Meall nan Tarmachan, Cairngorms and Glen Shee

On Wednesday I was out with John and a Falkirk Outdoors Mountaineering team of Alan, John and Neil climbing McKay’s Gully and descending Easy Gully on Cam Chreag. Older snow on the crag was refreezing, but windslab was building throughout the day on a strong south-westerly. Unfortunately, due to a user error on my part with my camera I don’t have any photos from Cam Chreag.

Looking down the lower part of Anvil Gully to Jim.

I then headed to Aviemore and met up with the Ashbourne/Balfron/Stonehaven team. On Thursday Jim and I headed to Creagan Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully and True Blood, whilst Chicken, Murray, Nick and Rob ski toured in the Lurcher’s Burn area. Strong winds and snow on Thursday morning was forming windslab on North and East facing slopes and cornices were building noticeably.

The team above The Tiger this afternoon at Glen Shee.

Today, having been joined by Andy, we had a very pleasant day ski-ing at Glen Shee mostly in sunshine with low winds and generally good snow on the pistes. Away from pisted areas there was an icy crust on scoured slopes and windslab in sheltered areas.

Bridge of Orchy and the Cairngorms

The last three days I’ve been climbing with Gregor as part of a Falkirk Outdoors trip for climbers, skiers and walkers based in Newtonmore. On the way up we climbed the classic Salamander Gully in Creag Coire an Dothaidh before taking in the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh. Although the crag is west facing it still had a fair depth of soft snow on easier angled ground.

Gregor high on Whaleback Ridge.

Yesterday we chose a low venue to avoid the winds and headed for Creag na h-Iolaire. The main crag was bare of snow and we climbed a short, but good, winter line on the north facing side of he coire before climbing a summer version of the winter line Left Flank, Right Ridge. This gave some very good climbing, but unfortunately with a lot of loose rock. Today we headed for Creagan Cha-no. The thaw and rain overnight had stripped most of the buttresses, but there was plenty of snow on easier angled routes and on northern aspects and the turf was frozen solid. We climbed Whaleback Ridge and Plasma Gully with a left hand finish. The snow was firming up whilst we were there and we had a number of snow showers during the day on a strong south-westerly wind.

Ski Touring, Off Piste Skiing and Scottish Winter Climbing

I have had an interesting couple of weeks with off piste skiing and ski touring in; Val d’Isere, Tignes, La Rosiere and Sainte Foy followed today by winter climbing on Cha-No. All good fun.

The Cairngorms

The last three days John and I have been climbing in the Cairngorms with a Falkirk Outdoors Mixed Climbing Team of Alan, B and Devon with Robin making a guest appearance today. We hit a pretty good weather window and climbed in Coire an t-Sneachda, on Stag Rocks and on Creagan Cha-no. Various teams climbed The Seam; Goat Track Gully and it’s right hand start (on thin but climbable ice); Albino; Purge; Chimney Rib with the alternative start; Anvil Gully; The Blood is Strong and Cutty Sark.

Me, B and Devon on Cutty Sark today.

The turf was well frozen throughout the three days on the routes we climbed. There wasn’t a lot of old snow around, but what was there was good neve. Fresh snow was being moved by strong winds in to sheltered locations, generally north and east facing. The fresh snow was unconsolidated and wind slab was forming in sheltered areas. The lack of much consolidated snow means there are some loose blocks around and care is required. Having said all that the temperatures are warming up, so things will be changing rapidly. There are lots of photos on The ClimbNow Facebook page.

Cairngorms and Duntelchaig

I’m just back from four days based in Aviemore with Alex and Doug. The weather wasn’t particularly helpful, but we got something good done on each day.

On Sunday we headed to Lurcher’s Crag to avoid the crowds and descended South Gully before climbing a thin, but good, ice in Eskimo Gully on Lurcher’s Crag.

Doug and Alex approaching a belay on Eskimo Gully.

On Monday we climbed Captain Fairweather and Flood Warning on Creagan Cha-no to avoid the forecast high winds. Most of the rockier routes were black, but these lines had plenty of soft snow and very hard turf. On Tuesday with the freezing level above the summits and quite a bit of moisture in the air we climbed a somewhat soggy Central Gully and the bottom two pitches of Goat Track Gully in Coire an t-Sneachda.

Alex and Doug in Central Gully.

Today with freezing levels above the summits again we opted for some dry cragging at Pinnacle Crag, Duntelchaig. The guys climbed nine routes up to Severe 4b in big boots and in Doug’s case without removing his gloves!

The Cairngorms

Chris and I had planned a couple of days climbing classic rock climbs in the Cairngorms. However, the weather forecast precipitated a change in our plans. On Monday we climbed the good mountaineering line of The Stuic with snow underfoot and well frozen turf before taking in Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach and Carn an t-Sagairt Mor.

The Stuic

There were a few snow and graupel showers during the day. It was quite sunny later on and the snow line rose to the base of The Stuic.

Chris topping out on Anvil Gully.

With more snow in the northern Cairngorms, today we visited Creagan Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully via it’s left hand start to avoid softer insulated turf in the bottom section and then the lower corners of Frozen Planet before traversing in to Recovery Gully as the upper rocky section was looking pretty black. There was snow down to the Ciste carpark this morning with the snow line rising to about 850m during the day. There were deep accumulations of fresh unconsolidated snow in sheltered locations. Snow and graupel showers fell throughout the day. The turf was frozen where exposed, but variable where insulated. Not what I was expecting to be doing in early May, but good fun.

