Gellaig and Carn Daimh

Jen and I are just back from a few days staying with friends near Dufftown. On the way up on Friday we stopped off and walked up Gellaig near Balmoral from the high point of the B976. This gave a pleasant loop on good tracks with great views to Ben Avon, Lochnagar, Mount Keen and even out to Clach na Ben.

Jen on the summit of Gellaig

Jen on the summit of Gellaig

On Saturday Jen, Anna Ray and I walked a circuit from Glenconglass on the Glenlivet Estate taking in Carn Daimh. Again, this is only a small hill, but has great views of Ben Avon, Beinn a Bhuird, Bynack More and Ben Rinnes. The new mountain bike trails in this area looked worth a visit too. It was windy on Saturday with gusts of 45mph below 600m.

Lochnagar from Gellaig

Lochnagar from Gellaig

Lochnagar, Ben Avon and Beinn a’Bhuird are still holding lots of snow in their corries and bigger gully lines.

Fresh Tracks in the Vanoise and Haute Maurienne

Descending from the summit of L'Uja back to the skis.

Descending from the summit of L’Uja back to the skis.

I have just had another fantastic five days ski touring in the Vanoise and Haute Maurienne with Robbo, Jock, Jon, Mikey and Tim.

We began our tour last Monday with an ascent of the Dome de Pramecou (3081m) before overnighting in Val d’Isere.

On Tuesday, we crossed the Col de l’Ouille Noire (3229m) and descended in poor visibility and snow to the Refuge du Carro. The weather cleared in the afternoon allowing us after an enjoyable ascent a great ski from the Col des Patriotes (3034m).

The weather was settled on Wednesday and we had a great days skiing on L’Uja (3379m).

On Thursday, we traversed the Col du Montet (3185m) before climbing to the summit of the Grande Aiguille Rousse (3482m). This gave us a brilliant descent of 1200 metres to the Refuge Prariond where we overnighted,

Friday was our last day. We made the most of it by completing the Col de la Galise (2987m) and the Grand Concor (3034m) before returning to Val d’Isere.

Excluding the poor weather of Tuesday morning the weather was perfect all week. Every day we skied fresh tracks, sometimes in powder snow and sometimes in spring snow. We saw very few other parties.

Lots more photos on the facebook page.

Glenmore Lodge and Geal Charn

Since Saturday I’ve been based up at Glenmore Lodge. On Saturday I was attending the Mountain Training Scotland Lowland Leader Provider/Director Induction and on Monday and Tuesday it was Mountain Training Scotland Train the Trainers and Assessors courses.

Rainbow from An Lurg

Rainbow from An Lurg

On Sunday I had a day off from inductions and courses and headed off for a run from Glenmore Lodge. I followed the Lairig an Laoigh path up on to the shoulder of Bynack More and then left the path to take in An Lurg, Carn Bheadhair, Carn Tarsuinn and Bile Buidhe on the way to Geal Charn. This was a new Corbett for me and I’d hoped for good views of Beinn a’Bhuird and Ben Avon, but unfortunately the weather had other ideas with the cloud staying around the 900m level most of the day. From Geal Charn I retraced my route towards Bile Buidhe before picking up the track dropping down past Loch a’Chnuic and through the Abernethy Forest to the Ryvoan Bothy and back to Glenmore Lodge.

Summit shot Geal Charn

Summit shot Geal Charn

The slow thaw is ongoing in the Cairngorms with snow pack reducing. There’s still piste ski-ing and ski-touring to be enjoyed although carrying of skis is likely to be required. Major gullies are still holding plenty of snow, with some cornices still looking pretty large.

Ski Mountaineering in the Haute Maurienne

Tina, Scott and I have just finished a great weeks ski mountaineering in the Haute Maurienne. This brilliant area which borders the Vanoise has many great summits for the ski tourer and a number of summits which involve the use of crampons, ice axe and ropes to gain the highest points.

