Thursday, 1 December 2011

The winter season begins in earnest (posted by James)

Despite all the talk and hype during September that another early winter was on the way, that the season would kick off with a bang in October….the winter arguably did not start until today, the first day of December.

A nice dump of snow in Coire nan Lochan

The rain in Glencoe yesterday was so heavy and constant it was becoming slightly unbelievable. We had a bit of a Clachaig staff night out in the Kingshouse yesterday and during the evening the river flooded the exit road, so I had to abandon my car for the night.

Dramatic light over Buachaille Etive Beag

When I got a lift this morning to pick it up, the change in appearance of the glen was wonderful. Much of that rain had been falling as snow high up on the mountains, and this morning we were treated to crisp air, clearing skies and snow capped peaks.

Settled snow on the Devil's Staircase

Snow has fallen as low as about 250m but the freezing level is about 900m today I think. The Nevis range and the Mamores look to have had a more considerable dump than Glencoe, and I was treated to Ben Nevis looking on very fine form indeed during my evening run up the path under the North face.

Sgurr Eilde Mor

As is always the case with the start of the season, carefully considered choice of where to go will determine whether you have a chance of finding routes in condition or not. It's always so tempting to go in all guns blazing full of enthusiasm once the first snows arrive, but I've realised that one of the most important skills required of Scottish winter climbers is patience.

It'll be a little while before things settle down and we start getting a choice of routes to climb, and I think there's a thaw on the way maybe next week…but that's it now, it's winter!


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