Conic Hill

Out today with Fiona, Joe and an excellent group of kids from Grangemouth High School on Conic Hill above Balmaha. Another beautiful weather day with great views across Loch Lomond to The Luss Hills and Arrochar. Afraid I didn’t take any photos. The hills and crags are currently very dry in the area.

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.

Chockstone Gully and Great Gully

We had good conditions on The Cobbler today where we climbed Chockstone Gully and Great Gully. There was lots of useful snow and some ice around. The turf was mostly usable.

The buttresses were all very white. Areas of poorly bonded windslab existed in some locations.

Glenn on the crux section of Great Gully.

Glenn on the crux section of Great Gully.

Beinn Narnain and A’Chrois

I was out today in the Arrochar Alps with a Falkirk Community Trust High Tops Team of Billy, Claire and Imran. Starting from Succoth in fog we climbed up Beinn Narnain and through the cloud in to sunshine and a beautiful cloud inversion, which lasted most of the day.

Ben Lomond above a sea of cloud.

Ben Lomond above a sea of cloud.

After the steep ascent of Beinn Narnain we headed out over Creag Tharsuinn and up to the top of A’Chrois. We descended the South ridge of A’Chrois, which is rough and pathless in places before returning to Succoth.

Billy and Imran on Beinn Narnain with the Luss Hills behind.

Billy and Imran on Beinn Narnain with the Luss Hills behind.

Once above the clouds we were in glorious sunshine all day with only the odd light breeze. Suncream, sunhats, shades and plenty of liquid was the order of the day.

Imran, Claire and Billy on the summit of A'Chrois with Beinn Narnain behind.

Imran, Claire and Billy on the summit of A’Chrois with Beinn Narnain behind.

 

The Cobbler

Getting winter conditions right on The Cobbler is never easy. Hard frosts to freeze the turf; enough scouring to expose the turf on the steep sections and cloud to stop the sun stripping the rime from the South facing crags are all required. Today Mac, Steve and I were lucky enough to get it right. The walk in was tough with trenches from the weekend being mostly filled in and a lot of breakable crust to deal with; 2hrs via the back route to the col.

Mac on the bottom section of Ramshead Ridge

Mac on the bottom section of Ramshead Ridge

We climbed Ramshead Ridge and then the variation to Right Angled-Gully Direct which involves the ledge traverse to keep the grade consistent. Like most winter routes on The Cobbler it was good value and we split it in to 4 pitches to avoid rope drag. The crux on the day was the steep corner on Ramshead Ridge, which gave excellent hard technical climbing with just enough ice on the left wall to help with balance. However, gaining the groove at the end of the ledge traverse was harder than it looked and involved a fair bit of hilarity.

Mac and if you look carefully Steve leopard crawling off the ledge

Mac and if you look carefully Steve leopard crawling off the ledge

There’s wind slab on lots of aspects and careful route choice is required. The crags were well rimed and the turf on the route was very well frozen. Lot’s of ice forming above 700m on the rock steps near the Northern approach route. Powdery snow on ledges with older crusty snow underneath. Shallower angled routes and snowy gullies wouldn’t be a good choice at the moment on The Cobbler.

The South Peak of The Cobbler

The South Peak of The Cobbler

Traverse of The Cobbler

Yesterday, I was out on The Cobbler in the Arrochar Alps with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We completed the traverse of the South Peak and the Centre Peak which gives some nice moderate rock climbing and one abseil.

The abseil tat at the top of the South Peak had vanished so I replaced it. Hopefully it will remain where it is!

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Return to The Cobbler

Percy leading Great Gully.

Percy leading Great Gully.

I returned to The Cobbler today with a team to look at a number of skills including; short roping, approaching routes and guiding in series. We climbed Chockstone Gully and Great Gully.

Chockstone Gully was in good condition. However, a large area of windslab was building at the exit which will require care. This has occurred due to cross loading due in the current wind direction.

