Category Archives: Mountaineering

Scotland Winter Trip Day 4

getting-stuck-in-on-invernookie

Chris and Maggie on Invernookie III,4, Coire an t-Sneachda

 

Today we had a nice mixture of activities happening on the fourth day of our Scotland Winter Community Event, the aims of which are to build relationships and have adventurous experiences. One team was mountaineering in the western part of the Northern Cairngorms and the second mixed climbing in Coire an t-Sneachda.

 

Nick and Simon led the first group on an ascent of Sgòr Gaoith, a fine Munro, the name of which translates as ‘peak of the winds’. The initial part of the climb was a wonderful walk through pine woods, and alongside Allt Ruadh, before breaking onto open hillside to gain the shoulder of Sgòr Gaoith (roughly pronounced ‘skoor gui’). By this point the visibility had closed in, so there were no views, and the team quickly regrouped before descending via Meall Buidhe. Despite the lack of any panoramas, it was an excellent day and very sociable with all in good spirits.

 

Meanwhile, in the Northern Corries, Chris and Maggie were out with James, who is working towards his MIC, and agreed to climb with them on an informal basis. After their abortive effort at Invernookie III, 4 the other day, Chris and Maggie joined forces with James, who led them smoothly and confidently through this well-known and -travelled Grade III in Coire an t-Sneachda. As has been widely reported, the crag is buried under good névé, but with few (obvious) placements for gear.

 

Tomorrow looks to hold the best forecast of the week, so everyone is hoping to travel a little further to Creag Meagaidh for more of a remote experience, which rewards a visit on every occasion.

 

sam-striding-out-for-sgor-gaoith

Sam hits his stride

 

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The team in the lovely Scots pine forest

4

 

good-views-to-the-Monadhliath

Good views today at lower elevations to the Monadhliath

 

quick-break-for-a-snack

Sam and Rachel enjoying some quality time

 

plenty-to-talk-about

Discussing the finer points of a topic of conversation

 

group-shot-in-the-whiteroom-on-sgor-gaoith

The whiteroom – again!

 

food-and-laughs

Nick, contemplating a banana

 

chris-and-maggie-enjoying-invernookie

Chris and Maggie enjoying the lower portion of Invernookie III,4

 

the-walk-in-to-coire-an-t-sneachda

The ever familiar walk-in to Coire an t-Sneachda

Categories: Blog, Community, Mountaineering, Scotland, Winter
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Scotland Winter Trip Day 3

 

marc and sam enjoying a whiteout on the cairngorm plateau

Whiteout conditions are fun

 

Today we had two teams out in the Northern Cairngorms on the third day of our Scotland winter Community Event, the aims of which are to build relationships and have adventurous experiences.

 

The first team, led by Nick and James, led a large party from Glenmore Lodge out through the Pass of Ryvoan and onto Bynack More. This gave the group a wonderful stroll through Scot’s pine forests as a warm-up before the long pull up to the summit. The weather and views were magnificent all day, with the worse of the weather lingering over the higher peaks to the West. A lucky break!

 

The second team took on a day of navigation on the plateau with Simon under the shadow of a challenging forecast, culminating with the mighty Ben Macdui. Initially, the westerly winds were very challenging on the Fiacaill a’ Choire Chais, but once on the plateau, there were brief breaks of sun and views, which was a great bonus. Sam and Marc did very well with their first taste of full-on navigation in whiteout conditions.

 

Tomorrow, the forecast is again challenging, but the aim is to keep some energy back for Friday, which promises to be a great day – cold, calm and sunny.

