The last three days John and I have been climbing in the Cairngorms with a Falkirk Outdoors Mixed Climbing Team of Alan, B and Devon with Robin making a guest appearance today. We hit a pretty good weather window and climbed in Coire an t-Sneachda, on Stag Rocks and on Creagan Cha-no. Various teams climbed The Seam; Goat Track Gully and it’s right hand start (on thin but climbable ice); Albino; Purge; Chimney Rib with the alternative start; Anvil Gully; The Blood is Strong and Cutty Sark.
The turf was well frozen throughout the three days on the routes we climbed. There wasn’t a lot of old snow around, but what was there was good neve. Fresh snow was being moved by strong winds in to sheltered locations, generally north and east facing. The fresh snow was unconsolidated and wind slab was forming in sheltered areas. The lack of much consolidated snow means there are some loose blocks around and care is required. Having said all that the temperatures are warming up, so things will be changing rapidly. There are lots of photos on The ClimbNow Facebook page.
Yesterday the team and I visited Creagan Coire Cha-no. After abseiling down Anvil Gully we climbed Recovery Gully with one team on the left and one team on the right side of the gully. The snow was firm on the left but soft on the right. The route is still snow all the way but this wont last long unless we get a top up soon.
Today we visited Stag Rocks. After doing a multi pitch abseil descent of the route we climbed back out. The snow in the gully was first class neve,
Yesterday I was out in the Cairngorms with John and a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of Alasdair, Alec, Imran and Wilson. We had an excellent day climbing Pygmy Ridge in Coire an t-Sneachda after which we walked over to the Loch Avon Basin and climbed Afterthought Arete on Stag Rocks. We then headed back across the plateau to pt. 1141m and dropped back in to the ski area.
This made for a classic circuit taking in two good Moderate rock climbs. Care is required with some loose rock on both climbs and on the approach to Pygmy Ridge. The rock was generally dry and we had one light shower during the day.
There are a few snow patches still around, but they didn’t impact the approaches to our routes. Hell’s Lum Crag looked quite damp and still has a significant snow patch underneath it’s right hand side. I’ve put a few more photos from the day on the Climbnow Facebook page.
The last two days I’ve been out with Andy & Rob. We were based in Fort William on Saturday night, so headed for Buachaille Etive Mor on Saturday and climbed Curved Ridge. A later start meant we avoided the worst of the wind. It was raining in heavy showers lower down, but on the route it was just the occasional snow/graupel shower and these were only settling from around 850m. An ice axe was useful for the snow field before the Crowberry Tower gap and for the initial lip back in to Coire na Tulaich.
Overnight there were heavy showers in the West and these had fallen as snow down to around 650m. Given the forecast we chose to head over to the Cairngorms and after walking up to pt. 1141m we nipped over to the top of Stag Rocks.
We descended the left fork of Y-Gully, looking up, with snow at the lip and in the lower section before climbing Afterthought Arete mostly on dry rock, but with the odd graupel shower. The fresh snow wasn’t really settling in the Cairngorms, except in sheltered locations or on existing snow patches.
A couple of good Scottish Mountaineering days in great company. Not really typical May weather, but then what’s typical. The larger North or East facing high gullies in both the West and East are still holding snow and would give good climbing after a frosty night.
John, Doug, David and I were out climbing with Falkirk Community Trust today. Given the recent winds we opted for the walk over to the Loch Avon Basin and had an excellent day.
David and I opted to nip around to Stag Rocks and climbed Truly, Madly, Chimbley. The first pitch had good, firm snow, ice and turf. However, the chimney/cave pitch had a deep, hollow layer of unconsolidated sugary snow. I decided on a rising traverse out left below the chimney, which gave a delicate variation pitch at a similar grade and rejoined the original route above the through route.
The recent strong winds have scoured exposed areas of the plateau, which are very icey. There are large areas of hard wind slab on sheltered locations, particularly North through to East aspects and careful route choice is required. Turf is well frozen where exposed, but soft where buried by snow.
Out today in the Cairngorms with Harry and Fiona. After meeting in the ski centre car park and being pleasantly surprised to find the majority of the cloud below us we headed in to Coire an t-Sneachda and climbed Pygmy Ridge.
We approached the route via the line of Central Left Hand and then a short traverse, which works well. The rock and turf on Central Left Hand were damp from having been in cloud, but the rock on Pygmy Ridge was dry.
We then headed over to the Loch Avon Basin and climbed Afterthought Arete on Stag Rocks. Again the rock was dry and we enjoyed excellent views from the route.
A stroll back over the plateau and a wander down Fiacaill Coire Cas completed a very good day out. Lots of ptarmigan about in their autumn plummage and the odd hare.
Dry all day with light easterly winds. As we descended the cloud was rolling in over the plateau.