/ Scottish Winter Climbing - Am I missing something?

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bowls - on 02 May 2012
Okay, so I am something of an inexperienced person when it comes to the subject of this - my winter climbing experience restricted to a few trips north for a few years and on the easy grade I, II and occasionally III routes, but i suspect has the conditions over the last 2 weeks been present over November, December and January then the North Face of Ben Nevis for example would have been rammed? or at the minimum a great deal more excitement than there has been? I don't claim to state climbing conditions are ideal, but on the other hand you have the greatest mountain, with the greatest face in the country covered in snow and yet the only comments are "not in condition" "too powdery" - I am guessing the hard routes are not "in" but surely the easier gullies etc have to be worth a punt in the way that over the last couple of years the conditions may not have warranted it at this time of year?
wee jamie on 02 May 2012
In reply to bowls: Lots of factors here:
1. many will have put axes away and got their 'summer rock' heads on after the very high temps stripped nearly everything a few weeks ago.
2. some easy routes have been perfectly good, and I've been out as have a few others I've seen, but route choice has been limited, and the wonderful late season ice of some past years just hasn't re-formed and stuck around.
3. the weather has been perfect for hill walking, so lots of people out in all mountain areas.
4. climbing easy gullies and neve face routes is great fun (and I've been out a lot in the past couple of weeks), but I suspect many folk want something a bit harder, plus the fresh snow has never really consolidated to give genuinely enjoyable conditions (as evidenced by the sudden melt over the last two days).
5. recession? - fewer people committing to a big journey

The NE Face car park had one car in it yesterday afternoon when I went for a whizz up to Coire Leis!

Still, great weather to be out and about, I've got a tan!
tom.fox on 02 May 2012
In reply to bowls: yeah whats going on?I was walking last week-lovely neve on top 250m Ben More normal path -must be great on the Ben!I need to read of brave exploits to cheer up my day!
Harry Holmes - on 02 May 2012
In reply to bowls: exams!
Simon Caldwell - on 02 May 2012
In reply to tom.fox:
Paths and ridges = old snow or consolidated new snow = excellent.
Easy gullies = lots of unconsolidated new powder = unpleasant with possible avalanche risk and danger from falling cornices.
Milesy - on 02 May 2012
In reply to bowls:
> I am guessing the hard routes are not "in" but surely the easier gullies etc have to be worth a punt in the way that over the last couple of years the conditions may not have warranted it at this time of year?

For a lot of harder climbers the easy gullys are their normal descent routes so long distance travelling and petrol probably not worth the cost.

I don't fancy loose rock, soft snow and unfrozen turf though on harder routes but I would take a punt on a day up and down easy gullys if I was guaranteed good views and blue sky. Walking in the clag doesn't have the same appeal it once did years ago.

May and June are the only months I really get some good enjoyable cragging done before the rain and midges kick in as well.
Robert Durran - on 02 May 2012
In reply to bowls:

Everyone has been out rock climbing in the sun for the last 2 months and somehow the pain and suffering of winter climbing doesn't appeal just now......

Of course by October we'll all be bored of the routineness of rock and be gagging for the first snow again.....
BruceM - on 02 May 2012
In reply to bowls:
Who cares if nobody else is around?

There have been a few people having a great time this last month, often in the warm sun. Good as the Alps! :)

Also doing some nice sunny rockclimbing or mountain biking on alt days. Perfect.

You don't need crowds around you to justify a good time.
Wry Gob - on 02 May 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

There's been some good winter climbing to be had, and the extra hours and unusual light have been stunning - unlike anything you'll even experience mid-winter, so worth it just for that. I've been out the last three weekends on the trot and climbed a new VIII, a new VII and another second ascent of a VII. It's cooling down again nicely this weekend so it's game on again :-)

Two weeks before this recent cold spell I was rock climbing in a T-shirt on the Dubh Loch - one has to move with the seasons!
Robert Durran - on 02 May 2012
In reply to Wry Gob:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
I've been out the last three weekends on the trot and climbed a new VIII, a new VII and another second ascent of a VII. It's cooling down again nicely this weekend so it's game on again :-)


Point taken. I was speaking for the less hardcore amongst us!
Michael Gordon - on 02 May 2012
In reply to bowls:

To answer your question, Yes. The amount of snow in the Gorms at the moment, if it was officially 'wintertime' they'd be jampacked! Or even if it was September/October. To be fair though the last 5 days or so have been about as good as it gets for cragging.
JohnnyW - on 02 May 2012
In reply to bowls:

My sentiments exactly. I was out three weeks ago for an excellent day on the Ben. My wife and mates had a fantastic weekend's skiing last weekend, and I had no partner :o(
I am going for it this weekend whatever, just a question of where, but the disconcerting lack of trip reports and chitter-chatter does make one think that one has it wrong.......

