Cairngorms and Glen Coe

On Saturday and Sunday I was out with Andy and Rob and the weekend proved to be a microcosm of this winter season in that we had cold snowy conditions with quick changes to rain and freezing levels above the summits and back again.

Rob exiting Anvil Gully on Saturday morning.

Rob exiting Anvil Gully on Saturday morning with the Anvil block behind.

We met at Aviemore on Saturday to make the most of the later arrival of the warmer temperatures in the East and headed to Creagan Coire a’Cha-no in cold sunny conditions. After abseiling in we climbed Anvil Gully and as the snow was now starting to get soggy we then climbed the rocky Duke’s Rib before heading down and across to Fort William.

A damp scramble up The Zig Zags late Sunday morning.

A damp scramble up The Zig Zags late Sunday morning.

The weather was then rain above the summits through the night and in to Sunday morning with the freezing level forecast to drop to 800m on Sunday afternoon. Given this we opted for a late start on Sunday and climbed up on to Gearr Aonach via the scramble of The Zig Zags. After this we walked along to Stob Coire nan Lochan and climbed part way up Broad Gully on soft snow. By this time the temperature had dropped and things were starting to firm up and occasional snow showers were falling. We climbed out of Broad Gully on snow to gain Dorsal Arete before it’s crux rocky fin and climbed up this to the top before descending Broad Gully. This worked well as a good mountaineering day and had the added benefit of taking in the fin, which Andy and I had bypassed on a previous occasion due to high winds.

Rob and Andy on the crux fin of Dorsal Arete.

Rob and Andy on the crux fin of Dorsal Arete.

There was a dusting of fresh snow above about 800m as I drove through Glen Coe this morning, but this is likely to change through the day with freezing levels falling and snow forecast to lower levels.

 

A Report from the East and West

I have been out the mountains the last three days. On Tuesday Laura, Euan and I visited Cha-no in the Cairngorms. Conditions were excellent on Anvil Gully and Short Ridge. Some windslab was building in Recovery Gully.

We visited Lurchers Crag on Wednesday. The top of South Gully looked fairly loaded on one side we abseiled into Quinn and climbed back out. The conditions were not as good as on Cha-no. The turf was perfect on Cha-no but suspect on Lurchers.

Laura and Euan at the top of Lurchers.

Laura and Euan at the top of Lurchers.

Today the Falkirk High Tops Team and I were at the Cobbler where we climbed Chockstone Gully and Great Gully. Conditions on Chockstone Gully were Good. Great Gully is currently much harder than the guidebook grade.

The turf on the Cobbler is not frozen apart from where exposed to the wind.

Paul climbing in Great Gully.

Paul climbing in Great Gully.

Lots more photos on the facebook page.

Creagan Cha-no

John and I were out today in the Cairngorms with a Falkirk Community Trust climbing team of Doug, Gregor, Paul and Tony. Craig was also out with a party of winter navigators. The climbers headed for Creagan Cha-no.

John, Paul and Doug starting up Wile-E-Coyote.

John, Paul and Doug starting up Wile-E-Coyote.

John, Doug and Paul descended Recovery Gully and climbed Wile-E-Coyote, whilst Gregor, Tony and I abbed down Anvil Gully and climbed this.

Gregor bridging out in the top corner of Anvil Gully.

Gregor bridging out in the top corner of Anvil Gully.

John and Doug made a quick ascent of Frozen Planet as a second route, whilst Gregor, Tony and I abbed back down to the belay below the top corner of Anvil Gully and did an excellent, short right hand finish bringing us out at the neck just behind The Anvil block. Gregor did particularly well on this as it felt hard Tech 5 and it was his first day of proper winter climbing.

Gregor and Tony below the top corner of Anvil Gully with the line of the right hand finish above Gregor.

Gregor and Tony below the top corner of Anvil Gully with the line of the right hand finish above Gregor.

The crag was holding very little old snow and had a good layer of unconsolidated recent snow that needed clearing in places. The turf on Anvil Gully was very well frozen. John reported the odd bit of insulated turf under the fresh snow on Wile-E-Coyote. There are more photos of the day on the Climbnow Facebook page.

Creagan Cha-no

The team and I visited Creagan Cha-no today in the Cairngorms. The crag was in excellent condition being well wind scoured, completely rimed and the turf frozen.

The crag was fairly busy as it is a good choice just now in the current snow conditions. We abseiled down Recovery Gully before climbing out via the excellent Anvil Gully.

Mark Chadwick leading Anvil Gully.

Mark Chadwick leading Anvil Gully.

Creagan Cha-no

Out today with Cameron Wood for my first winter routes of the season. We headed for Creagan Cha-no above Strath Nethy to avoid the crowds and were a little surprised to find three other pairs climbing there during the day.
Cameron and I climbed Anvil Gully (IV,4), which has some good technical sections interspersed with easier angled turf and a good optional belay before the final wall.

Cameron approaching the optional belay on Anvil Gully

After a quick snack break we then climbed Fingers and Thumbs (IV,5), which has an easy first pitch followed by a steep and awkward start to the second.

Cameron near the top of Anvil Gully

The easier angled routes such as Duke’s Rib and Jenga Buttress were looking less wintery and teams reported less frozen turf on this type of line. The steeper lines and those with a more north-easterly aspect were holding much more snow with turf generally well frozen with the exception of the odd dry clump. The approach was easy with only a light covering of snow. There were areas of wind slab on North and East aspects and cornices are building.