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Cartoon© Tami Knight
These notes are intended to assist the climber who has already gained considerable knowledge of rock climbing and is fully aware of its risks but still wishes to progress into winter mountaineering. They are brief and not designed to be comprehensive in any way. Ultimately climbing is a dangerous sport and claims many casualties each year. One of the guiding principals of British climbing and mountaineering is that it is the individual climber is responsible for his or her own safety. If you cannot accept this then this site and probably climbing in general is unlikely to suit you. May we refer you to this very interesting site instead!
If you are still determined to venture into the Highlands in winter then the BMC's article on Winter Navigation Skills is worth reading.
For sound advice on how to choose and use winter equipment the Mountaineering Council of Scotland's Winter Essentials is essential reading as is their Gearing up for Winter.
Plas y Brenin administers the Conville Trust which provides subsidised Winter Skills courses for young impoverished climbers.
Check out the latest Scottish Winter Conditions.
In the notes below we frequently refer to "Scottish" winter climbing or "Scottish" mixed. Of course, with the wealth of winter climbing in England and Wales, this should really be British, but the term "Scottish" seems to have stuck.
Ice climbing gear has improved enormously in recent years. It has also become considerably more specialised; to the extent that one now has to ask exactly what sort of winter routes one intends to do before choosing the appropriate kit.
Above: Dave Bodecott tackling steep ice on the third pitch of Minus One Gully (VI), Ben Nevis. When in condition, which is not often, this route is almost pure water ice the whole way. However it finishes half way up North East Buttress (IV) which is a mixed climb of considerable difficulty.
Below: Stephen Reid, belayed by Steve Prior, thrutching his way up the final pitch of Savage Slit (V), Coire an Lochan, Cairngorms. This is a completely mixed climb, ie a mixture of rock, ice and snow with many moves involving twisting (or torquing) various parts of one's axes in cracks. (photo by Andy Perkins).
If the climber in the photo looks a bit sheepish it is because he has just ridden several hundred feet down Creag Meagaidh on the avalanche behind him. The photographer was with him too - hence the camera shake. Be careful out there!
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