Sometimes things turn out to be much better than you’d have expected…
Returning home last week from an excellent two week Chamonix trip (I’ll post some photo hi-lights this week) it was straight back to teaching on Wednesday with barely enough time to unpack. But, with a reasonable forecast and unable to sit still for more than about a minute, I arranged to head North on Friday with rock veteran (but pretty much ice virgin!) Rich Kirby.
The plan was for some classic Scottish ice on Saturday and some skiing Sunday. We arrived at the Meagaidh parking area to find it pretty much deserted and the clag was firmly down. After sorting kit and negotiating a get up time, we finally crashed out in the van at midnight with Rich more than once asking the question, “So alarm for 5 yeah…?” I think he thought I was joking but I persuaded him we were better beating the crowds and returning in daylight (actually there weren’t any crowds but we did get back in daylight, just!)
Leaving the comfort of the van heating behind and fired up on pastries and Lavazza, we enjoyed a dark but leisurely stroll into the Coire. Arriving at first light the crags were deserted but certainly not short of ice! The Post Face was in great shape with fat ice on Last Post and South Post Direct. We opted for the Inner Coire and the Cold Climbs classic, The Pumkin. The ice was in good nick if a little brittle and the weather was pretty much perfect with only intermittent clouds and pretty much zero wind. The route gave 3 excellent ice pitches at the bottom (and an eye watering hotaches experience for Rich) followed by some easier mixed ground at the top. There was a minimal cornice on the exit but this seemed pretty stable and well scoured.
After spending some time admiring the views we descended via the window, enjoying a superb view of a team climbing The Wand, another route which looked to be in belting condition. Hopefully this week’s predicted thaw won’t strip things too much!
After having spent two weeks skiing in and around Chamonix I was preparing myself to be more than a little underwhelmed by Scottish skiing on Sunday. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! Nevis Range was awesome offering us some fresh powder to ski in the morning and great views in the afternoon. I even started to feel semi competent on the planks…well, kind of!
- Check out the Nevis Range site for up to date piste conditions
Returning South last night we both agreed that despite our initial reservations (Rich regarding ice and mine regarding the snow) the weekend really couldn’t have been better. Bring on the next one!!
Winter Conditions and Weather Links
- For Lakes conditions check out The Epicentre Blog
- For a range of reports and conditions links try TheFrontPoint
- Needlesports: A great round up of winter conditions links, blogs, weather and the crucial SAIS forecasts.
- UKClimbing.com: Winter logbooks and forum
- Black Diamond Fusion axes
- Petzl Dart crampons
- La Sportiva Trango Evo Extreme boots
- Black Diamond Xenos Harness
- Metolius Inferno Wiregate quickdraws x18
- Wild Country Rocks 1-10x 2 sets
- Black Diamond wired hexes
- Black Diamond Turbo Express Ice Screw
- Black Diamond ATC Guide
- Assortment of slings and screwgates
- Petzl Meteor III helmet
- Beal 8.5mm x 60m ropes – dry treated
- K2 Backlash Skis
- Diamir Fritschi Freeride Pro Bindings
- Black Diamond Pure Carbon Poles (on test)
- Black Diamond Method Ski Boots (on test)