Coire Fee

John and I were out in Coire Fee Glen Clova today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Winter Climbing team of Brian, Calum, Derry and Jim. We had a great day climbing two of the coire’s classic routes. John, Calum and Jim climbed Look C Gully, whilst Brian, Derry and I climbed B Gully Chimney. Both routes had water running behind the ice in places and required a delicate approach, but gave some excellent climbing. We then descended A Gully.

Brian and Derry on a belay stance in B Gully Chimney.

There’s unconsolidated snow in sheltered locations and although the crag was being scoured during the day there are significant areas of wind slab. We were very careful with our route selection in to A Gully to avoid crossing areas of firm wind slab and be on the scoured side of the gully.

Glen Clova

The last two days Euan, Paul and I have managed to get together for the ClimbNow “annual” winter climbing meet up. It’s a great chance for us to catch up, share ideas and climb some winter routes.

Euan and Paul at the cave belay on Sun Rock Blues.

Weather, conditions and time constraints pointed us in the direction of the beautiful Glen Clova in the Angus Glens and we’ve had a couple of excellent days climbing in Winter Coire and Coire Farchal. On Tuesday we climbed Sun Rock Blues. This has a steep technical crux on the first pitch and we varied the third pitch by traversing right at the small cave, which involved a precarious and inelegant belly flop move by me on the lead before reaching easy ground.

Today we visited Coire Farchal with the intention of climbing Silver Threads Among the Gold, but the sun on Tuesday and Wednesday morning meant the initial buttress was looking very black. However, the area around Coffin Dodger and Over the Hill was holding some good ice and we climbed a line starting around Over The Hill and then climbing icy steps on it’s left, a steep ice shield left of the “slot” and finishing up Coffin Dodger. This gave a good line on the day and had some excellent climbing between relaxed belay stances.

Euan enjoying the ice in Coire Farchal.

Both routes were made easier to protect by carrying a few ice screws and a couple of warthogs. There’s been a fair bit of wind movement of snow and there are some pockets of very firm wind slab around, which should be taken in to account when choosing routes and approaches/descents. It was snowing lightly on a fairly strong south-westerly as we left the glen at mid afternoon. Both days were rounded off with a very pleasant coffee and scone in The Glen Clova Hotel.

Coire Fee

John and I were in Coire Fee, Glen Clova, today with a Falkirk Community Trust Introduction to Winter Climbing Day team of Andy, Paul and Ross. Ross and I climbed B Gully with the icefall finish before descending A Gully on soft snow, ice and rocks. John, Andy and Paul climbed a couple of ice pitches of A-B Intermediate before descending by abseil.

Ross at a belay in B Gully.

After the long period of cold weather in Scotland it had unfortunately turned warm with rain above the summits over last night and through this morning. Snow was receding in the wet conditions and ice was melting. The turf was still firm on the crag away from significant drainage. A team was backing off Look C Gully as we arrived and B Gully Chimney did not look climbable to me. It’s worth noting that the approach track and path to the coire was still very icy on our descent and requires care.

Glen Clova

I was back in Coire Fee winter climbing again today with Gregor, John and Craig. I’d climbed The Comb with Euan and Ivor in late November via the line described in Scottish Winter Climbs and was intrigued by the winter version in The Cairngorms guidebook. John and Craig climbed the route by the line I’d climbed before and Gregor and I climbed the supposedly easier version. I’m not sure I found the correct line, but much of the description fitted; the line we climbed was considerably harder than the guidebook grade and had a serious traversing section, which required a lot of care to protect the second. However, a good day was had by all with some great climbing, stunning views and very pleasant weather.

Gregor approaching the end of our traversing section on The Comb.

There was no consolidated snow although we descended via the Kilbo Path and crampons were useful on the compacted snow and ice. The turf on our route was frozen, but it’s worth noting it’s high in the coire. Ice is forming, but the classic ice lines didn’t look climbable yet. Below freezing all day from valley to summit.