Great Gully was in good condition.

The routes we climbed did not rely on frozen turf. Any turf we came upon did not appear to be frozen.

Climbing on The Cobbler

Graham at the foot of Great Gully as Tam begins the squeeze underneath the giant chockstone.

Graham at the foot of Great Gully as Tam begins the squeeze underneath the giant chockstone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forecast today was for very wild weather in the West Highlands. Despite this, The Falkirk High Tops Team (Graham, Tam, John, Gayle and Iona) and I had a great day out on The Cobbler in the Arrochar Alps.

We chose this venue for two reasons. Firstly, the mountain is a bit lower and receives less snow than other areas such as Glencoe. Secondly, as many of the routes face south the forecast wind should have scoured the face to leave good conditions.

Our plan paid off. We first climbed Chockstone Gully. There is some soft slab gathering in the initial pitches due to cross loading but we managed to avoid moving on this. The wall that is used to pass underneath the giant chockstone had good snow on it.

The slope between the top of Chockstone Gully and the base of Great Gully which was our second route of the day had been blasted by the wind leaving only old hard snow on it. Great Gully was in excellent condition with good hard snow, useful neve on the crux bulge and frozen turf at the exit.

There was areas of windslab forming on similar aspects to that suggested by the Glencoe avalanche forecast and also on southerly aspects due to cross loading.

Tam exiting Chockstone Gully. The giant chockstone which forms the arch is just behind.

Tam exiting Chockstone Gully. The giant chockstone which forms the arch is just behind.

 

The Cobbler Traverse

The Falkirk High Tops Team and I were out today in the Arrochar Alps near Loch Lomond. We climbed the South East Ridge of the South Summit of The Cobbler (Moderate) before abseiling to the col after a very brief stop on top. Some of the team continued to the Central Summit while others returned to the valley.

It is worth noting that all the abseil tat required to descend from the South Summit in anything but perfect conditions has vanished! We have put a new length of 10 mm rope through the thread anchor which will hopefully remain in place.

The weather was very challenging today but all members of the team did a great job in the conditions.

Part way up the South East Ridge of The Cobbler.

Part way up the South East Ridge of The Cobbler.

The Brack

Mac, Steve and I were out today in the Arrochar area. We climbed a probable new route straightening out a line I tried earlier in the year. The line climbs a corner left of The Abyss and then the left hand side of a slab. On the previous attempt I’d decided the turf on the slab wasn’t well enough frozen, today it was super solid but the slab still gave some bold climbing on turfy blobs. Above we joined The Abyss briefly below it’s upper corner before moving right up a ramp line to gain the top of a huge flake pinnacle via some good chimney moves. A long step off the pinnacle lead to easier ground and the top of the lower tier. The discussion about grade seemed to settle out at V,4; the climbing never felt harder than 4, but there were moves well above gear on both the slab and final chimney/pinnacle. In keeping with the route names on the lower tier the suggested route name is “Hell Mend Ya”.

Mac and Steve on the belay after the third pitch

Mac and Steve on the belay after the third pitch

To gain the top of the crag we soloed up easy ground to the bottom of January Buttress and finished up this including the icefall, which was thin but good. We took in the summit of The Brack before descending the gully to the South of the Inglis Clark Arete, which was well scoured.

Steve making the long step off the pinnacle

Steve making the long step off the pinnacle

The turf was very well frozen at crag height. Soft snow on the ledges and easier ground with some firmer older snow on the upper tier. Some icing. Not much riming on the crag, so rockier lines wouldn’t feel very wintery at the moment. Some significant wind slab on the West side of the hill. Below freezing all day, with a fresh Easterly wind. Snow flurries on and off all day and only the odd bit of blue sky breaking through. The Brack was a good choice today being low and hence less windy than some options and with very little wind slab build up on the crag.

Mac on the icefall finish of January Buttress

Mac on the icefall finish of January Buttress