The Scottish Highlands have seen their first burst of cold weather this season, briefly bringing some higher mixed routes into condition. Unfortunately this short cold snap looks to be transient, with freezing levels once again forecast to rise above the summits by the weekend. But Scottish winter is all about seizing the moment, and true to that spirit new routes have already been climbed.
The usual early season venues were the predictable goal of the few who chose to venture out. Coire an t'Sneachda and Coire an Lochain were a popular choice over the period, with ascents of well-travelled lower and middle grade routes. Outside the Northern Corries the majority of winter routes seeing attention have generally been of a more mountaineering style, such as the classic ridges.
Mike Lates and Stephan Wrede however broke the mold with a new grade VI, "Tour de Force", in the Cuillin climbed on the 28th of October! Is this a seasonal record for Skye? Timing conditions on Skye is hard enough in mid winter, so finding a new route like this at the end of October is certainly impressive in its own right.
On the same day a second new route was also climbed, on the increasingly popular Creagan Coire Cha-no. Roger Webb, Martin Hind and Simon Richardson ventured up and after a difficuit start with conditions found a part of the crag both in condition and hitherto-unclimbed, creating "The Edge of Profanity", V 7. More details on both these ascents can be found on Simon Richardson's blog, Scottish Winter.
This season is also the first since the new CIC Hut webcam went live. This great resource, provided by the SMC, will help us all keep up to date on conditions on The Ben, and is updated half-hourly via the CIC Hut Webcam twitter page.
As always another good way to keep track of conditions is via the UKC Winter Conditions page which has already started showing a number of ascents - many thanks to Mountain Equipment for their continued support of the page. You can also get direct links to all the latest Mountain Forecasts including MWIS, Met Office, the SAIS, and (where applicable) the BMC Turf Monitor.
The SMC Northern Corries guidebook package is also available via Rockfax App.