I have been out today with the Falkirk High Tops Team in the Cairngorms. Neil, Lucy, John, Graham, Wilson and I climbed Quinn on Lurcher’s Crag.
We accessed the route via abseil from anchors I had spotted when I was there last week. The snow and ice in the gully were in excellent condition. Lots of snow has melted from the surrounding ledges leaving loose rocks which require care.
Collies Ridge was also in winter condition. The harder routes such as Irish Wolfhound and Collies Route were black.
The Falkirk High Tops Team and I have had a great day out today in the Lawers Range. From the high parking, we climbed to the base of Cam Chreag with the intention of climbing one of the gully routes on this buttress. However, as lots of debris was falling off the crag, we decided not to do this. Instead, we climbed steeply via a gully to the east of the crag to gain the ridge and summit of Meall Garbh.
After a lunch break on the summit, we had a brilliant descent on powder of Coire Riadhailt to the 650 metre contour. We then ascended back to the ridge before skiing back to the van.
We observed lots of recent avalanche activity on easterly and southerly aspects. Many more photos of the day can be seen on the facebook page.
I was out today with Michael and Ronan who have plenty of hill walking background and are looking to get the skills to climb some winter gullies.
We headed to Meall nan Tarmachan as parts of Cam Chreag have a Southerly aspect and stood a chance of being relatively scoured. The approach was quite hard with areas of deep snow. Firstly we climbed Cauldron Gully finishing on to the lefthand ridge and looking at snow anchors and belays; turf pegs (Warthogs) and some rock gear. We then descended the easy angled gully from the Meall Garbh/Meall nan Tarmachan col taking the opportunity to build a snow bollard and practice abseiling off it. We then climbed a quick Grade III turf/rock pitch on the left of the descent gully and abseiled from an excellent thread to look at abseiling on a more realistic angle.
Lots of fresh snow on top of the older consolidated snow and it was snowing steadily above 600m as we left. Winds were light Southerlies and snow was accumulating even on Southerly aspects. Skis or snow shoes would definitely have speeded the approach and descent.
I’d sort of promised Ivor a new route for his birthday last week, so today saw us out on North Craig on Mayar. We walked in from Glen Doll, however with current conditions and a bike an approach from Glen Prosen would be much quicker. From about 700m the Kilbo path has sections of steepish hard neve and walking along the ridge of the Shank of Drumfollow is probably a nicer option; we used this in descent.
Despite well frozen conditions on the approach, a forecast freezing level 200m below the crag and cloud cover keeping the sun away the crag wasn’t in great condition. There wasn’t a lot of ice around, the turf was variable and the snow soft on the lower sections. We had to settle for an easy line of I/II using soft snow ramps and turf about 50m down left of White Plains Drifter. The ramps led in 55m to a small col on the ridge like left edge of the crag, from where an easy 10m pitch lead to the top. If it’s a new line we’ll call it “68 Guns”, which is too good a name for the line, but fits with the intentions of the day. From the top of the crag we took in the summit of Mayar on the way out. A good day covering plenty of ground, if not quite what I’d hoped for.
Snow from the tree line in Glen Doll (circa 600m). Fresh and wind blown snow accumulating on North and East aspects and in sheltered areas on top of old firm snow. Lots of avalanche debris around, presumably from Sunday. There are still some very large old cornices around on North and East facing aspects and these are building again with fresh snow. Cloud most of the day above 700m. Freezing level circa 750m during the day. Some light snow showers later in the day falling as rain below 600m.
For the past five days I have been at Glenmore Lodge climbing with Paul and Spencer. We had a great week finding some brilliant climbing conditions. These are detailed below. In addition to this report, there are many photos on the ClimbNow facebook page showing the conditions.
On Monday, the lads and I climbed a steep rib to the right of Fiacaill Buttress before gaining and climbing Fiacaill Ridge. The ridge was in excellent condition and reports from today suggest it has improved.
The weather on Tuesday was fairly wild. We visited Creagan Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully in brilliant conditions. Lots of useful ice could be found on the route.
With some sunshine forecast on Wednesday, we decided to visit the west facing Lurcher’s Crag to top up the tans. We descended South Gully before climbing back out of Quinn which was in great condition. A report from today suggests that Central Gully is also still in good shape.
On the way out we could see Coire an Lochain. The cornices still appear to be massive.
Strong winds during the week had moved a lot of snow around to produce unstable windslab in sheltered spots. Therefore, on Thursday, we abseiled down Jenga Buttress on Creagan Cha-no before climbing back out. Dangerous cornices and windslab were present above routes such as Dukes Rib, Recovery Gully and Chimney Rib. Many of the buttresses are now black.
Today, we returned to Coire an t-Sneachda which was very busy. We did however have a great time climbing Terms of Endearment and the upper section of Aladdin’s Mirror on brilliant neve. Many routes on Aladdin’s buttress are in great shape as are a number on Fiacaill Buttress. The cornices on Mess of Pottage, the Trident Gullies and Fluted Buttress are still huge and no teams were on these areas.
Greg, Jilly, Katherine, Mirsie and Sally-Anne from the Glasgow Hill Walking and Mountaineering Club and I were out on Geal-charn, Drumochter, today. We were looking at Winter Skills including a bit of avalanche awareness and safe route selection, movement skills, ice axe arrest and a brief look at emergency shelters. The snow was soft pretty much everywhere, which wasn’t ideal for crampon practice, but we did get them on discuss their use and try them on a few small rock steps.
Plenty of snow above 750m; a feature I’ve used before has been completely filled in, which means there’s a depth in that sheltered location of 10m or more. South and south-west slopes are relatively scoured although any gullies on those aspects are subject to cross-loading. Lot’s of avalanche debris around, but there are still some sizable cornices and it will be interesting to see if they survive tomorrow’s thaw.
The snow pack was moist at all levels today, rain showers on lower slopes falling as damp snow above 700m on a South-Westerly wind.
For the past week I have been winter mountaineering in the Cairngorms. The climbnow facebook page has a large number of images from the last five days which show clearly the conditions at the moment.
During the last five days the team and I visited; Coire Laogh Mor, Coire na Ciste, Coire an t-Sneachda, the plateau area and Stag Rocks.
The buttresses of the Northern Corries remain very white. A large number of cornices persist over the butrresses. However, by Friday the quality of the snow in the corries has improved a lot due to the mid week thaw and refreeze. There is a very large thaw coming tomorrow. Hopefully, this will encourage the cornices to fall down and if we then have a refreeze conditions may be very good.
Stag Rocks has been busy this week with teams enjoying routes such as Apex Gully and Albino.
Hells Lum is completely buried with a huge cornice covering three quarters of the face. Carn Etchachan and Shelter Stone are very white and need a thaw and refreeze.
With all the snow in Lochaber and the Cairngorms Finn and I went to Torridon for a few days.
We stayed in the SMC Ling hut and had great food in the Hotel Bar at Sheildaig.
The Northern Pinnacles and Poachers fall were some of the highlights.
I was out with a Falkirk Team today of John, Gayle, Luci and Tam. We headed for Creagan Coire Cha-no in The Cairngorms, which proved a popular choice today.
After descending Recovery Gully, Gayle, Luci and I climbed pitch 1 of Frozen Planet, then bypassed the top pitch as the sun was catching it and making it very soggy. Also, it looked a bit improbable at IV,4, I notice it gets IV,6 on UKC. We then climbed Wile-E-Coyote, which had an excellent steep groove at mid height on well frozen snow, turf and ice. Meanwhile John and Tam climbed Chimney Rib, Frozen Planet (Pitch 1) and Duke’s Rib.
The sun came out as we walked in and it was a relatively easy walk as the last couple of days had thawed and refrozen the surface of the snowpack. Sunny for the first part of the day with buttresses stripping where in direct sunlight. Winds were low for most of day, but picked up in the afternoon and there was considerable wind movement of snow on a Southerly as we walked out.
This week I will be in the Cairngorms. Today I visited Coire Laogh Mor and Coire na Ciste.
The snowpack has improved over the past day. Full details of this can be seen on the SAIS website. The cover for ski touring remains excellent above 550 metres.