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.

Creagan Cha-no

The team and I visited Creagan Cha-no today in the Cairngorms. The crag was in excellent condition being well wind scoured, completely rimed and the turf frozen.

The crag was fairly busy as it is a good choice just now in the current snow conditions. We abseiled down Recovery Gully before climbing out via the excellent Anvil Gully.

Mark Chadwick leading Anvil Gully.

Mark Chadwick leading Anvil Gully.

Creagan Cha-no

Nettle and I had a quick outing to Creagan Cha-no today overlooking Strath Nethy. The conditions on the crag were excellent with good snow ice and firm snow, well frozen turf, rocks rimed and with cornices reduced by recent thaws and scoured by the Easterly and South-Easterly winds. There were small accumulations of new wind slab developing in sheltered locations, but these were more significant on Northerly and North-Westerly aspects on the approach from Coire na Ciste than at the crag.

Nettle setting off on the 1st pitch of Jenga Buttress

We climbed Jenga Buttress, which has a very good second pitch with fun technical climbing for the grade, and Cutty Sark, which although only a single pitch packs in a lot of good climbing. We descended via Recovery Gully to access the routes. One other team on the crag who I think climbed Duke’s Rib and Fingers and Thumbs. Pamela and B climbed Wavelength in Coire an t-Sneachda today and reported good climbing conditions, but gear difficult to dig out under the firm snow. They also reported significant accumulations of new windslab in the gully exits and a second hand report of an avalanche on Alladins Mirror.

Nettle looking happy near the top of Jenga Buttress

Myself near the start of Cutty Sark. Photo courtesy of J.Foden.

Creagan Cha-no

Out today with Cameron Wood for my first winter routes of the season. We headed for Creagan Cha-no above Strath Nethy to avoid the crowds and were a little surprised to find three other pairs climbing there during the day.
Cameron and I climbed Anvil Gully (IV,4), which has some good technical sections interspersed with easier angled turf and a good optional belay before the final wall.

Cameron approaching the optional belay on Anvil Gully

After a quick snack break we then climbed Fingers and Thumbs (IV,5), which has an easy first pitch followed by a steep and awkward start to the second.

Cameron near the top of Anvil Gully

The easier angled routes such as Duke’s Rib and Jenga Buttress were looking less wintery and teams reported less frozen turf on this type of line. The steeper lines and those with a more north-easterly aspect were holding much more snow with turf generally well frozen with the exception of the odd dry clump. The approach was easy with only a light covering of snow. There were areas of wind slab on North and East aspects and cornices are building.