Kevin Rutherford MIC

Hill and climbing conditions for the Scottish Highlands.

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

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mild, wet heavy snow and avalanches

Death ropers!

Runnel avalanche debris

I am working at Glenmore Lodge this week on a Learn to Lead in winter course. Mike and John led themselves up 4 pitches just to the right of Alladins Mirror before abbing off and escaping the wet heavy snow. Sneachda has been busy the last couple of days and the good conditions changed today with overnight rain, a rise in the freezing level and some patchy light drizzle. We witnessed an avalanche/wet slide coming out of The Runnel this morning which eventually slowed close to the corrie floor. The Runnel was soloed about 30 mins later, crazy, with lots of bigs cornices still above the trident gullies. Hopefully conditions will improve through tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Ben Ice

Jayne and I made an early start and headed west to the Ben. The ititial plan of Tower Ridge was not a goer due to the high winds, poor viz and tired bodies. We eventaully climbed some great water ice on the organ pipe wall which gave us a 60 m calf burning WI3. Couldnt see much higher up but there seemed to be alot of snow moving around. East is best!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Fingers Ridge

Jayne and i climbed Fingers Ridge today. A rise in the freezing level and overnight rain/snow had softened the snow pack and gave certain areas in the corrie a fresh dusting. Things cooled down throughout the day making for an icy walk out.
In hindsight maybe a bad route choice? We ended up missing out the small rib and fingers due to rime and ice and a strong cross wind. Out of the 4 pitches i managed to place 8 runners, it took major excavation to find them, not great but again the climbing felt like III/4 due to the snow ice cover. I think Alladins or Fiacaill look like the best option just now.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Original Route, Sneachda

Sorry i forgot my camera this morning.
The ski road was still shut this morning but the hill staff have been beavering away, the road and ski centre will hopefully be open Monday/Tuesday?
Jane and I walked into Sneachda this morning after a sneeky lift from a Glenmore Lodge minibus which took us up to the Ciste carpark, thanks Mike. We had to put crampons on not far from the Ski area.
The thaw over the last couple of days has been replaced by some settled weather and cooler temperatures leaving the corries in great condition. We climbed Original Route IV/5 on Alladins buttress in 3 pitches before abbing off into Alladins Couloir. There are fresh pockets of windblown snow in the gullies and on the aprons which require caution but the buttresses have reverted back to their pre Christmas conditions, covered in neve and ice.
Pros - the route felt like III/4, Cons - gear and belays are hard to find.
The climbing is great though.
The Mess of Pottage is still buried after the week of SE winds, and the approaches look interesting!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Winter Skills Week

Im working for Glenmore Lodge this week on a winter skills course. Its been a hard week with deep snow and stormy conditions on the hill. We spent Monday on Meall a Bauchaille, Tuesday in and around the Day Lodge car park, yesterday in and around Glemore and today on Cairngorm. We had covered lots of skills over the first three days and it was good today to put things into practice. Cairngorm is now covered in hard packed wind blown snow with only some fresh drifts around making moving around the hill alot easier. The ski hill staff were doing a great job clearing huge old drifts on the road and when we passed they had 100m to do before reaching the day lodge car park. Its only single track though! The Ptarmigan Restaurant is buried, you can actually walk from the snow slope behind straight onto the roof. A thaw is forecast for the next couple of days and the high avalanche risk continues.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

A9 ice and Qui, Qui, better than Rjukan!

Day 1 of a weekend climbing course for Colin, part of his 40th birthday present. We had an ice climbing workshop on the A9 ice this morning and then spent the afternoon and Creag Dhu climbing Qui Qui . The A9 ice is a great little single pitch venue and the ice has fattened up nicely from last week. Qui Qui was a bit quieter today and again alot fatter. The top unclimbed pitch is complete and just needs the bottom 10/15ft to fill out. The top half is fat blue/green ice. Hopefully the cool weather will continue.

Ski Tour, Sneachda

Ibrahim and I had a quick ski tour into Sneachda on Thursday. Quite a mild feel to the day with a fine drizzle most of the way until we reached the edge of the corrie and things cooled down. Well done to the group of snow holers who made it into the moraines, not too sure if the trough will still be there after last nights 12cm. Poor viz all day, the only thing that stood out in the corrie was the source of the sneky burn.

Monday, 4 January 2010


Jo, Bethan and I headed West this morning to Aonach Mor. We climbed Smoking The White Owl on Sgurr Finnisg-Aig which is graded III/4 and has the feel of a real adventure. Conditions were ok with some sections still a bit thin including the top crux top pitch, other pitches lower down are holding great ice. We climbed the left hand finish which was quite chosy and thin in places, in hindsight, the right hand finish may be a better option. We finished the day catching the last gondola down at 4.15. A great day.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy New Year.... Qui, Qui

Happy New Year!
I spent today with Jo and Bethan from Cambridge Uni ice climbing in and around the Aviemore area. We had a bit of a water ice workshop this morning in the A9 roadside ice which was great and then we drove down to Creag Dhu to see if Qui Qui was any fatter. Its definately fatter, the temperature was -2c making the hanging icicles a bit safer. The upper pitch is nearly complete but there is still alot of water coming down. Probably go at WIM9 just now.... water ice mixed 9!

The slab pitch below is great, left hand grade 4, centre 3 and right 2.
I was working for Alpha Mountaineering today.