Winter Mountain Leader

This week I have been instructing on a Winter Mountain Leader training course for Ballachulish. We have visited; Stob Mhic Mhartuin, Beinn an Dothaidh, the Cairngorms, the Nid on Aonach Mor and tomorrow we are going to Beinn Dorain.

It has been a week of mixed weather with the first half as good as it gets and the last couple of days less so! 80mph winds, rain and very poor visibility. All good training though for those aiming to complete this award.

Cairngorm Mixed Trip

John and I have been away with the Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Cairngorm Mixed Climbing trip for the last three days. The lack of good winter conditions has meant it’s been a very mixed trip, but a good one.

On Monday we walked in to Coire an Spreidhe and climbed the Central Couloir (SMC Journal 2011) starting on dry rock and then putting on crampons for the majority of this good 300m mountaineering route. The snow was firm and made for easy progress between good stances.

The rope running down to Tony on the snowfields of Central Couloir.

The rope running down to Tony on the snowfields of Central Couloir.

On Tuesday we walked in to Coire an t-Sneachda with the hope of an easy gully or possibly heading over to the Loch Avon basin. However, the very black state of the crags (even Fiacaill Couloir was very broken) made for a quick rethink and we walked out and drove to Duntelchaig, where we had an excellent afternoon’s rock climbing on Pinnacle Crag.

Me trying not to push to hard on the pinnacle of Pinnacle Crag. Photo Credit: J. Jackson.

Me trying not to push to0 hard on the pinnacle of Pinnacle Crag. Photo Credit: J. Jackson.

Today there was a forecast for very high winds at height and freezing levels well above the summits, so we drove south and spent the morning rock climbing at Creag na h-Eighe and the afternoon dry tooling at Newtyle.

Linda dry tooling at Newtyle.

Linda dry tooling at Newtyle.

A very mixed trip, but some good stuff done on each day and thanks to Graeme, Linda, Joanne and Tony for being open to suggestions to fit the unusual conditions.

A Grand Day Out in the Gorms

I have been out today in the Cairngorms. The weather was excellent, the buttresses white, the turf frozen and new snow down to the car park level. We visited Coire an t-Sneachda and the summit of Cairngorm.

Nearing the summit of Cairngorm with Sneachda behind.

Nearing the summit of Cairngorm with Sneachda behind.

 

 

Glenmore Lodge and Geal Charn

Since Saturday I’ve been based up at Glenmore Lodge. On Saturday I was attending the Mountain Training Scotland Lowland Leader Provider/Director Induction and on Monday and Tuesday it was Mountain Training Scotland Train the Trainers and Assessors courses.

Rainbow from An Lurg

Rainbow from An Lurg

On Sunday I had a day off from inductions and courses and headed off for a run from Glenmore Lodge. I followed the Lairig an Laoigh path up on to the shoulder of Bynack More and then left the path to take in An Lurg, Carn Bheadhair, Carn Tarsuinn and Bile Buidhe on the way to Geal Charn. This was a new Corbett for me and I’d hoped for good views of Beinn a’Bhuird and Ben Avon, but unfortunately the weather had other ideas with the cloud staying around the 900m level most of the day. From Geal Charn I retraced my route towards Bile Buidhe before picking up the track dropping down past Loch a’Chnuic and through the Abernethy Forest to the Ryvoan Bothy and back to Glenmore Lodge.

Summit shot Geal Charn

Summit shot Geal Charn

The slow thaw is ongoing in the Cairngorms with snow pack reducing. There’s still piste ski-ing and ski-touring to be enjoyed although carrying of skis is likely to be required. Major gullies are still holding plenty of snow, with some cornices still looking pretty large.

Cairngorm and Bynack More Ski Touring

Nettle and I were out in the Cairngorms today on skis and foot. We skinned up from the car park keeping on the East side of Fiacaill Coire Cas to just before pt. 1141m. A short walk took us down in to Coire Raibert. Linking snow patches with short walking sections we were able to traverse around above Stac an Fharaidh and had an excellent ski descent to The Saddle. With skis on our packs we headed up the snow free ridge to A’Choinneach and with one easy ski section out to Bynack More whose ridge is also free of snow. Quite a long section of carrying, but a couple of new tops for Nettle. 

Nettle on top of Bynack More

Nettle on top of Bynack More

We then returned to The Saddle ski-ing some good steep snow patches on the West side of A’Choinneach and climbed/skinned up via Ciste Mhearad to the top tow of the ski area.

Bouldering on the Barns of Bynack

Bouldering on the Barns of Bynack

From here we had an excellent ski down through the now empty ski area. We were able to ski all the way to the car park, but only just and I’m not sure how much longer this will be possible.

Nettle on the West side of A'Choinneach

Nettle on the West side of A’Choinneach

Cloud most of the day above 950m, with the odd break to sunshine. Light South-East winds, no precipitation and above freezing at all levels after mid-morning. Excellent ski-ing on spring snow.

Nettle at the top ski tow

Nettle at the top ski tow

Out and About in the Cairngorms

Over the last few days I have climbed Invernookie and Western Slant. For full details on the conditions we found please read Martins reports and view the photographs on the ClimbNow facebook page.

Today, Mike and I had a great days ski touring. We toured from Coire Laogh Mor past Ciste Mhearad before having a brilliant descent to the Saddle. We then ascended close to the summit of Cairngorm before another excellent descent to the main ski car park. We encountered excellent snow throughout.

Mike looking out over the plateau.

Mike looking out over the plateau.

The Slant, Cairngorms

I have been out today in the Cairngorms with Wilson, Bob, Paul and John from the Falkirk High Tops Team. We walked into Coire an t-Sneachda with the aim of doing some scrambling.

The approach to Coire an t-Sneachda.

The approach to Coire an t-Sneachda. Winter is almost here!

 

We were greeted by lots of snow and rime on the rocks so opted for ‘The Slant’ on Mess of Pottage. In the conditions we found, the route was interesting and provided some fun moves on rock linked by grassy ledges.

The team climbing on 'The Slant'.

The team climbing on ‘The Slant’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The turf on the buttresses is not frozen. This will have to improve before winter climbing is an option.

Descending from Point 1141m.

Descending from Point 1141m.

 

Multi day ski touring in the Cairngorms

I have just returned from a two day ski touring trip in the Cairngorms with the Falkirk High Tops Team. Yesterday, we skied from the ski centre car park to the summit of Ben Macdui before descending to the Shelter Stone. We spent the night here before continuing our tour via Coire Raibert, the summit of Cairn Gorm and our final descent via the pistes back to the ski centre.

Conditions for ski touring are currently excellent. We only removed our skis for a short section of the two days to climb one steep slope in crampons. The plateau was completley covered and the pistes gave excellent skiing.

The Falkirk High Tops Team outside the Shelter Stone.

The Falkirk High Tops Team outside the Shelter Stone.

Cairngorms

Out today in the Caringorms with Calum, Cameron and Lewis from Adventure Edinburgh. We took in the summit of the Cairngorm and used the limited snow cover to look at wind movement of snow around the hillside and how that fits in with safe route choice in winter. We also found a few patches of old firm snow and used these to refresh boot and axe skills.

Fiacaill Ridge and Buttress

There’s a dusting of fresh snow above 650m and this has been transported by the wind to give unconsolidated areas of snow on north and east facing coire rims and around gully exits. Below freezing all day from the car park. There’s a fair bit of rime ice around and some hoar developing. The turf is firming up, but isn’t fully frozen as yet. No precipitaion during the day and light South-Westerly winds.