Glen Clova

Euan and I took a gamble today that the ice and turf would have remained frozen in Coire Farchal, Glen Clova. We also thought that less snow on the ground would mean less wading to get to the crag than in some areas and the lower height would mean lower winds.

Euan climbing ice on the right of the second steep step in the lower gully.

Thankfully, the gamble paid off with a snow line just below crag height and although the air temperature was above freezing the turf was frozen and the ice was hanging on. We had a great time climbing The Art of Growing Old Gracefully, which has a good amount of climbing in lean conditions.

Euan near the top of the final chimney.

Glen Clova and Arrochar

Last week I was out in Glen Clova with Nettle and Arrochar with a Falkirk Outdoors Classic Climb team of Holly and Neil.

Nettle clippin a runner as he sets off on Central Crack.

Nettle and I climbed Parapet Route Direct Start and Central Crack before drizzle started and we changed to fell running kit and headed up Jock’s Road to Cairn Bannoch and Broad Cairn before descending via the South Esk.

Nettle running towards Cairn Bannoch.

On Thursday Holly, Neil and I went up to the crags near the summit of Beinn Narnain and climbed Spearhead Arete and Restricted Crack in cold and windy conditions.

Holly climbing Restricted Crack.

Glen Clova

John and I were in Glen Clova today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors winter climbing team of Amanda, John, Ross and Steven. The decision to visit this area was based on it probably being the best weather option and this worked well as the sun shone for most of the day and the north-west to south-west winds were surprisingly low.

John, John and Ross above the first pitch.

We climbed Boustie Buttress on The Snub side of the Corrie of Clova. This III,4 route isn’t a classic, but has some good climbing and was a sensible choice for the day as it was on a scoured aspect when many of the normal venues in the area were looking loaded with fresh snow. Details of the route can be found in the 2015 SMC Journal or on the SMC Website. Snow was down to around 500m this morning with south through east to northerly aspects looking heavily loaded above 700m. The sun shone all day and by the time we were leaving the snow line had raised to around 600m. Buttresses exposed to the sun were stripping fast and sun wheels were present on many aspects. The turf at crag height was firm, but softening in the sun or where exposed to dripping water. There was very little precipitation during the day. Where exposed to the sun the snow pack had become moist above 800m.

Winter Corrie

Euan and I were out with a Falkirk Outdoors team of Antonia, Kim, Linda, Martin and Wilson today. Based on the forecast we changed from the programmed visit to Arrochar and headed to Glen Clova. This turned out to be a good choice and we had a great day climbing a very icy Central Gully Left Branch in Winter Corrie.

Antonia and Linda enjoying good ice in Central Gully Left Branch.

There were lots of ice lines in condition in the corrie today and it was good to bump in to Nettle who’d soloed a good icy line on Easy Gully Buttress. The turf was well frozen and there’d been very little new snow overnight. Water was running behind the ice in places, but on our route the ice was good enough for screws here required. Conditions are likely to change with precipitation and higher temperatures tomorrow.

Look C Gully

Martin and I had a grand day out today climbing Look C Gully in Coire Fee, Glen Clova. The route was in good condition. However, conditions will rapidly change with the arrival of tonight’s warm weather.

Glen Clova

Today Pamela and I had a very pleasant day climbing in Glen Clova. We went up in to Coire Fee and headed high to climb a line to the west of The Comb, which gave circa 200m of climbing with a good first and last pitch and easier ground in between.

Pamela on the final steep pitch with the west wall of The Comb behind.

The turf was well frozen. There’s ice forming in the coire, but from a distance Look C Gully didn’t look as though it wood be taking ice screws yet. There was a good dusting of snow on the main crags, but the south facing crags were looking very black.  A thaw is forecast overnight and in to tomorrow, which will change things considerably.

Glen Clova

John and I were out in Glen Clova today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors climbing team of Ali, Gillian, May and Struan. We had an excellent day climbing a number of classics including Three J’s Chimney, Parapet Route Direct Start, Flake Route, Proud Corner, The Beanstalk and Monster’s Crack.

Struan near the top of the excellent Proud Corner.

There were a couple of very light showers later on, but mostly sunshine with a good breeze and the rock was dry for climbing.

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.