Buachaille Etive Mor

Today we visited Buachaille Etive Mor. It was another stunning day in Glencoe.

The snow was mostly soft at all altitudes with the odd patch of firmer neve.

Descending from the col at the top of Coire na Tulaich

Descending from the col at the top of Coire na Tulaich

Buachaille Etive Mor

Yesterday John and I climbed on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors winter climbing team of Doug, Gregor, Lewis and Steve. We had a great day climbing North Buttress with excellent views and relatively low winds. After taking in the summit of Stob Dearg we were able to descend via Coire na Tulaich, but care and good route choice is required here with current snow conditions.

Gregor and Lewis near the bottom of the chimneys.

Gregor and Lewis near the bottom of the chimneys.

The recent snow isn’t consolidated, is deep in sheltered locations and contains a fair amount of graupel. There is very little old snow on The Buachaille, but where new snow overlies old snow there are very easy shears. A North-East wind was redistributing snow throughout the day meaning there will be potential for avalanches on lots of aspects today and until the snow consolidates. Higher up on the route, above the chimneys, there is a thin layer of generally crusty snow ice, which isn’t very helpful for climbing and it’s worth allowing extra time in your planning for this. I’ll put some more photos on The ClimbNow Facebook page.

Gregor high on North Buttress with the expanse of Rannoch Moor behind.

Gregor high on North Buttress with The Kingshouse and the expanse of Rannoch Moor behind.

Curved Ridge

The lads from Ballachulish and I were on Curved Ridge today in Glencoe (Buachaille Etive Mor). Conditions on the route were excellent.

It is worth putting crampons on just after the waterslide as much of the terrain above this is currently covered in ice and moving without them would be very difficult.

We descended today via Coire na Tulaich which today did not present any problems.

The crux corner.

The crux corner.

Curved Ridge

John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of Devon, Emanuelle, Linda, Tzvetie and Wilson today climbing Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe.

Devon just above the first steep section low down on Curved Ridge.

Devon just above the first steep section low down on Curved Ridge.

There was fresh snow down to around 450m and it snowed fairly continuously throughout the day. There was some north-westerly in the wind and no real base, so there was no problem descending in to Coire na Tulaich after we’d summited Stob Dearg. The conditions made for relatively slow progress as there was a lot of clearing required to find rock holds. There’s some ice around, but not much of it was useful on the route. I’ll put some more photos / videos of conditions on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Glen Coe

John and I were out today in Glen Coe with a Falkirk Community Trust team of Andrea, Gregor, Helen and Marco. There were rain showers as we drove across Rannoch Mor and cloud down to about 400m , so we opted for an ascent of North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor.

Andrea in the cloud high on North Buttress.

Andrea in the cloud high on North Buttress.

The rock was drier than expected and we only had very minor rain showers; this made for a pleasant day although unfortunately no real views. We climbed to the summit of Stob Dearg and descended via Coire na Tulaich.

Glen Coe

Today Ivor and I headed to Glen Coe to catch the good weather and climbed Fracture Route on the North-East Face of Crowberry Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor. We then continued on up Crowberry Ridge to the top of Crowberry Tower before heading to the summit of Stob Dearg and descending via Coire na Tulaich.

Ivor approaching the top of the first pitch of Fracture Route.

Ivor approaching the top of the first pitch of Fracture Route.

The rock was dry and we had sunshine for most of the day with clouds building a little later on. Teams were out on Agag’s Groove, January Jigsaw, Direct Route and lots of folk on Curved Ridge.

Southern Highlands, Cairngorms and Coire na Tulaich

It has been a busy few days on the Winter Mountain Leader course with a  visit to the North East corie of Beinn an Dothiadh,  a snowhole expedition on the Cairngorm plateau and a visit to Coire na Tulaich to build emergency snow shelters.

The big gully lines are still complete in Beinn an Dothiadh and will be good given a freeze. The Cairngorm plateau still has good cover for ski touring although it is currently very firm.

Andy Hogarth making a brew in our snowhole.

Andy Hogarth making a brew in our snowhole.

Buachaille Etive Mor & Stag Rocks

The last two days I’ve been out with Andy & Rob. We were based in Fort William on Saturday night, so headed for Buachaille Etive Mor on Saturday and climbed Curved Ridge. A later start meant we avoided the worst of the wind. It was raining in heavy showers lower down, but on the route it was just the occasional snow/graupel shower and these were only settling from around 850m. An ice axe was useful for the snow field before the Crowberry Tower gap and for the initial lip back in to Coire na Tulaich.

Rob on Curved Ridge

Rob on Curved Ridge

Overnight there were heavy showers in the West and these had fallen as snow down to around 650m. Given the forecast we chose to head over to the Cairngorms and after walking up to pt. 1141m we nipped over to the top of Stag Rocks.

Rob and Andy on snow near Crowberry Tower

Rob and Andy on snow near Crowberry Tower

We descended the left fork of Y-Gully, looking up, with snow at the lip and in the lower section before climbing Afterthought Arete mostly on dry rock, but with the odd graupel shower. The fresh snow wasn’t really settling in the Cairngorms, except in sheltered locations or on existing snow patches.

Descending Y-Gully, Stag Rocks

Descending Y-Gully, Stag Rocks

A couple of good Scottish Mountaineering days in great company. Not really typical May weather, but then what’s typical. The larger North or East facing high gullies in both the West and East are still holding snow and would give good climbing after a frosty night.

Andy on Afterthought Arete

Andy on Afterthought Arete

Buachaille Etive Mor

The snow conditions currently in Glencoe are excellent with many of the easier gully climbs in great condition. We climbed up Coire na Tulaich which was in excellent condition before making the final ascent to Stob Dearg.

The Coire headwall is steep (maybe 50 degrees at the exit) on very firm snow and careful crampon work is required.

The Buachaille.

The Buachaille.

Looking out past one of our feathered friends at the top of Coire na Tulaich.

Looking out past one of our feathered friends at the top of Coire na Tulaich.

Curved Ridge

John and I were out today with a Falkirk Community Trust Team of Gayle, Isobel, Lorn, Mary, Sarah and Wilson. We climbed Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor including taking in Crowberry Tower.

Sarah, Mary and Gayle on the lower part of Curved Ridge

Sarah, Mary and Gayle on the lower part of Curved Ridge

We descended via Stob Dearg and Coire na Tulaich. There was rain on and off all day and a fresh Southerly wind. The route was sheltered until Crowberry Tower, which made for a pleasant ascent even though the rock was wet.

The team descending Coire na Tulaich

The team descending Coire na Tulaich