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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
With a forecast of low winds, sunshine and a frost I decided to go for a run up some hills behind Kingussie today. I took in Beinn Bhreac; the Corbett of Carn an Fhreiceadain; Carn Coire na h-Inghinn; Creag Dhubh and Creag Mhor. They’re not the most dramatic hills, but with superb views in today’s low sunlight and long shadows.
Beinn Bhreac and Carn an Fhreiceadain are now tracked right over their summits and could potentially be a good choice if the grounds very wet or for a mountain bike or ski touring ascent (as the tracks will tend to hold snow). There was a frost from the valley up today with ice on the tracks. The thaw of the last week or so has severely reduced the snow cover with only patches above about 700m and continuous snow only visible in major features and around coire rims above about 900m. The turf had a surface freeze, but wasn’t fully frozen at around 880m (my highpoint for the day). The best snow cover I could see today appeared to be on the Fannichs, which were visible in the distance. There are more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page. Happy New Year! Wilf.
Mike and I were out on Meall nan Tarmachan today with a Falkirk Outdoors Ski Touring team of Alan and Caroline. We shared the minibus with Craig and the High Tops team who changed their objective for the day based on the condition of the road above the Ben Lawers parking and took in Meall Corranaich and Meall a’Choire Leith.
There was snow cover down to 400m. We parked at the parking area at 470m and the road had hard pack snow and ice at this level. We were able to skin up from near where the Meall nan Tarmachan path leaves the track and skinned up east of the path before cutting back to the ridge and heading up to pt. 923m. We skied down a short way on to the east face on deep, but heavy wet snow, before returning to the col north of pt. 923m. A good descending traverse on the west face allowed us to return to the ridge, which we then skied down to the track.
The snow (and turf) was saturated at all levels. Generally good cover on most aspects above 700m with North and East slopes having deep accumulations. Much easier travelling on skis today than on foot, but the wet and heavy snow made turning difficult.
Alex, Leon and I had a great time climbing Sgorr na Ciche (The Pap of Glencoe) today.
There was snow from about 400m on the way up and a good depth of soft snow above 600m, with deep accumulations on north to east aspects. Winds were light north-westerly to westerlies and there was no significant precipitation during the day. The freezing level was about summit height, but dropping later on.
Last Thursday I took the opportunity to go for a quick run up East Mount Lowther, Cold Moss and Lowther Hill to break the journey on my way back from Derbyshire. These hills are great for a quick hit on the way up the M74 as they’re not far off the motorway, have a high start and tracks, paths and short grass make for good running. There was a dusting of snow above about 600m.
Euan and I took a gamble today that the ice and turf would have remained frozen in Coire Farchal, Glen Clova. We also thought that less snow on the ground would mean less wading to get to the crag than in some areas and the lower height would mean lower winds.
Thankfully, the gamble paid off with a snow line just below crag height and although the air temperature was above freezing the turf was frozen and the ice was hanging on. We had a great time climbing The Art of Growing Old Gracefully, which has a good amount of climbing in lean conditions.
On Friday and over the weekend I was working with John for Falkirk Outdoors on an HML Training for Gene, Jane, Kate and Ross. We visited the Touch Hills; Ben Gullipen/Beinn Dearg near Loch Venachar and John’s Hill and Lamb Hill in the Ochils.
Last Wednesday Euan and I had an excellent day climbing Husky on Lurcher’s Crag in the Cairngorms. We approached from the top and abseiled down the route before climbing out as the crags were fairly heavily loaded with snow.