Sneachda and Lurchers

Yesterday I went to a very busy Coire an t-Sneachda. As we arrived late due to our drive from west the popular routes all had team(s) on them. Therefore we climbed a route in the Forty Thieves area. This gave a good sixty metre II/III ice pitch followed by pleasant mixed ground. The crags were white and everything was well frozen.

Today to avoid the crowds we visited Lurchers Crag. After descending South Gully we climbed Pinnacle Ridge in good conditions. We were the only climbers on the crag.

Climbing Pinnacle Ridge.

Climbing Pinnacle Ridge.

Dinnertime Buttress and the East Ridge of Stob Ban

Yesterday with a team from Ballachuilish I climbed Dinnertime Buttress (Aonach Dubh) in Glencoe. Crampons were required from 543m upwards. The turf was not in good condition. Above the crux section we moved left to climb interesting mixed ground at II/III.

Today the team and I went to Lochaber and climbed the East Ridge of Stob Ban. This is a great mountaineering route with varied climbing. The snow and turf was in good condition from 800 metres upwards but poor below.

Matt and Kay on the East Ridge of Stob Ban.

Matt and Kay on the East Ridge of Stob Ban.

Cairngorms and Beinn a’Chaorainn

Yesterday John and I were out in a fairly wild Coire an t-Sneachda with a Falkirk Community Trust winter climbing team of Andy, Graham, Gregor and Pete. We opted for Goat Track Gully, which had some good ice up to the crux corner and was sheltered from the winds in parts. There was a lot of snow being moved around by strong southerly winds; it was difficult to tell how much was new snow, but it was accumulating in sheltered locations. Craig and a winter skills group shared the mini-bus and seemed to have a good day despite the strong winds and spindrift.

Pete collecting spindrift on a belay on Goat Track Gully.

Pete collecting spindrift on a belay on Goat Track Gully.

Today Andy and I chose The East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn as the winds were due to be strong again and either south-westerly or westerly. It rained below 500m all day and above 800m snow was accumulating fast in sheltered locations.

John bridging up an optional groove near the top of Goat Track Gully.

John bridging up an optional groove near the top of Goat Track Gully.

We climbed the ridge taking in as many of the by-passable difficult sections as possible. The turf was well frozen above 800m and loose blocks generally well frozen in, which allowed us lots of excellent little mixed pitches. We topped out into the wind at the summit cairn and descended quickly on the scoured side of the hill.

Andy on The East Ridge of Beinn a'Chaorainn.

Andy on The East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn.

Tete de l’Ane (2718m)

Further to my last post. The mountain Iain, Steve and I climbed on Friday (and previously thought was Pointe 2670m) is called Tete de l’Ane on the local walking maps and is 2718m in height.

For those interested in doing it, the peak involves terrain up to 45 degrees and 1 hour 15 minutes skinning from the top of the lift system.

I have added more photos to the facebook page.

Iain skiing from the summit.

Iain skiing from the summit.

Ski Touring from La Rosiere

Today, Iain, Steve and I had a good afternoons touring from the La Rosiere lift system. We climbed Pointe 2670m from the Fort Telepherique and were rewarded by a blank canvas for our ski descent.

Iain on the summit with Mont Blanc behind.

Iain on the summit with Mont Blanc behind.

More Powder, Trees and Fresh Tracks

We have had another great days off piste skiing in La Rosiere today. We spent time in the trees and higher on more open terrain when the visibility allowed.

At around 2400 metres upward, massif wind transportation of snow is creating windslab on the Italian side of the ski area.

Rosie skiing brilliant untracked powder below the village of Les Eucherts,

Rosie skiing brilliant untracked powder below the village of Les Eucherts,

Powder

Iain, powder and trees.

Iain, powder and trees.

Last night, Iain, Steve and I went out skinning after the lifts had closed in La Rosiere. The purpose of this was two-fold. Firstly, to get some training in and secondly to get away from the lift system and check out some off piste options before the arrival of the new snow. This paid dividends as we had a great day today skiing powder and different lines in the trees below Les Eucherts (La Rosiere).

