chance to explore the limits on ice in a safe environment.

The weather today got worse as the day went on, whilst it was not too wet, it was the wind up high that was going to be the biggest problem.  With 2 much better days forecast to come we decided to split the 5 day course with a semi rest day whilst still getting some great additional training/coaching covered.

 Coaching in the Freezer

Followed by some dry tooling 

Scottish Conditions 10-01-12

So far its been a very mild and wild start to the year.  The Lakes has had a wide spread strip of snow and now Scotland is following.  Last Friday gave heavy rain on the summits in the evening, the last few days have also been warm with some rain on the summits, today there was light rain on top of the Ben.  However, some easy angled mixed routes and ice routes that were well formed have just about survived, and with much colder temperatures set to return for Thursday things could come good again.

I’ve been working on the west coast recently and we’ve managed to get routes done everyday.  We’ve climbed on the Buachaille one day, then Dorsal Arete in Lochan has been the aim on more than one day.  Today we went high onto the Ben, we climbed Green Gully which was actually really good, with just enough to make the climbing good.  The ice wasn’t right to take screws where you would want them though so a bold approach was useful.  Other routes climbed today and yesterday were Ledge Route, Tower Ridge, Comb Gully, Thompsons Route and some of the easier gullies.  There will be other routes to climb I’d think with a bit of a hunt about as there is still some good ice about, though a freeze will do things a lot of good and make the ice more secure.  In Glen Coe Twisting Gully, Broad Gully, Forked Gully, NC Gully, Dorsal and the other easier gullies were all climbed yesterday.  Curved Ridge still has some snow on higher up as well.
So some routes hanging in for Thursdays freeze…
Lochan, Glen Coe, 09-01-12
 A black looking Lochan
 Still good on Dorsal Arete
 Dry rock on the Dorsal

 Climbers in Forked Gully
Ben Nevis, 10-01-12
Top out on Green Gully, good ice!

Bowfell Area Conditions and First Ascents 18-12-11

Great weather and conditions today on Bowfell.  Lots of teams on Bowfell Buttress, Steve Ashworth and Brian Davison climbed a new line to the right of the classic route whilst Rich Cross tried something new to the left (not sure how it went as we were off, lots of head torches out on the Buttress though…)

 The Langdale Pikes
Langdale at its best

Many routes were in great condition again today.  The forecast thaw is due to arrive tomorrow so its hard to say what it will do on the crags, but it looks like it might rain on the summits.  This will be good on the long run to help the snow firm up but won’t do the mixed climbing conditions any good.

Flat Crags

Tom Greenwood and myself made the first winter ascent of the summer E1 5b Moon Shadow on Flat Crags.  This route gave one hard pitch at a strenuous VII/8, if it were just a bit more sustained it would probably go up a grade.  The 2nd pitch to the top was about III/4.  The route involves pulling up onto a hanging arete to gain a crack, at first the crack is thin but it improves with height.  Then you pull through a roof and climb some balancy slabs with a bit of a run out.  The 2nd pitch climbs a stepped groove with some awkward moves.  A great route that packs a bit of a punch!

 Tom having a good go at the crux pitch which ended when a tool ripped
 Me having a go, and keeping my face away from the axe which was ready to rip again but didn’t!
 Crux pitch on the arete 
Preparing to pull through the roof out onto the start of the slab section

Some great shots from today on the Epicentre Facebook Page.

Helvellyn Conditions 17-12-11

Was working on Helvellyn today for www.mountainguides.co.uk with Matt and Simon who were out to try the Helvellyn classic V-Corner.

The Red Tarn area was very quiet for a Saturday, there was a team on Viking Buttress, didn’t seem to be many others climbing at all.  The conditions were great, there was still plenty of soft snow about but it felt a lot more stable than earlier in the week.  That said, some caution is definitely still needed, there is still wind slab up high and some of the largest cornices I’ve seen on Helvellyn due to the prolonged west winds we’ve been getting.  Also a lot of debris below the headwall that looked like cornice collapse debris…

After a look at the cornice at the top of V-Corner we traversed out right to a small buttress were there was a break to top out.  The already drooping cornice is definitely going to need some respect when things start to warm up, especially above Gully 2.

Once again it was a great winter day, the ridges were in good condition and V-Corner was in about the best condition I’ve climbed it in despite the soft snow.  It had good ice, solid turf and snow ice with some mixed moves thrown in.

 Making for some good ice, V-Corner area
 Matt on his 2nd route ever!
Lots of good ice variations to V-Corner

Well done to Matt and Simon, cheers for a great day!

Blea Tarn and Highstreet 15-12-11

Today I was out in the High Street area with photographer Dave Willis taking some shots.  There was a lot less snow in this area than over at Helvellyn, that said there was still some big accumulations of freshly blown snow up high and signs of cornice collapse in many places.  The day was perfect for a winter walk and not too much heavy breaking trail was required up Riggendale.  We returned under the ice falls and whilst there were signs of ice forming in many places there wasn’t anything significant to climb, water was running down the main ice lines.  Today felt warmer and with the slightly lower altitude of these ice falls some colder weather is needed to bring them fully in.

 Blea Tarn
 Main ice fall area, a bit buried 
Snow lower down felt stable, higher up though still had large areas of wind slab

Great winter walking conditions on High Street but no complete ice climbs yet.  Much less snow though for those wanting to avoid breaking trail in the central Lakes.

Routes were climbed on Helvellyn today and conditions were meant to be good, with a bit of swimming about  (exit slopes will still need careful consideration!)

Also, routes were climbed on Cambridge Crags today, it looked good on there in the photos.  Bowfell Buttress looked good… no idea about turf etc though, so would need to go and have a look.

See the Epicentre Facebook page for photos of that area.