Saturday, 3 December 2016

PATAGONIAN ICECAP RETURN

The team heading up to the Icecap

Digging shelter walls for one of the Icecap camps

First camp on the Icecap, views not bad

On the icecap

One of the brighter spells

Fitzroy across the icecap

Plenty of time for rests
Our team are just back in El Chalten after our Southern Patagonian Icecap Expedition. We were a bit unlucky with the weather. No good length spells of decent, settled conditions. 10 wonderful days in one of the most spectacular places on the planet. Just a few photos from the mobile phone here. A full blog report when I am home next week.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

PATAGONIAN HEATWAVE!

Fitzroy 

Cerro Marconi

Lago Capri

Lots of Anenome 

Rio del Bosque
The sun was hot, the skies were blue, the wind was non existant.  Is this really Patagonia?  Hard to believe this spell of weather we are enjoying in the Los Glaciers National Park. Final preparations for the start of our Teams big adventure on the Patagonian Icecap which we begin tomorrow. Today was such a stunning day I had to get out for a walk. Of the many beautiful and really easy walks from El Chalten is the trek that head up to Lago de Los Tres.  This trail head up through beautiful Aracunia forest and all the way up to the Glaciers below the west face of Fitzroy. A classic view guaranteed today. Along the way I spent over half an hour in closed company with 4 Megellanic Woodpeckers. These beautiful colours birds are all over the forest in the area. An absolute delight.Many other birds observed today, all on the proper camera so you'll just have to wait for the photos.  Final packing for the team tonight then a final supper before our journey into the world of ice and no phone signals. If you want to follow our progress to climb Patagonias third highest summit (Cerro Mariano Moreno) we have a live tracker which will post our progress every 30 minutes. Link to access this is on a recent blog post.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

MORE FITZROY, MORE SUN, MORE FUN








All 10 members of our Patagonian Icecap Expedition are now all assembled in El Chalten.  Still a couple of days before we head out onto our big trip. Today we had another leisurely walk, taking in a wee scramble on the rocks and crags  East of the town. This give a wonderful perspective of El Chalten and the main Fitzroy /Cerro Torre mountains. The weather was once again quite unbelievable.  Clear skies and hot sun with no winds all day. Even at 7pm the temperatures in town must have been the mid 20's. A great day out with more Condors and many other birds.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

CONDOR WATCHING




An unbelievabley hot day, light winds and clear skies around the Los Glaciers National Park. We had a lovely leisurely stroll up to the Mirador Condor. As the name suggests, its a great spot to watch the Condor sharing above the spires and glaciers of Cerro Torrent & Fitzroy.  Great day out with great battery and company.

Friday, 18 November 2016

EL CHALTEN

El Chalten (Fitzroy) 

The view as you enter town

There are other mountains in the area too!
After more than 30 hours of travelling from Aviemore I eventually arrived in El Chalten. The Outdoor Capital if Patagonia! I love the place. Nestled below the fanous spires of El Chalten (Fitzroy) this is the Patagonian Icecap Expeditions base before we head out on the 23rd November.  In the meantime there are some fabulous day walks from town.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

PATAGONIA HERE WE COME




Our Patagonian Icecap Expedition is upon us. If you want to follow our progress we will have a satellite tracker, here are the links. It doesn't go live (ie we don't move!) till 23rd Novermber 2016

https://spotwalla.com/embed.php?id=1296f5801017bdf79b&scale=on&zoom=default&refresh=no



https://share.delorme.com/SpanishHighs

 A few days in the wonderful El Chalten before we head out. Here is a guide to our day to day route on the icecap. This itinerary and timings are at the mercy of the weather!

1. Rio Electrico Trailhead to La Playita camp (7hrs/250m)
2. Ascent to Paso Marconi/Ref Eduardo Garcia Soto (8hrs/1500m) – a tough day up onto the icecap!
3. Head west across the icecap to set up Base Camp 1 below the mountain (8hrs/100m)
4. Into the glacier bowl north of the peak to set up Base Camp 2 (7hrs/500m)
5. Summit day and return to Base Camp 2 (12hrs/1250m)
6. Return down the glacier to Base Camp 1 on west side of icecap (6hrs/0m)
7. Across the icecap SE to Circo de las Altares below Cerro Torre (8hrs/50m) – a magical place to camp
8. South to find the upper Viedma Glacier and exit icecap to camp at Laguna Ferrari (6hrs/150m)
9. Over the Paso del Viento, cross Tunel glacier snout and decend to Lago Toro. Camp (6hrs/200m)
10. Long walk back to El Chalén through valleys and high moorland (7hrs/400m)

