29th and 30th March Cairngorms Report

Craig and i have just been out in the Gorms for two days snow holing with the Falkirk High Tops Team. The weather was perfect yesterday with many buttress routes white and in climable condition. Today the weather was very wild for the walkout from Coire Domhain with 75mph winds and heavy snow. The ski road was closed.

Well done to Bozza who climbed Pick and Mix in the Gorms yesterday. This may be a second ascent. I am sure photos will appear soon on Gregs blog.

March 28th Smiths Route

I was out today on my winter guides induction with Ewen Todd. We climbed Smiths Route with the Icicle Variation on Ben Nevis. The route was in good condition. Other teams were seen on the Indicator and Psychedelic areas of the Ben. There is still plenty of good ice up high.

27th March

Out in the Glen Clova area today with the Adventure Edinburgh winter walking group. We headed from Glen Doll up Jock’s Road to the howff and then across Cairn Lunkard and the Craigs of Loch Esk before dropping down to Loch Esk and returning via the Esk to Glen Doll.

There’s still enough snow in this area to give a ski-tour if you’re prepared to carry your skis to the 800m mark. Winter Corrie and Corrie Fee were looking very stripped.

Mostly sunshine today with the odd shower falling as snow above about 750m on a fresh westerly/north westerly wind.

20th to 25th March Val D’Isere

I am currently out in Val D’Isere doing some skiing on and off piste and some ski touring. There is currently still some good powder to be had and spring snow on different aspects. There have been a large number of wet snow avalanches of which a number have been full depth.

Saturday 20th March

Out Saturday with John, Gavin, Mark, Jerry and John doing a winter skills day. We headed up in to Coire an Dothaidh near Bridge of Orchy. We found some good patches of sugary spring snow to practice boot and axe work on the way up towards the bealach. Higher up and over on the north-east side of Beinn Dorain there was some good ice to practice cramponing. The turf was suprisingly well frozen above about 650m, but the snow was generally soft and the ice and snow is stripped from all the crags in this coire.

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We had mild conditions, with temperatures well above freezing, patchy sunshine and no precipitation during the day. Brilliant views, a great group and good to be out. Large snow gullies are likely to give the best climbing in this area if there’s a re-freeze.

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15th and 16th March Raeburns Route and Pateys Route

I have just spent the last two days with the Falkirk High Tops Team. On monday we climbed Raeburns Route in Stob Coire Nan Lochain. The first pitch is becoming very thin but above this the route is in excellent condition. The route would be best started at the moment via NC Gully as long as the cornices above the gully are stable.

Today some of us climbed Pateys Route on Aladdins Buttress in the Northern Corries. The route was in good condition. The rest of the team climbed Doctors Choice. The first pitch of this route is in poor condition but the groove above does currently have enough ice. The corries were quiet today. A numbe rof routes from grade I to V 6 look in good condition at the moment.

March 13th and 14th

Out on a snow holing expedition with Adventure Edinburgh overnight on Saturday. We used the moraines area in Coire an t’Sneachda to give a short approach as it was a first time overnighting in a snow hole for all of these teenagers. The group did excellently and learnt a lot about the effort and organisation required to have a comfortable night.

The snow was firm to dig in to with an interesting ice layer at depth. Walking conditions were OK, with a crust and foot penetration varying between a few inches and a foot or so when breaking through.

It snowed lightly at the 900m level during the evening and night on a fresh north west wind, giving enough drifting to require doorways to be dug out. Rain at 450m level as we drove back over Drummochter on Sunday.

11th and 12th March West Chimney and Fluted Buttress Direct

On thursday Ian, Steve and i climbed West Chimney in Stob Coire Nan Beith (Glencoe). The route was in excellent condition. However, it was raining at all levels. Other teams were seen approaching No.6 Gully and Deep Cut Chimney.

We headed to the Gorms today in hope of better weather and climbed Fluted Buttress Direct. The route was in good condition apart from crucially the first ten metres at the start of the crux pitch. This gave bold climbing with insecure placements e.g. very little ice. The new Scottish Winter Climbs suggests in these conditions it can be V 5 and this felt about right. One other team was spotted on Fingers Ridge.

Monday 8th

Relatively easy day on Ben Udlaidh with Pamela today. We climbed West Gully with Pamela leading the left hand variation at the top at a solid grade IV.

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We then nipped back around and did White Caterpillar, which was in very solid condition.

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Other parties on The Smirk (which looked a bit hollow), Organ Pipe Wall and Doctor’s Dilemma. There appeared to be footprints in to and off the top of Peter Pan and Green Eyes, although we didn’t see anyone on them. Quartzvein Scoop still has a large cornice. Routes east of Central Gully are now catching the sun relatively early in the day and still have some drooping cornices. Light winds, no precipitation, below freezing in the shade, but warm in the sun.

Sunday 7th March

Nettle and I were up in Glen Coe today. We went up the Zig Zags followed by Boomerang Arete. Other parties on Boomerang Gully, Dorsal Arete, Twisting Gully and Central Grooves.

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Snow patches from road level. Only the odd snowy patch on the Zig Zags. Raining low down early in the day, but falling as snow above circa 900m. Turf still frozen to low levels. The snow pack was pretty wet to about 1000m, above this level it was below freezing. There’s some good snow ice about, but also some pretty big cornices over many lines in Stob Coire nan Lochan. Clearing as we left, so likely there’ll be a frost tonight.