John and I were in Arrochar today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Mountaineering Team of Andrew, Devon, Douglas, Innes, Olesya and Peter.
We had a great day climbing Chockstone Gully and Great Gully to reach the North Peak before walking over to the Centre Peak and the team climbing Doorway Route to the summit of The Cobbler. The views were great. We had no precipitation during the day. The freezing level was up near the summit of the hill, so harder routes would generally have been stripped. However, there was good build up in the gullies with the chockstones at the bottom of Great Gully being banked out to a short step.
David and I enjoyed a glorious day winter climbing on The Cobbler today. We climbed Chockstone Gully followed by Maclay’s Crack. This gave a great combination taking us to the top of the North Peak.
The weather was better than expected. The forecast had been for cloud all day, generally a good thing when climbing on The Cobbler. However, we were above a cloud inversion for most of the day. This gave us superb views, but meant any rock directly facing the sun was being stripped of rime before our eyes. Fortunately the recessed nature of Maclay’s Crack meant it held good snow and the turf was very well frozen throughout. A beautiful day to be out in the Scottish hills and easy to see why the area earned the name “The Arrochar Alps” on a day like today.
Martin and I have been out the last couple of days. On the 2nd January we climbed on the Cobbler completing Right Angled Gully and Right Angled Chimney. The routes were both heavily rimed and it snowed throughout the day. The turf was variable.
Yesterday we went to Craig Raibert in the Cairngorms. This crag is featured in the guidebook, ‘Chasing the Ephemeral’. The turf was well frozen, the climbing excellent but it should be noted that some of the routes are stiff for the grade.
There are more photos on the facebook page.
I have been out the mountains the last three days. On Tuesday Laura, Euan and I visited Cha-no in the Cairngorms. Conditions were excellent on Anvil Gully and Short Ridge. Some windslab was building in Recovery Gully.
We visited Lurchers Crag on Wednesday. The top of South Gully looked fairly loaded on one side we abseiled into Quinn and climbed back out. The conditions were not as good as on Cha-no. The turf was perfect on Cha-no but suspect on Lurchers.
Today the Falkirk High Tops Team and I were at the Cobbler where we climbed Chockstone Gully and Great Gully. Conditions on Chockstone Gully were Good. Great Gully is currently much harder than the guidebook grade.
The turf on the Cobbler is not frozen apart from where exposed to the wind.
Lots more photos on the facebook page.
Mick and I were out in the Luss Hills near Loch Lomond yesterday. We did a pleasant half day circuit taking in Beinn Dubh and Mid Hill.
This avoided the worst of the weather further North and East and gave great views. There was a cold northerly wind, it was below freezing on the summit and we had a few graupel showers during the day as well as patches of sunshine.
We had good conditions on The Cobbler today where we climbed Chockstone Gully and Great Gully. There was lots of useful snow and some ice around. The turf was mostly usable.
The buttresses were all very white. Areas of poorly bonded windslab existed in some locations.
Getting winter conditions right on The Cobbler is never easy. Hard frosts to freeze the turf; enough scouring to expose the turf on the steep sections and cloud to stop the sun stripping the rime from the South facing crags are all required. Today Mac, Steve and I were lucky enough to get it right. The walk in was tough with trenches from the weekend being mostly filled in and a lot of breakable crust to deal with; 2hrs via the back route to the col.
We climbed Ramshead Ridge and then the variation to Right Angled-Gully Direct which involves the ledge traverse to keep the grade consistent. Like most winter routes on The Cobbler it was good value and we split it in to 4 pitches to avoid rope drag. The crux on the day was the steep corner on Ramshead Ridge, which gave excellent hard technical climbing with just enough ice on the left wall to help with balance. However, gaining the groove at the end of the ledge traverse was harder than it looked and involved a fair bit of hilarity.
There’s wind slab on lots of aspects and careful route choice is required. The crags were well rimed and the turf on the route was very well frozen. Lot’s of ice forming above 700m on the rock steps near the Northern approach route. Powdery snow on ledges with older crusty snow underneath. Shallower angled routes and snowy gullies wouldn’t be a good choice at the moment on The Cobbler.
Yesterday, I was out on The Cobbler in the Arrochar Alps with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We completed the traverse of the South Peak and the Centre Peak which gives some nice moderate rock climbing and one abseil.
The abseil tat at the top of the South Peak had vanished so I replaced it. Hopefully it will remain where it is!
I returned to The Cobbler today with a team to look at a number of skills including; short roping, approaching routes and guiding in series. We climbed Chockstone Gully and Great Gully.
Chockstone Gully was in good condition. However, a large area of windslab was building at the exit which will require care. This has occurred due to cross loading due in the current wind direction.
Great Gully was in good condition.
The routes we climbed did not rely on frozen turf. Any turf we came upon did not appear to be frozen.
The forecast today was for very wild weather in the West Highlands. Despite this, The Falkirk High Tops Team (Graham, Tam, John, Gayle and Iona) and I had a great day out on The Cobbler in the Arrochar Alps.
We chose this venue for two reasons. Firstly, the mountain is a bit lower and receives less snow than other areas such as Glencoe. Secondly, as many of the routes face south the forecast wind should have scoured the face to leave good conditions.
Our plan paid off. We first climbed Chockstone Gully. There is some soft slab gathering in the initial pitches due to cross loading but we managed to avoid moving on this. The wall that is used to pass underneath the giant chockstone had good snow on it.
The slope between the top of Chockstone Gully and the base of Great Gully which was our second route of the day had been blasted by the wind leaving only old hard snow on it. Great Gully was in excellent condition with good hard snow, useful neve on the crux bulge and frozen turf at the exit.
There was areas of windslab forming on similar aspects to that suggested by the Glencoe avalanche forecast and also on southerly aspects due to cross loading.