It has been very, very wet in Scotland today. Rather than going out into the mountains, we opted to go dry tooling at Birnam instead. Hopefully we will be back up high again tomorrow.
In at EICA Ratho today for a day of staff/freelance instructor training on wall rescue, abseil problem solving and aerial assault evacuation.
A good day and thanks to Nic and Glenn for delivering the training and Mike for getting us in for it.
I was out today with John and a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Introduction to Winter Climbing team of Alistair, Bobbie, Matt and Russell. We headed for the North-East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh near Bridge of Orchy. After walking in we did a quick session on removing rock and turf gear before heading up the bottom part of West Gully and climbing Stairway to Heaven. This route was in excellent condition with all the turf well frozen, a covering of fresh snow from Saturday and even some ice.
We descended via the ridge west of the coire with light snow cover down to around 500m and the ground being fairly well frozen right back to the car park.
The major gully lines are still very lean with the approach up West Gully on snow covered rock and turf until level with the bottom of Stairway to Heaven, where there was some older firm snow and a building accumulation of wind blown snow on a strong south-easterly wind. Taxus looked very lean with mostly soft snow in the gully. However, the buttress routes that don’t require ice looked in good condition.
John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of Devon, Emanuelle, Linda, Tzvetie and Wilson today climbing Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe.
There was fresh snow down to around 450m and it snowed fairly continuously throughout the day. There was some north-westerly in the wind and no real base, so there was no problem descending in to Coire na Tulaich after we’d summited Stob Dearg. The conditions made for relatively slow progress as there was a lot of clearing required to find rock holds. There’s some ice around, but not much of it was useful on the route. I’ll put some more photos / videos of conditions on the ClimbNow Facebook page.
Yesterday the team and I visited Creagan Coire Cha-no. After abseiling down Anvil Gully we climbed Recovery Gully with one team on the left and one team on the right side of the gully. The snow was firm on the left but soft on the right. The route is still snow all the way but this wont last long unless we get a top up soon.
Today we visited Stag Rocks. After doing a multi pitch abseil descent of the route we climbed back out. The snow in the gully was first class neve,
John and I have been away with the Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Cairngorm Mixed Climbing trip for the last three days. The lack of good winter conditions has meant it’s been a very mixed trip, but a good one.
On Monday we walked in to Coire an Spreidhe and climbed the Central Couloir (SMC Journal 2011) starting on dry rock and then putting on crampons for the majority of this good 300m mountaineering route. The snow was firm and made for easy progress between good stances.
On Tuesday we walked in to Coire an t-Sneachda with the hope of an easy gully or possibly heading over to the Loch Avon basin. However, the very black state of the crags (even Fiacaill Couloir was very broken) made for a quick rethink and we walked out and drove to Duntelchaig, where we had an excellent afternoon’s rock climbing on Pinnacle Crag.
Today there was a forecast for very high winds at height and freezing levels well above the summits, so we drove south and spent the morning rock climbing at Creag na h-Eighe and the afternoon dry tooling at Newtyle.
A very mixed trip, but some good stuff done on each day and thanks to Graeme, Linda, Joanne and Tony for being open to suggestions to fit the unusual conditions.
The team and I visited Glencoe today and spent time looking at snow anchors and holding falls on body belays. The snow has softened today with lasts nights rain and todays warmer temperatures.
Today I visited Easy Gully on Aonach Mor with a team from Ballachulish. The snow was excellent for climbing and the cornice was not a problem.
As I reported on the 17th January, this week I have been involved in delivering a Winter Mountain Leader training course.
On Wednesday we had another day out in Glencoe before spending Thursday and Friday in the Cairngorms. In both areas the snow that remains is very firm and crampons are essential.
More photos can be seen on the facebook page.
Today Linda, Graeme and I headed to Cam Chreag on Meall nan Tarmachan’s west top, Meall Garbh. We were hoping some of the bigger gullies had collected and held on to enough snow to give us a mountaineering day.
We soloed Cauldron Gully on broken snow patches and grass, dropped down the easy descent line to the east of the main crag and then soloed Easy Gully, which had one minor break. After that we walked up the ridge to Meall Garbh before taking in the narrow section of the Tarmachan Ridge and on to Beinn nan Eachan and Creag na Caillich.
There were soft snow patches from circa 450m, but none were extensive and snow cover even at over 1000m was limited to collection features. Snow in the gullies was generally uniform soft and sugary with just the odd patch of harder old snow around. We didn’t need crampons at any point. No significant precipitation whilst we were out, but damp in the cloud and a fresh south-westerly/westerly wind.