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.