Snowhole Expedition

When thoroughly planned, snowholing expeditions can be brilliant fun. I am just back from another successful overnight stay on Geal-charn in the Drummochter Pass. As can be seen from the photo, one of the great benefits of sleeping out in the mounatins is sunrises like we saw this morning!

There is still large quantities of snow in the Drummochter Pass giving plenty of opportunites for winter sports.

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Snowholing in the Drummochter Pass

On Thursday and Friday I was out building and staying in snowholes in the Drummochter Pass. There is still plenty of snow available for winter activities in the Pass and with careful route choice some great ski touring could still be had.

On the second day of our trip we climbed Geal-charn before practising slope stability tests and ice axe arrest.

The view from Geal-charn. Some great conditions still exist for ski touring.

The view from Geal-charn. Some great conditions still exist for ski touring.

Life in a snowhole. Inside the sleeping bag at 18.15!

Life in a snowhole. Inside the sleeping bag at 18.15!

Geal-charn

With the weather forecast to be very wet and windy on the west today the team and I opted to drive east to the Drummochter Pass. We were rewarded with a dry day and good periods of brightness.

During the day we covered skills such as the construction of snowholes and slope stability tests.

There is still excellent snow cover in the Drummochter Pass for ski touring.

Moving towards the summit of Geal-charn.

Moving towards the summit of Geal-charn.

A’Bhuidheanach Bheag on skis and Taxus

Yesterday, the Falkirk High Tops Team and I visited the Drummochter Pass where we ski toured on A’Bhuidheanach Bheag. We skied three different descents on the mountain. All of these were on south to south easterly aspects and all gave excellent skiing on spring snow.

There was still enough snow on the mountain to wear skis for the whole day.

Today, I visited Beinn an Dothaidh with Andy. We traversed the mountain climbing Taxus on the way. The route remains complete but could now do with a refreeze to bring it back into good condition. The ice that remains was still good enough for screws.

Photos on the facebook page.

The Drummochter Pass

I have been out ski touring today with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We visited the Drummochter Pass and began our tour at the Balsporran Cottages. From here we toured with skis on from the start into Coire Fhar via the land rover track before continuing to the summit of Geal-charn.

Our descent was made via the north east ridge of the mountain. We managed to ski within 20 minutes walk of the minibus.

A short video showing the current conditions will shortly be posted on the climbnow facebook page.

Gayle, Wilson and Tam ski touring on Geal-charn.

Gayle, Wilson and Tam ski touring on Geal-charn.

 

Cairngorms

I have been out in the Cairngorms today with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We had intended on going to Glencoe but the forecast of torrential rain changed our minds.

We walked into a quiet Coire an t-Sneachda before linking together the very bottom of Central Gully, the middle section of Central Buttress and the icefall finish to Central Left Hand. This gave us a safe option out of the way from any potential cornice collapse and rock fall in the mild conditions.

The snow was soft at all levels. The turf was frozen and the icefall was in good condition. Most buttress routes are black with Fiacaill Buttress the only possible option although I am unsure what the snow will be like. Today we had rain at all levels.

We drove through the Drummochter Pass to get to the Cairngorms. Options still exist for ski touring on the Munros to the west of the A9.

The ice fall on Central left Hand.

The icefall on Central left Hand.

Fiacall Buttress on the 18th December 2014.

Fiacaill Buttress on the 18th December 2014.

Ski Touring on Meallan Bhuide

Earlier in the season I skied Meallan Bhuide in the Drummochter Pass with Martin and Ivor. I returned there today with the Falkirk High Tops Team.

Despite the weather forecast, the mountain was clear most of the day (although the surrounding Munro’s were in cloud) and the winds were manageable. We had a 45 minute walk to gain the snow. Once on the snow conditions for skinning were good.

The descent was excellent. The snow allowed enjoyable effortless turns from the summit until low on the hill. The strong winds helped on the flat plateau area at the start of the ascent by blowing us along.

Ascending Meallan Bhuide in the sun.

Ascending Meallan Bhuide in the sun.

 

Ski Touring in the Drummochter Pass

Martin, Ivor and I have had a great day out today in the Drummochter Pass. We ski toured Meallan Bhuide (879m) which is accessed from Dalnaspidal Lodge. The cover was excellent on the ascent. We wore skis for the majority of the ascent with only a ten minute carry at the start.

We found good snow on the descent. The snow was pretty soft near the bottom. If we get a refreeze the conditions will be excellent. On the descent we took a different line but still only had a twenty minute ski carry back to the car.

More photos can be seen on the Climbnow facebook page.

Ivor and Martin on the ascent of Meallan Bhuide.

Ivor and Martin on the ascent of Meallan Bhuide.

ML Practice in the Drummochter Pass and on Dunkeld Crag

Steve and I have been out today looking at the Summer Mountain Leader syllabus. We began the day in the Drummochter Pass ascending A’Bhuidheanach before practising micro navigation skills. Following this we visited Polney Crag at Dunkeld on the way home. We spent time here looking at the ‘security on steep ground’ section of the syllabus. Large sections of the crag were dry and a good number of climbers were out.

Steve on the summit of A'Bhuidheanach.

Steve on the summit of A’Bhuidheanach.

 

Ski Touring on Carn na Caim

Today I visited the Drummochter Pass with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We had a good day out skiing Carn na Caim. The snow cover is currently excellent for ski touring. We put skis on after a five minute walk in. The descent was via a different route and involved nice skiing on hard packed snow. The walk out was only fifteen minutes.

The current conditions would give a great opportunity for a two day tour in the Drummochter Hills. Possibly begining at Dalnaspidal before continuing over the peaks to the west of the A9. Following an overnight stop at the Blacksporran Cottages the second day could take in the peaks east of the A9 returning to Dalnaspidal to pick up the vehicle.

Graham and Tam ski touring in the Drummochter Pass.

Graham and Tam ski touring in the Drummochter Pass.