Welcome to the West Coast Mountain Guides diary and conditions page, which is updated regularly throughout the year. During the winter, there will be plenty of up-to-date information and reports regarding the latest mixed and ice climbing and mountaineering conditions in the Scottish Highlands, and in particular, on Ben Nevis, Aonach Mor and in Glencoe.
Over the past three days, I've been out with Blair, bagging some of the classic scrambles in Lochaber. On Thursday, we went for Curved Ridge, which was largely dry, although once in the clouds, things were a bit damp underfoot. We made our way round onto Crowberry Tower, which tends to be much greasier than Curved Ridge, but still gives some excellent scrambling.
On Friday, we tackled Castle Ridge, which whilst not quite as sustained as Curved Ridge, is definitely a bit trickier. From the top of Carn Dearg, we descended Ledge Route, to give a fantastic circuit.
With rain moving in from the west yesterday, we decided that we would leave the Aonach Eagach for a nicer day. Instead, we took the gondola at Nevis Range and made our way round to the West Face, where we climbed Golden Oldie. Despite it being more popular in winter, it still gives some excellent scrambling in the summer. Just be prepared for quite a bit of steep grass on the approach!
We have a few spaces left on various scrambling days over the next month:
Two more days, six more Munros bagged. Yesterday, with tired legs and various niggles, we were a slightly denuded team. A fresh dusting of snow blanketed much of the Cuillins first thing in the morning, but with it being another clear day, much of it melted fairly quickly. We made ascents of Sgurr Nan Eag, Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr Alasdair, before descending the Great Stone Chute, which was still holding a far bit of snow on its upper reaches.
Today, we were back to a full compliment and had a great day on the northern three Munros. We made an ascent of Sgurr Nan Gillean via its West Ridge, before traversing Am Bastier and abseiled down the atmospheric King's Cave Chimney. An easy ascent of Bruach na Frithe marked the final summit of the day and the eleventh Munro of the week. Skye wouldn't be Skye if we didn't have to don our waterproof jackets for even just a short time and whilst it was snowing lightly up high, we soon hit the freezing level on our descent.
It's been a great four days, with largely excellent conditions throughout.
If you're up for the challenge of tackling all eleven Munros on the main Cuillin Ridge, get in touch, as we spaces left on our 10-13 September course.
With rain due for sometime in the afternoon, we decided to have a shorter day, by tackling Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh and Sgurr a'Mhadaidh, which worked out well, as we were down just before the rain arrived.
It was a day of fluctuating temperatures, from very warm in the sunshine one minute, to bitterly cold as the easterly winds picked up the next. Again, we managed stayed dry throughout. To reach both summits, we made our way up to An Dorus, before scrambling up to the summit of Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh first. From there, it was a case of returning to An Dorus and then heading up Sgurr a'Mhadaidh. Five Munros ticked off, six more to go this week.
With such a good weather forecast, Steve and I thought that we should capitalise on it, by tackling Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, The In Pinn and Sgurr na Banachdich for the first day of our four day Skye Munros Course.
We made steady progress up the An Stac Screes and from Bealach Lagan, made a return journey to the summit of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich. Despite the sunshine, there was quite a chilly easterly breeze, which was particularly noticeable on the crest and Coruisk side of the ridge. We continued beneath An Stac, before tackling the In Pinn, which was surprisingly quiet. Following an ascent of the East Ridge and abseil descent of the West Ridge, we walked over the Sgurr na Banachdich, bagging the third Munro of the day.
We had a bit of graupel (snow) on the descent, but it clearly had been much wetter down at Glenbrittle Campsite.
We still have spaces on our final Skye Munros Course of the season, running 10-13 September 2019, so get in touch if you fancy tackling all the Munros on the main Cuillin Ridge.
Not all in one day by one team I hasten to add! This is what our teams have been up to over the past couple of days. I've been enjoying some ski touring in the Alps and en-route home, met Ruth in Arrochar, to bag the summit of The Cobbler, possibly the finest of all the Corbetts. The true summit is a finger of rock on the Central Peak and whilst the technicalities are short, it is quite tricky and exposed (and great fun, of course). The weather remained dry and fairly clear for much of the day, but on the summit, the winds were quite bitter and there was quite a bit of ice about. After bagging the summit, we descended the northern flanks of the hill.
Meanwhile, Josh was out guiding Iiona and Nicola over the Aonach Eagach. They too had a great time and made great progress over this brilliant ridge. We've got a few spaces left on our guided Aonach Eagach days, see below for more info.
Today, I was out with Chris, who is over from Hong Kong. He was eager to reach the summit of Ben Nevis via a technical route, so we decided to go for Castle Ridge, which was largely dry. That said, we did encounter a fair few sprinkles of snow, which was starting to lie and above 1300m, there was a good covering of fresh snow. The older patches were very firm, but avoidable on the steeper sections of the mountain path.
