Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These Conditions Reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Last week we had some great weather and climbing conditions for classic ridges and hard mixed climbing on Ben Nevis. Some impressive climbing has been done by Ben Nevis regulars including The Secret, Stormtrooper, Arthur, Cornucopia and Archangel. There has even been some new routing action already. As ever, Simon Richardson has the details on his excellent blog here - Scottish Winter

Just now a warm front has brought a slight rise in temperatures and steady drizzle and light rain. This will stay with us for a couple of days but it looks like it will be just enough to get the snow wet through without melting away too much. Towards the end of the week we'll see a return to a cold northerly air stream and strong winds that will refreeze the snow-pack and rime up the crags. Turf is already quite well frozen on many of the crags and by the weekend it could well be even better.

Get ready for another weekend of top mixed climbing!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

This is rapidly becoming my favourite viewpoint. From the North Face Car Park a stiff up hill push on the bike gets you to this spot looking over the trees to the North Face. Over the last week ice has been forming in drainage lines quite well. There is quite a lot on the Carn Dearg Cascades, on Nordwand on the North Face of Castle Ridge and many other places. This is not surprising as it was -6C on the tops for much of the week with the wind blowing onto the crags and there is water in the ground to seep out ready to freeze.
There were a few climbers out enjoying early season climbing. The turf is much more frozen after a week of good cold weather and the crags are well rimed up in many places. Unfortunately warmer weather will return this week for a few days but afterwards we might get more snow with thaw freeze cycles. Over all it's a good build up to the winter. One very good feature of this view point is the ride back down one of the "secret" trails in the trees back to the car park. With only one hour to go and play this is about as good and inspiring as it gets.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Fresh snowfall made it down to sea level last night but today was dry and bright for much of the day. It was very cold again and ice is starting to form on the crags of Ben Nevis down to low levels. The Organ Pipes under Carn Dearg Buttress and Indicator Wall both have some ice on them. The buttresses were well covered in snow and there was some mixed climbing to enjoy. Kenny climbed Slab Route which is known for being a good early season choice and a great climb.

I was doing a bit of filming with Dougie Vipond for the BBC Landward programme which will come out in mid-December. It was nice to have Ben Nevis as a back drop and looking so good too. We're forecast more snow and very strong north winds over the next couple of days before high pressure brings more stable weather so there could be some good climbing at the weekend.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The temperature dropped like a stone today with north west winds blowing down from the Arctic. We had some snow showers down to just a few hundred metres above sea level but it was mostly dry. The snow from last weekend left behind after the last few warmer days will be freezing fast into solid neve.
I was on my bike again on the last day of coaching with Advanced Certificate Outdoor Leadership students and it was a fine day to finish off the module. We rode up to the CIC Hut to check out the crags on Ben Nevis and had brilliant fun riding down over the water bars back to Torlundy Forest. A fast rip down the forest road got us to the bottom sections of the World Champs Red, all of which is open again now. What a brilliant way to test the skills developed over the last few weeks of biking.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

November is a great month to be out mountain biking and Lochaber is the best place to be riding. I just got back from a three day tour of Ben Nevis with students on the Advanced Certificate Outdoor Leadership course at West Highland College. We went anticlockwise, riding the West Highland Way to Kinlochleven on day one, up to Blackwater Reservoir and Loch Ossian to Tulloch on day two, and back through Leanachan on the last day.

It was all about the journey and the students took on the challenge with enthusiasm. The riding ranged from excellent to impossible (mud up to the axles) but the weather was gentle on us. It was a world class experience that the students will never forget.