The snow is still falling and more is forecast tomorrow so our old tracks will be filled in allowing us to do it all again!

 

Spring Snow

On Sunday the snow turned to rain at all levels in La Rosiere before the weather cleared to give a beautiful day on the pistes in La Rosiere yesterday.

Last night the clear skies led to a good freeze. Today, the sun came out and it was warm giving good off piste conditions on the Southerly aspects on spring snow. More new snow is forecast for tomorrow so the off piste conditions may change from spring to powder.

Nice cloud formations.

Nice cloud formations.

La Rosiere

I am currently out in La Rosiere skiing and ski touring. We arrived on Saturday in heavy snowfall which continued all day yesterday. The weather has just cleared this morning. Now looking forward to getting out on the skis this afternoon.

The photo shows Mont Pourri, an excellent ski mountaineering objective.

Mont Pourri after the weather has cleared.

Mont Pourri after the weather has cleared.

Storm Gertrude, An Teallach, Coire an t-Sneachda, The Fannichs and Stac Pollaidh

The last four days I’ve been based near Braemore Junction with Alex and Doug. The plan was for some classic winter ridge traverses and some ice climbing. Storm Gertrude certainly lived up to the last four letters of her name and we had to duck and dive a bit.

Doug on An Teallach

Doug on An Teallach

Originally Thursday looked like the best forecast for the area, although it wasn’t great with fairly high winds and snow/rain, so we decided to have a look at the traverse of An Teallach. Strong winds and driving spindrift on Sail Liath meant we nipped around the back and traversed before climbing a good Grade II gully to regain the ridge near the end of the pinnacles. We then carried on along the ridge over Sgurr Fiona and Bidein a Ghlas Thuill before taking the path from the col with Sron a’Coire to avoid any significant river crossings as the burns were in spate.

Alex and Doug on the An Teallach Traverse

Alex and Doug on the An Teallach Traverse

The winds were forecast very high on Friday, but with a distinct lull in the afternoon and better weather further East, so we decided on a post noon start in to Coire an t-Sneachda in the Cairngorms. The forecast lull never seemed to arrive and we ended up climbing The Slant and descending in pretty wild conditions, with gusts requiring us to get an ice axe in and lie down until they passed through.

Alex and Doug looking up a gully on Stac Pollaidh

Alex and Doug looking up a gully on Stac Pollaidh

The forecast had worsened for Saturday, with winds of 40 to 50mph predicted for sea level in Ullapool and fairly constant precipitation. We decided on a rest day and spent the morning in the gear shop and cafes in Ullapool, although I did venture out in to the Fannichs to check out a low crag in the afternoon.

Alex and Doug on the true western summit of Stac Pollaidh with The Summer Isles behind.

Alex and Doug on the true western summit of Stac Pollaidh with The Summer Isles behind.

Today the winds were finally down, precipitation was showers only and the freezing level was 300 to 400m. With one eye on Alex’s flight time from Inverness we needed a short day and opted for the East to West winter traverse of Stac Pollaidh. This gave an excellent day. Information is surprisingly sparse on this route. We followed the description from the Highland Scrambles North book, which is for summer scrambling. There was soft snow from 300m, the turf was well frozen and we took in two main cruxes. The first crux was leaving the notch just after the eastern summit and the second was the Difficult vertical tower before the true western summit, which I climbed by a rising rightwards turfy traverse and Alex and Doug climbed direct with gloves on snowy rock and a rope above them. We then returned to the col, abseiling around the vertical tower on the way, and descended to the north. For what it’s worth doing the traverse this way and in those conditions felt about Grade III. We had some snow showers and cloud, but also great views to the surrounding hills, the Summer Isles and the Western Isles.

Suilven and Loch Sionascaig from Stac Pollaidh.

Suilven, Canisp and Loch Sionascaig from Stac Pollaidh.

There was fresh snow down to road level for pretty much all the drive back as far as Perth, although tomorrow’s weather will change things considerably.

I’ll add some more photos to the Climbnow Facebook page tomorrow.