Go with gut feel I guess.
AlH - on 03 May 2012
In reply to JohnnyW: Tower Ridge today.... we've lost a lot of snow from Ben Nevis in the heat of the last 3 days. http://alanhalewood.blogspot.co.uk/
Sean Bell - on 03 May 2012
In reply to bowls:
Padding around on warm rock all day climbing trad in Glen Nevis yesterday.Blue skies, t-shirts, snowy peaks in the distance, no midges and the walk in dry. Why would anyone want to wander into the dark ming of a late season gully on the Ben?
Put your axes away, winter is dead, long live the rock.
AlH - on 03 May 2012
In reply to SeanB:
> (In reply to bowls)
> Padding around on warm rock all day climbing trad in Glen Nevis yesterday.Blue skies, t-shirts, snowy peaks in the distance, no midges and the walk in dry. Why would anyone want to wander into the dark ming of a late season gully on the Ben?
> Put your axes away, winter is dead, long live the rock.

The man speaks sense... until you look at forecast low lying snow flurries next week!
Ron Walker - on 03 May 2012
In reply to bowls:

Despite the warm sunny weather the recent snow is holding out surprisingly well and will freeze up nicely!
See http://talisman-activities.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/hot-and-snowy-turning-colder-for-summer.html
JohnnyW - on 04 May 2012
In reply to Ron Walker:

Thanks Ron, that's what I thought, so we are heading up there tonight instead of the Ben, (and thanks Al for your report too, as it has changed dramatically from a week or so ago eh?). The Northerly should prevent any dodgy cornice build up or loading I am hoping.......

Only downer is my mad mates want to wildcamp, so my pack weighs a ton!!!
Euge - on 04 May 2012
In reply to SeanB:
> (In reply to bowls)
> Padding around on warm rock all day climbing trad in Glen Nevis yesterday.Blue skies, t-shirts, snowy peaks in the distance, no midges and the walk in dry. Why would anyone want to wander into the dark ming of a late season gully on the Ben?
> Put your axes away, winter is dead, long live the rock.

I'd take The Ben anyday :o)

E
Adamski1986 - on 04 May 2012
In reply to JohnnyW:

I honestly dont know who suggested wild camping John...

I am sure it will be charachter building for future expeditions to the larger ranges!
Studge - on 04 May 2012
In reply to Euge:

Plenty of midgies at Polldubh last night. The Ben sounds better.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Sean Bell - on 04 May 2012
In reply to Euge:
> (In reply to SeanB)
> [...]
>
> I'd take The Ben anyday :o)
>
> E

Weirdo


;-)
George Allan - on 05 May 2012
In reply to Studge:
> (In reply to Euge)
>
> Plenty of midgies at Polldubh last night.

Stevie
That's not a very nice way to refer to Bob! Had a good winter?
George

Euge - on 07 May 2012
In reply to SeanB:
> (In reply to Euge)
> [...]
>
> Weirdo
>
>
> ;-)

Yup... :o)
JohnnyW - on 07 May 2012
In reply to bowls:

Well yah boo sucks guys, we had a great weekend in Coire an t-Sneachda. Alpine weather and conditions, and hardly a soul about.
bowls - on 13 May 2012
In reply to bowls:

Anyway, to answer my question we did gully No3 on Thursday and it felt as every bit part of winter as when I did it in February a couple of years ago, the last 70m was nice and firm and icy, also the old slumped cornice provided some entertainment on the exit!

All of the ridges looked as though they would have been good fun, although the buttresses looked pretty black.

Also had a good day on Bidnean Nam Ban Friday (after the torrential rain and heavy snow had relented). We backed off Sron Na Larig due to being slimy and horrible. We had planned to descend the headwall of the lost valley, but it looked fairly nasty (at least grade 1) - a new cornice and an old slumped cornice to negotiate). I would be interested to hear how anyone recently had found it in ascent of descent.

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