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