Euan, David and I were in Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe today. There’s been a lot of new snow fall at height over the last few days, we came across new deposits of 40cm and more. Additionally the winds have moved around and there will be old wind slab under new deposits in some locations as well as new, generally soft, wind slab and this is all sitting on an old hard base of snow on lots of aspects. We saw avalanche activity that ranged from spontaneous slab releases, with a very obvious fresh crown wall under the Twisting Gully area; point releases from snow/rime sloughing off the crags in the sun and human triggered releases of slabs. Careful route choice is definitely required in Glen Coe at the moment.
We took a precautionary approach and followed a low angled line around above the crags and abseiled/lowered in to climb Pinnacle Buttress Groove and a line to the right of Pinnacle Buttress, North-East Face at about Tech 5. I wouldn’t have wanted to approach these routes from below today and access from above required care. There are some very sizable cornices around and these were building with wind blown snow today. There was less fresh snow during the day than forecast and we spent most of the day in glorious sunshine with amazing views across a very snowy West Highlands.
I was out with John, Mike, Billy, James and Simon from Falkirk Community Trust today. The day was originally programmed as a ski-mountaineering day, but with the snow loss over the weekend we figured we’d be carrying the skis a long way, so we opted for a winter climbing day instead.
We headed up in to Stob Coire nan Lochan and climbed the classic Twisting Gully, which was in very good condition with first time axe placements wherever required.
After the weekends thaw, buttress lines were still looking fairly black although there’d been some fresh snow, which was generally small accumulations in sheltered locations. Older snow had refrozen well at crag height. Turf was well frozen. Not a lot of ice around and things like Twisting Gully Right Fork and the ice pitch on SC gully looked very thin or not there. Light Westerly winds today with cloud above the summits and no precipitation.
Out today with John and a Falkirk Community Trust Team of Doug, Gayle and Graham. With the freezing level forecast to be 900m or higher we headed up high to Stob Coire nan Lochan. This paid off and the crag was in pretty good condition. Gullies were generally firm snow or ice, turf was well frozen and the higher areas of crag were rimed.
Doug, Gayle and I climbed the classic Twisting Gully, which was in excellent condition, although busier than it had looked on approach.
John and Graham climbed Twisting Gully Right Fork, which was good, although the ice/snow could have been better around the top of the first ice fall. They then soloed down Broad Gully and climbed the sporting “left slanting chimney-groove” direct start to Dorsal Arete finishing up the arête.
There’d been a little fresh snow overnight and this was sitting on top of the well consolidated older snow. Some very light snow on a South-Easterly wind during the day. Below freezing at crag height all day, but very mild on the approach and descent from the coire.
The weather and conditions continue to be amazing in the Scottish Highlands. Chris and I visited Stob Coire nan Lochan today and climbed Twisting Gully. We followed this by descending Broad Gully and climbing Dorsal Arete. All three routes were in amazing condition. After some lunch we continued to the summit where we met the Falkirk High Tops Team. We all descended the North East Ridge of SCNL together. This ridge, as with all the ridges in Glencoe at the moment, has very firm snow and good crampon technique is essential.