Kevin Rutherford MIC

Hill and climbing conditions for the Scottish Highlands.

Winter Courses - Winter Skills, Winter Mountaineering, Winter Climbing & Norway Ice based in Rjukan

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Qui, Qui..... Naw, Naw!

Strong winds were forecast in the East, Richard and I decided to travel West to Aonach Mor. Bit of a relief when we heard the Cairngorm ski area was closed but a bit of frustration to find the Nevis Range Gondola on hold until 11am due to a SE wind blowing down the line. We then headed back East stopping off at Creag Dhu. The small car park was full with three teams already climbing what looked like 1 pitch of grade III before traversing out to easy ground to abseil. Richard and I opted for a wee ice route further up the gully past Qui Qui which went at about II/III, thin in places.

The 1 pitch of Qui Qui looks good and had numerous ascents, dont be fooled by the pictures with an air temperature of 4' and lots of water running down the free hanging icicles i valued life rather than a pitch of grade III. Would recommend a very early start after a frost to get safe conditions, hopefully the cold weather will continue.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Day 3

Groundhog day...... breakin trail into Lochain did not look appealing. Richard and i headed to the Mess of Pottage and climbed Hidden Chimney. The buttress is holding alot more snow and the first 2 pitches were a bit of a swim. The chimney itself was good with the last step feeling quite easy for the grade.

Day 2

Richard and I climbed Red Gully today. The corrie was a bit busier and a keen team broke trail up to Fingers Ridge, thank you to them! The firs 30ft was a bit of a wade but above the ice pitch was good and the rest of the gully reasonably scoured giving us the old ice neve. Great views on the plateau before we headed down to the ski area via 1141. No wind!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Breakin Trail

Richard and i headed into Sneachda this morning on the first of 4 days winter climbing. We managed to team up with Steve and Ibrahim to break trail and made it into the corrie in 1hr 45mins. There were a few other teams around and the trough is biggar! It was -3 in the corrie.
Very white and wintery as the photos show with lots of good ice around. Bit of a flounder on the aprons but once on the buttresses you can get into the old snow ice. A team climbed Alladins Mirror direct on fat blue/green ice and Steve and Ibrahim climbed the first pitches on Doctors Choice which again was holding lots of ice. Richard and I had a bit of a skills refresher and climbing workshop to the right of Mirror Direct. Hopefully it wont snow overnight.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Merry Christmas

A Merry White Christmas to everyone. More snow fell last night giving the local forest tracks a bit of a top up. Aileen, Bracken and I took advantage with some great cross country skiing this morning. Good to see a bit of blue sky!
Conditions up higher on the hill look hard work with snow shoes or skis the best way to travel. Looks like the cool weather is set to continue in Scotland well into next week and the New Year.

Friday, 18 December 2009

N Corries

Another day in Sneachtda. James and I climbed Grooved Rib which goes up just left of Crotched Gully. The corrie was reasonably busy for a Friday. Fiaciall buttress looked the busiest with a steam of teams on Invernookie.
Climbing conditions are great with icy neve/snow ice on most aspects covered with a fresh dusting of snow. Grooved Rib is given III/4 and felt quite easy today, however there is a down side, the buttresses are covered in icy rime/hoar and most (all) cracks are filled with ice making finding and placing gear a nightmare.

Good movement/crampons skills a must just now. The weekend looks a bit full on with heavy snow and strong winds forecast tomorrow and the avalanche risk going up.

Friday, 4 December 2009


I was in corrie Sneachdta today on a winter induction with Glenmore Lodge. After a morning of looking at course programmes, operating/safety guidelines and risk assessments we wandered into the morraines and had a session on snow anchors, burrying different types of axes, straight shaft... bendy etc. Very cold and snowy under foot with a bit of a trench forming. A few folks climbing on the mess of pottage - haston line, hidden chimney and what looked like a new line in between hybred and the message? Over on the other side of the corrie there were folks on red gully, fingers ridge and invernookie. Looked like alot of swimming and cleaning going on, its a pity things are warming up.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Mess of Pottage

Campbell and i had a good winters day in the corries today climbing The Opening Break. Poor viz and lots of snow underfoot made moving around and finding your way entertaining. There is about 1 to 2ft of snow in the bottom of the corrie in places, snow shoes or skis would be a good shout. It took us 2hrs to get to the bottom of the route.
Climbing wise, cracks not that icy, turf.... well covered and frozen, lots of hoar/rime. Alot of consolidated snow in scoured areas, not far off neve which is a good sign for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Winter Courses

I still have availability for Winter Courses over the New Year period and into January 2010.

All courses are based in the Cairngorms, Winter Skills, Winter Mountaineering and Winter Climbing. Also available, Norway Ice which is based in Rjukan.

For further details use the link above to access the main site.

Bookings received before 1 December will receive a 15% discount!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


I spent most of last week on Skye with Liz, a returning client from Ireland. We were surprised to get 3 dry but cool days on Skye, staying at the Glen Brittle hut. Our first day was spent single pitch climbing at Neist Point, day 2 on the ridge traversing from Bannadich to Mhadaigh and then our last day was spent on Pinnacle Ridge. We then escapsed back East as the usual Skye weather returned, gale force winds and rain. Our final day was spent at Cummingston single pitch climbing.
The first snows have arrived and a believe winter routes have been climbed!

Friday, 18 September 2009


Just back from a recent trip to Chamonix. We had a week of good settled weather and managed to get up a few new tops. Aiguille de la Floria in the Aiguille Rouge, The Petit Forouche at the col du tour, an aborted attempt on the Midi Plan due to black ice and finished the week on Mont Blanc via the normal route. I have been up the 3 M,s route before which seemed straight forward, bit of a shock on the "normal" route which seemed anything but..... a dash across the grand couloir dodging missiles and a full on scramble to the Goutier Hut where we spent the night on benches. The route above the Goutier hut made up for the melee below.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A Wet Month

Well hopefully September and the Autumn will be a bit drier than August!? I have just had to postpone a trip to Orkney and The Old Man of Hoy due to the wet weather, hopefully more settled weather will appear over the next few weeks.

The other side to the wet weather is that the local fishing on the Spey has been good with high water levels. I caught this 5lb Salmon Grilse last week, not the biggest salmon in the world but a start.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

SPA Training

I finished the week working with Richard Bentley and the 2nd year trainees at Castle Toward. Their SPA training weekend had a mixture of indoor and outdoor workshops looking and personal climbing, group climbing and abseils and lots more. Saturday was spent at Neilston quarry looking at personal climbing, abseiling and an intro to group anchor set ups. Sunday was spent at Glen Crow finishing off the group work and scenarios, a wet day!

Intro Rock

17/20 August, Intro Rock and back at Castle Toward for 4 days rock climbing instruction. The August summer weather took control of this week with 2 days outside and 2 days at Ibrox climbing wall. Neilston Quarry was the venue for the 2 days outside which is a great venue for starting out, lots of D's and VD's.

ML Assessment

10/14 August was spent on Ardgour with Pete Hill. We were assessing SML for Trainee Instructors from Aberethy Trust. A good week was had apart from the occassinal west coast summer weather, strong winds and horizontal rain, east is best......... sometimes.

Intro Nav weekend

August 8/9, was spent working with Trainee Instructors from Castle Toward Outdoor Centre in Dunoon. This was a back to basics couple of days which will now enable the trainees to go out and log up their quality days pre ML training.