Tuesday 28 February 2012

Cuillin Ridge Traverse, Isle of Skye, including accommodation. May 19th - 26th 2012.

Kendal Mountaineering Services is again running its bi-annual residential Cuillin Ridge Traverse trips to the Isle of Skye.

These will be taking place between May 19th - 26th and September 8th - 15th 2012.

This is an excellent opportunity to experience the Cuillin Ridge of Skye. Participants often have differing objectives for attending. Some may wish to "bag" the 11 munros on the Cuillin Ridge, others may want to complete a traverse of the Cuillin Ridge. Here, both can be done together.

Our package allows for considerable flexibility. We will have six full days of which four will involve being guided by Iain Gallagher, Mountaineering Instructor, with the ultimate aim of a complete traverse. There are also two rest days allowing us to be flexible and make the best of the weather when choosing our four Cuillin Ridge traverse days.

The price is £425 per person and is excellent value for what is on offer. This package includes 7 nights self catering accommodation in a comfortable cottage c/w a guided traverse of the Cuillin Ridge of Skye from end to end done, if possible, over a maximum of 4 days. Please note that we cannot guarantee a complete ridge traverse as it is often weather dependant, but we will do our best!

As the accommodation is not too distant from the Cuillins, we make daily forays in to the ridge allowing us to complete the traverse section by section but spending each night in a comfortable bed and getting a good meal at the end of each day - this itinery has been proven to work well. There are a maximum of six places available on each of the two annual Cuillin Ridge traverse trips so - only 12 places per year. All of these places are allocated on the basis of deposits received. First come, first served!

To achieve success on this trip, you need to be a fit and active hillgoer, able to carry all of your own personal equipment for each day out on the mountains and you will be expected to carry additional climbing equipment such as ropes as well.

Everyone must be equipped with a helmet & harness which can be provided as part of the course fee. You will need plenty of liquid each day and high energy food is advisable.

Interested people also need to be aware this is a committing and sustained 13km alpine style ridge traverse often on scrambling ground of grade one standard but also frequently with sections of grade two & three ground where roping up is essential. There are also sections of rock climbing such as the Thearlaich Dubh Gap (severe) and the Inaccessible Pinnacle (an optional but polished Diff) and a number of abseils to be made. Therefore previous experience of scrambling is a must and some previous experience of ropework, preferential. Ideally, you should have a good head for hieghts and be comfortable with a degree of exposure.

If this sounds daunting - don't be put off! If you have the pre-requisits listed here, then you should be fine.

The Cuillin Ridge Traverse is the best of its type in the UK and Iain has a great deal of experience guiding on this ridge. Iain cannot guarantee your success in completing the full traverse, only the weather & your ability will allow us to achieve this, but with his help and your commitment to working together as part of a team, success is a real possibility.

With regards personal equipment equipment for the ridge traverse. People must have good quality foul weather kit and bring plenty of warm clothing plus hats & gloves. On Skye, even in May it can still be wet or cold (or both on occasion). On a number of previous occasions - we have even had snow to deal with!

And on this note. Please do not come expecting to traverse the ridge in approach shoes! They are totally inappropriate for this traverse. Stout leather or fabric boots with good ankle support, a solid and preferably a cleated Vibram sole are the order of the day for this mountaineering journey .

People have ignored this advice in the past and then experienced difficulties on the ridge - slowing down progress for all concerned.

If you would like advice about equipment, additional information about the Cuillin Ridge or would like to book a place on one of these fantastic opportunities, then please contact us at Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Photographs on this post (from top to bottom) are

Looking South along the Cuillin Ridge From Bruach Na Frithe.

The Southernmost part of the Cuillin Ridge from the top of the Great Stone Chute.

Reaching the top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle.

Loch Coruisk From Sgurr A Ghreadaidh.

Sunset over Loch Bracadale and McLeods Tables from our accommodation.

Read about a previous Cuillin Ridge Traverse trip on our blog here. There are many more pictures on the report and reports of other trips between 2009 & 2011 on our blog.

See you on Skye.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Lake District based Mountain Navigation Skills Training Weekend Course. March 31st/April 1st 2012.

Kendal Mountaineering Services is offering a Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course to members of the general public during the weekend of March 31st April 1st 2012.

This Navigation skills training course is ideal for anyone wishing to improve their map reading & navigation skills to allow them to venture into mountainous regions of the UK with confidence.

