This week I have been helping to deliver a Winter Mountain Leader Training course. There is large accumulations of snow in many locations. Careful studying of the avalanche forecasts and careful route choice is necessary in the current conditions.
Today Sharon, Steve and I visited the crag on the North side of Am Bodach (the start of the Aonach Eagach) that Euan went to on Tuesday. We climbed Oganach Chimney and as he predicted it was in excellent condition after a refreeze. On the first ascent in December 2017 Andy Nelson and Andy Hogarth were able to pass under the enormous chockstone, the through route is currently blocked and it is bypassed on the right. Above the original pitches we cut left up a snow/ice/turf groove that gave a good finish in keeping with the lower pitches. This was further left than the line taken by Euan judging by the footprints.
We needed a quick second route so climbed the obvious snowy ramp line leading up left from the toe of the buttress left of chockstone of Oganach Chimney. This gave a very pleasant 50m Grade I. The older snow was generally firm in the morning except for the odd area of breakable crust. There was a thin layer of fresh snow, which was being moved in the winds that came around to easterly. Where exposed to the sun the snow was softening during the day. The buttresses were quite dry/black and we felt the line of Bodach Buttress wouldn’t have been justifiable today although all turf at crag height was very well frozen and there was snow on the ledges.
Yesterday a team and I from Ballachulish climbed Pearly Gates in Stob Coire nan Lochan. We climbed the route on good snow ice.
Today, we climbed Oganach Chimney which is on the north side of Am Bodach (the start of the Aonach Eagach). This route was first climbed in December 2017 by Andy Nelson and Andy Hogarth. It gave a nice grade III in the current conditions. The turf was frozen today however the snow was not. It was very, very wet. The route will be excellent once it freezes again.
These two routes have two things in common; very few runners and few belays. If you find a good one, take it!
Robin and I were out today with a Falkirk Community Trust scrambling Team of Devon, Jack, Janice, Mary and Sarah on the Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe. We went along the ridge from East to West taking in Am Bodach, Meall Dearg, Stob Coire Leith and Sgurr nam Fiannaidh.
The weather was excellent with high broken cloud making for great views; a light breeze and the rock was generally dry, which gave great scrambling conditions.