Creagan Cha-no

The team and I visited Creagan Cha-no today in the Cairngorms. The crag was in excellent condition being well wind scoured, completely rimed and the turf frozen.

The crag was fairly busy as it is a good choice just now in the current snow conditions. We abseiled down Recovery Gully before climbing out via the excellent Anvil Gully.

Mark Chadwick leading Anvil Gully.

Mark Chadwick leading Anvil Gully.

East Ridge of Stob Ban

A narrow section on the East Ridge of Stob Ban.

A narrow section on the East Ridge of Stob Ban.

The team and I headed to Glen Nevis today and climbed the East Ridge of Stob Ban. The snow underfoot on the approach to this route was safe. However, it is worth choosing a suitable line to avoid being exposed to cornice collapse from the corrie to the south of the ridge.

The ridge itself was in excellent condition. The turf was useable above 800 metres and the snow was in good condition. The exit slope was well scoured.

There is more than one way to descend from the top of the ridge. Thought should be given beforehand to this as at the moment there are very large cornices on a number of aspects. These could be difficult to negotiate in poor visibility.

Aonach Eagach

I have been back out today in Glencoe on the ultra classic Aonach Eagach. We approached directly up the ridge to Am Bodach. The upper section of this is was on good firm snow which requires crampons.

The pinnacles on the Aonach Eagach.

The pinnacles on the Aonach Eagach.

Conditions on the ridge were excellent with lots of useful neve. Of note though is that there is significant cornicing and windslab present on the side of the ridges.

More snow fell today during the afternoon. There was lots of localised effects of the wind increasing the hazard on all aspects.

Buachaille Etive Mor

A very snowy Buachaille.

A very snowy Buachaille.

I have been out today on the Buachaille in Glencoe with a team looking at snow anchors and avalanche search techniques. We carefully worked up to around 500 metres in Coire na Tulaich hugging the west ridge before finding a good safe area to practise these skills.

There has been large amounts of new snow and avalanche activity in Glencoe over the last couple of days. Careful route choice is required.

Tignes

Never too young to start skiing

Never too young to start skiing

I’m just back from tignes where there are plenty of fresh turns to be had along with some very wind affected slopes.
Some things that were good
Les couloirs du chardonnet
Les grappillons
Le tour de charvet
Les couloirs des tufs were good in the first half of the week
The lognan above tignes val claret had great snow on it after Thursdays storm.
Lots of other classic lines being skied/ridden.

Glen Shee Ski Tour

Pamela, Nettle and I were out for a ski tour in the Glen Shee area today, as the East definitely seemed to be the place head again based on the weather.

Skinning up Carn Aosda

Skinning up Carn Aosda

It was raining heavily as we drove up, but 30 minutes of route planning allowed the rain to turn to snow, stop and some blue ski to appear. We skinned up through the ski area to Carn Aosda, before a good gentle run around to the the bealach above Loch Vrotachan.

Traversing on the return from Carn a'Gheoidh

Traversing on the return from Carn a’Gheoidh

We then put skins back on and headed out via Carn nan Sac to Carn a’Gheoidh in decreasing visibility and a fresh South West wind. As we descended from Carn a’Gheoidh blue skys returned and we had a delightful wind assisted ski back East then North-East before skinning up the Cairnwell in increasing winds. We finished with an excellent run back down the piste to the ski centre.

On the way up the Caurnwell with Carn nan Sac behind

On the way up the Cairnwell with Carn nan Sac behind

The overnight and early rain had stabilised the old wind slab and most of the ski-ing was on firm snow with an icey crust. We only encountered a few small areas of very localised fresh wind slab, but there was considerable wind movement of snow during the day. Snowing lightly at the road level as we left. All in all an excellent day out.

North Craig, Glen Prosen

Mac, Sharon and I were out yesterday and looking for a crag that would be East enough to avoid the rain for as long as possible; low enough to be below the worst of the wind and avoiding avalanche prone slopes. We opted for North Craig, near the Mayar Burn gambling that the bouncing freezing levels would have built ice.

Sharon at the top of White Sun of the Desert

Sharon at the top of White Sun of the Desert

We approached from Glen Doll via the Kilbo Path with suprisingly good snow cover from the edge of the forestry. The cloud set in as we climbed out of Glen Doll and was with us for most of the day.

