Ski Touring and Mountaineering in the Vanoise

Paul and I have just spent a week in the Vanoise. From Monday to Friday we were ski touring with NOCG (Naval Outdoor Centre Germany) and Infinity Mountain Guides. Some of the highlights were;

  • Rocher du Charvet (2856m) and the Palafour off piste run.
  • Ouille de la Jave (2867m) and Ouille des Tretetes (2948m).
  • Dome de Pramecou (3081m) and the Tour of the Grande Balme off piste run.
  • Ouille Noire (3357m) and the Pays Desert.
  • The Grande Motte (3423m) and the Couloir Petite Balme.

On Saturday, Paul and traversed La Tsanteleina (3601m) by climbing the North Face and descending the South Face and Glacier du Couarts Dessus. We had a great time on what was quite a physically challenging peak that before mid may (when the road opens) involves 1800 metres of ascent and a significant distance.

Lots more photos on the facebook page.

Edinburgh and the Pentlands

I’ve spent the last week delivering a DofE training and practice expedition for The City of Edinburgh Council based out of their Bangholm Outdoor Centre. Monday to Tuesday was training including a navigation day in the Dalmeny Estate and Thursday and Firday was the practice expedition in The Pentland Hills.

Sunshine and showers in The Pentlands on Thursday.

Sunshine and showers all week with fairly strong winds made for generally good drying conditions for the ground and crags.

Pentlands

The last couple of days I’ve been out in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh with a DofE group for The City of Edinburgh Council. The weather was excellent with sunshine and relatively low winds. There’s a good forecast for the next few days, so crags in the area will be drying out nicely.

Blue skies in the Pentlands on Friday.

Rob’s Reed

First day of the rock season today for Ivor and I. It was a lovely sunny day and a good temperature for climbing.

The wall style routes were dry. Steep routes such as those in the cave were mostly wet.

Aonach Eagach and Ski Touring in the Cairngorms

Jon, Mikey and I have been out over the last couple of days. On Sunday we visited Glencoe and traversed the Aonach Eagach. We wore crampons for the whole ridge. Some sections are dry but not enough to warrant taking crampons off.

Yesterday we visited the Cairngorms and traversed Cairn Lochain and Cairn Gorm via Lurchers Gully, a descent into Coire Domhain and a final descent of the pistes. We wore skis for the whole journey excluding two minutes on the approach to Lurchers Gully and one minute on around Point 1083m.

More photos on the facebook page.

Glen Feshie Ski Tour

Nettle and I were out for a ski tour in the hills above Glen Feshie yesterday. From the parking before Auchlean we carried our skis up to about 850m. There was good cover on the plateau and once on the skis stayed on except to nip a few metres to the odd scoured summit. Our tour took in the tops of Meall Dubhag, Mullach Clach a’Bhlair, Tom Dubh, Monadh Mor and Carn Ban Mor before a delightful descent of Coire Gorm down to around 600m. The descent of Coire Gorm was paid for by some trackless heather bashing to regain the path, but was well worth it.

Nettle at the summit of Mullach Clach a’Bhlair with Sgor Gaoith to Cairn Toul behind.

It was a general light thaw with sunshine to begin, then cloud, mostly above the tops, and a little rain/sleet towards the end of the day. The snow underfoot was damp and soft with skis definitely aiding travel on the plateau. There will still be some snow instabilities on steep slopes and there are large cornices around, which need to be considered in the thawing conditions.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Euan, David and I were in Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe today. There’s been a lot of new snow fall at height over the last few days, we came across new deposits of 40cm and more. Additionally the winds have moved around and there will be old wind slab under new deposits in some locations as well as new, generally soft, wind slab and this is all sitting on an old hard base of snow on lots of aspects. We saw avalanche activity that ranged from spontaneous slab releases, with a very obvious fresh crown wall under the Twisting Gully area; point releases from snow/rime sloughing off the crags in the sun and human triggered releases of slabs. Careful route choice is definitely required in Glen Coe at the moment.

David above the routes.

We took a precautionary approach and followed a low angled line around above the crags and abseiled/lowered in to climb Pinnacle Buttress Groove and a line to the right of Pinnacle Buttress, North-East Face at about Tech 5. I wouldn’t have wanted to approach these routes from below today and access from above required care. There are some very sizable cornices around and these were building with wind blown snow today. There was less fresh snow during the day than forecast and we spent most of the day in glorious sunshine with amazing views across a very snowy West Highlands.

Stob Coire nan Lochan today with avalanche activity visible below much of the crag.

Loch Etive and Creach Bheinn

Jen & I are just back from a few days staying near Taynuilt with friends. On Sunday the two Jens and I went for a low level walk in the Inverawe/Loch Etive area, whilst the rest of the group went up on to Ben Cruachan encountering snow from around 700m.

Looking towards the summit of Creach Bheinn on Monday.

On Monday I had a bimble up Creach Bheinn in Glen Creran. The new hydro access track along the Allt Buidhe made for a quick approach. I was on hard old snow from around 700m and descended via Meall Garbh and a Grade I gully in the coire to the west of Meall Garbh’s summit, which made for a quick day. Various road cycling and low level walking also went on. It snowed overnight on strong east/north-east winds and there was a dusting of fresh down to about 300m near the coast this morning.

4 Routes in Glencoe

Levin and I have been out in Glencoe for the last two days. Yesterday we climbed Curved Ridge and Crowberry Tower on Buachaille Etive Mor. The route was in excellent condition. We descended via a snow bollard into Coire na Tulaich.

Today we climbed Dinnertime Buttress on Aonach Dubh, Dorsal Arete in SCNL and descended Broad Gully in SCNL. Dinnertime Buttress didn’t require crampons until beyond the crux chimney. Dorsal Arete was in the best condition I have ever seen it in. Broad Gully was descended on good snow (although there was some shallow windslab).

Lots more photos on the facebook page.

Exiting Dorsal Arete.