/ Weather advice for a newby

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Littleslip - on 27 Dec 2012
I've been indoor sport climbing for around three months now and making the jump into outdoor mountaineering. Nothing major just good winter climbs.

I'm trying to get my head around the weather reports but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. Obviously I know to avoid things like heavy rain/ thunderstorms etc, but it's things like gauging snow conditions from reports that I'm a bit confused by. This might found like a bit of a stupid question really but I'm never afraid of asking really!

For example weather reports for fort William predict heavy rain tomorrow but a fair weekend, some snow fall on sat night, heavy winds throughout. Is it worth a trip up or just wait?

I just don't want to make the trip up there and not be able to climb or enjoy the climbing due to bad conditions.

Thanks :)
Cuthbert on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip:

Can you navigate, self arrest, walk using crampons and have your winter hill craft sorted? If not, forget climbing.
GridNorth - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip: Indoor climbing for 3 months to winter climbing is one hell of a big jump and the weather in Scotland can be fickle. You need to be clearer about what you want and, perhaps more importantly,what you are capable of.
mrbird - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip: Wear a really cosy jacket and good luck.
Kevin Woods - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip: Hi there.

Yeah it's a big jump. Though as you say good thing you're not afraid of asking. :)

It's a big jump almost to the point the two activities are completely unrelated. Go climb a few mountains first to get some experience without even worrying about the climbing. There's a lot to consider and a lot of gear you need. Gear you'll need: stiff boots, waterproofs (trousers and jacket), gloves and maybe spares, axe, crampons, map and compass. I'm sure there's more. Learn the map and compass until you can do it without thinking. This can be practiced at/near home. Good to get it nailed before using it in extremis...

Also ask, can you place gear, set up belays, make a decent judgment of the avalanche hazard (SAIS.org.uk can help with this one). At this time of year the weather affects where the snow lies and how susceptible it is to avalanche.

So you can imagine it bears essentially no relation to the indoor wall. Remember that many winter routes are a 3000-foot-high walk with climbing in the middle so I'd suggest learn to get up and down mountains safely first.

Good luck
wilkie14c - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Kevin Woods:

> Also ask, can you place gear, set up belays, make a decent judgment of the avalanche hazard (SAIS.org.uk can help with this one). At this time of year the weather affects where the snow lies and how susceptible it is to avalanche.

Yes definatly, the wind direction can blow snow about and windblown snow setting on leeward slopes can be a really serious risk so apart from the type of route to consider there is also the walk in and out to consider. 'Roadside' fun mountains like the buachaille have taken clambers lives as it has a descent route that is very avalanche prone. Take care out there and consider hooking up with someone a little more experienced


andyd1970 - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip: Best thing you can do is ask, coz we all started off the time and had to learn. If you can afford it, get on a Winter skills course or go out with someone experienced and learn from them.
jas wood - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip: for what you need this weekend would be a very bad time to go up. Find someone local who is experienced and beg them to show you the ropes ! if not book in for a few days with a reputable guide up scotland and your learning curve should be safer and quicker.
If i was to be starting out again, knowing what i know now, i wouldn't hesitate in getting a guide for a few days.
Littleslip - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip:
Right ok thanks for the replies.
I've done a few mountain/ hill climbs over the summer like snowdon and a few round the Peak District, and the sandstone trail around Frodsham. Like I said nothing serious.
I've done navigational stuff with the cadets and still understand maps and compass use. Obviously this could all be refreshed.
I've looked into a few courses and thinking about a weekend course to go over the basics, glenmore lodge courses look good and they include accommodation and full board.
I'm not naive about the climbing I just wanted to gain some advice off forum members.
Kevin Woods - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip: Hey there.

A bit of background info helps a lot. Indoor to winter mountaineering is a big jump but you're already part the way through that process.

I think at your present level a winter mountaineering course is the perfect thing. I speak from experience that serious tuition or guiding might be the best way to learn if you've got the cash. There's nothing like knowing the definitive way it's done rather than making it up and having a close-shave-death-fest up something.
Cuthbert on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip:

Like I say, it's not the climbing that is the issue. It's the hill craft. Glenmore Lodge is a good place to learn that.
bigrob - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip: get on a winter skills course. People say there expensive. NONSENSE they are an investment 250 for some skills for a life time of fun!!!!!
jonnie3430 - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to bigrob:
> (In reply to Littleslip) get on a winter skills course.

If you go on a winter skills course you still need to find some partners after you finish it. Better to find a partner first and skip the course (spend the 250 on climbing.) You can find partners at your local wall, (put a note up,) a local mountaineering club, or sticking a post on UKC (put up a profile.) If you find someone that knows what they are doing, be keen and enthusiastic and you will wear them down until they take you out, or introduce you to someone who will.
jonnie3430 - on 27 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip:
>
> I'm trying to get my head around the weather reports but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. Obviously I know to avoid things like heavy rain/ thunderstorms etc, but it's things like gauging snow conditions from reports that I'm a bit confused by. This might found like a bit of a stupid question really but I'm never afraid of asking really!

I was going to try to answer you point by point, but I think most stuff is covered here: http://www.gumclub.co.uk/safety-and-skills (apologies if some of the links don't work.) If that doesn't help, keep asking!
Michael Gordon - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip:

If you're going out solo in winter with little experience you'd at least be advised to pick a day of good weather. Doesn't look like this weekend would be a good time for the first time.
unclesamsauntibess - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip: I can't help the feeling you're heading for disappointment at the minute. Get on a course, money well spent. Forget your mate unless he goes with you. It will take you ten years to get half competent on a Scottish hill. Too much to pick up from a forum. Join a club, beg, borrow gear as needed. Scouting map reading skills will need building on big style, no real comparison I'm afraid. Get to a library and borrow as many books as you can find.
StuartCJones - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to unclesamsauntibess:

Ten years?!?

Put the pipe down and take a look at yourself will ya?
Kevin Woods - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to StuartCJones: Too right
cannichoutdoors - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Littleslip:
>
> For example weather reports for fort William predict heavy rain tomorrow but a fair weekend, some snow fall on sat night, heavy winds throughout. Is it worth a trip up or just wait?
>

This may be obvious, but the weather 3-4000ft up a hill will be much worse than that at sea level in ft william.

There are many routes to winterclimbing/mountaineering. Find an experienced partner, join a club, learn as you go with a friend, go on a course. If you can get on a conville course, that is a good start. Winter hillwalking gets you in the hills in changeable conditions, gets you fit and teaches you to survive.

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Walter Mitty - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to unclesamsauntibess: He could be a guide in 6 years, you loon

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