Ski Touring on Meallan Bhuide

Earlier in the season I skied Meallan Bhuide in the Drummochter Pass with Martin and Ivor. I returned there today with the Falkirk High Tops Team.

Despite the weather forecast, the mountain was clear most of the day (although the surrounding Munro’s were in cloud) and the winds were manageable. We had a 45 minute walk to gain the snow. Once on the snow conditions for skinning were good.

The descent was excellent. The snow allowed enjoyable effortless turns from the summit until low on the hill. The strong winds helped on the flat plateau area at the start of the ascent by blowing us along.

Ascending Meallan Bhuide in the sun.

Ascending Meallan Bhuide in the sun.

 

Coire an Lochain and Coire an t-Sneachda

Sharon on a tricky corner on the traverse

Sharon on a tricky corner on the traverse of Western Slant

On Monday 10th Euan and I met up with Mac, Sharon and Steve. Euan and I had a brief view of Coire an Lochain the day before and thought Western Slant might be a possibility as it didn’t appear to have the cornices above it that a lot of the routes in the coire currently do. We soloed up to the toe of No. 4 buttress and then pitched across the first bergschrund and up to near the base of the route. A second bergschrund had to be crossed to gain the route, which is currently started direct in to the chimney.

Mac on the traverse on Western Slant

Mac on the traverse on Western Slant

The route was in good condition with the exception of the exit; the crack in the right wall and the chokestone are burried and although there is no cornice the exit is on very steep soft snow requiring an extremely steady approach a long way above gear. There are still sizable cornices threatening a lot of routes and some impressive crevasse features on The Great Slab.

Steve and Mac contemplating the exit of Western Slant

Steve and Mac contemplating the exit of Western Slant

Today Mac, Steve and I were back in Coire an t-Sneachda. We planned to climb Rampant, but I followed my nose and the previous ascensionist’s foot prints and having looked at the guide I think we climbed the first pitch of Rampant and the right-slanting ramp line of Trampled Underfoot. Anyway, this was a great combination in the current conditions and had an excellent steep corner just before the belay.

Mac on the first pitch of Rampant, steeper than it looks

Mac on the first pitch of Rampant, steeper than it looks

The ice on Rampant was generally very good for climbing, but not great for ice screws.

Steve and Mac on the top ramp of Trampled Underfoot

Steve and Mac on the top ramp of Trampled Underfoot

Sunny just about all day today with no new snow and a very Alpine feel.

Mac topping out in style

Mac topping out in style

Out and About in the Cairngorms

Over the last few days I have climbed Invernookie and Western Slant. For full details on the conditions we found please read Martins reports and view the photographs on the ClimbNow facebook page.

Today, Mike and I had a great days ski touring. We toured from Coire Laogh Mor past Ciste Mhearad before having a brilliant descent to the Saddle. We then ascended close to the summit of Cairngorm before another excellent descent to the main ski car park. We encountered excellent snow throughout.

Mike looking out over the plateau.

Mike looking out over the plateau.

Coire an t-Sneachda

On Sunday 9th Euan, Tina, Scott, Duncan, Steve and I headed in to Coire an t-Sneachda and climbed Invernookie on Fiacaill Buttress. Euan, Duncan and Steve were first up and managed to nip around and climb the difficult section of Fiacaill Ridge whilst we topped out.

Euan, Steve and Duncan enjoying the top pitch of Invernookie

Euan, Steve and Duncan enjoying the top pitch of Invernookie

We then walked back around the coire rim and down Fiacaill Coire Cas. This gave us great views of the big cornices that are still around; there are some particularly scary examples with huge detached blocks in the Jacob’s Ladder/Forty Thieves area.

Scott and Tina at the belay below the top corner of Invernookie

Scott and Tina at the belay below the top corner of Invernookie

The snow had refrozen after the thaw of the previous day and there was good ice in the lower corner of Invernookie. Some snow showers, but some clear spells with good views, which made a pleasant change from Saturday. Euan will put more photos of the day on the Facebook page.

Scott topping out

Scott topping out on to Fiacaill Ridge

Coire an t-Sneachda and Beinn a’Chaorainn

Just had a couple of good days in some interesting weather. Yesterday, Friday, I was out in Coire an t-Sneachda with Mac and Steve. The wind was forecast to be fairly strong, so we opted for a route where we could abseil off and not have to deal with conditions on the plateau. We climbed the first pitch of The Prodigal Principal via a mixture of good ice, thin delicate ice and some balancy mixed moves.

