Geal-charn, Drummochter

John and I were out today with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Climbing Team of Gregor, Linda, Patricia and Tony. We were heading for Creag Dhubh on the North-West side of Drummochter. However, approaching from the col between Geal-charn and Creagan Mor, we weren’t happy with snow conditions above the crag particularly as we’d set off a couple of very easily triggered slabs in innocuous looking locations below 700m. We, therefore, headed for the two crags that lie North-East of the main crag.

John on the ice pillar of Flight of the Navigator.

John on the ice pillar of Flight of the Navigator with Tony belaying. Photo credit, Patricia Enot.

After some scanning of SMC Journals I think John, Patricia and Tony climbed Flight of The Navigator IV,5, which involves a short, steep ice pillar and Map and Compass III,4.

Me looking at the straight up start on our line. I decided the ice wasn't quite good enough and came in on the ramp just above this in the end.

Me looking at the straight up start on our line. I decided the ice wasn’t quite good enough and came in on the ramp just above this in the end. Photo credit: Gregor Ewing.

Linda, Gregor and I climbed a line on the crag 500m further North-East, which I can’t find in the Journals. It involved an initial steep ice and turf pitch, which required a delicate approach and then an easier angled pitch on much thicker ice.

Looking up the second pitch on the abseil.

Looking up the second pitch on the abseil.

We abbed back down to our bags in one long abseil. On the day it went at V,5, but would probably be IV,5 or even IV,4 in thicker conditions.

Linda and Gregor happy after the second pitch.

Linda and Gregor happy after the second pitch.

The snow conditions changed dramatically through the day. It rained briefly and this transformed the snow at heights of at least up to about 750m, with the snowpack becoming more uniform with a crust. There was then some fresh snow. It had been thawing at crag height, circa 500m, but was cooling down as we left. I’ll add some more photos to the Climbnow Facebook page.