Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The thaw is finally here and what a hell of a winter season its been. It all started a bit avalanchey but that soon settled down, leaving the mountains plastered in firm snow and ribbons of ice. Living in Scotland has certainly been the key to getting out and enjoying such great conditions as much as I have this year. The fact the Highlands are now only an hour away compared to 10 hours when I was in Devon massively reducing the journey time is the most obvious change, but for me I think it’s actually being able to choose when to go and not trudging out in bad conditions ‘just because I’ve driven a long way’.

As I’ve mentioned before, because of my winter ML I haven’t really done all that much winter climbing before, mainly as I was so focused on getting quality mountain days rather than going to the crags. Getting the right amount of days in out walking and mountaineering was really crucial to my success in that instance, but now it’s done, I really wanted to enjoy the mountains and choose what I want to do for me and for no other reason.

One of the most challenging obstacles this year was actually finding partners. All of my trips before have either involved ‘mountain days’ where the terrain couldn’t be too technical otherwise a rope would be needed thus becoming out of the remit of the qualification, or I’d be going with somebody to spilt the driving up. Luckily for me there is a really good network of people both on social media and also down at the climbing wall, which meant I could usually always throw some kind of plan together at the last minute.

I’ve posted below pictures from some of my favorite routes this year. Enjoy!

Crowberry Gully (IV,4) - we got up at 3pm for this one, beating the crowds and were treated to a sunrise across Rannoch Moor. A great day, even if it was over by 10! 

A mountain that needs no introduction. This year so of the best snow and ice conditions I've ever experienced with many of the mountains snow capped from December to April!

Emma and Phil on Sron na lairig (II). Another belter of day. No wind, no clouds, just pefect cool crisp and clear air with stunning views. What more can you ask for?

Loch Lomond's winter coat. It really has been a white winter this year, with snow right down to the valleys (and even the cities!). Later on in the day when this was taken I got stuck in a tunnel in Glasgow as they had to shut it temporarily to allow for the removal of giant icicles above the carriageway!  

Topping out on Tower Ridge (IV,3) in perfect conditions.

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