The cost for the two day Mountain Navigation Skills training course is only £80 per person for the weekend. The price includes the provision of laminated maps for the areas to be covered in both 1:25 and 1:50,000 scales. You will need to provide your own compass for the course and we would recommend the Silva Type 4 Expedition compass for this Navigation Skills training Course.

Some previous experience of map reading & navigation techniques is useful but not essential- so if you lack experience do not worry!

Kendal Mountaineering Services run their Mountain Navigation Skills Training Courses in The Lake District National Park usually in the Kentmere Area to the south.

The itinery requires us to meet on both days at 09:00 at Wilf's Cafe at Staveley Mill Yard in Staveley (LA8 9LR for those of you with Satnav). On day one we will travel to the nearby area of Green Quarter Fell to introduce basic map reading & navigation techniques providing a progression throughout the day for everyone - no matter what level of expertise you have.

Day two will see us travel further up the Kentmere Valley to walk part of the Kentmere Horseshoe. The emphasis will not be to cover miles of ground but build upon & consolidate navigation skills learned on day one - albeit on a slightly different and higher location.

The emphasis throughout the course will be to give you as many opportunities as possible to progress to a high standard of mountain navigational capability. We run all of our Navigation Skills Training courses to Mountain Leader Training (MLTE) Standard.

The following aspects of navigation skills will be covered during the course:-
Orientation of the map,
Grid references,
Measuring distance on the map & on the ground by pacing.
Tick off features,
Naismiths rule (timings c/w distance & contours),
Taking & walking on a bearing using a map, ie grid to mag,
Identifying from ground to map (Mag to grid),
Walking on a bearing/back bearings,
"Handrailing" using Linear features
(eg streams/footpaths),
Aiming off,
Attack points,

"Boxing" around an obstacle.

The syllabus of this course is ideal -not just for someone wishing to improve their navigational ability for their own use but also for aspiring Summer Mountain Walking Leaders wishing to attend an ML Navigation Refresher course as part of their preparation for Mountainwalking Leader Assessment or for ML Navigation re-Assessment.

Candidates are welcome to book on to this Mountain Navigation Skills Training Course - or you can book your own personal Mountainwalking Leader Navigation Refresher day with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services at any time.

If you would like more information about this Lake District Based Mountain Navigation Skills training Course or would like to book please contact us here. You can view details of a few of our past courses on the Kendal Mountaineering Services Blog here and here.

We look forward to working with you.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Scottish Winter mountaineering courses. February 12th - 17th, 2012.

After the end of Iain's 12 day Scottish Winter Climbing Skills Training course with Benn Berkeley, he had but a days rest before starting working again, this time with (Left to right in photo one) Andy, Lucy, Martin & Dave who were all attending a Winter Leader Progression Course with The Cadet Centre for Adventurous Training (CCAT) based from the Joint Services Mountain Training Centre at Tulloch in Glen Spean near to Fort William.

CCAT run all manner of outdoor skills training courses to anyone involved with the cadets. Andy, Martin & Dave are all from the same school in Essex and regularly work with cadets at the school. So as leaders - having already attended the CCAT Winter Foundation Course (essentially a winter skills training course) previously and all looking to attain their Winter Mountainwalking Leader Award, they had booked on to this years Winter Leader Progression Course run by Iain on behalf of CCAT. Lucy is a student currently studying on an Outdoor Leaders Course in Cheshire.

Our first day out (Sunday) proved to be a long hard day as the other instructor Iain was co-running the course with appeared to be bent on providing his group with a mission - in this case a 20km hike over the Grey Corries - a ridge containing many Munros near Spean Bridge. Anyway, Iain (and his team) decided this was a bit much for a first day out but we still walked a long way from near Coirechoille up on to Stob Coire Easain and then east to Stob Coire Claurigh before returning to Coirechoille. The mild conditions from the previous week had remained and it was a damp walk up almost on to the spine of the ridge before we encountered what could be described as decent winter conditions as seen in photo one near to Stob Coire Claurigh. The day was cloudy for the most part but as can be seen here, we were close to breaking out above the cloud in to the sunlight.

Monday saw Iain, Lucy, Andy & Dave head up into a little known corrie to the south of Coire Adair near to Creag Meagaidh with a view to looking at some winter skills. The forescast for the day was for strong westerly winds so we wanted to try & find some shelter and Iain thought this little corrie might do the trick (he had had a look into it on his return with Benn from climbing Staghorn Gully the previous week).

