I was in the Ben Lawers area again today with Chris and Kim looking at Ropework for Winter Hill Walkers. After a couple of hours working on knots and skills indoors we braved the improving weather and found enough snow to build, test and use some snow anchors on the north side of Meall Corranaich.
The snow pack in the area has reduced to mostly just patches and ribbons of snow on north and east faces above 900m. Above this altitude the turf is still remarkably firm where not taking drainage and some ice is still holding on.
Today Craig was out with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Skills team and I was out with Michael and Stephen looking at Avalanche Awareness and Safe Travel. We shared transport and visited Beinn Ghlas near Ben Lawers.
A little damp on the hill at times today. Not much snow below 950m and that mostly on north and east facing aspects. The snow is generally well saturated. Some ice is holding on and the turf was still firm above 900m and out of drainage lines.
David and I had a great day climbing K9. It was good value for the grade today (Monday) with a tricky wall on the line we took on the mixed section and the icy corner at the top having a couple of steep sections on good ice.
We chose not to climb Window Gully today; it looked in good condition but we decided to minimise time under the right hand end of the icicle fringe, which was catching the sun in the morning. There was quite a lot of soft snow and breakable crust on the less steep sections of the route. A strong south-westerly wind was moving snow on to lee slopes as we left. Looking at the forecasts conditions will be changing considerably tomorrow.
I’m just back from two days with Andy. On Saturday we chose to start late to make the best of the weather, strong westerlies with snow but both decreasing as the day went on. We chose to hide from the wind on the East Ridge of Meall Coire Choille-rais, which is a top of Creag Meagaidh. This gives a good mountaineering route, similar in several ways to the nearby East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn, but much less frequently climbed. The route worked well on the day, but it was still pretty windy when we topped out. There was a breakable crust on most snow on the route, the turf was solidly frozen and there was some ice around. Cornices were building on easterly aspects and I wouldn’t have wanted to be in or under any of the nearby gullies on the day.
Today we needed a short walk in, so opted for Creag Coire an Dothaidh, where we climbed The Firebird, before heading to the top of Beinn an Dothaidh. The Firebird required a delicate approach low down, but had some good ice higher up and passed through some great icy scenery. The crag was scoured out after the strong westerlies of Saturday. Older snow had a breakable icy crust. Ice is reforming on Creag Coire an Dothaidh. The upper section of Salamander looked climbable today, however the initial gully was still a stream.
Euan and I were out with a Falkirk Outdoors team of Antonia, Kim, Linda, Martin and Wilson today. Based on the forecast we changed from the programmed visit to Arrochar and headed to Glen Clova. This turned out to be a good choice and we had a great day climbing a very icy Central Gully Left Branch in Winter Corrie.
There were lots of ice lines in condition in the corrie today and it was good to bump in to Nettle who’d soloed a good icy line on Easy Gully Buttress. The turf was well frozen and there’d been very little new snow overnight. Water was running behind the ice in places, but on our route the ice was good enough for screws here required. Conditions are likely to change with precipitation and higher temperatures tomorrow.
Martin and I had a grand day out today climbing Look C Gully in Coire Fee, Glen Clova. The route was in good condition. However, conditions will rapidly change with the arrival of tonight’s warm weather.
In winter it’s always a good idea to have a Plan B and sometimes a C, D, E, F and G. Today I was out with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing Team of John, Robin, Alan, Derry, Doug and Paul. Our Plan A was Bridge of Orchy, but snow on the road and falling steadily at Tyndrum this morning forced a change and we headed for Burger Van Falls at Glen Ogle. This gave us a good day and by climbing multiple lines on each fall allowed plenty of climbing on ice and a good opportunity to concentrate on technique.
The falls weren’t thick and generally weren’t taking screws in many places, so we led some sections and top/bottom roped others. The main fall hadn’t touched down and was still running and not climbable today. It was snowing at crag height when we arrived, which changed to rain in the morning, this stopped by early afternoon, but the falls were thawing fast as we left.
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.
I had a very good day today introducing Cristina and Marti to Scottish Winter Climbing. We climbed Stairway to Heaven in the North East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh. The route was in excellent condition with a good ice pitch leaving West Gully and turf frozen solid throughout.
Ice is forming fast in the coire, but Taxus is still broken low down. There’s a dusting of snow on the hill from the last two days and very little old snow. West Gully only has old snow in it’s last section and there’s some neve around the coire rim. It was snowing lightly, but steadily on a south-west wind as we descended.
Today Pamela and I had a very pleasant day climbing in Glen Clova. We went up in to Coire Fee and headed high to climb a line to the west of The Comb, which gave circa 200m of climbing with a good first and last pitch and easier ground in between.
The turf was well frozen. There’s ice forming in the coire, but from a distance Look C Gully didn’t look as though it wood be taking ice screws yet. There was a good dusting of snow on the main crags, but the south facing crags were looking very black. A thaw is forecast overnight and in to tomorrow, which will change things considerably.