Winter Mountaineering in Scotland

February 26th, 2011

Over the ISB a number of us headed up to deepest darkest Scotland, braving ferocious winds, whiteout conditions and avalanche risk all to experience winter climbing on Ben Nevis. One group were climbing and the other walking, what follows is the tale of those climbers…

The week began with a two day course delivered by West Coast Mountain Guides, the first day spent on Ben Nevis and the second in Glen Coe where we climbed the 3* grade II climb Dorsal Arete, commonly featured in top 10 lists of easier Scottish Winter climbs.

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And then we were released into the big bad Scottish Winter world on our own, joined by Jon Ridley and Emily Cropton. Day 3 saw Geoff, Gav & Jon climb Garadh gulley, graded I, II, III or IV depending on conditions! Whilst Emily and I climbed an unnamed ice pitch after realising we didn’t have time to climb our chosen route Ledge Route.

We had an early start on day 4, followed by a drive to the Cairngorms. We walked into Coire an t’Sneachda and instantly regretted not having brought our climbing racks as the conditions there were better than we’d seen so far. Nevertheless we had a moderately productive day; digging a snowhole, soloing Jacob’s Ladder (grade I) and restocking on all the gear we had released the previous day.

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Day 5’s avalanche forecast limited us greatly as to what we could do, many of the slopes were simply too dangerous to venture onto. We ended up having a go at Fawlty Towers, grade II on the Douglas Boulder, some with more success than others! To cut a long story short it ended up being quite an epic day and we didn’t get back to where we were staying until 8pm.

The avalanche forecast on the final day bore similar resemblance to a pepperoni pizza, the most adventurous thing we did that day was a visit to McDonald’s.

All in all a fantastic trip, I for one can’t wait for next year’s winter!

More pictures are to be found here!!

Will Pope
Gear sec 10-11

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