The Cairngorms

The last three days John and I have been climbing in the Cairngorms with a Falkirk Outdoors Mixed Climbing Team of Alan, B and Devon with Robin making a guest appearance today. We hit a pretty good weather window and climbed in Coire an t-Sneachda, on Stag Rocks and on Creagan Cha-no. Various teams climbed The Seam; Goat Track Gully and it’s right hand start (on thin but climbable ice); Albino; Purge; Chimney Rib with the alternative start; Anvil Gully; The Blood is Strong and Cutty Sark.

Me, B and Devon on Cutty Sark today.

The turf was well frozen throughout the three days on the routes we climbed. There wasn’t a lot of old snow around, but what was there was good neve. Fresh snow was being moved by strong winds in to sheltered locations, generally north and east facing. The fresh snow was unconsolidated and wind slab was forming in sheltered areas. The lack of much consolidated snow means there are some loose blocks around and care is required. Having said all that the temperatures are warming up, so things will be changing rapidly. There are lots of photos on The ClimbNow Facebook page.

Cobbler

Traverse of the Cobbler yesterday. Good fun but very greasy with movement requiring care.

Cairngorms and Duntelchaig

I’m just back from four days based in Aviemore with Alex and Doug. The weather wasn’t particularly helpful, but we got something good done on each day.

On Sunday we headed to Lurcher’s Crag to avoid the crowds and descended South Gully before climbing a thin, but good, ice in Eskimo Gully on Lurcher’s Crag.

Doug and Alex approaching a belay on Eskimo Gully.

On Monday we climbed Captain Fairweather and Flood Warning on Creagan Cha-no to avoid the forecast high winds. Most of the rockier routes were black, but these lines had plenty of soft snow and very hard turf. On Tuesday with the freezing level above the summits and quite a bit of moisture in the air we climbed a somewhat soggy Central Gully and the bottom two pitches of Goat Track Gully in Coire an t-Sneachda.

Alex and Doug in Central Gully.

Today with freezing levels above the summits again we opted for some dry cragging at Pinnacle Crag, Duntelchaig. The guys climbed nine routes up to Severe 4b in big boots and in Doug’s case without removing his gloves!

Glen Coe

I’m just back from three fairly wild days based at Lagangarbh with a Falkirk Outdoors Mountaineering and High Tops Trip. On Wednesday Gillian, Linda, Neil and I ascended a soggy Zig-Zags (crampons not required). Whilst Craig, Mike and Wilson traversed Beinn a’Chrulaiste. On Tuesday the mountaineers adjourned to The Ice Factor for some indoor rock and ice climbing, whilst the walkers took in The Pap of Glencoe and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. Today the mountaineers made up a couple of routes high on the west face of Gearr Aonach including one, which had an interesting tight through route; meanwhile the walkers visited Beinn Bhan above Ballachulish before deciding the weather was unpleasant enough to make for a short day.

The mountaineering team on the Gearr Aonach ridge today with Beinn Fhada behind.

The weather gave significant precipitation on all three days. The freezing level went above the summits on Thursday on a southerly wind and then dropped down to around 600m today with the wind becoming westerly. We only reached circa 700m today, but there was considerable accumulation of fresh wind blown snow at this level. The snow at this height was moist and will firm up with colder temperatures. There are more photos on The ClimbNow Facebook page.

Lagganside

Euan and I were out today with a Falkirk Winter Climbing team of Alan, John and Lucia. We climbed the East Ridge of Meall Coire Choille-Rais, which felt like a good choice for the day being sheltered on the route and allowing for fairly quick movement.

Lucia and Alan enjoying sheltered conditions high on the ridge.

There was very little old snow visible in the area with just some in gullies and coire rims above 900m. Blustery snow showers were coming through all day on strong west and south-westerly winds. These were depositing snow down to around 500m. There were significant new accumulations at height in sheltered locations with cornices building fast.

The Borders

I was out for a dander in the Borders today doing a round of the Games Hope horseshoe with a few extensions. Starting from Talla Linfoots a fairly brutal climb lead up to Garelet Hill from where the ridge was followed over Lairds Cleuch Rig, Erie Hill, Garelet Dod, Din Law and Cape Law. A diversion was then taken out to Carrifran Gans before returning over White Coomb, Firthhope Rig, Great Hill, Donald’s Cleuch Head, Firthybrig Head, Molls Cleuch Dod and Carlavin Hill. The route took in eleven Donalds/Donald Tops (hills above 2000ft in the Scottish Lowlands).

Morning sun on Erie Hill.

There was a light frost this morning, which helped a little on some of the boggier sections, but the turf wasn’t properly frozen even on White Coomb. There are only a very few remaining old snow patches in the area. This afternoon there were snow showers on a fresh north-westerly/westerly wind, but there was very little snow settling.