Archive | Winter Hill Walking

A Winter Expedition – Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain

Finally, a high pressure weather system!!

On Monday we headed up to the Cairngorms (best looking weather forecast) for a 2 day mini adventure. We had 3 munros left to do in the area, accessible from Glen Feshie, so did these with a wild camp on the plateau.

Day one was Mullach Clach a Bhlair, a fairly insignificant Munro, but it was worthwhile nonetheless. We then camped near Tom Dubh in our new Hilleberg Nallo 3 GT. The front porch completely opens up so we had amazing views whilst lying in bed!

Sunrise!

Sunrise!

View from the tent - Sgor Goaith

View from the tent – Sgor Goaith

The next day we headed up Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain in the most amazing weather we have had all season. Blue skies all round…felt quite alpine like. It was warming up throughout the day on Tuesday so snow was getting a little slushy underfoot, but not enough to slow our progress.

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Some debris from cornice collapse

Beinn Bhrotain Summit

Beinn Bhrotain Summit

More pictures can be found in our facebook album.

Winter Mountain Leader Training

For the past week, we have been up at Glenmore Lodge on our Winter ML training. The first 4 days were more workshop based looking at teaching skills to novices and ropework for security on steep ground. We then went out on exped, dug an awesome snow hole and had an amazing view of the Aurora Borealis from the slopes of Cairn Gorm whilst doing some night nav.

Coire an t-Sneachda on 26.2.14

Coire an t-Sneachda on 26.2.14

Our 4 man Snowhole

Our 4 man Snowhole

Keith and Kieran enjoying our newly built accomodation

Keith and Kieran enjoying our newly built accomodation

Sunrise on Friday 28th February

Sunrise on Friday 28th February

Cairn Gorm Summit Weather Station

Cairn Gorm Summit Weather Station

Ben Lomond

On Saturday, John, Keith and I headed up Ben Lomond via the Ptarmigan. With forecasts not looking great for most of the highlands, we searched for a break in the weather and ended up with excellent views and blue skies for the majority of our day :-)

Looking South Down Loch Lomond

Looking South Down Loch Lomond

Ben Lomond Summit

Ben Lomond Summit

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

 

 

A’Chailleach and Carn Sgulain

On Wednesday we set off very early from Edinburgh with plans to reach Fort William and have a mountaineering day on the Ring of Steall. However, when we got there the weather was much worse than forecasted, so we decided to head east rather than spend a day in the clag.

It turns out the weather wasn’t that much better in the east, so we opted for A’Chailleach and Carn Sgulain, near Newtonmore. We hadn’t done these two munros before, and since they are fairly straightforward rounded hills they seemed like a good option for a bad weather day!

Before heading into the cloud...

Before heading into the cloud…

The snow line was sitting at around 700m. This route is meant to be nice on the skis, however, we didn’t fancy carrying them up to reach the white stuff so left them in the car…will go back another day :-)

It snowed constantly from around 1.30pm until we were beneath the freezing level on our way back to the car where it turned to light rain.

The rather featureless plateau between the two summits gave us some good navigation practice – timing and pacing required!

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Summit of Carn Sgulain

Summit of Carn Sgulain

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Not far to go now…

We rounded the day off with some chippy chips and the headed back down to Edinburgh.

On Thursday we opted for quick fitness blast on the bike around the Glentress black route. After having just entered the Innerleithen round of the Scottish Enduro Series, we thought it was about time we start training :-)

We had all sorts of weather, from blue skies and sunshine to snow and hail showers…but it was freezing from start to finish. Even the gruelling tower climb didn’t manage to warm us up!

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MTA