/ First time in Scottish WInter, tell all.
Where should we go? Where should we stay? What should we start with and aim for?
I'm looking for advice but happy to accept joshing too.
One thing I really fancy having a go at is staying in a snow hole for example.
I wrote this a few years ago:
Most of what I've learnt is in it, hope it helps.
The usual suspects I'd say - Glen Coe, Nevis, Cairngorms. There are top quality hostels in Glen Coe, Fort William and Aviemore.
Aviemore would be great if you're driving, you'll get more reliable routes, loads of walking, seemingly good nightlife (I once went to a *packed* Bombskare gig in one of the bars in the middle of January) and you could probably get a snowhole in there too, being the Cairngorms.
As for the actual climbing I'm not so hot on details - need to start myself though I've got loads of history walking the mountains in winter + more than a few sketchy windslab gullies thrown in for good measure!
I have axes, boots, crampons etc. I have Tri-cams and a 22cm Screw from an ice trip last year (more experienced friend had all we needed) also have nuts.
Camping his how most of started off. It's pretty cheap if rather uncomfortable.
The cairngorms are very easy to get lost in in bad weather/poor visibility.
ludicrously it's £2 second hand and it's still one of the best books on winter climbing ever written.
A set of wires, three or four hexes, a few friends, (be careful of these in icy cracks,) a few smaller pegs, four or five screws, up to ten quickdraws, (useful to take longer ones or tripled up 4ft slings,) and some long slings will get you up most things up to grade IV.
If it's a Ben style ice route take more screws, if it's a Gorms style snowed up rock route maybe take another set of wires.
Once you've done a few routes you'll get a feel for what rack to pack for which area / route type / your comfort level, but to start with I would say it's better to have too much than too little.
Expect to place less gear than in Summer on most routes.
Exile quotes Mark Twight, and Twight is right:
It doesn't have to be fun to be fun.
Prepare to be flexible about venues.
You have to go where the conditions are good.
Aviemore is a good base where everywhere from Glencoe to Torridon is practical for a day trip.
No, just make sure you can navigate first. You can encounter nav trouble anywhere you go Winter climbing, not just the gorms. They may have been brought up because the ease of access disguises the seriousness of the area. My first few times up there were in white out pretty much from the car park onwards and in pretty foul conditions, in good weather it's a different place altogether.
The avalanche book is worth looking at as well, although IIRC there's a section on it in the Moran book as well.
Wherever I go now, I tend to base my day trips on the Avalanche forecast, using it to avoiding dangerous slopes:
It wasn't always like this, but probably should have been. Perhaps rather morbidly when Scottish avalanches are reported due to accidents, I like to try to reconcile the location with the forecast for piece of mind.
I find goggles essential at times.
Hope that helps, and see you at Kendal.
As luck would have it, I posted a piece on my blog today about an early (although not my first) Scottish winter experience:
Scottish winter is magic. Enjoy!
By mid feb I think west is very often best. Cairngorms being more landlocked and further from the west coast and also with a lot of high ground can tend to be less consolidated at that time of year. It also depends what you like, but I prefer neve and ice to rocky mixed, and the west is generally better for ice / neve.
I did a lot of winter camping during my first season and its not very nice. Inability of drying kit, flapping tent material preventing sleep and making breakfast at 5 am in a hoolie were the worst parts of the experince. That said it was good experience if you know what I mean.
As for where to base yourself the most logical spot is around roy bridge, easy access to the ben and aonach mor, and not too far to aviemore or glencoe. Even the NW is doable as a day trip. However the roybridge hostel doesn't do twin rooms and I'm not keen on dorms, email me nearer the time if you want some recommendations of places to stay in your chosen area.
2 deadmen, one for top and one for bottom of the pitch
It's mainly type 2 fun, with a bit of type 1 and type 3 thrown in.
And no build up of snow on the slopes yet either.
Winter Essentials part 1, conditions & weather: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=4261
Winter Essentials part 2, clothing & equipment: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=4296
Winter Essentials part 3, skills and dangers: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=4297
Winter Ridges for Walkers and Mountaineers: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=4199
Top 10 Tips for Winter Climbing: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=3416
Winter Mountaineering in Northwest Scotland: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=3258
And not forgetting...
Avalanche - the basics, part 1: Anatomy of an Avalanche: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=5178
Avalanche - the basics, part 2: Staying Safe: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=5179
The very best thing you can do is find someone with experience willing to take you out so they can show you all the things mentioned first hand. Post on here a couple of weeks before and see if someone is interested (Good luck on snow holing...) As for location, that is usually figured out a couple of days beforehand when the forecast comes out, anything before that is wishful thinking. If you're driving I suggest making the decision as late as possible so you get the best conditions.
Read all the advice above, but take it as a guide and what works best for you is best for you and comes from trying different things.
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