 

another-google-day-on-the-Cairngorm-plateau

Suitably suited and booted for a day on the plateau

 

whiteout-on-the-cairngorm-plateau

Somewhere on the way to Ben Macdui

 

goggles-in-the-cairngorms

A finer end to the day

 

a-white-desert-on-the-cairngorm-plateau

Good snow cover on the Cairngorm plateau

 

the-bynack-more-team

Looking forward to a good day out on Bynack More

 

the-walk-in-to-bynack-more

Bynack More looms with an impressive summit plume

Categories: Blog, Community, Mountaineering, Scotland, Winter
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Scotland Winter Trip Day 2

Sheltering from the elements in Ciste Mhearad

Two ways of sheltering in Ciste Mhearad

 

Today we were out on Cairn Gorm again – the second day of our Scotland winter Community Event, the aims of which are to build relationships and have adventurous experiences.

 

We wanted to stay together as a group today, take in some steeper ground and get into a more remote part of the Cairngorms. The original objectives were to head to The Saddle via Ciste Mhearad, journey along Loch Avon, find some steeper ground into Coire Raibert and then come back over via 1141m (the handy spot height and cairn above Coire Cas).

 

Unfortunately we did not quite fulfill the original aims: the wilder weather forecast for the afternoon seemed to hit earlier, making for more challenging walking conditions. This meant that the team became drained physically, so after running through emergency shelters in Ciste Mhearad, we called it a day and headed out.

 

Last night two more members joined us, Chris and Maggie, who are keen on some winter climbing. As such, James, who is working towards his Mountaineering Instructor Certificate (MIC), is hoping to take in some climbs with them on an informal basis. Should make for a great mixture of activites over the week!

 

Gregoire is horrified at the weather

Horrified at the very un-French weather

 

Slow-progress-on-Sron-an-t-Aonach

Slow and steady progress into the wind on Sron an t-Aonach

 

raymond-battling-the-elements-on-Sron-an-t-Aonach

Raymond steels himself for the next push to the Ptarmigan

 

it-was-a-goggle-day

Goggles and smiles today from the team

 

Gregoire-and-James-enjoying-the-conditions

A cosmopolitan team: French and American

 

fighting-the-elements-to-the-Ptarmigan-Restaurant

The Ptarmgian Restaurant looms in the distance

 

discussing-navigation-in-the-shelter-of-the-Ptarmigan-Restaurant

Reviewing the navigation leg – Ptarmigan Restaurant comes in useful

 

digging-emergency-shelters-in-Ciste-Mhearad

Marc demonstrating his emergency shelter

 

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Scotland Winter Trip Day 1

Marc enjoying the slopes of Coire an t-Sneachda

Marc enjoying the slopes of Coire an t-Sneachda

 

We have just kicked off our first TMP Community Event, a Scotland Winter Mountaineering trip, based out of Aviemore.

The aim of the trip is to build relationships within our community by providing a focal point for new and existing friends to come and share a quality week with us in one of our favourite environments. Secondly, we aim to have an appropriately adventurous time, providing challenging and exhilarating experiences, but without getting into epics!

 

Today we headed into the Northern Corries to dust off the ice axes and crampons, as well as blow away the cobwebs with an easy introductory day in Coire an t-Sneachda,

 

Our winter skills team were lead by James and Nick, who put on an intensive session with Marc and Euan, running through all the essentials. These included movement with crampons, utilising the ice axe as a tool and simple, but fundamental tips, such as chopping a platform for putting on crampons or taking a breather on steep ground. The team then went on a short journey up to Windy Col (the lower area between the top of the Fiacaill a’ Choire Chais and Stob Coire an t-Sneachda) and finally to the summit of Cairn Gorm, before heading back through the ski area.

 

Topping out on the Fiacaill Ridge, Coire an t-Sneachda


The mountaineering team having completed the Fiacaill Ridge, Coire an t-Sneachda

 

In the meantime, the mountaineering team, led by me, had more of a stretching day. We walked part way into the coire, and then cut uponto the Fiacaill ridge. This is the broad ridge that bounds the coire on the right hand side. As it gains height, it steepens and throws up a narrow edge. The ridge direct is Grade II, but mainly a short mixed section of 10 meters or so, which was outside our parameters. However, Grade I ground can easily be sought to the right, which we did, and enjoyed the steep snow, which has now consolidated nicely.

