Archive | Winter Climbing

A Wintery Forcan Ridge

Bright and early on Wednesday morning, we headed up to Glen Shiel with plans to do the two Munros A’Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch Choire, via the Mullach Fraoch Choire South Ridge (winter grade I). However, the winds picked up as we were nearing the summit of A’Chralaig and since we were both struggling to stay upright, we decided to turn around and leave South Ridge for another day.

Thursday morning we woke to repeat the mighty Forcan Ridge in Glen Shiel, this time in winter conditions. When driving the Glen Shiel road to Skye, the Forcan Ridge stands overlooking the length of the valley from its elevated position, inspiring awe.

After our 11 hour long (and rather uncomfortable) sleep in the car, we set off.  We made quick progress up the approach path which was in summerlike condition until just before the bealach, where it became icy in places. The snow line was sitting at around 500m and was mostly well frozen and firm under foot, giving easy walking conditions to the start of the ridge.

The ridge is a relatively straight forward summer scramble and in winter conditions it is much the same, bar a few tricky moves due to ice and snow filling useful hand and foot placements. We were lucky in that the snow was wind scoured and well consolidated in an almost alpine like condition providing quick progress along the ridge.

After many airy traverses, ‘bad steps’ and exposed sections, you eventually are met with either a downclimb/abseil or the option to avoid it via a steep descent to the east. In the interest of speed and efficiency we opted to take the descent to the east, however, depending on the conditions the abseil may be the only choice so always take a rope.

Forcan Ridge Blog Photo 4

Keith on one of the trickier sections

From here you gain the ridge proper again, past the shark fin rocks and soak up the atmosphere and views from the last long section of undulating ridge to reach the summit trig point of The Saddle (1011m).

Forcan Ridge Blog Photo 3

Looking back towards our route of ascent

A few photos later and we dropped down to the south east to escape the wind and had lunch in the snowhole conveniently left from a group bivvying the previous night, then began our descent off the hill.

Forcan Ridge Blog Photo 2

Forcan Ridge, taken from the descent

In winter the slopes of The Saddle to the east can present avalanche danger in the wrong conditions but were in a stable condition on Thursday after all of the strong easterly winds. The shoulder was fairly wind scoured and gave us an easy descent.

A couple of hours later and we were back at the car, faced with our 4 hour drive home to Edinburgh after an excellent winter day out :-)

The start of Forcan Ridge at sunset

The start of Forcan Ridge at sunset

We recently invested in a Go Pro for skiing and biking, but tried it out on Forcan Ridge, so…below is a short 2 minute video of our day. I’m just figuring out how to use the software so for some reason the video has exported in a square shape. Will need to spend a lot more time researching and practising my video editting skills over the next few weeks!

More photos can also be found on the Get Out Adventures facebook page.

Forcan Ridge 31st January 2014 from GetOutAdventures on Vimeo.

 

 

Beinn Udlaidh – Green Eyes IV 4*

We went climbing at Beinn Udlaidh yesterday, and chose the fattest looking route we could see which turned out to be Green Eyes IV 4*. Only given one star but we thought it was a really nice route! It was melting fast though, and none of the turf at the crag is frozen.

Udlaidh, Sat 9th Feb 2013
view from the start of the route

 Nearer the end of the day we could hear loads of ice falling around the Coire, so its needing another freeze before stuff will be climbable again. The first pitch of Green Eyes was in great nick.

Keith on Pitch 1
Keith cranking

 Keith thought the route in its current condition was hard for the grade – corner of the first pitch (cant be seen in these photos) was more towards tech 5. He compared that 5metre section to Organ Pipe Wall (a grade V 5 further along the crag) but obviously it was short lived so no where near as sustained. I can’t comment as I havent done any scottish pure ice grade 5s yet, but it did feel hard for IV 4, but then again this was our first route of the season!

J on the much easier pitch 2.

