Loch Goil

With very strong easterly winds forecast at height today B and I headed west of Lochgoilhead to take in some lower hills. We visited Stob na Boine Druim-fhinn, Beinn Tharsuinn, Beinn an Lochain and it’s East Top. This avoided the worst of the precipitation and we only had a couple of showers although it was pretty windy even on these 2000ft hills.

B hanging on at the summit of Stob na Boine Druim-fhinn.

There was a covering of snow above about 800m visible on the hills further east and north; as we drove back through Arrochar Beinn Ime and The Cobbler had a good dusting high up.

Arrochar

Euan and I were out in Arrochar with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors scrambling team of Ali, Kostas, Louise, May and Steve. We traversed The Cobbler starting from Loch Long and taking in the South Peak via it’s South-East Ridge and an abseil to descend before climbing the Central Peak via Doorway Route. Euan then returned to Loch Long to fetch the mini bus, whilst the rest of us headed down to Glen Croe.

Me, May, Steve and Louise on the summit of The Central Peak of The Cobbler.

It was raining and windy this morning with the mica-schist on the route requiring care in the wet. It cheered up as we summited and was dry for most of the walk out. The ground is saturated at the moment and any crags with seepage will take a while to dry.

The Cobbler

John and I were in Arrochar today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Mountaineering Team of Andrew, Devon, Douglas, Innes, Olesya and Peter.

The team soloing to the start of the difficulties in Chockstone Gully.

We had a great day climbing Chockstone Gully and Great Gully to reach the North Peak before walking over to the Centre Peak and the team climbing Doorway Route to the summit of The Cobbler. The views were great. We had no precipitation during the day. The freezing level was up near the summit of the hill, so harder routes would generally have been stripped. However, there was good build up in the gullies with the chockstones at the bottom of Great Gully being banked out to a short step.

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.