The Cairngorms

Matt and I had an excellent day in The Cairngorms today. We made for the east facing Creagan Cha-no as the cold winds had been blowing on to the crag for the last few days. Exposed turf was frozen, but snow covered turf was still soft and route and placement choice required some care.

Matt nearing the top of the Right-Hand Finish of Anvil Gully.

After abseiling to check the turf we climbed Anvil Gully with Matt lowering down and climbing the Right Hand Finish as well. We then descended Recovery Gully before climbing Kerplunk with a couple of variations on to rock including the gully slot and steep leftwards pull on Fast and Furry-ous. To finish we nipped back down and climbed a quick Grade II line just left of Quiet Corner.

Matt on the walk in at about 850m. Snow continued to build all day on this NW aspect.

East faces were generally scoured and rimed with developing accumulations of snow on west and north-west aspects particularly above about 800m.

Creagan Cha-no

John and I were out today in the Cairngorms with a Falkirk Community Trust climbing team of Doug, Gregor, Paul and Tony. Craig was also out with a party of winter navigators. The climbers headed for Creagan Cha-no.

John, Paul and Doug starting up Wile-E-Coyote.

John, Paul and Doug starting up Wile-E-Coyote.

John, Doug and Paul descended Recovery Gully and climbed Wile-E-Coyote, whilst Gregor, Tony and I abbed down Anvil Gully and climbed this.

Gregor bridging out in the top corner of Anvil Gully.

Gregor bridging out in the top corner of Anvil Gully.

John and Doug made a quick ascent of Frozen Planet as a second route, whilst Gregor, Tony and I abbed back down to the belay below the top corner of Anvil Gully and did an excellent, short right hand finish bringing us out at the neck just behind The Anvil block. Gregor did particularly well on this as it felt hard Tech 5 and it was his first day of proper winter climbing.

Gregor and Tony below the top corner of Anvil Gully with the line of the right hand finish above Gregor.

Gregor and Tony below the top corner of Anvil Gully with the line of the right hand finish above Gregor.

The crag was holding very little old snow and had a good layer of unconsolidated recent snow that needed clearing in places. The turf on Anvil Gully was very well frozen. John reported the odd bit of insulated turf under the fresh snow on Wile-E-Coyote. There are more photos of the day on the Climbnow Facebook page.

Five Days Climbing in the Cairngorms

For the past five days I have been at Glenmore Lodge climbing with Paul and Spencer. We had a great week finding some brilliant climbing conditions. These are detailed below. In addition to this report, there are many photos on the ClimbNow facebook page showing the conditions.

Spencer exiting Anvil Gully.

Spencer exiting Anvil Gully.

On Monday, the lads and I climbed a steep rib to the right of Fiacaill Buttress before gaining and climbing Fiacaill Ridge. The ridge was in excellent condition and reports from today suggest it has improved.

The weather on Tuesday was fairly wild. We visited Creagan Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully in brilliant conditions. Lots of useful ice could be found on the route.

With some sunshine forecast on Wednesday, we decided to visit the west facing Lurcher’s Crag to top up the tans. We descended South Gully before climbing back out of Quinn which was in great condition. A report from today suggests that Central Gully is also still in good shape.

On the way out we could see Coire an Lochain. The cornices still appear to be massive.

Strong winds during the week had moved a lot of snow around to produce unstable windslab in sheltered spots. Therefore, on Thursday, we abseiled down Jenga Buttress on Creagan Cha-no before climbing back out. Dangerous cornices and windslab were present above routes such as Dukes Rib, Recovery Gully and Chimney Rib. Many of the buttresses are now black.

Today, we returned to Coire an t-Sneachda which was very busy. We did however have a great time climbing Terms of Endearment and the upper section of Aladdin’s Mirror on brilliant neve. Many routes on Aladdin’s buttress are in great shape as are a number on Fiacaill Buttress. The cornices on Mess of Pottage, the Trident Gullies and Fluted Buttress are still huge and no teams were on these areas.

Paul abseiling down South Gully on Lurcher's Crag.

Paul abseiling down South Gully on Lurcher’s Crag.



Creagan Coire Cha-no

I was out with a Falkirk Team today of John, Gayle, Luci and Tam. We headed for Creagan Coire Cha-no in The Cairngorms, which proved a popular choice today.

Tam making light work of Chimney Rib

Tam making light work of Chimney Rib

After descending Recovery Gully, Gayle, Luci and I climbed pitch 1 of Frozen Planet, then bypassed the top pitch as the sun was catching it and making it very soggy. Also, it looked a bit improbable at IV,4, I notice it gets IV,6 on UKC. We then climbed Wile-E-Coyote, which had an excellent steep groove at mid height on well frozen snow, turf and ice. Meanwhile John and Tam climbed Chimney Rib, Frozen Planet (Pitch 1) and Duke’s Rib.

Gayle on the easier upper section of Wile-E-Coyote

Gayle on the easier upper section of Wile-E-Coyote

The sun came out as we walked in and it was a relatively easy walk as the last couple of days had thawed and refrozen the surface of the snowpack. Sunny for the first part of the day with buttresses stripping where in direct sunlight. Winds were low for most of day, but picked up in the afternoon and there was considerable wind movement of snow on a Southerly as we walked out.