On Monday we approached the Refuge d’Averole before climbing Ouille d’Arberon (3563m) on the Tuesday. The final ridge of the mountain was under deep snow making this section time consuming. The descent on skis to the Refuge d’Averole was on mostly good snow.

Wednesday promised perfect weather. Therefore, we traversed L’Albaron (3637m) from the Refuge d’Averole to the Refuge des Evettes. This is a very long day involving 1500 metres of ascent, some pulling up on fixed ropes and a brilliant alpine PD ridge. We had good conditions for the ascent and descent including a number of good ski pitches on spring snow. The traverse of this mountain requires good visibility as the terrain is complex.

Thursdays forecast was for less good weather but we still had a great day skiing the Col de la Disgrace (3232m) before returning to Bonneval sur Arc at 1800 metres giving us over 2400 metres of skiing in descent.

On Friday we climbed from Bonneval sur Arc to the Refuge Carro. The road to L’Ecot is currently closed making the approach longer than normal.

Our final day touring was spent climbing L’Uja (3379m). It had snowed overnight giving us brilliant powder snow on the glacier followed by perfect spring snow to a long distance below the Refuge. This was followed by a quick descent back to Bonneval via the ski du fond tracks.

Many more photos can be seen on the ClimbNow facebook page.

Descending from L'Albaron (3637m).

Descending from L’Albaron (3637m).

Cairngorm and Bynack More Ski Touring

Nettle and I were out in the Cairngorms today on skis and foot. We skinned up from the car park keeping on the East side of Fiacaill Coire Cas to just before pt. 1141m. A short walk took us down in to Coire Raibert. Linking snow patches with short walking sections we were able to traverse around above Stac an Fharaidh and had an excellent ski descent to The Saddle. With skis on our packs we headed up the snow free ridge to A’Choinneach and with one easy ski section out to Bynack More whose ridge is also free of snow. Quite a long section of carrying, but a couple of new tops for Nettle. 

Nettle on top of Bynack More

Nettle on top of Bynack More

We then returned to The Saddle ski-ing some good steep snow patches on the West side of A’Choinneach and climbed/skinned up via Ciste Mhearad to the top tow of the ski area.

Bouldering on the Barns of Bynack

Bouldering on the Barns of Bynack

From here we had an excellent ski down through the now empty ski area. We were able to ski all the way to the car park, but only just and I’m not sure how much longer this will be possible.

Nettle on the West side of A'Choinneach

Nettle on the West side of A’Choinneach

Cloud most of the day above 950m, with the odd break to sunshine. Light South-East winds, no precipitation and above freezing at all levels after mid-morning. Excellent ski-ing on spring snow.

Nettle at the top ski tow

Nettle at the top ski tow

Coire an t-Sneachda

John, Harvey and I were out in Coire an t-Sneachda today. We climbed Fiacaill Couloir descended The Goat Track and climbed Goat Track Gully, before heading around via pt. 1141m and back in to Coire Cas.

Harvey on one of the broken sections of Fiacaill Couloir

Harvey on one of the broken sections of Fiacaill Couloir

Fiacaill Couloir is now broken in a couple of places and a few steps on rock are required. Goat Track Gully, requires care to enter, but there is still good ice most of the way up the corner.

Harvey in Goat Track Gully

Harvey in Goat Track Gully

Temperatures were above freezing all day with a slow thaw ongoing. Snow on the routes was a mixture of firm old snow and a damp, softer more recent layer in sheltered locations. The turf was still well fozen where exposed on both routes. Care is required with loose blocks given the thaw and there are a number of bergschrund features to be negotiated. Cornices are much reduced, but should still be considered in route selection. Fresh South-Easterly winds on the tops today with sunshine and no precipitation.

John and Harvey with Fiacaill Buttress and Ridge behind

John and Harvey with Fiacaill Buttress and Ridge behind

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Neil, Patricia and I headed up in to Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe today whilst John and Iona went for some rock climbing in Glen Nevis.

