Glen Coe

Stunning day on the Aonach Eagach yesterday with Colly and Fritz. There was a light dusting of snow high up in the early morning, but this cleared quickly with sunshine and a fresh wind which eased during the day. The rock was dry and conditions were pretty much perfect along the ridge.

Looking west from Meall Dearg.

Going through the pinnacles.

Colly and Fritz enjoying the ridge.

Looking back along the Aonach Eagach.

Looking east from the slopes of Sgurr nam Fainnaidh.

Glen Coe, Menteith Hills, Ochils, Peak District and The Pentlands

This is a bit of a catch-up Blog Post. Between the 31st of October and the 12th November I was out and about with a variety of groups.

John, Linda and Olesya on Sron na Lairig.

This included a very Alpine style scramble in Glen Coe, an HML Assessment in Central Scotland, rock climbing at Birchen Edge in the Peak District and Navigation in the Pentlands.

Andy and Rob at Birchen.

For more photos and details see the ClimbNow Facebook page. Wilf.

Glen Coe

B, Lance and I were out in Glen Coe today enjoying the sunshine. Only major north and east facing features are holding snow, but what snow is there was very firm neve today unless it was in direct sunlight all day. There’d been a frost from the valley up and turf was hard and ice was forming in places.

B and Lance at a stance on Dorsal Arete.

We climbed Dorsal Arete on hard neve and dry rock and then took in the summits of Stob Coire nan Lochan, Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach before descending via the Lost Valley. A great day to be out.

Lance and B on the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach.

Glen Coe

Euan and I were out today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Winter Mountaineering Team of Alan, Lewis and May. The programmed route was Dinnertime Buttress, as it can be done as a summer or winter scramble. This was definitely a good option early in the season as today it was a sheltered summer scramble with only the very odd patch of snow high up.

Euan, Lewis and Alan on an optional pitch near the top of Aonach Dubh.

The thaw earlier in the week has significantly reduced the snow cover in Glen Coe and views into Stob Coire nan Lochan showed only Broad Gully looking complete at the moment. The turf was firm near the top of Aonach Dubh. There was only light precipitation on a southerly wind whilst we were on the hill, but it was raining hard at road level as we drove south. This will have been falling as snow high up.

Curved Ridge

John and I were out yesterday on Buachaille Etive Mor with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors scrambling team of Ann, Andrew, Donald, Kostas, Neil and Wilson. We had a good day on Curved Ridge in mixed weather of sun, showers and even a little sleet. Thanks to Donald for sending through photos.

Wilson, Andrew and Neil high on Curved Ridge. Photo Credit: Donald Munro.

Stob Coire nan Lochan

Euan, David and I were in Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe today. There’s been a lot of new snow fall at height over the last few days, we came across new deposits of 40cm and more. Additionally the winds have moved around and there will be old wind slab under new deposits in some locations as well as new, generally soft, wind slab and this is all sitting on an old hard base of snow on lots of aspects. We saw avalanche activity that ranged from spontaneous slab releases, with a very obvious fresh crown wall under the Twisting Gully area; point releases from snow/rime sloughing off the crags in the sun and human triggered releases of slabs. Careful route choice is definitely required in Glen Coe at the moment.

David above the routes.

We took a precautionary approach and followed a low angled line around above the crags and abseiled/lowered in to climb Pinnacle Buttress Groove and a line to the right of Pinnacle Buttress, North-East Face at about Tech 5. I wouldn’t have wanted to approach these routes from below today and access from above required care. There are some very sizable cornices around and these were building with wind blown snow today. There was less fresh snow during the day than forecast and we spent most of the day in glorious sunshine with amazing views across a very snowy West Highlands.

Stob Coire nan Lochan today with avalanche activity visible below much of the crag.

Glen Coe

John and I were out in Glen Coe today with a Falkirk Community Trust Winter Mountaineering Team of Alan, Antonia, Ben, Jacob, Peter and Tom. We climbed a very wintery Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor before descending via Coire na Tulaich.

Jacob, Antonia and Peter happy with the amazing views on top of Stob Dearg.

Views were excellent with clear cold weather. There was a strong South-East wind and there was plenty of wind movement of snow during the day with wind slab forming in sheltered locations. A great day to be out in the hills.

Crypt Route

Euan and I headed up to Church Door Buttress in Glen Coe today to climb Crypt Route. This was in good condition with rime and powder, but with some verglas in the cracks. The route went very well for two and three quarter pitches until I encountered the “small hole” described in the Scottish Winter Climbs route description. After a considerable number of attempts in different orientations and with all gear removed and eventually stripped down to a thermal and thin fleece it became apparent I wasn’t getting through the hole. Thankfully, I’d led this pitch, so I retreated back to Euan using a number of small abseils to reduce the chances of the rope getting stuck in the through routes and chockstones. From the belay at the end of the second pitch we were able to abseil back to Central Gully in a single abseil.

Diamond and Church Door Buttresses as we descended.

For what it’s worth, it seemed to be a combination of shoulder width and chest depth that caused the problem in fitting through. It will obviously depend on how compressible your chest is and to some degree how long you are from shoulder to hip; but if you’re thinking of doing it and want a comparison I have a 40″ (102cm) chest and am 45″ (115cm) around the shoulders.

Euan about to start the steep section on pitch 2.

The climbing to this point was very good particularly the second pitch, so a bit disappointing to be defeated by my dimensions.

Glen Coe

John and I were out today in Glen Coe with a Falkirk Community Trust Mountaineering team of Devon, Paul, Pete and Pete. We climbed Dinnertime Buttress with a few fun variation pitches before descending via the Stob Coire nan Lochan path.

Paul on the approach to Dinnertime Buttress with the Aonach Eagach behind.

Winds were low during the day with no new fresh snow. The turf was not well frozen until over 800m and we climbed without crampons for the whole route on snowed up rock on the steeper sections. Ice is forming in Glen Coe, but none of it looked climbable as yet. We didn’t encounter any older consolidated snow from before the thaw, there may be some higher up, which will now be under a layer of fresh unconsolidated snow.

Aonach Eagach

Today John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors winter mountaineering team of David, Emanuelle, Ross and Tzvetie. We traversed the classic Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe from East to West in superb spring conditions taking in the Munros of Meall Dearg and Sgurr nam Fiannaidh.

David and Ross in the pinnacles on The Aonach Eagach.

David and Ross in the pinnacles on The Aonach Eagach with another team behind.

The weather was very kind and we had low winds, excellent views, soft snow and dry rock on the ridge. Where the recent snow is catching the sun on West and South aspects it is disappearing fast, but it is holding on in the shade on North and East facing slopes at height. I’ll put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.