Our friend and high altitude mountain guide, Jon Gupta is running a series of on

Our friend and high altitude mountain guide, Jon Gupta is running a series of online High Altitude Mountaineering Masterclass sessions, so if you're interested in building up to tackling your first peak in the Greater Ranges, make sure you tune in to these sessions!

The first session is on Tuesday, 28 April and is for those looking to cut their teeth on 5000-6000m mountains.

For more info and to book: www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/jon-gupta-30149207410

Dave MacLeod – Life is On Ice

Dave MacLeod climbing Moonwalk on Ben Nevis
On the off-chance that you have a bit of time on your hands, here's a brilliant short film showing just how good conditions were on Ben Nevis a couple of days before the UK went into lockdown. We were fortunate enough to be running our second five day CIC Hut Week at the time and in fact, we stayed an extra night so that we could make the most of the conditions up there. I'm certain that 19 seconds in, that's us on Hadrian's Wall Direct. The following day, we climbed Orion Face Direct before heading back down to Fort William. Over the 6 days, we climbed: Minus 3 Gully, Gutless, Minus 2 Gully into North East Buttress, Right-Hand Wall Route, Vanishing Gully into 1934 Route and up Tower Ridge, Hadrian's Wall and Orion Face Direct.

We've put our dates up for our CIC Hut Weeks winter 2021:
– 28 February – 5 March 2021
– 14-19 March 2021


West Coast by name but not restricted to.

On the 14th of March Mehmet guided a team of 4 up Ben Macdui.

Below are some words from Mehmet Karatay.

Chris, Christopher, Stuart and Tony are friends from Leeds. Chris wanted to introduce his friends to the delights of Scottish winter walking and to test his own boots and crampons out for an ascent of the Matterhorn later in the year.

When booking with West Coast Mountain Guides they chose to go up Ben Macdui, Scotland’s second-highest point and a remote-feeling peak on the Cairngorm plateau. It has acres of the big open spaces that the Cairngorms specialise in.

The reality of Scottish winter meant that we didn’t have much chance of getting to the summit today, with 40mph headwinds forecast and the readings from the Cairngorm summit weather station coming in higher. The group were keen to have a go though. We ventured out with open minds and with a number of contingency plans inbuilt into our day.

On our way up Lurcher’s ridge, the group learned a variety of winter skills, had an excellent view of a couple of mountain hares, and generally got a bit battered by the winds. When adventuring in the mountains, especially in winter, good-quality open communication within the group is essential. We managed to establish this early on so when the time came, the decision to turn around was an easy one. There was some thought of trying to loop through the northern corries but the temptation of a hot drink in the Cairngorm Mountain cafe won us over.

The day was full of smiles, despite the challenging conditions, and everyone was satisfied with what we achieved.

Minus 2 Gully and North East Buttress, Ben Nevis

Day 2 of our CIC Hut Week and Mark and I took out teams up Minus 2 Gully and then continued up North East Buttress, giving an excellent journey to the summit of the mountain.

We had a steady thaw and rain through the night, but by the morning, things had improved. The first pitch of Minus 2 Gully was a bit soft in places, but thereafter, the ice was excellent.

North East Buttress was good fun as always with even more snow than a couple of weeks ago. We popped over to the summit and the descended Coire Leis. It's worth noting that the descent to Coire Leis was on hard ice and a slip there would be very consequential. Coire Leis, by comparison, was a joy to descend.

Minus 3 Gully & Gutless, Ben Nevis

We're back up at the CIC Hut for the week, running our second and final hut based climbing course of the season. With a deteriorating forecast, we made an early start and climbed Minus 3 Gully, which after the milder temperatures of yesterday, had refrozen well through the night. As we were abseiling down Slingsby's Chimney, the winds picked up a notch.

I then took Phil and Shaun round to Gutless, which was well sheltered from the increasing winds. The route was mostly well frozen, but some of the snow-ice on the upper groove was a bit crusty and took a bit of care. The vegetation was still rock hard.

From the top of Gutless, we traversed over to the SW Ridge and then descended the West Gully of the Douglas Boulder, which was starting to fill up with fresh wind-blown snow. Other teams on The Curtain, Vanishing Gully, Minus 2 Gully, SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder and Fawlty Towers.

Round up no 4

It’s been a little while since my last round up write up, I have been away on a course and life has been busy, the West Coast Team has also been busy and I have received a lot of pics to share with you. It would be a shame not to at least share the pics.

Sally Hudson has been out with hill walking and she did a brilliant job of getting away from the crowds and deep snow for an ascent of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh.

Michael Mason has been a trooper out on lots of different days from Ben Nevis to Skills in Stob Corrie Nan Lochan.

