I’m just back from a three day winter climbing trip with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of John, Devon, Joanne and Pamela. We were based in the very welcoming and comfortable Ballater Hostel. On the way up visited Coire Kander near Glen Shee with John and Joanne climbing Tuircish Delight and me, Devon and Pamela climbing Pick Breaker, both were on good ice. On Thursday Devon, Joanne, Pamela and I climbed the excellent Magic Pillar on Lochnagar. This was in superb condition with very well frozen turf. Today we all headed for the gorge of Clais Rathadan for a short day. This gave some good fun with a couple of icy lines being climbed in Left Gully and most of the team climbing The Gravestone, which gave good mixed climbing, but with some care being required with loose blocks.
The ground in the area is currently hard frozen from the valley up. Thursday was mostly below minus 10C. Ice is forming readily and building where spring or stream fed. Until today there was mostly just a heavy dusting of snow on the hills with hard neve only in major collection features at height. However, it started snowing steadily during the day east of Braemar and the Lock Muick and Ballater Braemar roads were white as we left. There are more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.