In photo two Lucy, Andy & Dave are enjoying a lunch break having just finished practising all variants of Ice Axe Arrest technique. Creag Meagaidhs Great Buttress can be seen in the background and there were lot of climbers around on this day. Conditions were thinner than the previous week - indeed, Iain watched as a party backed off the initial ice pitch of Staghorn Gully and took an easier line up to the right.

After lunch Iain went through more winter skills looking at winter belays, bucket seats and snow belays before we all packed up and climbed up out of the corrie and descending via Sron A Ghoire back to the minibus at Aberarder. A useful day out.

Tuesday found Iain & his team heading for a fantastic Grade II winter Mountaineering route - the East Ridge of Beinn A Chaorainn(photo three). This great little 300m scrambling route leads on to the North top of Beinn A Chaorainn via series of rocky steps which makes for interesting route finding.

Once on the top, most people return via the south top to Glen Spean - a plan which has often led to the demise of not so careful navigators! Between the north & south summits the rim of the eastern corrie bites deeply into the ridge and anyone taking a bearing straight between the two tops is likely to fall through the cornice in poor visibility - straight to their death. Iain is experienced in dealing with Beinn A Chaorainn in such conditions using a technique known as "boxing" the corrie - if you want to learn more about navigation techniques then come on one of our mountain navigation skills training courses - the next one is running during March 31st & April 1st 2012 and is only £80 per person for the weekend course.

Once arriving at the summit of Beinn A Chaorainn we traversed to the south top - marvelling at the massive overhanging cornice on our left before descending south via a series of connecting snowpatches and snow filled gullies which went a long way towards easing our descent off the south side of the mountain. At one point, we found a gully with an overhanging snow bank and as Lucy really wanted to dig a snowhole we let her set to and Andy joined in as well.

Eventually the pair "holed through" into each others snowholes and as we were all big kids really (apart from Lucy) a bit of fun ensued. In photo four Dave had entered via the rh snowhole and then exited via the lh entrance on what can only be described as a toboggan run. Clearly, Lucy found the whole thing hilarious as Dave slid down the bank face first, what a laugh.

It was a pleasant afternoon and we finished the day by walking back to JSMTC - arriving early, for a change.

On Wednesday, more strong westerlies and wet, mild conditions were forecast. The other instructor decided to set off early and go as far west as possible to traverse An Teallach - a strange choice given the conditions!

Iain and his team chose to stay local and decided to have a navigation skills training day in Ardverikie Forest (photo five) Forest is hardly a fitting term for the area - it is bare apart from some recent Forestry Commision plantations - however the evidence of previous forestation is evident everywhere with tangles of ancient tree roots in every peat hag gully.

Anyway, we practised map orientation, walking on a bearing between grid references, back bearings, pacing, timings and any other aspect of navigation techniques that Iain could think of before we had to get back to our dropoff point. We later heard that the other party had turned back from An Teallach - no surprise there!

Thursday saw us dropped off again at the same point for our Mountain Navigation Skills Training Day the previous day.

However, this time we were carrying much heaver packs in preparation for our expediton which basically involved hiking about 12km east via Ardverikie and Ben Alder Forests to Culra bothy.

The weather was again, mild & wet with a westerly blowing again as we climbed to cross a bealach at 750m in thick cloud. However as we descended east, the cloud disappeared and the sun came out and after managing to cross a rather swollen river without getting wet feet, we arrivied at Culra at 13:45 having left our dropoff point at 09:15. Photo six shows Culra Bothy in the distance beyond the surging Allt A Chaoil Reidhe. Ben Alder, with its famous Long & Short Leachas ridges lies beyond.

The final photo shows Dave, Lucy & Andy as we departed Culra the next morning. An ascent of Ben Alder via one of the ridges would have been great but time did not allow this on either day as we had to be back at our dropoff point in Glen Spean for around 13:00 today.

Iain had a walk up towards the head of the Allt A Chaoil Reidhe the previous evening on a path that eventaully leads to Loch Ossian. It was clear in the time he had that a round trip to the summit of Ben Alder from Culra would have taken around six hours, so it was as well that we hadn't attempted it.

This post quite probably ends Iains winter season in Scotland this year. For the short time he was up he ran some great winter courses for people. Hopefully the mild, wet spell will end soon as climbing conditions must be getting desperate even high up. To check out conditions go to the MWIS forecast for climbing conditions in any of the UKs main climbing areas and be sure to check out the avalanche forecast before going anywhere. Happy climbing!

