Newsletter – January 2020

By 21st January 2020 Newsletters

Tip of the Month

Last month I wrote about rime ice, and how useful it can be in determining what the local wind direction has been recently. This knowledge plays a crucial part in our avalanche decision-making process by indicating where the dangerous lee slopes may be.

For the same reason, it’s also useful to know about, and recognise, sastrugi. These are slightly reminiscent of sand dunes in the snow. Like rime ice, the direction of the wind that they indicate is slightly counter-intuitive. Sastrugi are carved out and eroded by the wind, which gradually wears away at the windward side and deposits the snow crystals on the sheltered side of the increasingly growing feature. The steep, scarp side is the side that has been carved and thus indicates the direction of that the wind has come from.

Sastrugi can be just a centimetre or so high, but in time can also become several feet high and can be physically difficult to move across.

Fact of the Month

Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis has a curious history. The first time it was climbed as complete route, was actually in descent. J., E. and B. Hopkins descended the entire route on 3 September 1892, having ascended it as far as the Great Tower the previous day. The first ascent (and also first winter ascent) was by Norman Collie, Godfrey Solly and J.Collier on 29 March 1894. 

Route of the Month

If you are looking for an exciting winter/walk scramble (or summer, come to that), on which ropes are probably not required (depending on conditions and your ability), then try this suggestion in the Mamores. From Achriabhach in Glen Nevis, ascend the north ridge of Stob Ban (scrambly at the top), then carefully avoiding the cliffs, descend the steep east flank and ridge. Follow the skyline around towards Sgurr a’Mhaim via the Devil’s Ridge (usually undertaken as part of the Ring of Steall walk). The views of Ben Nevis from here are unusual and very impressive.

Photo of the Month

The winter climbing conditions keep coming and going, but here’s a shot of two happy ladies being guided up Dorsal Arete, the classic novice/improver’s climb in Glencoe.

 © thesummitisoptional

Forthcoming Events

These are some of the scheduled events coming up in the near future:

  • 25 January – 23 February 2020. Fully booked.
  • 24 February until mid-March 2020. Scottish winter skills courses available.
  • 4 April – 23 April 2020. Leading Island Peak expedition in Nepal (places still available).
  • May-June 2020. Skye season – various courses available on the Isle of Skye.
  • June-September 2020. UK rock climbing and scrambling courses available.
  • Late June 2020. Alta Via 1 – High Level Walk, Dolomites, Itlay. Register interest now.
  • Late August 2020. Walker’s Haute Route – Chamonix to Zermatt. Register interest now.

Download this newsletter as a PDF (below)

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