Dorsal Arete and Broad Gully

The team from Ballachulish and I headed into Stob Coire nan Lochan today. Here we climbed Dorsal Arete before descending Broad Gully.

The turf on the route improved with height. Broad Gully was full of new powder snow which had not been wind affected.

The winds during the day blew from many different directions, not just westerly as forecast. Therefore windslab may be found on a number of different aspects.

The lads on Dorsal Arete.

The lads on Dorsal Arete.

Cairngorms and Glen Coe

On Saturday and Sunday I was out with Andy and Rob and the weekend proved to be a microcosm of this winter season in that we had cold snowy conditions with quick changes to rain and freezing levels above the summits and back again.

Rob exiting Anvil Gully on Saturday morning.

Rob exiting Anvil Gully on Saturday morning with the Anvil block behind.

We met at Aviemore on Saturday to make the most of the later arrival of the warmer temperatures in the East and headed to Creagan Coire a’Cha-no in cold sunny conditions. After abseiling in we climbed Anvil Gully and as the snow was now starting to get soggy we then climbed the rocky Duke’s Rib before heading down and across to Fort William.

A damp scramble up The Zig Zags late Sunday morning.

A damp scramble up The Zig Zags late Sunday morning.

The weather was then rain above the summits through the night and in to Sunday morning with the freezing level forecast to drop to 800m on Sunday afternoon. Given this we opted for a late start on Sunday and climbed up on to Gearr Aonach via the scramble of The Zig Zags. After this we walked along to Stob Coire nan Lochan and climbed part way up Broad Gully on soft snow. By this time the temperature had dropped and things were starting to firm up and occasional snow showers were falling. We climbed out of Broad Gully on snow to gain Dorsal Arete before it’s crux rocky fin and climbed up this to the top before descending Broad Gully. This worked well as a good mountaineering day and had the added benefit of taking in the fin, which Andy and I had bypassed on a previous occasion due to high winds.

Rob and Andy on the crux fin of Dorsal Arete.

Rob and Andy on the crux fin of Dorsal Arete.

There was a dusting of fresh snow above about 800m as I drove through Glen Coe this morning, but this is likely to change through the day with freezing levels falling and snow forecast to lower levels.

 

Stob Coire nan Lochan

I was out today with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing team of John, Gillian, Helen, Kate and Ken in Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glen Coe. We climbed Dorsal Arete in quite Alpine conditions; the fin was bare rock, but the rest of the route was climbed on good refrozen snow and the fin could be bypassed on snow if desired.

Gillian and Helen with John behind approaching the fin.

Gillian and Helen with John behind approaching the fin.

We then descended Broad Gully again on firm refrozen snow. There was sunshine most of the day in Glen Coe and no precipitation. A cloud inversion rolled in late in the day. Big easier gully lines are still intact in the coire, but most buttress routes are now very bare of snow and ice. I’ll add some photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Stob Mhic Mhartuin, Mess of Pottage and SCNL

On Friday the lads from Ballachulish and I finished our winter mountaineering course by ascending Stob Mhic Mhartuin in Glencoe and then on the steep northerly aspect completed some training on abseiling in winter using bollards.

Tina, Scott, Steve, Martin and I met in the Cairngorm car park on Saturday morning with the hope of doing some winter climbing. We chose to go east rather than west to avoid the rain. We were rewarded with a dry day and two routes; Haston Line and Hidden Chimney (both are on the Mess of Pottage in Coire an t-Sneachda). Both routes were still holding good snow ice although this may be gone now.

We returned west on Saturday evening and on Sunday climbed Dorsal Arete in Stob Coire nan Lochan. The route still has lots of useable snow on it although the fin is now mostly dry.

There are lots more photos from the last week on the climbnow facebook page.

The team on SCNL.

The team on SCNL.

Dorsal Arete

Snow fell overnight to sea level in Glencoe. We walked into Stob Coire nan Lochan in sunshine. This quickly changed once we reached the coire to heavy snowfall and strong winds. The weather deteriorated throughout the day to whiteout conditions.