Glen Clova

Euan, Ivor and I were winter climbing in Coire Fee in Glen Clova today. We climbed The Comb via the same line as the summer Diff as described in Scottish Winter Climbs. This gave an excellent route, which we climbed in four pitches before soloing easy ground to the top. We then descended E Gully back to the base of the route.

Euan traversing out to move up to the start of the route.

The turf was very well frozen on the route and throughout the coire, ice is forming and there was a dusting of snow on most routes, wind slab is forming high up in some sheltered locations. We had some light snow showers during the day and the wind was westerly/north-westerly and strong enough to be moving snow around. I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Glen Clova

John and I visited Glen Clova today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of Gillian, Kate and Ken. We opted for this as it was likely to be quick drying after the rain, gave us options if we did get showers and was less likely to be busy. We were lucky in that we had no significant rain whilst we were there and the crag dried quickly. We also had the crags to ourselves all day.

Ken on one of the harder options on pitch 3 of Twenty Minute Route.

We started on Twenty Minute Route, taking in some of the harder variations, whilst the crag dried. After lunch we moved across to the South-East Crag and climbed Parapet Route Direct Start with Kate, Ken and I then climbing Flake Route and John and Gillian climbing Central Crack, both excellent long pitches. A long abseil from the top of the crag then finished off a good day.

Glen Clova

Out in Glen Clova today on a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Classic Climb Day with Linda and Andrew. We’d headed there to avoid wet weather further West and this worked well with generally hot sunny conditions and only the odd drop of very light rain, which didn’t impact on the climbing.

Linda topping out on Central Crack.

Linda topping out on Central Crack.

We climbed Three J’s Chimney, Parapet Route Direct Start, Flake Route, Central Crack and finished with the “tremendous route with exhilarating positions” that is Proud Corner. Over 500ft of climbing and a total of nine stars across the routes making for a pretty classic day in a beautiful setting. The crags were relatively busy, being a good choice given conditions, but the atmosphere was very pleasant with teams chatting and working around each other very well.

Glen Clova

Euan, Ivor and I finished our three days of climbing in Angus with some trad climbing on the Lower North-West Crag of The Red Craigs in Glen Clova.

Ivor in the steep upper corner of Monster's Crack.

Ivor in the steep upper corner of Monster’s Crack.

After a quick stop at the friendly Glen Clova Hotel for some sustenance we climbed Proud Corner, Witches Tooth, Monster’s Crack and Wandered. All these routes gave good climbing on clean, solid rock in a beautiful setting.

Glen Clova

Robin and I were out climbing in Glen Clova yesterday with a Falkirk Community Trust team of Emanuelle, Iona and Wilson. We’d chosen the venue to stay away from the rain further West and this worked well, although the crag was relatively busy, presumably for the same reason.

Wilson and Emanuelle relaxing on a stance above our third pitch on Twenty Minute Route.

Wilson and Emanuelle relaxing on a stance above our third pitch on Twenty Minute Route.

Emanuelle, Wilson and I had a good day climbing Twenty Minute Route in five short pitches with a Severe variation; Three J’s Chimney and Parapet Route Direct Start. Robin and Iona climbed Proud Corner, Zigzag Direct and Wandered. Based on the guidebook I think that counts as a creditable total of 10 stars for the team on the day.

Glen Clova

Today a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors climbing team of Bob, Gregor and I headed for Glen Clova to try and get away from the rain. This worked well. We had light showers and some dark clouds as well as sunshine early on, so we climbed the four pitch Twenty Minute Route on the Lower North-West Crag.

Gregor and Bob on the first pitch of Twenty Minute Route.

Gregor and Bob on the first pitch of Twenty Minute Route.

After some lunch the rock was still pretty dry and there was only the odd very light shower, so we headed across to the South-East Crag and climbed Parapet Route Direct Start and the excellent Flake Route.