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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

West face of Aonach Dubh....

Today I headed out with Mike Pescod of Abacus Mountaineering and his client Mick. Heading out with other qualified guides give some excellent opportunities to ask plenty of questions and most importantly seeing how they operate in the Scottish winter environment. A big thanks to Mike for letting me tag along - I had an excellent day!

Today we heading onto the west face of aonach dubh. Mike made the call to go there due to the wind direction and sheer volume of snow. Heading onto lee aspects there was a good chance you would be swimming and hearing from one source this was the case on the Ben!

The plan was to head up towards pinnacle face described as a IV but the first winter ascent missed the steep chimney at the start. The above picture shows Mike climbing the first pitch that consisted of good steep hooks, squeezing awkwardness and pretty good protection. He also thought it might be the first ascent of this part of the route and definently worth the short approach. We stuck to the pinnacle ridge/face after that and topped out via a traverse right onto the ampetheatre buttress area. 

Word is approaches are pretty difficult so it looks like a day of skiing at aonach mor with Blair! Could be worse I guess.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

The big bad Ben....

Last night I headed to the west not really due to a good forecast for climbing but because I have a few days of shadowing and Avalanche forecasting. Hoping to salvage a the day I gave Guy Steven a call to see if he was about. He was and Blair Fyffe was also keen to join us. We took a leisurely start of 815 and with a key to the CIC hut we stopped for a brew before team psyche took us out into the gales and horizontal snow. 

We headed for The Great Chimney. The thinking was that it's easterly aspect would give us some respite from the wind and airborne snow - this didn't really happen but it was still enjoyable. Conditions on route were really good and the banter was 10. As we headed down tower ridge we could feel the temperature rising and by the CIC hut it was totally lashing! For some reason we were the only ones on the hills today. 

Pic - Guy Steven

Getting the hell out of there! Pic Guy Steven. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

And winter begins!!

On Tuesday I arrived up to Scotland to get ready for my BMG winter test. On Tuesday myself and Jonny Parr headed into Hells Lum for a look to see what was about. To our disappointment it was pretty warm and dripping so we sacked it and had a quick solo up Goat Track Gully. If anything it was just nice to get out and stretch our legs!

On Wednesday and Thursday we both had a few days of winter skills work with a college in Dublin. We made the most of the 2 days but with the very mixed forecast of high temps and winds we had to change our original plan and stay low linking up snow patches. On Thursday the freezing level dropped allowing us to do a bit of a horseshoe around the northern Corries and further consolidate on their skills!

After the storm named Harold passed through last night with mega winds rocking the van all night I was a bit optimistic to say the least today! The forecast had a glimmer of hope with a lull forecast for midday. The wind settled as we arrived at the based of Stirling Bomber and myself, Tom and Ian had a great day. Tom lead the crux pitch with easy - good skills dude!  Here are a few pics!