Paul and I had hoped to go winter climbing today. Unfortunately, the conditions have currently gone. Therefore we went to Newtyle (Birnam) Quarry for some training.
We had a good day on the dry tooling routes. The crag wasn’t busy with just two other climbers enjoying the routes.
Jen and I are just back from a couple of days based near Blairgowrie. With good weather on both Saturday and Sunday we took the opportunity to head up a couple of less frequently visited hills. On Saturday we walked from near Fergus in Glen Isla up Craig Lair and Badandun Hill. This gave great views southwards, but also to the higher hills around Glen Shee, Glen Isla and Glen Clova.
On Sunday we headed East to the West Water near Stonyford and did a circuit up West Craig, West Wirren and Hill of Wirren before descending via East Craig to Auchowrie. Despite more cloud on Sunday there were excellent views across Glen Esk to Lochnagar, Mount Keen, Mount Battock and Clachnaben.
Freezing levels were above the summits on both days and snow was receding fast on the higher hills. However, the ground was still largely frozen and there were icy patches particularly near the summits of these circa 700m hills and on North facing slopes. This was very helpful on the Hill of Wirren where access to the summit would be through boggy peat hags in wet conditions. Both these areas have significant networks of tracks that aren’t on the Ordnance Survey maps of the area and these made for easier walking than expected.
After climbing in Glencoe with Euan yesterday John and I decided to head to the Cairngorms today for some snowed up rock. We climbed Honeypot on the Mess of Pottage in Coire an t-Sneachda.
There’d been quite a lot of fresh snow in the Cairngorms yesterday and as this is unconsolidated it made for a fairly arduous approach and a lot of cleaning of fresh snow on the lower angled sections of the route, particularly the rising traverse section of the first pitch. The turf under the powder was well frozen, but there are very few moves on turf on the route. Cracks on the route aren’t yet heavily iced, so gear was good once loose snow and rime had been cleared. The route isn’t banked out yet and is probably an overall grade harder as per the description in Scottish Winter Climbs. A good route with interest on all three pitches.
Not busy in the coire with only one other team on the Mess of Pottage on what looked like The Hybrid. No wind to speak of and clear skies all day.
John, Martin and I were out climbing today in the Lost Valley Minor Buttress, Glencoe.
On the approach the ground was hard frozen and there was lots of ice around. When we reached the buttress large amounts of ice could be seen raising hopes of good conditions. This turned out to be a bit of an illusion as when we started up Right Edge route we discovered the turf on the first pitch was unfrozen. Conditions on the second and third pitch were better but still not good.
I would not recommend climbing on the crag currently although it is very white. Reports from SCNL were also of poorly frozen turf.
Thank you to Bergans of Norway for sending through some of their new ski collection to test and review this season coming. Reviews will go on both the facebook page and the blog over the next few months.
Ivor and I were climbing at Rob’s Reed today near Forfar. Despite last nights rain the crag was the driest I have ever seen it. Conditions were good in the November sunshine.