We topped out around 3pm and headed over to the summit for the ‘tick’ and a bite to eat :)

Quark at summit

We headed off the hill and down to Tyndrum for some well deserved food at the Real Food Cafe. We were originally planning on spending two days climbing, but headed home saturday night as all of our stuff is drenched! (and we wanted a lie in this morning). Heading down to the borders for a day on the bikes fairly soon, but not until after a cooked breakfast. nom nom!

Janey and Keith

Traverse of Pointe Lachenal and some epic snow slope action

After sitting around Chamonix for 4 days with the worst sunburn I have experienced in my life (even with living in the middle east for 12 years or so) we finally managed to get up into the mountains today. My right arm is still rather elephant like, but oh well what to do.

We decided on the Traverse of Pointe Lachenal, graded AD, which is the 3 wee summits you can see from the midi. The descent down the snow slope leaving the station was much more straight forward today as I am now used to the exposure! We left the station around 9am, and reached the first ‘summit’ just after 10am.

Here are some nice photos of us en route:

scary snow slope

Keith in action on the snow slope (chamonix in the distance)

what a happy couple!

Summit number 1

We moved together right up until the last chimney which Keith then led. Most of the climbing before the chimney is fairly straight forward and there is one wee exposed walk along a rocky ridge, and one abseil into a couloir.

plane flying overhead :)

rocky ridge crossing

the drop

Keith waiting to abseil

abseil in action

It was pretty busy by the time we got to the chimney pitch, so we opted to climb what looked like a slightly harder variation to the left to bypass two teams. It seems the chimney can be quite loose. Keith received a brain sized block of snow ice to the helmet, and I would have been wiped out by a guides two clients kicking off loose rock if we had opted for the normal route!

Keith on the chimney pitch

Janey about to top out
enjoying the view at the 3rd and last summit of the route

Then came the interesting descent and it was time to rope up mountaineering style again….

As there are seracs that need to be avoided, you have to cut down a very steep slope. Today this slope consisted of rock solid ice with a dusting of snow/neve! This ice was so hard that there were minimal decent axe or crampon placements to be had.

I set off in front, and down came Keith, only to slip from 3 metres above me, shouting ‘Fuck! Sorry!’ on his way past, knowing that if I couldnt self arrest I was going with him! Luckily I managed to though, and Keith also managed to just as the rope came snug! A total slide of 13+ metres! Epic!

before!

after! (note the ice patches left and right of rope)

But not to worry, other than a few cuts and grazes to Keiths hands it is all good, and rather amusing in hindsight.

seracs

We got back to the midi station just after 3pm, the walk back being a long and tiring drag, just as the bad weather was coming in.

A cloud covered Aiguille du Midi

Awesome day out!

Janey and Keith

Amazing day and route on the Aiguille du Midi

24th May 2012 – Climbing at the Aiguille du Midi

Some awesome weather was to be had today in Chamonix, so we headed up the Aiguille du Midi on the first lift to go and climb Cosmiques Arete/Ridge or whatever you want to call it, a lovely II AD.

Leaving the station was rather scary for me – steep icy snow slope and haven’t been walking in crampons for months, so took us a while to reach the Vallee Blanche basin, but what amazing views!!

scary snow slope leaving the station (if you slip you will end up in chamonix haha)

awesome views
on approach to the route

We arrived at the base of the route for Keith to feel the need to strip off down to his boxers as he was so hot! Haha. Off came his powerstretch baselayer bottoms, much to the enjoyment of the two french lads behind us. As much as he would like me to I’m not going to post the disturbing photo!

base of route

Once that faff was over and done with, and I sunbathed for a while, we headed up the start of the route. Moved together for the majority of the way but Keith led the ‘crux’ pitch.

starting snow slopes
further along the route
Keith at the top of horrid abseil number one
abseil in progress

The abseils were interesting for the second person as they were quite traversey. Keith although unlucky for having to go first was lucky enough to get to clip a bolt on the wall just before the big traverse to keep him semi steady. I on the otherhand had to remove the clip and was left off balance on a knife edge drop. Immediately after the first ab we had the second. This consisted of an off camber granite chimney system, not so pleasant.