Our next posts will be about upcoming courses and activity options with Kendal Mountaineering Services as Iain now looks to what he hopes won't be a too distant Spring. Bookings are already coming in - to book an activity for your family or a skills training course for the Spring you can contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

Friday 10 February 2012

Winter climbing skills training courses in The Cairngorms with Kendal Mountaineering Services. February 7th - 10th 2012.

On Tuesday Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services entered the final phase of his Scottish winter climbing skills training course with Benn Berkeley.

After the previous week's days out around Ben Nevis, both Iain & Benn moved to the Aviemore area as part of Iain's plan to introduce Benn to at least four of Scotlands main winter climbing areas.

The first day of our final phase of Benn's winter climbing course saw us all get a very early start and drive back the way we had come to go into Creag Meagaidh. Despite the long walk-in Meagaidh is a fantastic winter climbing venue and is remowned for its ice routes on the Post Face in particular.

We weren't looking to do anything too hard and Iain thought that Staghorn Gully would be a fitting intro for Benn to Meagaidh as it is a 3 star grade III. Here, in photo one, Benn looks on with the entry pitch of Staghorn Gully behind - it proved to be steep! Benn thought it harder than our previous day ice climbing on Green Gully on The Ben at IV'3. Anyway, Meagaidh proved to be a long (the route is 400m) but immensely rewarding day out. Cold, clear, great!

On the wednesday, we knew the weather was changing, warming up and probably wild on The Cairngorms. Nevertheless, we headed in to Coire An T Sneachda for a look - battling into a not uncommon Sneachda head wind as we did so. The MWIS forecast said considerable buffetting and they were not wrong. Sneachda was a maelstrom of whirling snow and Iain decided that playing around on ice (the original plan) was too dangerous a proposition and anything else would be at the least, most unpleasant - so we were on our way back out by 10:30 passing MIC's heading in with clients, groups from Glenmore Lodge and others who felt they had to be there regardless of the weather.

Iain, however, knew another place where we could go and practise ropework skills on a sheltered crag on a valley bottom not too far away -he's not letting on where it is either! Anyway, Iain & Benn spent the afternoon there looking at various climbing techniques such as anchor placements, abseil retreat as seen here in photo two; and self lining as these were all things that Benn wanted to look at. It wasn't an ideal day, but at least we managed to salvage something out of it.

Thursdays MWIS forecast was for a thaw to have set in over the Wednesday night and for temps at 900m to be 1 - 4 degrees.

The weather was uncannilly calm on the Thursday as we walked in to Sneachda - as compared with the previous day; and it was clear there had been a big thaw. The buttresses were black, the coire floor grassy and the air alive with the sound of stressed Ptarmigan trying to find cover as they flew around like airborne snowballs in a largely snowless backdrop - poor buggers!

Anyway, after being led on all of the various winter climbs over the previous two blocks, Iain was confident that Benn was ready to lead his first winter climb and here he is in photo three at the top of pitch four on a fine little grade II buttress route between Central Gully (II) and the Runnel (II) in Coire An T Sneachda. Due to the heavy thaw and lack of cornice debris Iain wanted to keep out the gullies, so this seemed a good choice of route.

A chap on MIC assessment seemed to agree too as he followed us up our route and suddenly Iain found himself surrounded by familiar faces - he felt like he was back on assessment himself!

Anyway, Benn led his first five pitch winter climbing route in fine style, climbing well, placing good running belays and building solid stances. Once finished on the climb we descended back into Coire An T Sneachda to practise crevasse rescue at a handy little icy spot Iain knows; and take a look at an Albolakov Thread too. All in all, another excellent day.

Finally, today, we started early again to get ahead of the crowds and by 09:30 Benn was leading off on the first pitch of Goat Track Gully (II) as seen here in photo four.

We had looked at this route yesterday
and as Benn had expressed a desire to do some lead climbing on ice Iain felt this would be appropriate for his ability. The second pitch was also a fine little ice pitch as it often is and then the following two pitches were easier with lots of opportunities for placing anchors in rock.

We topped out on Goat Track Gully shortly after 12 midday and were back at the car by 2. We have had a fantastic, progressive 12 days of winter skills, winter mountaineering and winter climbing in four of Scotlands main winter climbing areas with Benn having gone from following Iain to being able to confidently lead pitches of up to grade III and walk on any slope - whether it be snow or ice, with confidence.

