Kevin Rutherford MIC

Hill and climbing conditions for the Scottish Highlands.

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

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Fantastic Weekend....

Fantastic weekend with Arran and David. Arran looking to get on the sharp end and David on an intro to winter climbing, a good pairing. Saturday was windy, gusty, snowy with a freezing level of around 1000m. We spent most of the day on and around the twin ribs of the fiacaill ridge with a final ascent up and onto the ridge before escaping back to the car park.

Today, Sunday, we made our way into Sneachda and an already busy Mess of Pottage. We decided to climb Jacobs Left Edge I/II based on the fact that no one else was on it and it tied in nicely with Arran and David's game plan. We topped out in fantastic light and no wind. The mountain now has a great base for climbing, skiing, walking but there is still alot of deep windblown snow on gully exits.                                              

Continuing that serious note, if you see an instructor/guide soloing alongside 2 clients and climbing in front of you, possibly on "your" route, please stay clear! You can try and overtake, i cant stop you (ill try), but if you then play knitting with our rope and gear and into the bargain your practice is very poor, be prepared for a volley of abuse. A bit of patience or earlier start keeps everybody safe. Duty of care, client safety comes first!

Monday, 23 December 2013


I think the pictures say enough, the main skill today was........ survival. The storm cycle continues.
Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Hidden Chimney

We sometimes says that you have to rub your nose on routes/venues before you can make that final decision, that sometimes involves a long journey with nothing in return or a good day out. Arran, a returning client made the long drive yesterday morning from Edinburgh with the possibility of a days guided winter climbing on a dubious forecast. Strong winds, fluctuating freezing levels and rain, sleet and snow forecast. After a wet start from the ski carpark we eventually entered the corrie to find gusty conditions and still dampish snow. We eventually found not bad conditions on the Mess of Pottage and climbed Hidden Chimney, it was -3 at the top of the crag by the end of the day.


Imperial College London

An annual visit from Imperial College London Mountaineering club, for the first time in 4 years we didnt manage to get up the hill on day 1 due to hurricane force winds. We retreated to a dry Cummingston where we covered setting up anchors, retreating from routes, multi pitch climbing and moving together, its amazing what you can cover at a single pitch venue when you know it well. Day 2, we walked into Coire Sneachda to find thin snow cover so we eventually had our winter skills/mountaineering session on the plateau in Coire Domhain. Its great to work with a group of young mountaineers so enthused in what they are doing and climbing very well.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Winter 2013/14

Its been a cold week with a continual freeze thaw cycles and some new snow. I had a wander around the Northern Corries today which were very wintery but still thin, the turf was frozen and there was lots and lots of rime.... everywhere, icy in places. The Mess of Pottage had the most traffic with lots of routes getting done. Other routes getting climbed, The Lamp, Spiral gully, Hoarmaster, Savage Slit, Fallout Corner, Oesophagus. Under foot there was an icy cruddy top surface layer which although hard going in places will help with the consolidation, as the fresh stuff underneath wont get blown away. Pygmy Ridge looked in great nic, nobody on it.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Summer ML training

Spent a very enjoyable 3 days working for Pete Hill on a Summer ML training course. A few photos below, winters coming! On our last morning of the expedition we found an old 2nd world war plane crash site which was only recently found in 2004. More details here

Summer/Autumn rock climbing

A few more photos of the great weather we had over the Summer and into Autumn. Climbing courses with Glenmore Lodge and Scott Flett a returning client.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Intro Climbing

Glenmore Lodge weekend in the Northern Corries. Saturday, Twin ribs and the Fiacaill Ridge and then the Fiacaill Couloir on Sunday. Alpine conditions, very quiet with still alot of loaded looking slopes and some spooky snow just below the entrance to the couloir. Great weather, great company, great way to finish off the winter work.

JPEG 13 lucky pair having just descended the Goat Track!?


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Business as usual, wind machine on full

Back working in the Cairngorms today with Glenmore Lodge on the Journey day of a WML training course. Navigation, group management on steeper group, route choice, avalanche awareness, steep ground scenarios alot to cram into poor conditions on the hill. Plan A of a journey in and around the Fiacaill ridge was scuppered when we were turned around on the top part of the ski road so Plan B was a journey in and around the Ciste ridge. Very windy all day, with lots and lots of snow getting shifted around, looked a bit like a river at times.

Monday, 18 March 2013


Ive just returned from Rjukan, spending a very enjoyable week with Stephen and Martin. Not the usual trip for Rjukan which is usually a guided climbing week, both Stephen and Martin had climbed in winter before and were on the sharp end on day 3 after 2 days of initial instruction. Great weather, cold -14 to -3, brittle ice and very quiet venues, great! The new ice park (man made) which has been set up at the carpark side of  the Vemork bridge is very impressive and just adds to the variety of venues already available.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

2 Damp, 1 Dry

I spent Thursday working for Cairngorm Mountain Guides climbing in Coire an t Sneachda. Chris and friends were up in Scotland for a few days climbing and were looking for a days refresher before they climbed some routes themselves. We climbed Pateys, Mirror Direct and then the direct start to Hidden Chimney. A cold front past through during the day which provided a damp finish, good ice throughout.

Saturday and today i have been guided climbing with returning client Colin. We gambled on Saturday and headed into Loch Avon where we climbed Route Major on Carn Etchachan, we finished directly with 2 pitches via The Bastile/Kremlin/Red Guard. The freezing level was just above the tops, a bit thin in places lower down but still holding onto some good ice, all turf frozen. Another damp finish to the day navigating back over the plateau.
Today we climbed Fluted Buttress direct until the junction with Wavelength and then finished up Wavelength, the lower slopes had a bit of soft snow but again most of the route still holding onto a lot of good ice even although the freezing level was just above the tops, very Alpine.

Off to Rjukan next weekend.

Monday, 25 February 2013


Sometimes words are not required......