30/1/12 and 31/1/12 Ben an Dothaidh and Stob Ban/Devil’s Ridge

The last two days Euan and I have been out with Linda, Gayle, Graham and Tom from the Falkirk High Tops Team. On Monday we visited Ben an Dothaidh and climbed Stairway to Heaven.

NE Coire of Ben an Dothaidh with West Gully in the Centre and Stairway to Heaven on it's right

The route was in excellent condition with turf well frozen and some ice forming. No snow during the day, but wind transportation of snow on a fresh southerly with areas of wind slab forming in West and Central Gullies.

Gayle and Graham above the difficulties on Stairway to Heaven

Today we climbed the East Ridge of Stob Ban in the Mamores, which gave a very good route to the main ridge of Stob Ban. We then went over the summit of Stob Ban and dropped down past Lochan Coire nam Miseach before traversing The Devil’s Ridge and Sgurr a’Mhaim.

Looking down The East Ridge with Tom and Linda in the foreground and Martin, Graham and Gayle below

Linda and Tom on The East Ridge of Stob Ban

This gave an excellent mountaineering horseshoe of Coire Mhusgain with plenty of interest and stunning views.

Graham and Gayle on The East Ridge of Stob Ban

Turf well frozen above 200m, easy walk ins with limited snow cover below 600m. A few snow flurries during the day with, again, wind transport of snow on a southerly wind leading to areas of winslab forming on lee slopes.

Martin, Graham and Gayle on The Devil's Ridge


Graham with Stob Ban in the background

26/01/12 Ben Donich and The Brack, Arrochar

Up Ben Donich and The Brack today with Ann, Sharon, Mick, Norrie and Vic from the Falkirk High Tops Team.

A sheltered spot for a break on the way up Ben Donich

Snow showers throughout the day on a fairly light southerly wind. Snow settling from The Rest and Be Thankful upwards and falling to lower levels after dusk. Turf still holding some firmness on the way up Ben Donich, but soft to around summit height on The Brack. A few old snow patches in sheltered spots. Rime forming on rocks and some ice forming on exposed areas.

The summit of The Brack

25/1/12 Forty Thieves Area,Coire an t’Sneacdha

Graeme and Tam climbing ice at the start of the route today.

I have been back out today with the Falkirk High Tops Team.

There has been a massive thaw overnight. We walked into the corrie today with the intention of climbing anything that remained white. The best options were a number of lines in the Forty Thieves area. We climbed the buttress on a mixture of snow, ice, turf and rock taking in the steepest lines at about II/III.

There is a very limited number of routes to go at in the corrie at the moment. On the plus side, the turf remains frozen.

Cam Chreag Topo 2 – Forgotten Buttress and Fan Buttress

Since I put the topo of the right hand side of Cam Chreag up there’s been a fair bit of interest and a few queries asking if I had a topo of the rest of the crag. I do have a topo of the left hand side (East Face) of the crag; unfortunately the photo isn’t great and I’m still not completely convinced everything is in the right place. However, there’s a copy below with a few comments/caveats.

Cam Chreag East Face Topo

Cam Chreag East Face showing Forgotten Buttress and Fan Buttress. I’ve climbed or descended all the lines shown in red on both topos and the grades are confirmed as much as they can be for a winter route. Lines of Knucklebuster Corner and Easy Gully definitely confirmed. Line believed to be the Left Hand Start to Fan Gully was soloed at II in icy conditions without much snow. Line shown as Cam Gully was descended, the description in the 2003 SMCJ may indicate that Cam Gully is the more open gully right of the leftmost buttress.

23/1/12 and 24/1/12 Castle Wall, Anvil Gully and Chimney Rib, Cairngorms

Sharon at the top of Castle Wall with Carn Etchachan behind.

Martin exiting Chimney Rib.

Sharon, Ian, Steve, Martin and I have just had an excellent couple of days in the Cairngorms.Yesterday, we visited the Shelter Stone where we climbed Castle Wall. The route was in perfect condition with frozen turf and lots of snow and rime. We spotted a team climbing Route Major on Carn Etchachan.

