The Stuic and Lochnagar

Paul, Portia and I are just back from a short adventure in the Southern Cairngorms. Originally we’d planned something over west, but forecasts of heavy rain and lightening meant we headed to the Lochnagar area.

Paul and Portia low down on The Stuic.

After walking in and camping at Sandy Lochan on Wednesday afternoon we got up early this morning to hit a weather window and scrambled up The Stuic before heading around over Lochnagar and then down to pick up the tents.

The Cairngorms

Chris and I had planned a couple of days climbing classic rock climbs in the Cairngorms. However, the weather forecast precipitated a change in our plans. On Monday we climbed the good mountaineering line of The Stuic with snow underfoot and well frozen turf before taking in Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach and Carn an t-Sagairt Mor.

The Stuic

There were a few snow and graupel showers during the day. It was quite sunny later on and the snow line rose to the base of The Stuic.

Chris topping out on Anvil Gully.

With more snow in the northern Cairngorms, today we visited Creagan Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully via it’s left hand start to avoid softer insulated turf in the bottom section and then the lower corners of Frozen Planet before traversing in to Recovery Gully as the upper rocky section was looking pretty black. There was snow down to the Ciste carpark this morning with the snow line rising to about 850m during the day. There were deep accumulations of fresh unconsolidated snow in sheltered locations. Snow and graupel showers fell throughout the day. The turf was frozen where exposed, but variable where insulated. Not what I was expecting to be doing in early May, but good fun.

The Stuic

Euan, Paul and I had a great day yesterday climbing on the The Stuic, Lochnagar. Road conditions meant for a late start as we had to drive around via Stonehaven. The crag was in excellent mixed climbing condition with well frozen turf, rime and scoured by the west and north-west winds of the last few days.

Euan setting off on pitch two of Serendipity Pillar.

Euan setting off on pitch two of Serendipity Pillar.

We climbed Serendipity Pillar with Euan linking the top two pitches. This gave good climbing, but care was required with a couple of loose blocks on the upper section. There were other people around, otherwise I’d have removed them on the second.

We then soloed down a defined narrow Grade I gully a couple of gullies right of the normal descent, before climbing The Slot, Left Hand. This gave two very good pitches, which felt stiff for the grade with a steep pull off a ledge, which may be easier with a build up of hard snow.

Paul on the top section of The Slot, Left Hand at dusk.

Paul on the top section of The Slot, Left Hand at dusk.

There were two other teams climbing on the North-West Face with at least one team on the Stuic ridge; possibly the busiest day the crag has ever seen and maybe a testament to the recent publication of the excellent Chasing the Ephemeral.

Glen Shee, The Stuic & Lochnagar

Nettle and I have been away for the last couple of days. We headed North on Wednesday morning with a big thaw forecast through the day; freezing levels above the summits and rain from the West. We stopped for a leg stretch and nipped up Duchray Hill between Glen Shee and Glen Isla. There were still snow patches from about 500m up on East facing aspects, but it rained on and off and the snow pack was reducing fast.

Nettle near the summit of Duchray Hill on Wednesday

Nettle near the summit of Duchray Hill on Wednesday

Snow was forecast overnight last night on Westerly winds with temperatures dropping and staying cold through the day today, so we chose to head up to The Stuic on Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach. This is a fair walk in, but it has routes that would be facing the wind and have a good chance of refreezing fast and if it hadn’t refrozen we could do the ridge of The Stuic as a scramble.

Nettle on The Stuic

Nettle on The Stuic

Our decision payed off and we were able to climb Daybreak Corners, a good short route, and then continue up The Stuic.

Above The Black Spout on Lochnagar

Above The Black Spout on Lochnagar

It wasn’t a day for hanging around, so we then took in the summit of Carn a Coire Bhoidheach before heading up to Lochnagar and then out to the top of Meall Coire na Saobhaidhe before descending back in to the delightful Ballochbuie Forest.

The view from the summit of Lochnagar

The view from the summit of Lochnagar

Lots of wind movement of fresh snow today on strong Westerly winds and windslab was developing on sheltered aspects. Turf was well frozen where exposed to the wind above 800m. Old snow patches were refreezing throughout the day. Lots of ice around on the plateau, but no significant snow cover except in sheltered locations. Fresh snow to road level at the Glenshee ski centre on our drive back down.