As well as looking at snow anchors today, we climbed Dorsal Arete. The snow on the route was in excellent condition. During our ascent we heard two large avalanches somewhere in the coire. Windslab was building throughout the day.

The cliffs of Stob Coire nan Lochan before the weather worsened.

The cliffs of Stob Coire nan Lochan before the weather worsened.

Glencoe and Lochaber

This week I am based in Glencoe and will be travelling to Lochaber and the Arrochar Alps as well as climbing in the Glen.

On Monday with my team, I completed the Zig Zags before returning to the West Face of Aonach Mor on Tuesday to repeat Western Rib which I climbed last Friday. The turf has become much more frozen since Friday. The route has large quantities of snow on it creating interesting snow aretes.

Today with the lads I visited Stob Coire Nan Lochan where we climbed Dorsal Arete. The route is very, very white as are all the other buttresses. Hard mixed routes will currently be time consuming.

There is currently large amounts of powder snow in the West Highlands which would be great for skiing.

Aaron and Ratty climbing on Western Rib.

Aaron and Ratty climbing on Western Rib.

 

 

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Out today with John and a Falkirk Community Trust Team of Doug, Gayle and Graham. With the freezing level forecast to be 900m or higher we headed up high to Stob Coire nan Lochan. This paid off and the crag was in pretty good condition. Gullies were generally firm snow or ice, turf was well frozen and the higher areas of crag were rimed.

Doug, Gayle and I climbed the classic Twisting Gully, which was in excellent condition, although busier than it had looked on approach.

Gayle at the base of the route

Gayle at the base of the route

John and Graham climbed Twisting Gully Right Fork, which was good, although the ice/snow could have been better around the top of the first ice fall. They then soloed down Broad Gully and climbed the sporting “left slanting chimney-groove” direct start to Dorsal Arete finishing up the arête.

Doug above the difficulties in Twisting Gully

Doug above the difficulties in Twisting Gully

There’d been a little fresh snow overnight and this was sitting on top of the well consolidated older snow. Some very light snow on a South-Easterly wind during the day. Below freezing at crag height all day, but very mild on the approach and descent from the coire.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Neil, Patricia and I headed up in to Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe today whilst John and Iona went for some rock climbing in Glen Nevis.

The visibility in the coire was very poor and I think we climbed one of the direct starts to Dorsal Arete before abbing down the right hand side of the buttress and back in to the coire although I’m still not 100% sure. Anyway we climbed a couple of good pitches at about grade III before going through how to abseil off a route.

Neil and Patricia somewhere in the clag

Neil and Patricia somewhere in the clag

There was some fresh wet snow above 800m and this had drifted to give 10 to 15cm of new snow on top of the older firmer snow in sheltered locations. Above freezing and cloudy in the coire, although exposed turf was still generally well frozen.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

 

Iona on the descent from Stob Coire nan Lochain.

Iona on the descent from Stob Coire nan Lochan.

 

Following my return from the Alps yesterday, today I have been in Glencoe with the Falkirk High Tops Team.

We walked in to Stob Coire nan Lochan passing a number of teams walking out due to a good number of observed avalanches. Some teams had been pretty close to the run out from these.

Our intended route was Dorsal Arete. However, on inspection of the coire we decided that the approach and potentially the exit (it had a small droopy cornice) would be to serious. Therefore, we climbed the North East Ridge before traversing the coire rim and descending back to the valley.

During the day lots of snow was being redistributed. Exposed ridges were very icy and required careful cramponing.

The Falkirk High Tops Team with the crags of SCNL behind.

The Falkirk High Tops Team with the crags of SCNL behind.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

The weather and conditions continue to be amazing in the Scottish Highlands. Chris and I visited Stob Coire nan Lochan today and climbed Twisting Gully. We followed this by descending Broad Gully and climbing Dorsal Arete. All three routes were in amazing condition. After some lunch we continued to the summit where we met the Falkirk High Tops Team. We all descended the North East Ridge of SCNL together. This ridge, as with all the ridges in Glencoe at the moment, has very firm snow and good crampon technique is essential.

Chris climbing on Dorsal Arete.

Chris climbing on Dorsal Arete.