Look C Gully

Martin and I had a grand day out today climbing Look C Gully in Coire Fee, Glen Clova. The route was in good condition. However, conditions will rapidly change with the arrival of tonight’s warm weather.

Glen Clova

Today Pamela and I had a very pleasant day climbing in Glen Clova. We went up in to Coire Fee and headed high to climb a line to the west of The Comb, which gave circa 200m of climbing with a good first and last pitch and easier ground in between.

Pamela on the final steep pitch with the west wall of The Comb behind.

The turf was well frozen. There’s ice forming in the coire, but from a distance Look C Gully didn’t look as though it wood be taking ice screws yet. There was a good dusting of snow on the main crags, but the south facing crags were looking very black.  A thaw is forecast overnight and in to tomorrow, which will change things considerably.

Coire Fee

John and I were out in Coire Fee Glen Clova today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Winter Climbing team of Brian, Calum, Derry and Jim. We had a great day climbing two of the coire’s classic routes. John, Calum and Jim climbed Look C Gully, whilst Brian, Derry and I climbed B Gully Chimney. Both routes had water running behind the ice in places and required a delicate approach, but gave some excellent climbing. We then descended A Gully.

Brian and Derry on a belay stance in B Gully Chimney.

There’s unconsolidated snow in sheltered locations and although the crag was being scoured during the day there are significant areas of wind slab. We were very careful with our route selection in to A Gully to avoid crossing areas of firm wind slab and be on the scoured side of the gully.

Coire Fee

John and I were in Coire Fee, Glen Clova, today with a Falkirk Community Trust Introduction to Winter Climbing Day team of Andy, Paul and Ross. Ross and I climbed B Gully with the icefall finish before descending A Gully on soft snow, ice and rocks. John, Andy and Paul climbed a couple of ice pitches of A-B Intermediate before descending by abseil.

Ross at a belay in B Gully.

After the long period of cold weather in Scotland it had unfortunately turned warm with rain above the summits over last night and through this morning. Snow was receding in the wet conditions and ice was melting. The turf was still firm on the crag away from significant drainage. A team was backing off Look C Gully as we arrived and B Gully Chimney did not look climbable to me. It’s worth noting that the approach track and path to the coire was still very icy on our descent and requires care.

Glen Clova

I was back in Coire Fee winter climbing again today with Gregor, John and Craig. I’d climbed The Comb with Euan and Ivor in late November via the line described in Scottish Winter Climbs and was intrigued by the winter version in The Cairngorms guidebook. John and Craig climbed the route by the line I’d climbed before and Gregor and I climbed the supposedly easier version. I’m not sure I found the correct line, but much of the description fitted; the line we climbed was considerably harder than the guidebook grade and had a serious traversing section, which required a lot of care to protect the second. However, a good day was had by all with some great climbing, stunning views and very pleasant weather.

Gregor approaching the end of our traversing section on The Comb.

There was no consolidated snow although we descended via the Kilbo Path and crampons were useful on the compacted snow and ice. The turf on our route was frozen, but it’s worth noting it’s high in the coire. Ice is forming, but the classic ice lines didn’t look climbable yet. Below freezing all day from valley to summit.

Glen Clova

Euan, Ivor and I were winter climbing in Coire Fee in Glen Clova today. We climbed The Comb via the same line as the summer Diff as described in Scottish Winter Climbs. This gave an excellent route, which we climbed in four pitches before soloing easy ground to the top. We then descended E Gully back to the base of the route.

Euan traversing out to move up to the start of the route.

The turf was very well frozen on the route and throughout the coire, ice is forming and there was a dusting of snow on most routes, wind slab is forming high up in some sheltered locations. We had some light snow showers during the day and the wind was westerly/north-westerly and strong enough to be moving snow around. I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Coire Fee

A Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Mountaineering Team of John, me, Bob, Linda, Siobhan and Tom were out today. We were due to go to Glen Coe, but having seen the weather forecast decided on going East to Glen Clova and Coire Fee. Before walking in we’d assumed we’d be climbing a buttress, but with good visibility and a look at conditions we chose B Gully. We were able to climb this on soft snow, which grew firmer with height, but we did have to bypass the steep section by a diversion out to the right.

Siobhan and Bob in B Gully

Siobhan and Bob in B Gully

The ice on the steep section looked thin, but climbable. However, it was guarded by a section of steep and wet soft snow from Monday/Tuesday. The bypass was on easier angled soft snow and very firm turf and allowed us to regain the gully via a turfy ramp. We walked off via the Shank of Drumfollow staying on the ridge rather than taking the Kilbo Path, which we thought might have steep icy sections.

Bob and Siobhan on a belay on the bypass

Bob and Siobhan on a belay on the bypass

There was less snow than I’d expected in Coire Fee. The buttresses were relatively snow free, with just ledges and the defined sheltered or easier lines holding snow. The turf at crag height was very firm. Some ice was hanging in, however looking at the forecast for the next two days I don’t think it will survive through the weekend. Winter Coire and Coire Farchal looked to be holding more snow than Coire Fee, but I’d guess this will all be pretty soft. There are still some big cornice features around and these need to be considered if climbing the gullies in thawing conditions, particularly if the top is in cloud and you can’t see what’s above you. Freezing level above the summits today, the odd light rain shower on a fresh Westerly, but generally dry.