The visibility in the coire was very poor and I think we climbed one of the direct starts to Dorsal Arete before abbing down the right hand side of the buttress and back in to the coire although I’m still not 100% sure. Anyway we climbed a couple of good pitches at about grade III before going through how to abseil off a route.

Neil and Patricia somewhere in the clag

Neil and Patricia somewhere in the clag

There was some fresh wet snow above 800m and this had drifted to give 10 to 15cm of new snow on top of the older firmer snow in sheltered locations. Above freezing and cloudy in the coire, although exposed turf was still generally well frozen.

Off Piste Skiing and Touring near Val d’Isere

I have just returned to Saint Gervais this evening following another great couple of days in the Espace Killy. Yesterday, Rosie and I had a great time off piste and on piste skiing in the Val d’Isere area. We found lots of excellent snow and skied lots of classic off piste runs such as La Vallee Cugnai.

Today Gayle, Rosie and I made the ascent of the Col des Barmes de L’Ours (3077m) and one of the summits of the Rochers de Barmes de L’Ours (3147m) before making the long descent to Le Manchet.

There is still plenty of fresh tracks to be had in powder snow in the Val d’Isere area for those willing to use ski touring kit.

Rosie and Gayle on the ascent of the Col des Barmes de L'Ours (3077m).

Rosie and Gayle on the ascent of the Col des Barmes de L’Ours (3077m).

Rosie off piste in La Vallee Cugnai.

Rosie off piste in La Vallee Cugnai.

Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg

Tom, Neil and I have been staying up at the CIC hut for the last two nights as part of a Falkirk Community Trust trip.

Smiling in the clag on the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach

Smiling in the clag on the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach

On Monday we walked in to find a lot of fresh snow being blown around on strong gusting winds, which varied from South through East to North-East. We opted for a quick hit in the relative shelter of the Douglas Boulder and climbed an approach pitch, which was something of a wade followed by the first pitch of Gutlass. This required a fair bit of clearing of soft powder, but had a nice wee corner on it with just enough ice. We then abbed off and retired to the hut for tea.

Tom and Neil approaching the West Gully of the Douglas Boulder

Tom and Neil approaching the West Gully of the Douglas Boulder

 Tuesday the freezing level was above the summits and there was fairly continuous drizzle throughout the day. We decided on a mountaineering day, which would keep us out of the way of potential avalanches and so headed up the relatively scoured slopes to just South of Carn Mor Dearg Meadhonach; along the ridge to Carn Mor Dearg; down the ridge to the bealach with Aonach Mor and then up the East Ridge of Carn Mor Dearg Mheadhonach. This East ridge gives a good Grade II outing although some care was required with loose rock in the thawing conditions. There were several avalanches during the day on Ben Nevis with fresh debris visable on Wednesday morning and much reduced snow and ice cover particularly on lower level buttress routes.. However, there are still huge cornices in a lot of places.

Neil and Tom today with Coire na Ciste behind

Neil and Tom today with Coire na Ciste behind

There was no significant refreeze of the snow pack overnight on Tuesday and we needed a short day today, so we headed up the West Gully of the Douglas Boulder and down the East Gully. This gave a pleasant day out in great scenery, sunny conditions and low winds. The freezing level was high and there was a slow thaw at most elevations on the hill. This was most noticable on The Curtain, which was just about formed at the start of the day and had gone by lunchtime.

A good three days in excellent company and some challenging conditions.

Dome de Pramecou (3081m), Tignes

Rosie and Gayle on the ascent of the Dome de Pramecou with the Grande Casse in the background.

Rosie and Gayle on the ascent of the Dome de Pramecou with the Grande Casse in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am currently in Val d’Isere with Gayle and Rosie. Today, we climbed and skied the Dome de Pramecou (3081 metres) above Tignes. The conditions were excellent with knee deep powder on the descent. As well as completing the summit, we skied the following classic off piste runs; Tour de Pramecou and La Vallee Perdue. Again, conditions were excellent on these.

Skiing La Vallee Perdue in Val d'Isere.

Skiing La Vallee Perdue in Val d’Isere.