Aonach Eagach and Ski Touring in the Cairngorms

Jon, Mikey and I have been out over the last couple of days. On Sunday we visited Glencoe and traversed the Aonach Eagach. We wore crampons for the whole ridge. Some sections are dry but not enough to warrant taking crampons off.

Yesterday we visited the Cairngorms and traversed Cairn Lochain and Cairn Gorm via Lurchers Gully, a descent into Coire Domhain and a final descent of the pistes. We wore skis for the whole journey excluding two minutes on the approach to Lurchers Gully and one minute on around Point 1083m.

More photos on the facebook page.

Am Bodach

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.

Me, Steve and Sharon with the crags of Am Bodach behind.

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.

Pearly Gates and Oganach Chimney

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!

Climbing on Pearly Gates.

Glen Coe

John and I were out today in Glen Coe with a Falkirk Community Trust Mountaineering team of Devon, Paul, Pete and Pete. We climbed Dinnertime Buttress with a few fun variation pitches before descending via the Stob Coire nan Lochan path.

Paul on the approach to Dinnertime Buttress with the Aonach Eagach behind.

Winds were low during the day with no new fresh snow. The turf was not well frozen until over 800m and we climbed without crampons for the whole route on snowed up rock on the steeper sections. Ice is forming in Glen Coe, but none of it looked climbable as yet. We didn’t encounter any older consolidated snow from before the thaw, there may be some higher up, which will now be under a layer of fresh unconsolidated snow.

Aonach Eagach

Today John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors winter mountaineering team of David, Emanuelle, Ross and Tzvetie. We traversed the classic Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe from East to West in superb spring conditions taking in the Munros of Meall Dearg and Sgurr nam Fiannaidh.

David and Ross in the pinnacles on The Aonach Eagach.

David and Ross in the pinnacles on The Aonach Eagach with another team behind.

The weather was very kind and we had low winds, excellent views, soft snow and dry rock on the ridge. Where the recent snow is catching the sun on West and South aspects it is disappearing fast, but it is holding on in the shade on North and East facing slopes at height. I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Aonach Eagach

Today the team and I visited Glencoe and traversed the Aonach Eagach in good conditions. There is a video on the facebook page which shows the conditions on the pinnacles.

There was significant redistribution of snow and graupel today in strong winds. This will have created significant avalanche hazard in many locations and it is worth visiting the SAIS website before heading out.

At the start of the ridge.

At the start of the ridge.

Glen Coe

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.

Janice, Mary and Sarah moving through The Pinnacles with Robin behind.

Janice, Mary and Sarah moving through The Pinnacles with Robin behind.

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.

Aonach Eagach

John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Scrambling team today of Alasdair, Gregor, Ken, Linda and Nathalie on the Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe.

Nathalie and Ken amongst the pinnacles.

Nathalie and Ken amongst the pinnacles.

As well as the ridge we took in both the Munros of Meall Dearg and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. There is quite a lot of fresh soft snow on the ridge at the moment, but also a fair amount of bare rock. We had good weather most of the day, but some snow showers late in the afternoon on a southerly wind. I’ll add some more photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page for a better idea of conditions.

Aonach Eagach

Yesterday John and I were out with Derek, Isobel, Kostos, Lorn and Perry from Falkirk Community Trust on the Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe.

Derek, Isobel and Lorn on the Aonach Eagach

Derek, Isobel and Lorn on the Aonach Eagach

There was rain and sleet at times, but generally conditions weren’t too bad. The views to The Lost Valley and Stob Coire nan Lochan showed there’s still plenty of snow high up with major gullies and high North and East facing slopes holding plenty of old snow. I’ll put a few more photos on the Facebook page to show conditions.

Looking back to the Aonach Eagach during the descent

Looking back to the Aonach Eagach during the descent

Three Days Out West

I am just back from an excellent three days on the West Coast with John and Harvey.

On Thursday we traversed the Aonach Eagach looking at skills that allow us to move quickly on this type of terrain. We still needed crampons for the whole route.

After staying in Glen Nevis on Thursday night we climbed on Ben Nevis on Friday. We had a good long day first climbing Fawlty Towers before descending Tower Ridge and East Gully to our lunch stop. After a quick bite to eat we climbed the Waterfall Gully icefall which was in great condition before making an abseil descent. The Ben was busy with lots of teams having a great time.

Yesterday we climbed on the West Face of Aonach Mor. We climbed Western Rib starting direct via an icefall at about IV 4. The route was in excellent condition. Lots of teams were enjoying Golden Oldie.

John below the icefall we climbed on Western Rib.

John below the icefall we climbed on Western Rib.

John climbing ice on Fawlty Towers.

John climbing ice on Fawlty Towers.