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

SUPERMOON & WINTER WEATHER RETURNING

Atmospheric cloud over The Cairngorms

Very little remaining show on The Cairngorms



Red Squirrel feeding up for winter

Last nights Supermoon

Sunny skies on Meall a' Bhuachaille
Unfortunately all our wonderful snow and cold conditions were wiped out at the beginning of the week. A dramatic rise in temperatures over in the NE wiped out much of the snow that had built up in The Cairngorms. All is not lost as another spell of quite cold weather is forecast to return tomorrow and through the weekend. It was a tad chilly and strong winds up on Meall a' Bhuachaille this morning. The skies were quite wonderful with cloud being swept over the Cairngorm plateau. One minute it was shrouded in thick cloud, next there was sun shining over it's remaining patches of snow. Clear skies over Aviemore last night and a good view of the Supermoon. It certainly was bright but I couldn't notice it was any bigger than usual! The Red Squirrels down at Glenmore were nibbling away at their nuts, fattening up for the winter. Shame to hear our squirrels have yet another threat to their existence, a strain of Medieval Leprosy.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A RAPID SNOW MELT

South Cluanie Ridge and Loch Cluanie

The final top

Sail Chaorainns Northern corrie still holding snow


Late afternoon ridge walking

The team on the summit of Carn Ghluasaid

Sail Chaorainn

Looking down Glen Shiel

The Munro summit of Carn Ghluasaid

Autumn colours

Showers passing around all day

Carn Ghluasaid
The temperatures soared through the night, coupled with heavy which rain left the Glen Shiel hills robbed of snow this morning. The snowline yesterday was around 600m, today it had virtually depleted all the summits. Just the Northern and Eastern corries holding some snow and the odd patch on high plateau. Looking on the bright side, the winds had eased right back and the tops were clear by late morning. We had just the odd light shower through the day and even glimpsed the odd bit of sun. The temperature did drop slowly by the afternoon and any showers high up were falling as snow. We had a lovely day up on a couple of Munros on the north side of Glen Shiel. Carn Gluasaid and Sail Chaorainn are easy Munro summits to attain with a good stalkers path running up to the first mountain. Easy, undulating slopes then march across the high ridge line with only small ups and downs along the way. We were only looking across to these hills less than 24 hours earlier and they were completely plastered in snow, now just bare. A great couple of days in this wonderful area with so many Munros to choose from and some of the finest ridge walking in the Highlands. Wet and warm next  day or so before it cools down once again and more snow forecast by the end of the week.

Friday, 11 November 2016

KINTAIL




The temperatures had gone up a notch today. Over in the west there was a dump of snow on Wednesday. We headed over to Kintail and the Glen Shiel area. This is a fantastic spot if you love Munros, narrow ridges and wonderful views. With 21 Munros to chosen from accessed from Glen Shiel you're spoilt for choice. The forecast for today was increasing wind speedy as the day progressed. So we settled for a short outings up to the Munro summit of Druim Shionnach which lies on the South Cluanie Ridge. I guess this very long ridge line is fanous as you can 'bag' 7 Munros in one day if so included. Maybe on a nice summers day but in November and 50mph winds with a heavy, wet snowpack then maybe just one or two tops is enough.  We had good views most of the day, the cloudbase above most summits. At the top we contemplated another Munro but decided a struggle in the winds and with only 3 hours of daylight left then it was time to turned tail. A wise choice as on the way down the gusts got more several and had us stumbling about in the slippy, we snow. A good freeze would be marvelous to form up the snowpack but the freezing levels will be above the tops again tomorrow. A good day out on the hill and a bar at the Cluanie Inn, what's not to like?

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A GLORIOUS MORNING AND DEEP SNOW

Fiacaill Buttress

Beautiful sunrise

Pinnacles

Lots of rime ice

Coire an t-Sneachda

Rime ice and deep snow

Easier over the Pinnacles!

Meall a' Bhuachaille looking good

Weather front from the west

Sneachda sunrise
Fiacaill engulfed in wind and cloud by afternoon

First light on Meall a' Bhuachaille

More rime

Weathers coming in
After 3 days of low cloud and stormy weather the Cairngorms revealed themselves this morning. The west coast mountains have seen nowhere as much snow as over here. With an approaching weather front forecasted by the afternoon it was an early morning start. A glorious sunrise, red sky in morning........... Hard work in the untrodden snow but the views just wonderful. A pretty cold morning, well below freezing so no consolidation of the snow pack for a while yet. Lots of rime ice on the Fiacaill Ridge which was looking just brilliant. The traverse on the western side of the pinnacles was hard work, probably the deepest, softest snow I have experienced along here for some time. A great work out and worth all the effort. It was fascinating watching the approaching weather front moving over the Cairngorms from the west as the day progressed. By afternoon the winds had also picked up with drifting snow. It has been northerly winds over the weekend and yesterday but the winds today were from the SW, it didn't feel any warmer though. Some big accumulations on the plateau with a lot of bouldery terrain now buried.  A great morning to be out. It felt and looked like the end of January today. What a brilliant start to the winter season.