Inverness-shire Rock and The Cairngorms

Andy and I were based in Aviemore for the last couple of days. With some sun in the forecast Andy sensibly chose the low level rock climbing option for Saturday to stay below the worst of the wind. We visited Pinnacle Crag (Duntelchaig) and the unusual conglomerate trad crag of Ashie Fort climbing eleven routes. It was wet initially, but the sun and rain dried both crags quickly giving some great pitches climbable in approach shoes.

Andy on Stepped Corner Pinnacle Crag, Duntelchaig.

Today we headed up in to Coire an t-Sneachda and climbed on the sheltered Twin Ribs. It was fairly miserable on the walk in with driving rain and sleet on a strong south-westerly. It was sheltered on the route, with snow falling above about 900m including periods of graupel.

Andy at the top of Twin Ribs with The Mess of Pottage and Aladdin’s Buttress in the background.

We chose not to top out, due to the wind and abseiled down the north side of the rib until we were on scoured ground as there was wind slab around that was releasing fairly easily. Not many parties in the coire, with only a few hardy souls heading further in than us. Care would have been required with snow slopes on and around the main crags as snow has been scouring off the plateau and in to the coires on the very strong winds over the last two days.

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!

Cairngorm Mixed Trip

John and I have been away with the Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Cairngorm Mixed Climbing trip for the last three days. The lack of good winter conditions has meant it’s been a very mixed trip, but a good one.

On Monday we walked in to Coire an Spreidhe and climbed the Central Couloir (SMC Journal 2011) starting on dry rock and then putting on crampons for the majority of this good 300m mountaineering route. The snow was firm and made for easy progress between good stances.

The rope running down to Tony on the snowfields of Central Couloir.

The rope running down to Tony on the snowfields of Central Couloir.

On Tuesday we walked in to Coire an t-Sneachda with the hope of an easy gully or possibly heading over to the Loch Avon basin. However, the very black state of the crags (even Fiacaill Couloir was very broken) made for a quick rethink and we walked out and drove to Duntelchaig, where we had an excellent afternoon’s rock climbing on Pinnacle Crag.

Me trying not to push to hard on the pinnacle of Pinnacle Crag. Photo Credit: J. Jackson.

Me trying not to push to0 hard on the pinnacle of Pinnacle Crag. Photo Credit: J. Jackson.

Today there was a forecast for very high winds at height and freezing levels well above the summits, so we drove south and spent the morning rock climbing at Creag na h-Eighe and the afternoon dry tooling at Newtyle.

Linda dry tooling at Newtyle.

Linda dry tooling at Newtyle.

A very mixed trip, but some good stuff done on each day and thanks to Graeme, Linda, Joanne and Tony for being open to suggestions to fit the unusual conditions.