Mountain Motion winter conditions and blog

Winter mountaineering and Avalanche decisions

Feb 26, 2015

I have been working with Arne and Andreas from Switzerland this week. The challenge has been to choose good but safe objectives with the avalanche risk we had earlier in the week. The snow pack has evolved rapidly now and the old snowpack is relatively safe. The consideration now is the fresh slab build up on a day to day basis. They are doing the climbing while I am coaching them on stance management and ropework.

It was interesting to see some strange decisions on Tuesday and Wednesday on Ben nevis. People at the bottom of the Castle gullies (See SAIS blog for Tuesday), and then on Wednesday, lots of folk climbing the curtain and then descending No5, even though the temperatures rocketed and No5 could have avalanched anytime during the afternoon.

Also the avalanche reports for today (Thursday) needed to be understood correctly to get the best from the day. Although Glencoe was a High risk this referred mainly to overnight (and it did indeed all fall down last night!!), but during the day it was pretty safe as it had all fallen down and was refreezing.

Dinnertime buttress on Tuesday, a safe option given the avalanche risk.


A bit wild on the way down though.


On curved ridge today, (Thursday). We had the place to ourselves even though it was a relatively safe approach and a good route.



The big cornices at the top of Tullaich, fresh slab was forming on the scarp slope.