Wednesday to Friday

Following on from our days in Glencoe and on Beinn an Dothaidh, the team and I visited Coire an Dothaidh and Col 744m. Here we had a productive day developing winter skills and ice axe arrest drills. The turf was not frozen at this altitude and the crags were black.

During the fine weather of Thursday and Friday we visited the Kinbreak bothy and made an ascent of Sgurr Mhurlogain. Visitng this beautiful, quiet part of the Highlands gave us great opportunities to practice winter navigation and  revisit all the skills we had been practising during the week.

More photos can be seen on the facebook page.

Beinn a’Chaorainn

It has been another fantastic day in the Scottish Highlands with heavy snow showers this morning and brighter spells this afternoon.

The team and climbed the East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn. The route was in good condition. However, windslab was forming on the sides of the ridge and it is therefore worth sticking to the crest. Cornices were forming on the ridge at a number of locations.

Using a rope to safeguard navigation.

Using a rope to safeguard navigation.

Winter Mountain Leader Assessment

This week I have been helping to deliver a Winter Mountain Leader Assessment. Following a day in Glencoe and a day in Lochaber earlier in the week, the last three days have been in the Cairngorms.

Large volumes of snow have accumulated in the Cairngorms over the last couple of days. Given the weather on Saturday I would expect significant avalanche activity and careful attention should be paid to the SAIS forecasts.

Testing navigational conditions in the Cairngorms.

Testing navigational conditions in the Cairngorms.

 

Glenfinnan and Glencoe

On Wednesday a team from Ballachulish and I walked into Corryhully Bothy before traversing Sgur an Fhuarain Duibh finishing in the dark so we could practice our night navigation skills. Of note is that the 1:50000 OS map of this hill shows no crags on the southerly aspect. This is incorrect and worth remembering when route planning.

We overnighted at the bothy before climbing Stob Coire nan Cearc the next day. There was fresh avalanche debris on this hill at 720 metres on a North Easterly aspect.

The weather warmed considerably on Thursday with rain at all levels. We did however manage to find enough snow on Stob Mhic Mhartuin in Glencoe on Friday to build emergency snow shelters and complete some ice axe arrest practice. The crags of Stob Coire nan Lochan are now black.

More photos on the facebook page.

The summit of Sgurr an Fhuarain Duibh.

The summit of Sgurr an Fhuarain Duibh.

Winter Skills and Avalanche Awareness

Over the past couple of days I have been out with a team looking at essential winter skills, micro navigation, avalanche awareness and avalanche rescue techniques.

Yesterday we visited Glencoe ski area and today we ascended Aonach Mor. There is good cover for skiing at both areas.

Of note is that there was significant spontaneous avalanches in Glencoe today.

Bill navigating in the white room.

Bill navigating in the white room.

Creagan Cha-no

John and I were out today in the Cairngorms with a Falkirk Community Trust climbing team of Doug, Gregor, Paul and Tony. Craig was also out with a party of winter navigators. The climbers headed for Creagan Cha-no.

John, Paul and Doug starting up Wile-E-Coyote.

John, Paul and Doug starting up Wile-E-Coyote.

John, Doug and Paul descended Recovery Gully and climbed Wile-E-Coyote, whilst Gregor, Tony and I abbed down Anvil Gully and climbed this.

Gregor bridging out in the top corner of Anvil Gully.

Gregor bridging out in the top corner of Anvil Gully.

John and Doug made a quick ascent of Frozen Planet as a second route, whilst Gregor, Tony and I abbed back down to the belay below the top corner of Anvil Gully and did an excellent, short right hand finish bringing us out at the neck just behind The Anvil block. Gregor did particularly well on this as it felt hard Tech 5 and it was his first day of proper winter climbing.

Gregor and Tony below the top corner of Anvil Gully with the line of the right hand finish above Gregor.

Gregor and Tony below the top corner of Anvil Gully with the line of the right hand finish above Gregor.

The crag was holding very little old snow and had a good layer of unconsolidated recent snow that needed clearing in places. The turf on Anvil Gully was very well frozen. John reported the odd bit of insulated turf under the fresh snow on Wile-E-Coyote. There are more photos of the day on the Climbnow Facebook page.

Navigation in Glen Brerachan

The Falkirk staff team and I have been out today in the hills north of Glen Brerachan. Glen Brerachan is located on the A93 near Pitlochry. The road gives high access to a vast moorland area which gives the perfect terrain for practising navigation skills.

There was a good covering of snow today from 250 metres upwards. The ground was not frozen.

Steve and James navigating in difficult conditions near Carn Liath (609m).

Steve and James navigating in difficult conditions near Carn Liath (609m).

Drumochter Winter Navigation

Bob, Gregor and Ross from Falkirk Community Trust and I were out today in the Drumochter area looking at navigation in winter conditions and safe route choice. We started from Dalnaspidal Lodge and took in Meallan Buidhe as part of the day.

Bob and Ross on a scoured slope above Loch Garry

Bob and Ross on a scoured slope above Loch Garry

East and South facing slopes were well scoured with the odd small pocket of fresh snow. Pretty good snow cover from about 600m. A base of old firm snow and less new snow than I was expecting in this area. What new snow there is has accumulated on North-East through West to South-West facing slopes. Very little precipitation through the day. Below freezing all day and moderate East winds.