Malcolm lm has been working hard for us over the last two weeks, during the difficult avalanche conditions he went North to Torridon, East to the Gorms and ended up back on the Ben. This week with Diggy he says If you’re wanting a round up this is what diggy and I climbed last week, good result every day. Better than my wild goose chase in torridon the week before .

Sun, ordinary route IV-5, summit buttress, stob coire nan lochan.
Mon, twisting gully right fork into moonshadow IV-5 , south buttress, SCNL.
Tues, The seam IV-5, Sneachta.
Weds, bodach buttress III-4 am bodach, glencoe.
Thurs, Pateys route IV-5 Sneachta.
Fri, Opening Break IV-5 Sneachta.

Dave Barker has been out climbing hard for us and was the second West Coast Team to ascend Nordwand on the Ben, mega effort!

And Chris Ensoll had a few days out also with Diggy – a very snowy day on Raeburn's Route, Stob Coire Nan Lochan.

I have attach a pic of another team I was on the course with doing the Chasm to Crowberry traverse on Buachaille Etive Mòr, this is a massive grade II mountaineering adventure, well worth getting in touch about.

New Heights – Active Brands

Twisting Gully, Glencoe & East Ridge of N. Top, Stob Ban

For the past couple of days, I've been out with Blair. Yesterday, we headed up to Stob Coire nan Lochan with a few options, but on seeing a gap on Twisting Gully, made an ascent of that, which was in good, icy nick, if a wee bit soft in places, but perfectly climbable.

Today, we climbed the East Ridge of the North Top of Stob Ban, which was very snowy, slightly soft lower down, but it hugely improved with height. The most notable thing of the day was the huge avalanches out of North/South Gully and between the North and Central Buttresses. These avalanches were most likely caused by huge cornices dropping off, releasing the snow slopes beneath. I've certainly not seen such large amounts of debris on Stob Ban before.

The snowline has definitely crept up over the past few days, but that should change as the freezing levels drop through the night, accompanied by plenty of snow.

New Heights – Active Brands

Good conditions on Moonshadow, less so on Innuendo, SCNL

With yesterdays thaw followed by a slight re-freeze, Sarah and I decided to head up high and climb on Stob Coire nan Lochan, where we enjoyed an ascent of Moonshadow, a route I had yet to climb, but had always been intrigued by. We were able to (just about) climb ice on the first pitch of Twisting Right Hand, before veering off and heading up the main pitch of Moonshadow, which whilst largely well frozen and icy, did have some areas where an icy crust was covering loose, partially thawed snow and ice.

We then descended Broad Gully and started up Innuendo, which looked to be quite icy, but turned out to be quite unfrozen in places, so rather than making a mess of the route, we abseiled off.

Plenty of other folk enjoying (spindrift on) Ordinary Route (Summit Buttress), Dorsal Arete, Twisting Gully, SC Gully (although one team did back-off due to poor conditions) and Ordinary Route (Central Buttress). None of the steeper lines were particularly white and the crag could really do with another day or two of cold temperatures.

New Heights – Active Brands

Wrapping up the week on Minus 3 Gully, Ben Nevis

For the fifth and final day of our CIC Hut Week, Neil, Paul and I wrapped things up with an ascent of Minus 3 Gully, another route that has been seeing a lot of attention recently. With an early start, we were well ahead of the hoards and enjoyed a relaxed ascent, before abseiling back down Slingsby's Chimney. The weather closed in a bit earlier than expected and brought with it some sizeable volumes of spindrift piling down the Minus and Orion Faces.

The two steeper steps of ice on Minus 3 Gully are starting to show signs of wear from the numerous recent ascents, so this current thaw followed by a re-freeze should help restore the ice and generally improve conditions higher up the mountain as well as hopefully getting rid of some of the huge cornices that are sitting above large areas of Coire na Ciste.

Other teams on Platforms Rib, Minus 2 and 1 Gullies, Orion Face Direct, Zero Gully, Vanishing Gully, The Curtain, Curtain Rail, Harrison's Direct, Gemini, Waterfall Gully and Nordwand.

With the sheer volume of snow and upcoming conditions, we can expect this season to continue well into April (and beyond?).

New Heights – Active Brands

Nordwand, Ben Nevis: Under-rated and under-graded!

Day 4 of our CIC Hut Week and Mark and myself took our teams to the opposite end of the mountain and climbed the brilliant Nordwand, which takes a long and direct line up the steep North Wall of The Castle. The first pitch is partially buried with the sheer volume of snow, but there is a bit of a bergshrund which required a bit of care not to disappear down! Thereafter, it was tricky to find the best line of ice on the first pitch, as it's covered by a thick layer of snow, but thereafter, the steep sections of ice, of which there are many, were excellent, with good ice for both axes and screws.

It's amazing that this high quality route, which is very accessible and on the most prominent of crags, sees amazingly little action when in condition. We continued up to the summit of Carn Dearg, before descending a very snowy Ledge Route.