Glen Coe

Euan and I were out today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Winter Mountaineering Team of Alan, Lewis and May. The programmed route was Dinnertime Buttress, as it can be done as a summer or winter scramble. This was definitely a good option early in the season as today it was a sheltered summer scramble with only the very odd patch of snow high up.

Euan, Lewis and Alan on an optional pitch near the top of Aonach Dubh.

The thaw earlier in the week has significantly reduced the snow cover in Glen Coe and views into Stob Coire nan Lochan showed only Broad Gully looking complete at the moment. The turf was firm near the top of Aonach Dubh. There was only light precipitation on a southerly wind whilst we were on the hill, but it was raining hard at road level as we drove south. This will have been falling as snow high up.

4 Routes in Glencoe

Levin and I have been out in Glencoe for the last two days. Yesterday we climbed Curved Ridge and Crowberry Tower on Buachaille Etive Mor. The route was in excellent condition. We descended via a snow bollard into Coire na Tulaich.

Today we climbed Dinnertime Buttress on Aonach Dubh, Dorsal Arete in SCNL and descended Broad Gully in SCNL. Dinnertime Buttress didn’t require crampons until beyond the crux chimney. Dorsal Arete was in the best condition I have ever seen it in. Broad Gully was descended on good snow (although there was some shallow windslab).

Lots more photos on the facebook page.

Exiting Dorsal Arete.

Boomerang and Broad

Boomerang and Broad Gullies in Stob Coire nan Lochan today. Both routes were in good condition.

Currently there are lots of routes to do up to grade IV in good condition in SCNL.

Starting up Boomerang Gully.

Dorsal Arete and Broad Gully

The team from Ballachulish and I headed into Stob Coire nan Lochan today. Here we climbed Dorsal Arete before descending Broad Gully.

The turf on the route improved with height. Broad Gully was full of new powder snow which had not been wind affected.

The winds during the day blew from many different directions, not just westerly as forecast. Therefore windslab may be found on a number of different aspects.

The lads on Dorsal Arete.

The lads on Dorsal Arete.

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.

 

Stob Coire nan Lochan

I was out today with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing team of John, Gillian, Helen, Kate and Ken in Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glen Coe. We climbed Dorsal Arete in quite Alpine conditions; the fin was bare rock, but the rest of the route was climbed on good refrozen snow and the fin could be bypassed on snow if desired.

Gillian and Helen with John behind approaching the fin.

Gillian and Helen with John behind approaching the fin.

We then descended Broad Gully again on firm refrozen snow. There was sunshine most of the day in Glen Coe and no precipitation. A cloud inversion rolled in late in the day. Big easier gully lines are still intact in the coire, but most buttress routes are now very bare of snow and ice. I’ll add some photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page.

A Week of Winter Skills and Mountaineering

I’m just back from an excellent week of winter skills and mountaineering with Ali and Liz. We were based in Glen Nevis, which gave us good access to lots of venues and avoided some of the worst of the weather other areas of Scotland have been having recently.

Ali and Liz topping out of Broad Gully in strong winds.

Ali and Liz topping out of Broad Gully in strong winds.

There wasn’t a huge amount of snow around at the start of the week and on Monday we headed high to Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe and used Broad Gully to look at boot and crampon work. The snow only really started just below the start of the gully proper, but was good firm old snow with just the odd area of new snow on the side of the gully sheltered from the strong East winds.

Liz and Ali above a steeper section of Number 5 Gully.

Liz and Ali above a steeper section of Number 5 Gully.

Tuesday saw us on Ben Nevis and after the thaw of the weekend and then Easterlies we took the opportunity to climb Number Five Gully, which is often best avoided as the upper bowl collects a lot of snow and is prone to avalanche. In the conditions on Tuesday it gave an excellent long climb (460m), through great scenery, on good neve with just the odd delicate step around holes where water was running below.

Learning the joys of turfy mixed climbing on the East Ridge of Beinn a'Chaorainn.

Learning the joys of turfy mixed climbing on the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn.

Ali and Liz had now climbed a lot of metres of snow, so a more mixed route seemed appropriate and on Wednesday we ascended the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn. The ridge was scoured and there wasn’t much old snow, but the turf was very well frozen from below the start of the climbing, the rock was rimed and some light fresh snow fell during the day on strong South-Easterlies. The ridge gives plenty of options for variation and tackling harder or easier steps.

Liz and Ali navigating around in the white room.

Liz and Ali navigating around in the white room.

A sore foot and a poor forecast for Thursday morning saw us driving across to the Cairngorms to look at navigation, getting shelter in winter and continuing the avalanche awareness and avoidance that was a theme throughout the week. We’d looked at some nav the day before and in winds gusting 60mph, driving snow from the car park and very limited visibility Ali and Liz did a great job of navigating me around the hill.

Sron na Lairig and Stob Coire Sgreamhach in morning sunshine.

Sron na Lairig and Stob Coire Sgreamhach in morning sunshine.

The winds finally eased today and with a frost overnight and freezing temperatures through the day we had a superb outing on Sron na Lairig. There’d been fresh snow down to around 700m on South-East and then Westerly winds, so a ridge was a good place to be. There was fresh powder on some sections of the ridge and a bit of care and clearing was required. We finished the week with a wander up to the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach to get some amazing views, before descending back via the Lairig Eilde. I’ve put some more photos from the week on the Climbnow Facebook page.

Liz and Ali on top of Stob Coire Sgreamhach.

Liz and Ali on top of Stob Coire Sgreamhach.

Glen Coe

Simon and I headed up to Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe today and climbed the classic corner of Unicorn. The rock was dry and the route provided excellent climbing requiring a good variety of techniques. Some care is required with loose rock above the main corner. There was one other team out in the coire who climbed Tilt.

Simon enjoying the first pitch of Unicorn

Simon enjoying the first pitch of Unicorn

There’s still some snow around in the coire with Broad Gully looking complete from the top of the scree cone.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Stob Coire nan Lochan