Today,we visited Creagan Coire Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully and Chimney Rib. Both routes were in excellent condition. We climbed a 7m wall below the main chimney pitch of Chimney Rib. This is different from the guidebook description and is probably IV 6.

22/01/12 Geal-charn and A’Mharconaich, Drumochter

Out today with Mary, Andrew, Nigel, Sarah and Anne-Marie doing a Winter Skills Course. We used the area around the head of Allt Coire Fhar finding new snow on lee slopes above 700m. Where the new snow was on top of older consolidated snow it was generally starting to bond fairly well to the old snow due to the moisture content at these elevations, although there was some debris from a minor avalanche from yesterday. Scoured areas of older snow were firm giving good crampon practice. Exposed turf was frozen from about 750m. Ridges generally scoured clear of snow.

Taking a break near the head of Allt Coire Fhar

Fresh north-westerly wind giving some redistribution of snow and a few snow showers during the day. Freezing level circa 700m through the day, but falling to road level by nightfall. General cloud cover with the odd break including some excellent views of Ben Alder.

21/1/12 and 22/1/12 Milky Way and Anvil Gully, The Cairngorms

Paul exiting Anvil Gully.


John leading Anvil Gully.

John abseiling into Anvil Gully with the Anvil boulder over his left shoulder.

Tam exiting Milky Way in Coire an Lochain

For the past two days I have been in the Cairngorms with the Falkirk High Tops Team. I have been climbing with John Bell and Paul. John Jackson, Doug and Tam climbed together as a team

Yesterday, the weather was wild. We still managed to get a route done though in Coire an Lochain. Both teams climbed Milky Way on well frozen turf and some snow ice. Of note, is a pocket of windslab underneath this area of the crag which requires care.

Today we all visited Creagan Coire Cha-no and climbed Anvil Gully. We abseiled down the route and climbed back out again as the snow in Recovery Gully looked very suspect. The turf low down on the route was a bit soft but excellent higher up the route and on all the difficult moves.

21/01/12 Winter Skills, Geal-charn, Drumochter

Out on Geal-charn doing a Winter Skills Course for EICA Ratho today with Duncan, Paul, Neil and David. The weather was fairly wild with more north-west in the wind than the forecast westerlies and winds steadily around 45mph at circa 750m. Snow showers throughout the day depositing fresh snow and wind blown snow on lee slopes above about 600m and rain at road level. Old frozen snow patches from 600m upwards. Turf very variable and only consistently frozen above 750m.

David trying his crampon skills on steeper ground

We found enough old snow in Coire Beul an Sporain to cover the course requirements, but had to keep moving and find shelter to keep warm with the lads coping very well with the challenging conditions. Goggles definitely helpful today.

Descending towards Allt Coire Fhar

20/1/12 Rhombus Buttress, Cam Chreag

Mike and Steve today with Cam Chreag behind.

I have been out today with the Falkirk staff team doing some winter training. Snowfall continued through the night in the Killin area making the walk in a bit harder. A 4WD vehicle is also necessary to get all the way up the road. With good visibility it would now be possible to link enough snow patches together to ski some of the Munro’s.

We climbed Rhombus Buttress. The turf was not completely frozen on this route.

I am off to the Cairngorms now for four days so will be reporting from there.

Cam Chreag Topo, Meall nan Tarmachan

Euan & I have both visited Cam Chreag several times this week and a few folk have asked about a topo, as there’s no diagram in the current guidebook and the descriptions can be a little confusing; it’s worth noting there’s is an update in the 2003 SMC Journal. There’s a topo below of the east side of the crag (east of Easy Gully). Not all routes are shown and a number of lines have been climbed since the guidebook, but hopefully it will help with getting orientated for anyone new to the crag. If you click on the image and then click on it again you should be able to see it in a larger format.

Cam Chreag Topo