Finally, one of our last photos from Coire An T Sneachda today taken from the moraines popularly used as a snowholing venue. We are looking back at a cloud cap hanging over the Coire An T Sneachda face with the triangle of Fiacaille Buttress poking through the cloud just right of centre. Blue Sky above and the sun trying to get through. Just awesome!

Iain has been coming to this place now for over 40 years and it is still one of his favourite places. Thank you to my parents, particularly my Dad for introducing me to the mountains - I have never looked back.

If you would like to book your own bespoke winter skills course, winter mountaineering course or winter climbing course with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services you can contact him here. We look forward to working with you.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Winter climbing on Ben Nevis with Kendal Mountaineering services. February 2012.

Wednesday February 1st saw Benn start the second phase of his Scottish winter climbing skills training course with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Iain had arranged that this would take place around the Ben Nevis, Aonach Mor or Creag Meaghaidh areas as appropriate. As happened, the weather became gloriously settled - still, cold and although snow cover on The Ben was thin conditions were good enough that we didn't need to go anywhere else!

Photo one shows Benn short roping on Ledge Route - a long grade II winter scramble - the best of its grade on Ben Nevis. After a few pitches of roped climbing, Iain allowed Benn to take over and use the rest of the route to be coached on and consolidate his understanding of short roping - a technique commonly used by competent climbers and instructors on either scrambling routes or on the approach to steeper climbs.

In photo one, Benns stance is braced away from Iain. His axe is planted in the snow in his uphill hand ready for "self belay" and he has a reservoir of hand coils in his downhill hand locked off but ready to be deployed if necessary. Note how his arm is bent - ready to absorb any shock load should Iain slip - thus prevent Benn being pulled off balance.

Once at the top of Ledge Route, we ascended to the summit of Ben Nevis via the crest of the North Face where Iain was able to point out the names of all of the gullies and classic winter climbs this fantastic mountain has to offer. The weather was truly great and the first of three such good calm settled days.

This particular block of days was a fairly steep learning curve for Benn. Grade II on Wednesday and grade III on Thursday. As it is Benn's aspiration to be able to climb grade III winter routes, Iain decided to introduce him to a Ben Nevis grade III classic - Number Three Gully Buttress.

The climb takes a route up a steep and poorly protected snow couloir before trending right to cross other classic lines such as Quickstep (V'5) and Two Step Corner (V'5) ascending a ramp and finishing as an exposed traverse above Gargoyle Wall.

Photo two sees Benn belaying Iain from across part of the traverse, he climbed the route with ease and thoroughly enjoyed it. Three parties were involved climbing Two Step Corner which looked entertaining indeed whilst another pair climbed a grade VIII on Sioux Wall and another team - Gargoyle Wall. Everyone, it seemed, were out enjoying the good conditions.

Once at the top, we descended in to Number Three Gully by way of a snow bollard and walked out, tired but happy.

Checking the MWIS forecast on the Thursday night suggested that Friday might be another good day for climbing so Iain decided to "notch up" the climbing grade again and guided Benn on Green Gully IV'3 - yet another "Ben Classic".

Green Gully ascends to the right of The Comb in Coire Na Ciste and is a fantastic introduction to grade IV winter climbing - with four; or five great little ice pitches depending on which exit you decide to take at the top.

The route was "thin" ie lacking in the large quantities of ice ususally found there, but there was plenty to climb on and it was the usual "friendly ice" which accepts ice axe placements without shattering and makes ice climbing a pleasant and secure experience rather than a tenuous proposition.

In photo three, Benn can be seen approaching Iain at his stance at the top of pitch two. Benn had climbed ice before but learned on this day not to bash too hard with his axes - he already knew the effects of kicking too hard with his feet from a previous trip - bruised toes - ow! Anyway he thoroughly enjoyed Green Gully. So far this week, Iain had exceeded all of his expectations of what he thought the course would provide; and that's great news.

Sadly, this run of great, cold hard weather ended during Friday night with the approach of a frontal system bringing mild conditions and much rain today (Saturday).

Both Benn & Iain were rather pooped after three great days of winter climbing on Ben Nevis and as conditions today weren't going to be favourable, Benn was happy to look at Improvised Rescue Techniques - ie how to get out of tricky situations when climbing goes wrong.

