During a severe thaw a couple of weeks ago I thought winter had sung its last song. Ice axes, winter boots and heavy waterproof clothing had been sent off for repairs, the climbing wall had been frequented and the Spring diet had replaced my ‘see it; eat it attitude’ that we all manage to adopt throughout the colder months. However, it seems winter is still very much alive in the Scottish Highlands with many of the popular classic ice routes in brilliant condition and being climbed daily by ‘Scottish ice aficionados!’ Some of the ice is in better condition than mid February and with extended daylight hours it’s easy to see why some are still making the effort to get winter lines ticked before they finally melt for another season.
For me, with a long Skye Cuillin season fast approaching; I would like to see the snow and ice thaw out and allow the dry rock to emerge from under its coat. Recently, I enjoyed two brilliant days rock climbing which motivated me to keep the ball rolling and get back on mid Extreme grades as swiftly as possible. My first foray back on rock since my back operation was at Diabaig with Joe and Colin; what a place! It offers one of the best rock types in the UK set at the perfect angle and in an idyllic position. Following our success at Diabaig Joe and I also visited the Etive Slabs which are renowned for bold, featureless and somewhat scary climbing. We found just that and came away with another fine route of respectable difficulty.
Right now the snow is falling again, settling down to 400 meters on Ben Nevis. There is warmth in the sun but a biting Northerly wind is keeping temperatures well below average for this time of year. I love winter but I think I can safely say I am ready for warmer temperatures and less harsh working conditions. Hopefully this will be the final spell of unseasonably cold weather and the start of a warm dry summer – well I can always wish!