Huge amounts of snow arrived last night and this morning in the Glencoe and Bridge of Orchy areas followed by more heavy snow and very strong winds this afternoon. The current weather is creating significant windslab and cornice danger.
The team and I did however still have a great day out on Beinn an Dothaidh. We climbed steep ground near Creag Coire an Dothaidh before using a rope to ensure safe navigation in whiteout conditions on the way to and back from the summit.
Yesterday with the team I went to Nevis Range and used the Gondola to access Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag.The conditions underfoot were good with the ground well scoured. This has however led to significant cornicing on easterly aspects and required us to use a rope to safeguard our navigation to the summit of Aonach Beag in whiteout conditions.
Today I drove through Glencoe to Bridge of Orchy. Significant avalanche activity was clearly visible from last nights thaw and recent avalanche activity was noted on Beinn an Dothaidh which we climbed. The crags of Creag Coire an Dothaidh are now all black.
John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust climbing team of Doug, Graham and Tam today. We were looking for a scoured crag, given all the new snow, and headed to Creag Coire an Dothaidh. Creag an Socach actually looked more scoured, but with the turf feeling variable on the walk in we headed for the less turf dependent lines on Creag Coire an Dothaidh. Big thanks to the soloist and the team of walkers heading for Beinn Dorain who put a trail in for us.
John, Doug and Tam climbed Salamander Gully, which they described as “climbable, but with the ice thin in places”. Graham and I climbed Centigrade, which had some thick ice, but required a delicate approach on some sections where the ice was good, but not extensive. Graham and I then nipped round and climbed a line between Centigrade and the col, which started just left of a steep 5m wall and followed a gully/groove line through a couple of narrow sections on good featured ice at about tech III . I’ve vague memories of a line being recorded in one of the SMC Journals here, but now can’t find it. Anyway it gave a good quick second route for the day.
A lot of soft fresh snow around in sheltered locations. Turf frozen where exposed, but soft where insulated. Ice around on the crag, but not extensive. The crag was well rimed, but was loosing some of this during the day. Above freezing level at crag height most of the day after an overnight frost and temperature rising as we left with rain showers starting to move in.
I said I’d upload photos from last week in Creag Coire an Dothaidh, so there’s a few below. Thanks as usual to Mac for some great photos of Friday. Mac’s gallery on UKClimbing has some excellent shots and is well worth a look.
It was a sociable day in the Bridge of Orchy area today. Cameron and I bumped in to Neil, James and team in the car park. They were heading to Beinn Udlaidh and then on the walk in to Creag Coire an Dothaidh it was great to see Bruce and team. Both Bruce and Neil asked in passing if I’d seen Glenn Gordon’s Facebook post about Fahrenheit 451, being a little bit of a Luddite I hadn’t, which was both a blessing and a curse.
I first looked at climbing this route in 1989. It doesn’t form well often and I’ve never managed to be in the right place at the right time. The top section seems to build fairly regularly, but the bottom often looks lean and sketchy. Today it looked the best I’ve seen it, so Cameron and I decided to go for it.
We climbed the route in 4 pitches, 3 short and 1 long. The bottom was thin in places, there were sections where the ice had built over powdery snow and some of the higher ice, although great to climb, was dripping fairly heavily. However, Cameron and I had a good adventure and a long held itch has been scratched. When I got home I read Glenn’s post, if I’d read it before we probably wouldn’t have got on the route.
After finishing Fahrenheit 451 we nipped back around had a drink and some food and then climbed Centigrade. The middle section of this was fun, but below and above there was a fair bit of soft snow and sections of ice over powder again.
We walked out with Bruce’s team who’d had a good day on Salamander Gully and it was great to catch up with him. Back at the car park Neil, James and team were there again plus Greg. Again brilliant to catch up with him as I don’t see him often enough these days.
Below freezing down to road level all day today. Light winds and no precipitation during the day. There’s still plenty of unconsolidated snow around on lee slopes and areas that have cross loaded.
I’m struggling to upload photos this evening for some reason, so will add some when I get that sorted.
I’m just back from three days away with Andrew and Ged. The weather was challenging at times, but we managed to get something good done everyday.
On Friday we climbed the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn in strong South-Westerly/Westerly winds and rising freezing levels. The ridge was a sheltered popular choice for the conditions and it was pleasant to bump in to quite a few folk we knew.
Freezing levels dropped down again for Saturday to around the 500m to 700m level, but there was lots of snow forecast on strong Westerly winds. We opted for Creag Coire an Dothaidh. This again proved a popular choice with the coire as busy as I’ve ever seen it. We climbed the first pitch of Right Guard, a pitch in a similar line parallel to Fahrenheit 451, a short easy rightwards traverse and a dogleg pitch bringing us out on the top section of Centigrade. This gave us some very good climbing at around III,4. The turf on the first pitch was softer than expected, but above this very firm with a lot of ice around. Simon and partner climbed Salamander Gully reporting it good, but with a steep ice bulge and John’s team climbed a hard variation on Centigrade. There were several other teams on the crag, but I’m not sure what else was climbed. Fahrenheit 451 looked fat at the top, but thin and bold on the first pitch.
With a forecast of very high winds from the South-West and rain we headed for the Cairngorms today and spent the day in the shelter of Fiacaill Coire Chais looking at snowpack, snow anchors and emergency shelters. The ski centre closed early due to the wind, but the rain didn’t arrive until late afternoon. With freezing levels above the summits during the day the crags were looking black and ridges were completely scoured, but there were still big depths of snow in sheltered locations.
The Falkrik High Tops Team and I visited Coire an Dothaidh yesterday. Nigel, Jacqueline and I climbed Cenitgrade on Creag Coire an Dothaidh. There was plenty of ice on the route but it was very variable. It will not take ice screws. A team backed off Farenheit 451 due to the quality of the ice.
John, Neil and Niall climbed Kick Start on Creag an Socach reporting good conditions.
It was a very beautiful day with sunshine all day and only light winds. Following a pleasent walk out we stopped off at the friendly Bridge of Orchy Hotel before driving back home.
Simon and I climbed B.O. Buttress on Creag Coire an Dothaidh today. From a distance the crag looked quite white, but once underneath it all looked a bit black. However, on the route there was enough snow on the ledges and ramp lines, although more wouldn’t have been unwelcome. The steeper sections are all on turf and rock and the turf was well frozen. Pitches 4 and 5 were quite bold and required some delicacy on thinly iced slabs and turf. I was glad we’d carried extra warthogs and placed four as runners on one pitch.
Salamander and Fahrenheit 451 are both forming, but could both do with some more freeze thaw.Creag an Socach was looking very black. Lot’s of ice on the approach and below freezing all day at the crag with no precipitaion and no wind to speak of. A glorious day to be out in the hills.