Mac nearly finished on the tricky section of The Prodigal Principal

Mac nearly finished on the tricky section of The Prodigal Principal

The ice on this route had significantly reduced from earlier in the week after Thursday’s thaw and it was quite tricky on the day and included getting over a small bergshcrund to access the route. We then moved into the top section of Doctor’s Choice; the lower section from the cave looked delicate on the day, but the upper corner had excellent ice and neve.

Mac smiling through the spindrift at the top of Doctor's Choice

Mac smiling through the spindrift at the top of Doctor’s Choice

From the top of the route we moved left and abseiled down in to Alladin’s Couloir.

Steve abseiling in to Alladin's Couloir

Steve abseiling in to Alladin’s Couloir

On the walk out we were asked to help out with an injured walker, who’d taken a tumble on The Goat Track, so we headed back in and assisted with the evacuation. Great to see a number of teams mucking in to help out and also the guys from Cairngorm Mountain, which made for a fairly swift exit for all concerned.

Today the freezing level was due to head above the summits with rain and strong West and South-West winds. Euan, Duncan, Scott, Steve, Tina and I headed for The East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn. It was a pretty soggy walk in, but there was good firm snow on the ridge and the turf was frozen, which made for a good if damp climb. Visibility on the top was poor, so we dropped West then South-west from the summit and then back along the stream line to Roughburn.

Freezing level above the summits today with rain at summit level. Winds were lower than forecast whilst we were on the hill, but we were back to the car by mid-afternoon. I forgot my camera today, so no photos I’m afraid. At least two other members of the team had cameras with them, but chose not to get them out; it was that sort of day.

Quinn, Lurcher’s Crag

Wilson and Graham climbing the upper section of Quinn.

Wilson and Graham climbing the upper section of Quinn.

Neil at the base of Quinn.

Neil at the base of Quinn.

I have been out today with the Falkirk High Tops Team in the Cairngorms. Neil, Lucy, John, Graham, Wilson and I climbed Quinn on Lurcher’s Crag.

We accessed the route via abseil from anchors I had spotted when I was there last week. The snow and ice in the gully were in excellent condition. Lots of snow has melted from the surrounding ledges leaving loose rocks which require care.

Collies Ridge was also in winter condition. The harder routes such as Irish Wolfhound and Collies Route were black.

Ski Mountaineering in the Lawers Range

The Falkirk High Tops Team and I have had a great day out today in the Lawers Range. From the high parking, we climbed to the base of Cam Chreag with the intention of climbing one of the gully routes on this buttress. However, as lots of debris was falling off the crag, we decided not to do this. Instead, we climbed steeply via a gully to the east of the crag to gain the ridge and summit of Meall Garbh.

After a lunch break on the summit, we had a brilliant descent on powder of Coire Riadhailt to the 650 metre contour. We then ascended back to the ridge before skiing back to the van.

We observed lots of recent avalanche activity on easterly and southerly aspects. Many more photos of the day can be seen on the facebook page.

Relaxing in the sun following a brilliant ski descent of Coire Riadhailt.

Relaxing in the sun following a brilliant ski descent of Coire Riadhailt.

 

 

Cam Chreag, Meall nan Tarmachan

I was out today with Michael and Ronan who have plenty of hill walking background and are looking to get the skills to climb some winter gullies.

Michael topping out on Cauldron Gully

Michael topping out on Cauldron Gully

We headed to Meall nan Tarmachan as parts of Cam Chreag have a Southerly aspect and stood a chance of being relatively scoured. The approach was quite hard with areas of deep snow. Firstly we climbed Cauldron Gully finishing on to the lefthand ridge and looking at snow anchors and belays; turf pegs (Warthogs) and some rock gear. We then descended the easy angled gully from the Meall Garbh/Meall nan Tarmachan col taking the opportunity to build a snow bollard and practice abseiling off it. We then climbed a quick Grade III turf/rock pitch on the left of the descent gully and abseiled from an excellent thread to look at abseiling on a more realistic angle.

Ronan seconding the top pitch of Cauldron Gully

Ronan seconding the top pitch of Cauldron Gully

Lots of fresh snow on top of the older consolidated snow and it was snowing steadily above 600m as we left. Winds were light Southerlies and snow was accumulating even on Southerly aspects. Skis or snow shoes would definitely have speeded the approach and descent.