More photos of the route:

more snow slope, more pretty views
part of the route

Mont Blanc

Keith leading the crux pitch

At the top of the crux we had a look at the time and it was 4.40pm (last lift down is at 5.30pm)! Having decided at the start of the route we were going to climb nice and slow, stand around and enjoy the views, we didn’t quite intend on being anywhere near this slow! So we had to climb the final section of the route super fast, I was just throwing myself at holds and axe placements, for once not even thinking about the exposure or fear of falling off! We made it to the ladder up to the station at 5.20pm, with one of the lift staff hurrying us along. The ladder climbing made us feel rather sick, literally a metal ladder up to the terrace with a drop on either side, lovely!

Aiguille du Midi

 

23rd May 2012 – Voie Caline, a big boots route with nice views

Yesterday, as the weather had been stormy the night before, we decided to let the snow settle and climb a route up the valley to near enough Montenevers. This consisted of 19 pitches of bolted rock with some awesome views of the Chamonix valley. The route was very seepy in places, but a nice day out all the same.

Here are a few photos:

pitch 5 or 6

one of the top pitches

Keith approaching my belay at the top of pitch 18
touristy photo on the way back to the bus stop

Tomorrow is a rest day as our feet cannot take any more walking, nor can we deal with any more early starts!

Janey and Keith :)

Another Weekend in the Norries

So our plans of heading up to the ben for a few days this weekend didnt work out. The weather on saturday looked horrific so we decided to ditch winter climbing and head to the TCA glasgow boulder comp instead (which I can tell Keith was secretly more psyched for as it meant he got a long lie in bed). The comp in general was really good, as was their last one, but it was kind of irritating watching all the wall rats merely touch a hold as they fell off, turn around to their mates and say ‘does that count?’ mates reply ‘yes that counts’. FYI the rules are to hold the hold and move off it. not slap for a touch as you’re falling to the ground. So in that respect the entire thing was a total farse. It was just a good training session for us really as we have only been bouldering once since before christmas due to my horrid snowboarding injury. I came 5th and Keith came somewhere in the middle in the male seniors. Several people scoring higher than him did so in a very unhonest manor, as we actually watched them fall off things both Keith and I had onsighted. but hey ho, thats indoor climbing for you!

Anyway, today (Sunday) we opted to head up to the norries. Not very exciting to be honest, but the weather was drastically better on the east, so wasnt much of an option. The corries were absolutely heaving! I have never seen the place so busy (and it is always busy). There must have been about 300+ people!

We headed up to Mess of Pottage, and the only free route was Yukon Jack (IV 5 *). Upon reading the guidebook afterwards, this route is graded for ice. There was no ice. Keith was leading the first pitch, there was absolutely NO gear. 2 rubbish nuts, a hex, and dodgy bulldog in 20metres. Doesnt really sound like a grade IV – and that was after the epic powder clearing. After 1.5 hours of me freeeezing at the belay Keith managed to climb up an overhanging face (off route) to get some gear to bail from! The guy I was speaking to at the base of the crag was having a good laugh telling me he has several mates who’ve attempted the route and thought it was at least a V 6 under powder. Keith found it much harder than The Message which is tech 6. hmmm.

Keith on pitch 1 of Yukon Jack

Once that epic was over and done with, we headed over to join the last people in the queue for Hidden Chimney Direct (IV 5 **) – an actual IV 5. After hanging about having a wee snack, I set off to lead the crux pitch. Was quite tricky, but not as hard as Central Crack route (another IV 5) that we did a few weeks ago. I got scared on the easy snow slope near the top of the pitch after all the hard climbing was done, for some reason there was a lot of ‘watch me Keithy’ and actual screams at this bit haha. We then decided to ab off the insitu tat so that we could both lead the crux pitch instead of queue to climb the grade 3 bit above. It also avoided the walk back down the hill, a definate bonus. 

Janey on P1 of Hidden Chimney Direct

We walked off the hill and back to the car before dark, then decided to head back to Edinburgh instead of camp and climb tomorrow as we’re knackered and I do have an exam on tuesday I really should be revising for.

posing for a photo on the walk out

Janey and Keith

MTA