Easy Gully

Today I visited Easy Gully on Aonach Mor with a team from Ballachulish. The snow was excellent for climbing and the cornice was not a problem.

Matt leading Easy Gully.

Matt leading Easy Gully.

Winter Mountain Leader Training

As I reported on the 17th January, this week I have been involved in delivering a Winter Mountain Leader training course.

On Wednesday we had another day out in Glencoe before spending Thursday and Friday in the Cairngorms. In both areas the snow that remains is very firm and crampons are essential.

More photos can be seen on the facebook page.

A beautiful evening in the Cairngorms.

A beautiful evening in the Cairngorms.

Cam Chreag and the Tarmachan Ridge

Today Linda, Graeme and I headed to Cam Chreag on Meall nan Tarmachan’s west top, Meall Garbh. We were hoping some of the bigger gullies had collected and held on to enough snow to give us a mountaineering day.

Graeme and Linda in Easy Gully Cam Chreag.

Graeme and Linda in Easy Gully Cam Chreag.

We soloed Cauldron Gully on broken snow patches and grass, dropped down the easy descent line to the east of the main crag and then soloed Easy Gully, which had one minor break. After that we walked up the ridge to Meall Garbh before taking in the narrow section of the Tarmachan Ridge and on to Beinn nan Eachan and Creag na Caillich.

There were soft snow patches from circa 450m, but none were extensive and snow cover even at over 1000m was limited to collection features. Snow in the gullies was generally uniform soft and sugary with just the odd patch of harder old snow around. We didn’t need crampons at any point. No significant precipitation whilst we were out, but damp in the cloud and a fresh south-westerly/westerly wind.

Glencoe and Aonach Mor

This week I am instructing on a Winter Mountain Leader course. Yesterday we were at Glencoe ski centre looking at teaching winter skills. Large patches of snow still exist but not enough for skiing.

Today we were at Aonach Mor looking at leading groups in steep ground. We completed the session on the east side of the mountain were large patches of snow can still be found.

Steep ground training on Aonach Mor.

Steep ground training on Aonach Mor.

The Stuic

Euan, Paul and I had a great day yesterday climbing on the The Stuic, Lochnagar. Road conditions meant for a late start as we had to drive around via Stonehaven. The crag was in excellent mixed climbing condition with well frozen turf, rime and scoured by the west and north-west winds of the last few days.

Euan setting off on pitch two of Serendipity Pillar.

Euan setting off on pitch two of Serendipity Pillar.

We climbed Serendipity Pillar with Euan linking the top two pitches. This gave good climbing, but care was required with a couple of loose blocks on the upper section. There were other people around, otherwise I’d have removed them on the second.

We then soloed down a defined narrow Grade I gully a couple of gullies right of the normal descent, before climbing The Slot, Left Hand. This gave two very good pitches, which felt stiff for the grade with a steep pull off a ledge, which may be easier with a build up of hard snow.

Paul on the top section of The Slot, Left Hand at dusk.

Paul on the top section of The Slot, Left Hand at dusk.

There were two other teams climbing on the North-West Face with at least one team on the Stuic ridge; possibly the busiest day the crag has ever seen and maybe a testament to the recent publication of the excellent Chasing the Ephemeral.

Creagan Coire Cha-no

The past two days Euan and I have been at Creagan Coire Cha-no in the Cairngorms. On Thursday Euan and I had a very pleasant day in lower winds and with less snow than forecast. We climbed the excellent Daylight Robbery and Mainmast. We finished Mainmast by continuing the line of the chimney and finishing up the last section of Cutty Sark as the turf where you pull left in to the gully line was buried by snow and a little soft.

Euan below the first pitch of Daylight Robbery.

Euan below the first pitch of Daylight Robbery.

Today we were back at the crag with Paul, Cameron and Craig and John.
What a difference a day makes; a delay on the A9 meant a late start, higher winds and more snow meant time at the top of the crag was a bit of a battle and care was required moving around below the crag and with rapidly building cornices.

Euan involved in the Mainmast chimney.

Euan involved in the Mainmast chimney.

We still had a good day with Euan and Paul climbing Frozen Planet, John and Craig climbing Cutty Sark and Cameron and I climbing Short Ridge.

Me belaying at the top of Short Ridge as Cameron tops out. Photo Credit: Craig McClaren.

Me belaying at the top of Short Ridge as Cameron tops out. Photo Credit: Craig McLaren.

Exposed turf is well frozen on the crag although larger buried areas can be soft. With more snow forecast and strong winds care should be taken approaching the crag and good route choice and approach is required. I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Coire an Lochain

The Falkirk High Tops Team, Craig and I were out in the Cairngorms today looking at winter skills. The snow that remains is all very firm. However, as can be seen from the photo the crags are very black.

Craig with Coire an Lochain beyond.

Craig with Coire an Lochain beyond.

Creagan Coire Cha-no

Euan, Ivor, Nettle and I were out climbing in the Cairngorms today. We visited Creagan Coire Cha-no. The buttresses weren’t rimed, so the steeper rocky lines weren’t justifiable today. However, the turf was well frozen, old neve was very solid and there was snow on the easier angled lines.

Euan on the first pitch of Captain Fairweather.

Euan on the first pitch of Captain Fairweather.

We had a very pleasant day climbing a number of routes and getting to know some bits of the crag we hadn’t visited before. Euan and I started with Captain Fairweather, whilst Nettle and Ivor climbed Plasma Gully with a possible new steep finish on it’s left. Nettle and Ivor then climbed Captain Fairweather, whilst Euan and I checked out the North end of the crag and climbed a possible new line up the gully immediately left of Once Were Alpinists and finished with a quick solo of Wide Gully.

Euan leading the gully line of Beth's Escape just left of Once Were Alpinists.

Euan leading the gully line of Beth’s Escape just left of Once Were Alpinists.

It was well below freezing at the crag all day, with clear skies until late in the afternoon. Southerly / South-westerly winds were very light early on, but increased during the day with some transport of soft snow on to the sheltered areas of the crag rim e.g. the top of Wide Gully. Unfortunately, it looks like freezing levels are heading above the summits during the day tomorrow. Euan has put some more photos from today on the Climbnow Facebook page and Nettle has put some on the Routes Mountain Sport Facebook page.

Euan soloing Wide Gully.

Euan soloing Wide Gully.

Cloich Hills

Jen, Rich and I were out for a New Year’s Day walk in the Cloich Hills south of Edinburgh today. It was a frosty sunny morning with light snow showers this afternoon falling and settling over about 500m on a northerly wind.

Jen and Rich on the Cross Borders Drove Road with White Meldon beyond and a fresh dusting of snow on the hills further south.

Jen and Rich on the Cross Borders Drove Road with White Meldon beyond and a fresh dusting of snow on the hills further south.

Hopefully conditions will conspire to allow us to get out and report on some winter climbing later in the week.

Dinnertime Buttress

The Falkirk High Tops Team and I were out on Dinnertime Buttress in Glencoe today. The route was damp and we encountered no snow. More photos can be viewed on the facebook page.

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