We have availability on the following upcoming Aonach Eagach trips (£99/person), all led by holders of the Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor qualification:
15th June 2019 -1 SPACE AVAILABLE 22nd June 2019 -1 SPACE AVAILABLE
Some years, the transition from winter to summer seems to take a while, whereas others, it seems to happen almost overnight and this year is definitely one of the latter. The weather in the Highlands recently has been incredible, with wall-to-wall sunshine almost everyday. When it's like this, there really is no better place in the world!
Ben and Paul (both fully qualified Mountaineering & Climbing Instructors) kicked off our Skye season this year, with a team of motivated and determined hillwalkers, keen to get some of the Cuillin Munros ticked off over four days. For the first day, they enjoyed a brilliant day on the southern Munros; Sgurr nan Eag and Sgurr Dubh Mor. On day two, they climbed through the clouds to enjoy an inversion on Sgurr a' Mhadaidh and Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh. Yesterday, with tired legs and thick mist and drizzle, they tackled Sgurr na Banachdich. For their final day, they made the most of the better than expected weather, by tackling Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and the In Pinn.
There's very little snow on the Cuillin this year (unlike last year), so no winter kit was required.
If you fancy tackling all 11 Munros on the main Cuillin Ridge over 4 days, with fully qualified Mountaineering & Climbing Instructors, we have availability on the following courses (£489):
With the longer daylight hours and an amazing spell of excellent weather, our thoughts have now well and truly turned to our spring and summer mountaineering courses in the Scottish Highlands.
We will be running a number of our popular 4-day Cuillin Munros Courses (£489 guiding fees, including the use of helmet and harness), during which the aim is to tackle all 11 Munros on the main Cuillin Ridge.
We will split the days into the following:
-Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr Alasdair
-Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, The In Pinn and Sgurr na Banachdich
-Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh and Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh
-Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Bastier and Bruach na Frithe
We have a number of spaces left on the following courses:
-7-10 May 2019 -1 space available
-11-14 June 2019 – 1 space available
-10-13 September 2019 – 3 spaces available
For further information or to enquire about booking, please visit:
I was back out with Marcin and Pawel today and with such a good forecast and cooling temperatures, we ventured back up to Ben Nevis to see what was on offer.
There's a reasonable amount of snow-ice on the mountain, but many routes are missing just enough to make them unfeasible at the moment. We plumped for the Central Gully Right-Hand on Creag Coire na Ciste, which looked to be in reasonable condition. There was a fair bit of verglas on the rocks beneath Creag Coire na Ciste, a good indicator that things had cooled down.
The route was a bit on the lean side and required a few mixed moves here and there. After the first few moves on the main pitch, there was very little in the way of gear, so be prepared for quite a long run-out. Marcin and Pawel both climbed the route well and enjoyed the steeper sections. There was little in the way of a cornice at the top and an exposed but easy traverse to the right gained the plateau with little difficulty.
Ali was out with Matt, in Comb Gully, which he reported to be quite goey for the grade. A couple of teams in No. 2 Gully and on Green Gully, where the first pitch looked to be broken in places. No. 3 Gully Buttress looked ok, if a little bit more rocky at the top than of late. South Gully had what looked like a giant serac barring the exit. North Gully was complete. The major gullies will be in excellent condition for the next wee while, but we could do with a bit of snow for the steeper routes to be in good nick. It is still definitely winter up there and who knows how long it will continue for.
The forecast for 30 March – 8 April must be one of the best looking periods for winter climbing this season
We still have availability over the next couple of weeks, so if you’re not quite ready to hang up your crampons and ice axes this winter, get in touch!
For the past couple of days, I've been out with Phil, Marcin and Pawel. I was out with Phil last winter, but for Marcin and Pawel, it's their first time in the Scottish Highlands. We opted for Castle Ridge on Ben Nevis yesterday, which was largely snow free until we gained the summit of Carn Dearg. There's still plenty of snow on the summit plateau of Ben Nevis and we were able to stay on snow for much of the way down the Red Burn.
Today, we decided to stick with the theme of classic rocky scrambles and made an ascent of Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor. The approach and route were largely snow-free, however, there's quite a bit in the basin at the foot of Crowberry Tower and on the final slopes. With a drop in temperature on the cards for the weekend, this will firm up and it will be worth carrying an axe and crampons. We avoided much of the snow by traversing above Rannoch Wall and made an ascent of Crowberry Tower. Still plenty of snow in Coire na Tulaich too.
With the clocks going forward this weekend, we're looking ahead to our Spring and Summer mountaineering courses and guided trips. We still have spaces on the following courses: