Cairngorms

I was out today in the Cairngorms with a Falkirk Community Trust climbing team of Joanne, Linda and Wilson. We were working on the assumption that winter climbing opportunities would be limited, so headed for Creagan Cha-no with the intention of checking out conditions and probably climbing Duke’s Rib as a Moderate.

Joanne exiting the steep corner on Duke's Rib.

Joanne exiting the steep corner on Duke’s Rib.

After abseiling in we actually climbed the initial rocks on the right of Wile-E-Coyote in error, before traversing over to climb the steep left facing corner of Duke’s Rib and then up that to the top. We climbed it as a rock route without crampons and .with an axe handy for the odd old snow patch and the snowy top out. It’s worth noting that Duke’s Rib is described wrongly on UKC, see SMC Journal 2011. There was also a quick solo of Recovery Gully on firm old snow with one small broken section.

The team belayed on the rocks right of Wile-E-Coyote.

The team belayed on the rocks right of Wile-E-Coyote.

Turf was well frozen at crag height, but the crags were looking very black. Water courses were running in Coire Laogh Mor. There are patches of old firm snow in sheltered locations, but these aren’t extensive. A dusting of fresh snow on some hills in the area above about 900m and there was a very light snow shower during the day. Winds were light.

Back to Birnam

Yesterday I returned to Newtyle (Birnam) Quarry with Linda and Joanne from the Falkirk High Tops Team. We spent a useful day looking at movement skills on steep ground with crampons and advanced techniques for climbing with axes.

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Newtyle Quarry

Paul and I had hoped to go winter climbing today. Unfortunately, the conditions have currently gone. Therefore we went to Newtyle (Birnam) Quarry for some training.

We had a good day on the dry tooling routes. The crag wasn’t busy with just two other climbers enjoying the routes.

Paul warming up at Newtyle.

Paul warming up at Newtyle.

Badandun Hill and Hill of Wirren

Jen and I are just back from a couple of days based near Blairgowrie. With good weather on both Saturday and Sunday we took the opportunity to head up a couple of less frequently visited hills. On Saturday we walked from near Fergus in Glen Isla up Craig Lair and Badandun Hill. This gave great views southwards, but also to the higher hills around Glen Shee, Glen Isla and Glen Clova.

Jen on the summit of Craig Lair with Creag Leacach behind.

Jen on the summit of Craig Lair with Creag Leacach behind.

On Sunday we headed East to the West Water near Stonyford and did a circuit up West Craig, West Wirren and Hill of Wirren before descending via East Craig to Auchowrie. Despite more cloud on Sunday there were excellent views across Glen Esk to Lochnagar, Mount Keen, Mount Battock and Clachnaben.

Jen on the Hill of Wirren trig point, which seemd to be floating on the bog in a pool of ice.

Jen on the Hill of Wirren trig point, which seemed to be floating on the bog in a pool of ice.

Freezing levels were above the summits on both days and snow was receding fast on the higher hills. However, the ground was still largely frozen and there were icy patches particularly near the summits of these circa 700m hills and on North facing slopes. This was very helpful on the Hill of Wirren where access to the summit would be through boggy peat hags in wet conditions. Both these areas have significant networks of tracks that aren’t on the Ordnance Survey maps of the area and these made for easier walking than expected.

Coire an t-Sneachda

After climbing in Glencoe with Euan yesterday John and I decided to head to the Cairngorms today for some snowed up rock. We climbed Honeypot on the Mess of Pottage in Coire an t-Sneachda.

John in the upper corner on the third pitch.

John in the top corner of Honeypot.

There’d been quite a lot of fresh snow in the Cairngorms yesterday and as this is unconsolidated it made for a fairly arduous approach and a lot of cleaning of fresh snow on the lower angled sections of the route, particularly the rising traverse section of the first pitch. The turf under the powder was well frozen, but there are very few moves on turf on the route. Cracks on the route aren’t yet heavily iced, so gear was good once loose snow and rime had been cleared. The route isn’t banked out yet and is probably an overall grade harder as per the description in Scottish Winter Climbs. A good route with interest on all three pitches.

Not busy in the coire with only one other team on the Mess of Pottage on what looked like The Hybrid. No wind to speak of and clear skies all day.

Lost Valley Minor, Glencoe

John, Martin and I were out climbing today in the Lost Valley Minor Buttress, Glencoe.

On the approach the ground was hard frozen and there was lots of ice around. When we reached the buttress large amounts of ice could be seen raising hopes of good conditions. This turned out to be a bit of an illusion as when we started up Right Edge route we discovered the turf on the first pitch was unfrozen. Conditions on the second and third pitch were better but still not good.

I would not recommend climbing on the crag currently although it is very white. Reports from SCNL were also of poorly frozen turf.

Martin leading the third pitch.

Martin leading the third pitch.

Bergans of Norway

Thank you to Bergans of Norway for sending through some of their new ski collection to test and review this season coming. Reviews will go on both the facebook page and the blog over the next few months.

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Rob’s Reed

Ivor and I were climbing at Rob’s Reed today near Forfar. Despite last nights rain the crag was the driest I have ever seen it. Conditions were good in the November sunshine.

Photo by Ivor McCourt.

Photo by Ivor McCourt.

First Aid

Martin, Colin, Zach and I have been completing our first aid refresher this week. This is a compulsory and essential part of the Mountain Guide and Mountain Instructors qualification. Thanks to Eric Pirie for an excellent course.

Colin and Eric climbing at Clifton. We spent time at the crag practising scenarios. A very appropriate classroom.

Colin and Eric climbing at Clifton. We spent time at the crag practising scenarios. A very appropriate classroom.

Aberdour and Rosyth

Over the last couple of days I have been at Aberdour and Rosyth. Firstly, on Thursday with Lucy and Doug looking at lead climbing skills and yesterday staff training with the Falkirk Team.

Rosyth was mostly dry with some seepage on the odd route. The second pitch of Fish Head Arete at Aberdour is loose at the moment, particularly in the middle section.

Three craws sat upon a wa.....

Three craws sat upon a wa…..