30th and 31st March 2011 Cairngorms

Up in the Cairngorms snowholing with John and Gareth, Gayle, Tam and Anne from the Falkirk Team yesterday and today.

Gareth settled in at the snow hole

On Wednesday we walked in and improved a couple of the existing snow holes in Coire Domhain before an evening walk up Ben Macdui. Rain and sleet on a south-easterly in the afternoon and in the cloud for the walk up to the summit. However, on the return the cloud cleared giving views of Braeriach, Cairngorm and Beinn Mheadhoin and a starlit night allowing the temperature to drop a little and a crust to form on the snow.

Walking out towards The Goat Track

Snow and rain (below about 1000m) started on an increasing south-westerly about 6:00 this morning. We walked out via The Goat Track, which has firm snow below a sugary crust and was building some soft fresh snow higher up. The major gully lines are still holding a lot of snow, Mirror Direct is still there, the higher sections of the buttresses were starting to look white (but this may have changed if the snow became rain at these heights during the day) and any loose rock will not have refrozen.

Coire an t-Sneachda this morning

Saturday 26th March 2011 Cairngorms

Up in Coire an t-Sneachda with Adventure Edinburgh on Saturday. The coire was feeling very spring like with only the major gully lines still complete. A few light showers during the day falling as snow above 900m. Aladdin’s Couloir saw several ski descents.

20th March 2011 Aonach Mor

Third day of the trip with Euan, John and the Falkirk High Tops team today. After Skye and Kintail over the last two days we took the Gondola up and headed in to the West Face of Aonach Mor and climbed Golden Oldy.

Paul and Graeme with the East Ridge of Carn Dearg Meadhonach in the background

There was cloud down to about 700m with the odd break, light rain showers from early afternoon and the freezing level was above the summits. The snow was generally soft and becoming saturated with some ice hanging on. Larger areas of turf were frozen, but care was required with the odd loose block in the thawing conditions.

19th March Forcan Ridge and Saddle

The photograph above shows Gayle with the Forcan Ridge beyond. The Falkirk High Tops Team and I climbed this today. Conditions on the route were excellent with some brilliant snow ridges, mixed climbing and an abseil. The route is in a similar style to the Aonach Eagach but more sustained.

Windslab was noted on northerly, easterly and south easterly aspects today.

Diagonal Gully, Coire A’Ghreadaidh

Today I have been out on Skye with the Falkirk High Tops Team. We climbed Diagonal Gully in Coire A’Ghreadaidh and traversed to the south summit of Sgurr A’Ghreadaidh. We had intended on continuing to the main summit but snow conditions were difficult and time consuming on the ridge so we abseiled onto a shelf on the west face, gained Diagaonal Gully and retraced our steps. On Easterly aspects there is windslab.

Wednesday 16th March Glencoe

Both Euan and I were out in Glencoe today. Euan climbed North Buttress on The Buchaille with Graeme and Sharon reporting good conditions.

Ian and I climbed Ordinary Route (or something approximating to it) on Summit Buttress, Stob Coire nan Lochain. This gave an interesting route with a finish on the summit. Conditions here were fairly variable, with a fair bit of clearing of crust and powder required to expose solid ice/snow. Exposed turf was well frozen, but some of the buried turf remains soft.

Ian belaying with approach trenches in the background

There’s a good trench in to the coire and Dorsal Arete, Raeburn’s and others were being climbed.

Stunning views from the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochain

A beautiful day with wall to wall sunshine, this was causing some sun wheels and sloughs and care is still required with route choice. Southerly winds were moving spindrift around and a few minor spindrift avalanches were seen.

13th March Glencoe

I was out today in Glencoe with Cliff Smith, Martin Holland and an Adventure Edinburgh group. We were doing some winter scrambling around the Pink Rib area on the peak behind the Kingshouse.

There is huge amounts of new snow which makes moving anywhere very, very difficult. Avalanche activity was witnessed at low levels (around 400m).

10th February Emel Ridge Beinn an Dothaidh

I was out today with the Falkirk High Tops Team on Beinn an Dothaidh. We climbed Emel Ridge which gave us a safe option given the current avalanche conditions. A lot of graupel fell today and there was a huge amount of transport of snow and graupel throughout the day. Central Gully avalanched during the day and there was avalanche debris at the bottom of East Gully.

8th and 9th February Cairngorms

For the past two days I have been observing Mountain Guide Jonathon Preston. Jonathon and Phillip climbed Aladdins Coulior, The Runnel and Jacobs Coulior. The gully lines were in good condition but today windslab was building and will be a problem over the next few days.

Sunday 6th March 2011 Stob Coire nam Beith

Out today in Stob Coire nam Beith, Glen Coe, with Euan and Alasdair, Azam, Merryn and Phil from the Glasgow Hillwalking and Mountaineering Club. We climbed Summit Gully a good, long (450m) I/II*, which takes you straight to the summit. The snow was broken in a couple of places lower down, with soft snow, water running underneath and the turf not frozen. With height the snow firmed up and by the top rime was forming and the turf was firm. The cave pitch isn’t present, but there’s a good easy and complete bypass gully on the right, which rejoins the main gully higher up.

Phil and Alasdair in Summit Gully

Cloud around summit height during the day, temperatures falling with height and during the day with freezing level around 900m or so. No precipitaion during the day, but some rain on the drive back south. Light southerly winds.

Euan, Merryn and Azam