I’m just back from four days based in Aviemore with Alex and Doug. The weather wasn’t particularly helpful, but we got something good done on each day.
On Sunday we headed to Lurcher’s Crag to avoid the crowds and descended South Gully before climbing a thin, but good, ice in Eskimo Gully on Lurcher’s Crag.
On Monday we climbed Captain Fairweather and Flood Warning on Creagan Cha-no to avoid the forecast high winds. Most of the rockier routes were black, but these lines had plenty of soft snow and very hard turf. On Tuesday with the freezing level above the summits and quite a bit of moisture in the air we climbed a somewhat soggy Central Gully and the bottom two pitches of Goat Track Gully in Coire an t-Sneachda.
Today with freezing levels above the summits again we opted for some dry cragging at Pinnacle Crag, Duntelchaig. The guys climbed nine routes up to Severe 4b in big boots and in Doug’s case without removing his gloves!
This week I am based at Ballachulish. On Sunday the lads and I climbed Zig Zags before traversing Gearr Aonach and dropping back into the Glen via SCNL. The route was in good condition. Rapid transportation of snow was taking place with large areas of windslab and cornices quickly building.
We have been over in the Cairngorms for the last two days. Yesterday we visited the Southern Sector of Lurchers Crag. After descending South Gully we climbed Pinnacle Ridge. The mixed routes were in good condition being scoured and the turf well frozen.
Today, the ski road was not open. Therefore, we walked from the snowgate to Ciste Crag where we climbed a route at about III 5. A number of teams appeared behind us later in the day and enjoyed a number of different lines on the crag. The turf was frozen and after last nights weather the crag was holding a good quantity of snow.
The last three days John and I have been based in Aviemore with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Cairngorm Mixed Climbing Trip team of Gregor, Linda, Joanne and Tzvetie. The thaws and refreezes over the weekend meant that although a lot of buttress routes were looking black, where old snow remained the climbing was excellent with generally first time placements in snow ice. There were pretty strong mostly south-westerly or westerly winds throughout and there’s been some fresh snow with areas of wind slab developing.
On Monday we all climbed Invernookie on the Fiacaill Buttress in Coire an t-Sneachda. On Tuesday John, Linda and Joanne climbed Fingers Ridge, whilst Gregor, Tzvetie and I climbed Spiral Gully with the very good direct finish before battling out in strong winds. Today we headed to Lurcher’s Crag and after descending South Gully Gregor and I climbed the direct version of Drystane Ridge, which gave some interesting climbing for the II in our guide book (further research revealed that it’s only that grade if you avoid the bottom section). John, Linda and Joanne climbed Collie’s Ridge. It’s worth mentioning that none of the ice lines that we could see on Lurcher’s Crag were formed.
The lads and I had a great day today in the Cairngorms climbing on Lurchers Crag. We descended South Gully before climbing Pinnacle Ridge. The conditions and weather were excellent. This section of the crag was quiet except for one other team. The other section of the crag with the ice routes was however rumoured to be very busy.
Yesterday I went to a very busy Coire an t-Sneachda. As we arrived late due to our drive from west the popular routes all had team(s) on them. Therefore we climbed a route in the Forty Thieves area. This gave a good sixty metre II/III ice pitch followed by pleasant mixed ground. The crags were white and everything was well frozen.
Today to avoid the crowds we visited Lurchers Crag. After descending South Gully we climbed Pinnacle Ridge in good conditions. We were the only climbers on the crag.