 

Snow in the Cairn Gorm ski area

Sun and plenty of snow in the Cairn Gorm ski area

 

Overall, conditions were good and enjoyable for a first day. Winds were light, the snowpack was consolidating rapidly because of recent rain, plus there was plenty of snow to allow easy travel. The sun even came out at the end of the day, allowing for a brief coffee in the sun at the ski centre café!

 

Now to chill out in our amazing mountain lodge: sausage casserole, red wine, ice cream and a wood fire to boot!

 

Relaxing in our mountain lodge in Aviemore

Our digs for the week – comfy!

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Toubkal Winter Conditions #16

The latest in-depth Toubkal winter conditions report

 

Toubkal winter conditions, 16 February 2014

Mo reaching the summit cairn of Toubkal – well done!

A turn-around: wind, cloud and wind chill

 

A quick hit and success on Toubkal despite the strong winds, cloud and wind chill of -20! Hats off to you Mo for taking in Toubkal in these more challenging and adventurous conditions; great to share time with you on the top of North Africa’s highest peak.

 

Sunshine then clag: very un-Moroccan

 

Mo and I headed up on Friday in lovely typical sunshine and blue skies, which turned to strong winds and cloud for our summit day yesterday. We had an early start in order to give us a good amount of time to summit and get back down for a lunch break before making our way down again to Imlil. All and all, due to Mo’s good fitness level and acclimatisation, everything went smoothly. Typically we recommend three to four days for a Toubkal ascent to ensure success, but we can offer more tailored trips for those who, like Mo, have a limited window to take in this mountain.

 

Now on to Toubkal winter conditions update!

 

Snowpack

 

Things have flipped on their head since my last full update! A week and half ago powder was stopping teams from venturing onto less summited peaks, but now lots of the snow has retreated and consolidated well. This is due to the warmer freeze-thaw conditions we have had steadily over the last week.

 

I dug a few pits around the huts on some off the northwesterly aspect slopes and again there is a pretty good bond between layers. I found a thick 6-inch hard crust that is pretty well bonded to the softer adjacent layer. And I also found a really thin hard ice layer deeper in the pack – but on doing a couple of hand/shear test it seems that the other layers are fairly well bonded throughout the snowpack. The conditions are good at the moment for mountaineering on some of the classic 4,000m peaks, but we still could use some more snow to prolong the winter activities! There is a light covering of fresh snow forecast to come on Monday/Tuesday.

 

Climbing Conditions (all grades Scottish)

 

Toubkal winter conditions, 16 February 2014

Topo of mixed routes on Afella, Toubkal area

The cascades (Grades II to V), en route to the refuge, continue to stay nice and fat! We still need more snow for the mixed gully lines on Toubkal West to come into condition.

 

All the ice near the refuges has gotten fat and the Chockstone Gully IV/V route on Afella is still in excellent condition. Curtain Call VII,7, next to the Chockstone, looks like it might be do-able!

 

The hard mixed lines on Afella look to be working their way into nick. Fountain Gully VII, 7, looks like it might be coming into condition. It would be great if we got some more snow to feed these routes.

 

 Toubkal Winter Conditions reports offline for a bit

 

I will be taking a break from updates for a couple of weeks – will be in Scotland instead on our TMP Community Event! Hoping things settle down there so I can get on the mixed routes in the Northern Corries, Cairngorms 🙂

 

 

Toubkal winter conditions, 16 February 2014

Afekhoi (NW Cwm) icefalls en route to the Toubkal refuge

Toubkal winter conditions, 16 February 2014

Mo on the trek down to Imlil. You can seen lots of bare rock – due to last week’s freeze-thaw!

Toubkal winter conditions, 14 February 2014

Looking up to the North Cwm of Toubkal

 

 

Categories: Blog, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountaineering, Winter
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