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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the past three days I have been off piste skiing and ski touring in the Saas Fee and Saas Grund areas of Switzerland. On Saturday, 50 cm of snow fell which allowed us some brilliant tree skiing at the Plattjen area. Yesterday, we toured to the Brittania Hut for lunch before enjoying the snow in the Saas Fee ski area. Today, we had brilliant conditions for the tour of the Lagginjoch (3499 metres).
There is a short video on the facebook page showing the excellent snow cover and conditions we have experienced over the last three days.
Yesterday, I visited Aberdour with the Falkirk Staff team. The crag was dry and we had a good mornings climbing in the sun.
For the next couple of days, I will be reporting on ski conditions in Saas Fee and Saas Grund. Martin will be reporting on conditions on Ben Nevis.
Yesterday, I visited the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We started the route further right of the normal start. This meant we put crampons on 100 vertical metres below the start of the climbing, climbed a steep snow gully rather than the normal buttress and could wear crampons for the whole route.
The turf on the route is not frozen and care is required with loose rock. However, the route has a lot of snow still on it and in yesterdays winds, it provided a sheltered route to the summit. Following a bit of micro navigation on the plateau, the clouds cleared and the sun came out to give beautiful views of the Grey Corries.
The Falkirk High Tops Team and I had winter climbing pencilled into the diary for today. However, as the weather and conditions for the Highlands looked very poor we opted for a change of plan. Instead, we visited the Fastcastle and Souter sea cliffs on the Berwickshire coast.
The crags were completely dry and sheltered from the strong winds. No nesting birds are currently present. We had a great time climbing routes such as Atlanta, East Arete True Finish, Plain Sailing, The Ordinary route on the Souter and Sweep. It is worth noting that the routes on Fastcastle unlike the Souter area are particularly adventurous and feature a lot of loose rock.
There is lots more photos and a video on the facebook page.