28th December 2010 Rampant

Craig climbing Fiacall Coulior

Euan climbing Rampant (Craig Mclaren collection)

Craig and i were out today on Fiacall Buttress in the Cairngorms. The corrie was very quiet (probably due to the 60mph winds and the forecast thaw). The conditions in the corrie just now are still very very wintry. The climbing on Rampant was in great condition with good neve and excellent turf. But, due to the quantity of neve, finding belays or protection cracks was desperate. Warthogs today were useful.

The harder routes in the corrie are all white but will be difficult to protect. There was some windslab on the apron approaching the route and also on the descent from the col to the north of Fiacall Buttress.

Devils Appendix

Great conditions in North Wales gave a brilliant Christmas present with an ascent of the classic Devils Appendix VI 6 climbed on thursday with Keith Ball the route is really fat taking ice screws on demand.

Stu and Andy beat us to it and I think were the first team to climb it this season good effort guys.

24th December 2011

Report from friends that they climbed the Grey Mare’s Tail on Christmas Eve and it sounded in good condition.

22nd December Beinn Leabhainn

An easy day required for Nettle, who was on his first day back climbing after a knee operation and a damaged finger. We headed to “Burger Van Falls” near the top of Glen Ogle.

Lower Tier Right Hand Side

We climbed 5 short picthes (12m max) on the two tiers of the falls. Mostly on water ice. The lines were between tech 3 and 5 (the 5 including a bit of mixed nonsense up the line on the left of the above photo).

Nettle on the left of the upper tier

The ice was generally in good condition and still building. Glorious weather throughout the day with an inversion, temperatures below freezing and no significant wind. There’s limited snow cover in this area, surface hoar is growing rapidly on the existing snow.

Myself starting the mixed line

22nd December Pentland Hills

I was out in the Pentlands today ski touring with Ivor. We put the skis on at Swanston village, climbed to the top of Allermuir Hill and skied back to the car. There is still plenty of fun to be had at the moment.

21st December 2010 Forked Gully

Today i was out with Martin leading some training for EICA Ratho. We headed into Meall Bhuide (near Bridge of Orchy) and climbed Forked Gully. Both forks had impassable cornices so we exited via some steep snow and mixed ground to the left (Scottish Grade II).

A number of other excellent routes such as Echo Edge and The Scoop appear to be in good condition also.

Yesterday on Beinn an Dothaidh; Taxus, West Gully and Pas de Deux were climbed.

19th December Skiing in Fife

Today I am through in Fife at the Boswells’ house for dinner. As I wrote in a previous post, I have been recovering from a knee op. Today, however, the new snow was too much of a temptation so I had a wee shot of Greg’s boots and skis. I will be back on the hill next week so regular reports will follow.

Below is a short video of the ski action. Note Greg’s dog Barra showing good style.

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Friday 17th December 2011

Headed across to Beinn an Lochain in Arrochar today and climbed the classic Monolith Grooves with Pamela Millar. This is the third time this year I’d left home with this route as a possibility and the fourth in total. This time it paid off with the turf being frozen solid, a dusting of snow and the crag well rimed. We varied the first pitch by climbing the corner groove just to the left that arrives directly at the belay, as I’d been told the bottom groove felt out of keeping with the rest of the route. This gave an excellent starting pitch at about sustained tech 4. There’s no snow build up below the chimney of the final pitch, which the guide suggests makes it harder. There’s also no ice to help gain the turfy ramp higher up on the final pitch and these moves up a short wall and slab felt hardish for the grade and were the crux on the day.

Pamela moving up towards the cave belay

The crags of The Brack looked fairly black, The Cobbler looked in similar condition to Beinn an Lochain. The low level ice that was around last week has largely gone. Below freezing all day, light north to west wind with the odd very light snow flurry.

On the arete and contemplating the groove on the way to The Table

Wednesday 15th December 2010

Up in Glen Coe with John and the Falkirk team today. We climbed Sron na Lairig. The bottom section was effectively in summer condition, but with the turf well frozen and the odd patch of soft snow. The upper section, after the first horizantal part of the ridge, was in winter condition with the firm snow, ice, some riming and rock hard turf. We then descended to the Lairig Eilde with a short stop off to play around on a nice little water ice line on the way down.

Snow cover in Glen Coe below about 700m is very patchy and buttresses currently black. Turf is firm from road level. There’s a fair bit of low level water ice hanging on and it should make it through to tomorrows re-freeze. The temperature was above freezing all day and warming up as the day went on. Cloud level was hovering part way up the ridge, some very light rain showers towards dusk. Wind mostly north westerly and little more than 15 mph before dusk.

Monday 13th December 2011

Having not read Euan’s report from yesterday (schoolboy error) Neil McGeachy and myself headed in to the North-East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh today hoping to do one of the turfy mixed routes. The turf was frozen solid, but the buttresses were black and so we didn’t feel we could justify an ascent (a funny old thing these winter climber’s ethics).

Neil on the initial ice step

We, therefore, headed up Taxus, which sounds like it was in a more fozen condition than on Sunday and finished by the Icefall Finish, which was pretty thin (I was glad to be carrying the turf gear we’d brought for the mixed route).

Wilf on the last proper pitch of the Icefall Finish

Below freezing all day on the route, no wind to speak of, clear skies all day and a temperature inversion. Turf very solid throughout, ice solid (if thin in places) and any old snow very firm.