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.

Friday, 30 May 2014

It was great to see lots of people out enjoying great rock climbing conditions on Ben Nevis today. There were teams on Titan's Wall, Centurian, Bullroar, Castle Ridge, Tower Ridge and I went up Ledge Route with Sarah, Scott and James. Having been up Ben Nevis before by the Pony Track and CMD Arete they were ready for the next step and we got a cracking warm sunny day for it.

There is still a great depth of snow in the narrows of Number Five Gully which was soft enough for kicking steps into. Once on Ledge Route there is no snow at all until on the plateau, just lots of dry grippy rock. Despite a little loose rock this is a great route to go up Ben Nevis, cutting through the north face crags with quite straightforward scrambling. On the way we looked at how you can use a group to make it more secure fro everyone by moving together, hooking the rope around blocks and anchors as you go.

We wandered up to the summit and made the most of the day by going round the CMD Arete. With great visibility it was nice to see many other perspectives of Ledge Route as we went round. A top day and more sunshine forecast tomorrow.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

May and June are fantastic months to be going up Ben Nevis. Long daylight hours, snow on the summit and often good weather mean it is about the best time to experience the highest peak in the UK. There are many reasons to climb Ben Nevis and, since it is such a big challenge, many people like to take the opportunity to raise money for a valuable cause. Nyree and her small team did just this on Saturday with the help of our guide Connor. They all showed great determination on a day with heavy rain and hail showers and they all made it up and back down safely. Well done to them all and please make a contribution to support research into cancer treatments here

Abacus Mountain Guides also assisted a bigger group from the Lease of Life Cancer Support There were about 30 of these guys raising money to help young people with cancer through their treatment. Well done to all of you.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Good fun canyoning today with Andy, Fraser, Dan and Ruaraidh. The weather has gone much warmer and with a good amount of sunshine today as well it was all very relaxed. We went exploring a gorge near Fort Augustus which turned out to be really good for families and young people. Nice pools, scrambles and friendly jumps. All good fun.

Canyoning does seem to make you hairy though!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Mike and I had another great day of climbing today, this time on the East face of Aonach Dubh. We went to the Terrace Face where we have climbed before but this time we wanted to climb Archer Ridge. This is a brilliant grade Severe rock climb which is typically steep and intimidating at first look. Thankfully, it is quite accommodating once you are on it!

Archer Ridge is every bit as good as January Jigsaw on Buachaille Etive Mor and should be on everyone's list of climbs to do. The crag has a few weeps in the usual places but many of the climbs are dry. Bill and Scott were climbing there as well, enjoying Quiver Rib, Archer Ridge and Bowstring.

Yesterday I got back from a brilliant trip to Skye with Jane and James. We had this scheduled for last year but the weather at the time was terrible. This time it worked out very well. We had a warm up and shake down on Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean. This is a great taster (or tester) for the full traverse. There is plenty of exposed scrambling on a rope and an intimidating and awkward abseil too. We got to Sgurr nan Gillean and went across to Am Basteir as well before going down the snow on the coire and getting ready for our traverse.

Tuesday was a perfect day to be in The Cuillin. The air was cool, the rock was dry and the sun was shining. James, Jane and I took full advantage of the great conditions and went along from Sgurr nan Eag to our bivi at The Three Teeth in good time. Several teams were out enjoying the day and it was nice to share the traverse with them. We did not get held up at The Inaccessible Pinnacle and the sunset was superb from the bivi spot.

The sunrise was quite spectacular as well but it did not last. Clouds were soon growing on the slopes and there was a cool breeze to keep us moving. The cloud turned to drizzle by late morning and when we got to Bruach na Frithe it was really quite windy and wet. So, having bagged the last two on Monday, we made our way down the snow again and straight back to Sligachan. Jane and James did a fantastic job on this traverse and kept me very well fed with home made goodies (always a good thing to feed your guide as you go along!). I'm sure not many grandmothers have traversed the Cuillin Ridge!

Conditions on the ridge are very good. There are one or two snow patches in gullies off to the sides of the ridge and quite a lot left in Coire a'Basteir which does need to be crossed. We did not take an ice axe but we knew the snow would be soft enough. In colder conditions, an ice axe would be a very good thing to have with you.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Today was the first of many Ben Nevis walks I have planned this year in 'summer' conditions. Paul can be very satisfied with a top performance, his first munro and back down in five and a half hours. This despite the continuous snow on the ground from 1100m, rain, sleet and poor visibility.

Thankfully the snow has melted away from the Red Burn crossing. A few blocks of rock have fallen from the trail but what is left seems to be quite stable. Corner number 4 is causing some head scratching as there is an obvious trail in the snow straight on into the Red Burn area and the usual trail is mostly covered by snow. If you stick to the trail you get to the main cover of snow at corner number 6, 1100m. It is then nearly all on soft, wet snow from there to the top. The snow is about 1.5m deep on the summit and the cornice walls are about 3m high and gently overhanging. There is an impressive block of snow sticking out into Gardyloo Gully too.

It's nice to see some flowers out in the sunshine on the descent. There's lots of violets and some lousewort flowering and many other plants on their way up. Strange to see the deer on the path, not batting an eyelid at us down at 300m above sea level.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Cold air swept down over Scotland on Wednesday night so we woke up to a dusting of fresh snow above 700m yesterday morning. Kev, Carl, Ian and I stuck with the plan of going up the Zig-Zags and along Gearr Aonach to Stob Coire nan Lochan, Bidean nam Bian and back down the Lost Valley but we made sure we had ice axes with us. The fresh snow started at the foot of the NE Ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan and there were patches of old snow on the way up. There was lots of old snow on the N Ridge of Bidean which is still in a very impressive crest for quite a long way. In the colder air this snow had firmed up and plenty of kicking and cutting was required to get up!

Dropping down into the Lost Valley always involves a steep slope at the col but with so much spring snow we were very glad to have the rope again. Another stomper belay and a lower got us all down for another great glissade down to the excellent path in The Lost Valley. This was a brilliant day again, classic Glen Coe mountaineering. It will be cold for a few days so make sure you have your ice axe and crampons with you.