Mac abseiling the line of the route

Mac abseiling the line of the route

The gamble paid off to a degree as we were able to climb White Sun of the Desert on thin ice and soft snow until the last 10m where both snow and ice became excellent. The ice lower down required a delicate approach and made for bold climbing as it wasn’t thick enough for screws. However, it may well have been less hollow than on the first ascent as we were able to take a direct line up the steep iced groove. A handy thread and threaded wire allowed us to abseil back down the line of the route.

The ice on the steeper lines didn’t look substantial enough, so with the freezing level rising we opted for a easier new Grade II line about 20m to the right as our second route of the day. This was mostly on Grade I snow and ledges, but with a good finish up the icey corner groove on the left hand side of the large pinnacle like feature.

The line of the new route. Up the easy snow left of the triangular block at 2/3 height and up the left side of the pinnacle.

The line of the new route. Up the easy snow left of the triangular block at 2/3 height and up the left side of the pinnacle.

We then retrieved our abseil gear and headed back across the plateau in very poor visibility and with steady rain setting in and falling as rain up to 850m. Plenty of windslab around in sheltered locations and careful route choice/selection required. The rain may have stabilised some of the older windslab, but it looks like we’re due fresh snow on strong winds on Saturday. There’s more information about the routes on this crag on the Scottishwinter.com and Graniteandice blogs; The Cairngorms guidebook only has the summer line of High Plains Drifter.

Buachaille Etive Mor, North Buttress

Gayle and Lucy from the Falkirk High Tops Team and I climbed North Buttress on Buachille Etive Mor in Glencoe yesterday (Wednesday).

Gayle climbing high on North Buttress.

Gayle climbing high on North Buttress.

Crampons and ice axes were needed from 70 metres below the chimneys. There is still large quantities of snow above this.

A small avalanche had released at the top of North Buttress. This combined with the avalanche forecast made it clear that descending Coire na Tulaich would not be an option. Therefore, we descended the ridge to its west from spot height 902m.

It was raining at all levels yesterday.

Gayle descending into Coire na Tulaich.

Gayle descending into Coire na Tulaich.

Ben Nevis

I was out on Ben Nevis today doing a workshop run by Rich Bentley. We travelled around a good section of the hill.

Carn Dearg Buttress

Moonlight Gully Buttress & Carn Dearg Buttress

Starting on the West side of The Douglas Boulder we headed up past the foot of Vanishing Gully and Italian Climb; up to the foot of Creag Coire na Ciste and over to the base of Number 4 Gully before traversing across under Number 4 Gully Buttress to join the ridge on it’s West side to gain the summit plateau. We then descended the top section of Ledge Route and traversed across the top of Moonlight Gully Butttress to regain Coire na Ciste.

Descending Ledge Route

Descending Ledge Route

Some rain on the walk in, falling as snow above the CIC hut. Winds seemed lighter than forecast. There’s a lot of snow high on Ben Nevis with some easier gullies that would often contain a step being completely banked out e.g. Garadh Gully. The older snow is generally firm. The recent snow is wet and should consolidate well with a frost, with the exception of very high up where there are some crusty areas that haven’t had a significant thaw.

Two Days out on the Skis

For the past two days, I have been in the Cairngorms with the Falkirk High Tops Team. Some of the team were completing a ski touring introductory course while the rest of the team were completing a winter skills weekend.

The team on the ascent of Lurchers Gully.

The team on the ascent of Lurchers Gully.

Yesterday, the skiers and I ascended Lurchers Gully. On the way up we looked at the use of avalanche transceivers, the use of ski touring equipment and skills such as skinning. The descent was on good snow and we managed to ski all the way to the burn exiting Coire an t-Sneachda leaving only a fifteen minute walk back to the bus.

Today, the weather conditions were particularly difficult resulting in the ski centre being closed. We still had a good day out though looking at more important topics. We climbed high into Coire Cas looking at skills such as; searching with transceivers, shovel and probe, kick turning on steep ground in ascent and kick turning in descent. Following a lunch stop with Craig and his team in their newly built shelter, we made the ascent to the Ptarmigan restaurant.

The precipitation during the ascent was rain below 800 metres and snow above. This new snow gave us a great run down the M1 piste and due to the resort being closed we had it all to ourselves. The snow continued all the way to the car park meaning no walking was required.

We left the ski car park at 2pm. The rain had turned to snow at this level by this time.

Craig exiting the improvised snow shelter built by him and his team.

Craig exiting the improvised snow shelter built by him and his team.