/ Scottish winter forecast

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Julian Prieto - on 19 Mar 2017
I'm after some advice from the more experienced with Scottish winter conditions. It's a long journey from southern England so I want to make it worthwhile!

The long term forecast for next weekend (25-26 March) is high pressure, sunny with highs of 9-10c and lows of 1-3c in Fort William. Assuming the weather is as forecast is it likely there will be good conditions on the higher crags? After the snowfall of the next few days I'm hoping there will have been some consolidation by the weekend. There should be a good freeze overnight but I'm concerned by the high daytime temperatures, however with high pressure I'm thinking the snow should stay fairly frozen.
cannichoutdoors - on 19 Mar 2017
In reply to Julian Prieto:

There is hope yet. Spring can bring 'alpine' conditions to the Ben. I've seen Indicator Wall climbed on a day when it was +20'c in Ft William. It was a high pressure in April and an early start was required, but overnight freezes plus a slow daily thaw can be ideal. We had Tower Ridge in ace condition that morning, with consolidated footsteps to follow. There was a greater build up that year, though. However, at the back end of the season a couple of years ago we did Good Friday Climb on a similar forecast.

It is entirely possible that there will be good conditions up high, and with sunny weather and light winds it could be a great time to be on the hill. just be aware that there might not be a huge thickness of ice. I would say get your kit and partner ready, and make a call later in the week. A lot can change up here in a few days.
Julian Prieto - on 19 Mar 2017
In reply to cannichoutdoors:

Thanks for the advice. I do indeed have a partner lined up and we'll be making a decision in a few days time.
Tricadam on 19 Mar 2017
In reply to Julian Prieto:

I'll stick my neck out and say there will be winter climbing to be had. A week in advance is crystal ball territory in terms of exactly what. Stay flexible in terms of location and watch the Internet like a hawk. What sort of routes at what sort of grade are you interested in?
Tricadam on 19 Mar 2017
In reply to cannichoutdoors:

Yeah, the ice climbing in above-zero high pressure conditions is an interesting one (so long as in the shade!) I think it works because, in high pressure conditions, the dew point can be below zero, whilst the air temp is above. That means you don't have warm moisture from the air condensing onto the ice and melting it. Just important to remember that, while the sun may not be on the bottom of the route, it might well be hitting the top! I climbed Indicator Wall on 9th May two years ago in superb sunny conditions - but only after beating a hasty retreat from the bottom of Point Five after the sun hit the cornice, sending down a consignment of ice microwaves. Of course, an early start would have avoided that.
Julian Prieto - on 19 Mar 2017
In reply to Tricadam:

NE Buttress is top of my tick list. It looks like it was climbed yesterday but there aren't any notes on what condition it was in. Otherwise classic routes up to grade V on Ben Nevis that I haven't done yet such as Indicator Wall. I've climbed some Vs the last few years so hopefully I should be good for that this time round
Tricadam on 19 Mar 2017
In reply to Julian Prieto:

Great! I'm off to the Ben for four days on Sun and NEB is on my list too. I'd be surprised if that weren't doable by then, though starting up Minus Two is a bit of a pipe dream at this point. I think it unlikely that the Minus and Orion Faces and Indicator Wall will be in (yet...?) but the more reliable drainage lines like Point Five, Zero, Hadrian's, Smith's, Green Gully, Comb Gully etc stand a good chance of being climbable. Provided there's not a huge powder dump, Observatory Ridge and Tower Ridge would be decent bets too. Worth noting that Point Five and Smith's have both been climbed fairly recently. If you're not aware of this already, the nearby Aonach Mor weather station is at a similar altitude to the base of Point Five. Good for keeping an eye on temps and wind direction: http://www.weathercast.co.uk/world-weather/weather-stations/obsid/3041.html
Tricadam on 19 Mar 2017
In reply to Julian Prieto:

> but there aren't any notes on what condition it was in.

If it gets climbed shortly before your trip, it's worth emailing the person who's logged the route. My experience is that most UKC folk are happy to mail back with a report/advice on conditions.

ChrisH89 - on 20 Mar 2017
In reply to Tricadam:

Green Gully was certainly complete on Saturday. Unfortunately we had to abb off after the first pitch as the bomber ice turned entirely to slush over the course of about 30 minutes(!) but assuming it doesn't slough off and has a chance to refreeze it should be good.
stephan harrison - on 20 Mar 2017
In reply to Tricadam:

Has Point Five been climbed this winter? I've been keeping an eye on the logbooks but couldn't see any ascents of the classic big ice climbs like Hadrian's, Point Five, Zero etc.
Ken Applegate - on 20 Mar 2017
In reply to stephan harrison:

Hi Stephan. Point Five has had a few (two or three to my knowledge) ascents this year, including one French couple two weeks ago, who reported it to be bold. I know of a team having backed off Zero, and Hadrian's looks very thin and hasn't seen any ascents that I'm aware of.
Ken Applegate - on 20 Mar 2017
In reply to ChrisH89:
Green Gully climbed today by a French team who reported it to be ok after a thin (for 5m or so) first pitch, there may be a pattern of French teams climbing thin and bold ice routes on the Ben this season. We climbed Comb Gully, which was ok, but very little in the way of gear.

http://www.westcoast-mountainguides.co.uk/surprisingly-pleasant-comb-gully/
Post edited at 18:19
Julian Prieto - on 20 Mar 2017
In reply to Ken Applegate:

Any idea what condition NE Buttress is in? Any routes you would recommend in current conditions?
Tricadam on 21 Mar 2017
In reply to Ken Applegate:

The weekend forecast seems to be warming up to a depressing degree... This winter! Argh!!!
Ken Applegate - on 21 Mar 2017
In reply to Julian Prieto:
It will be buried under soft snow (hard work but climbable), but the bigger issue currently is the avalanche hazard on the approach to the route, and in fact, looking at the SAIS forecast, getting to most routes on the mountain.
A team triggered an avalanche in the East Gully of the Douglas Boulder today, and there are reports that the foot of the West Gully of the DB had been cross-loaded with wind blown snow too.
Post edited at 19:23
Julian Prieto - on 21 Mar 2017
In reply to Ken Applegate:

The avalanche hazard doesn't look good as you say. I wonder whether it will improve by Friday with forecast of strong N to NE winds. Otherwise the avalanche hazard is lower (still moderate though) in the Cairngorms so maybe I should look to go there.
Ken Applegate - on 24 Mar 2017
In reply to Julian Prieto:

I climbed NE Buttress today, which was in great condition, with plenty of useful ice and consolidated snow. Info and pics: http://www.westcoast-mountainguides.co.uk/great-conditions-ne-buttress/

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.