Loch Goil

With very strong easterly winds forecast at height today B and I headed west of Lochgoilhead to take in some lower hills. We visited Stob na Boine Druim-fhinn, Beinn Tharsuinn, Beinn an Lochain and it’s East Top. This avoided the worst of the precipitation and we only had a couple of showers although it was pretty windy even on these 2000ft hills.

B hanging on at the summit of Stob na Boine Druim-fhinn.

There was a covering of snow above about 800m visible on the hills further east and north; as we drove back through Arrochar Beinn Ime and The Cobbler had a good dusting high up.

Arrochar

Euan and I were out in Arrochar with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors scrambling team of Ali, Kostas, Louise, May and Steve. We traversed The Cobbler starting from Loch Long and taking in the South Peak via it’s South-East Ridge and an abseil to descend before climbing the Central Peak via Doorway Route. Euan then returned to Loch Long to fetch the mini bus, whilst the rest of us headed down to Glen Croe.

Me, May, Steve and Louise on the summit of The Central Peak of The Cobbler.

It was raining and windy this morning with the mica-schist on the route requiring care in the wet. It cheered up as we summited and was dry for most of the walk out. The ground is saturated at the moment and any crags with seepage will take a while to dry.

The Cobbler

John and I were in Arrochar today with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Mountaineering Team of Andrew, Devon, Douglas, Innes, Olesya and Peter.

The team soloing to the start of the difficulties in Chockstone Gully.

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.

The Cobbler

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.

David and me enjoying sunshine, cloud inversions and low winds on The Cobbler.

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.

West and East

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.

Martin coming under the roof on Right Angled Chimney.

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.

A Report from the East and West

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.

Laura and Euan at the top of Lurchers.

Laura and Euan at the top of 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.

Paul climbing in Great Gully.

Paul climbing in Great Gully.

Lots more photos on the facebook page.

Luss Hills

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.

Mick on the summit with The Cobbler, Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain behind.

Mick on the summit with The Cobbler, Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain behind.

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.

Chockstone Gully and Great Gully

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.

Glenn on the crux section of Great Gully.

Glenn on the crux section of Great Gully.

The Cobbler

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.

Mac on the bottom section of Ramshead Ridge

Mac on the bottom section of Ramshead Ridge

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.

Mac and if you look carefully Steve leopard crawling off the ledge

Mac and if you look carefully Steve leopard crawling off the ledge

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.

The South Peak of The Cobbler

The South Peak of The Cobbler

Traverse of 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!

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