Green Craig Challenge

Another catch up post. It’s a time for mini local challenges for interest and to keep up skills. Cliff came up with the idea of climbing the winter routes we’d climbed on Green Craig as summer routes in the same calendar month. We headed back up on the 26th February and climbed Reindeer Cave Gully, the right arete of Reindeer Cave Gully, Edinburgh Lights (with a right hand variation) and East Gully.

Cliff in East Gully.

It provided a good adventure, but I wouldn’t recommend it as the rock is very friable and protection is mostly dubious. Both the gullies were very traditional and the pick of the bunch was Reindeer Cave Gully, which is a good atmospheric feature. If you do head up take care as their are some sizable loose blocks around.

Me about to second the very traditional Reindeer Cave Gully.

Local Winter Climbing

Another catch-up post. The cold spell in February allowed some winter climbing local to Edinburgh. On the 11th and 12th of February the low level snow and cold conditions allowed Cliff and I to climb on rarely in condition Green Craig in the Pentlands. We climbed East Gully, Reindeer Cave Gully, Edinburgh Lights and had a look at another line. Harder routes on this crag are fairly bold and the rock is very friable, so take care if heading up to climb. 

Cliff investigating East Gully.
Cliff leading on Green Craig.
Sunset from Allermuir Hill after climbing on Green Craig.

On the 13th February I persuaded Jen to head out in the dark to belay me on an even more rarely in condition short ice route above the River Almond in Cramond. Current Covid-19 restrictions mean some unusual route choices.

Daytime photo showing the River Almond ice route. A diagonal line was taking allowing trees and stumps to be slung for protection.

Emel Ridge

It has been a very wet and wild day today in the Scottish Highlands. We did however manage to climb Emel Ridge on Beinn an Dothaidh. At the top of the route the winds were very severe. Therefore we descended the ground to the east of the ridge via careful frontpointing at Scottish grade one.

The turf on Beinn an Dothaidh was very well frozen today and there is still plenty of ice around on the buttresses. Large amounts of old avalanche debris are present at the bottom of Central Gully and there has been fresh cornice collapse in the area around East Gully.

In amongst the debris at the bottom of Central Gully.

In amongst the debris at the bottom of Central Gully.

Three Days Out West

I am just back from an excellent three days on the West Coast with John and Harvey.

On Thursday we traversed the Aonach Eagach looking at skills that allow us to move quickly on this type of terrain. We still needed crampons for the whole route.

After staying in Glen Nevis on Thursday night we climbed on Ben Nevis on Friday. We had a good long day first climbing Fawlty Towers before descending Tower Ridge and East Gully to our lunch stop. After a quick bite to eat we climbed the Waterfall Gully icefall which was in great condition before making an abseil descent. The Ben was busy with lots of teams having a great time.

Yesterday we climbed on the West Face of Aonach Mor. We climbed Western Rib starting direct via an icefall at about IV 4. The route was in excellent condition. Lots of teams were enjoying Golden Oldie.

John below the icefall we climbed on Western Rib.

John below the icefall we climbed on Western Rib.

John climbing ice on Fawlty Towers.

John climbing ice on Fawlty Towers.

Ben Nevis

On Ben Nevis today with Euan, Sharon, Ian and Steve. We were hoping Vanishing Gully would be sheltered from the winds today, but the wind was fairly wild and gusting around the coire so we opted for Fawlty Towers with a variation finish trending left rather than right after the icy chimney and taking in a nice chimney/mixed section higher up. We then descended the ridge, abseiled down in to the Douglas Gap and descended The Douglas Gap East Gully. The icy chimney on Fawlty Towers was pretty well iced, and taking screws if you were selective, but probably climbing hard for the grade at the moment. Some loose rock on the upper variation required care.

Sharon and Steve in the icy chimney

Sharon and Steve in the icy chimney

A team abseiling off Vanishing Gully after the first pitch reported it dripping heavily at the first belay. A few other teams out today with one climbing Central Gully Right-Hand in good condition, but with pretty strong winds. Quite a few teams turning back from the coire today due to the wind.

Mac with the angle of the rucsack strap hinting at the wind

Mac with the angle of the rucsack strap hinting at the wind

Some light rain/sleet on the walk in and the snow flurries through the day. Below freezing at crag height all day with turf well frozen and a thin coating of verglas on a lot of the rock. Old snow generally very firm and care required approaching routes. The crags were riming up during the day in the moist cold air. Strong East/South-Easterly wind, but swirling around the hill and with some gusts of circa 70mph in the coires.