We went to Polldubh in Glen Nevis where with the help of a few trees for belays, Iain was able to get Benn problem solving. In photo four Benn has "escaped the system" in a scenario where Iain, as the second" has fallen off, injured; and Benn needs to go and get help. We looked at a number of scenarios of increasing difficulty until rain and strengthening winds stopped play in the early afternoon.

We now each have two days off before our final phase of Benns winter climbing skills training course with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services - watch the blog for a final report.

If you would like to book your own winter skills or winter climbing training course with Iain, contact us here.

Scottish Winter Skills & winter climbing courses with Kendal Mountaineering Services. Jan/Feb 2012.

Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services is busy up in Scotland at the moment running various winter courses for people. His particular client at the moment - Benn Berkeley, wanted to learn everything about winter climbing from putting on crampons and using axes for the first time to being able to lead grade three winter climbs by the end of his twelve day bespoke winter climbing course.

This sounded like an exciting challenge indeed. Iain suggested that Benn first undertook one of our basic winter skills courses. Part of these courses entails using an ice axe to arrest a slide and on day one of Benns course, Iain took him into Coire An Lochan in Glen Coe to teach him basic step kicking & cutting plus ice axe arrest techniques as Benn demonstrates here in photo one. It was a cold and windy day but we had a good time and Iain got Benn to consolidate what he had learnt by taking a walk around the corrie afterwards practising all we had covered - a good start to the course.

Day two found us back in Coire an Lochan we where we looked at avalanche prediction & snowpack analysis followed by all of the various types of snow belay and the techniques required for ascending or descending easy grade one or two climbing routes.

Having practised all of the ropework skills, both Iain & Benn alternately lead a few pitches up a long snow slope using bucket seats backed up with various snow anchors. In photo two Benn belays Iain from a bucket seat using a buried axe belay.

We also looked at dynamically arresting a fall when belaying from a bucket seat where a falling climber is gradually slowed down rather than being suddenly stopped - often resulting in the failure of the belayers bucket seat & anchor.

The weather was good on this day and we managed to cover almost every aspect of one of our basic winter skills courses over the two days.

Day three saw the next progression on from basic winter climbing skills. Iain decided to introduce Benn to winter mountaineering techniques otherwise known as winter scrambling. The Zig Zags on Gearr Aonach in Glen Coe proved as always, to be a useful route for practising these techniques.

We ascended The Zig Zags with Iain demonstrating appropriate belay techniques from basic direct belays through to techniques more associated with rock climbing and short roping on easier ground - Benn even got to practise short roping Iain on the easier upper section of the route - both up and down.

In photo three Benn is anchored to a rock spike that Iain has just used as a direct belay to protect Benn on a short climbing section of the route. Iain has left Benn secured to this spike - simply by wrapping the rope around it a number of times whilst he moves on to an easier piece of ground to commence some more short roping (a scrambling technique).

Having reached the top of Gearr Aonach, we then reversed the route to look at techniques used for abseiling and lowering people on the more exposed & steep sections to be found on scrambling routes. Great weather and for Benn another very useful day.

On the final day of our first four day block, Iain decided to introduce Benn to his first winter climbing route.

Dorsal Arete (II) in Coire An Lochan fitted the bill perfectly as it often does for our introduction to winter climbing courses. A nice easy angled route with lots of good belays and opportunities to learn rock climbing techniques and how to climb with two axes and use crampon techniques appropriate to steeper winter climbing routes.

Dorsal Arete's arete is a nice ( or not so nice) sting in the tail to this seemingly easy winter climb. After climbing a pleasant easy angled broad buttress, the ridge narrows and rears up to a knife edge crest (the crux) - easy to protect but challenging for a winter climbing newbie with its feeling of exposure. One has to first surmount the arete - no easy task; and then walk along its crest for 30 feet with a seemingly bottomless void on the right into Y Gully and a fair drop on the left in to Broad Gully. Only a short distance remains from here to the top of the route. Photo four shows Benn at the belay below the arete, Iain has taken the photo from the top and you can see the queue of people mounting behind us!

Dorsal Arete is a well known and very popular first winter climb. As a result, it is wise to get away as early as possible in the morning to avoid being "stuck in the queue" at the foot of the crux. Be away from the car park in Glen Coe before eight am, be fit and fast and first!. We made sure were were.

For more information about our range of winter courses - contact Iain at Kendal Mountaineering services here.