John and I were in Coire Fee, Glen Clova, today with a Falkirk Community Trust Introduction to Winter Climbing Day team of Andy, Paul and Ross. Ross and I climbed B Gully with the icefall finish before descending A Gully on soft snow, ice and rocks. John, Andy and Paul climbed a couple of ice pitches of A-B Intermediate before descending by abseil.
After the long period of cold weather in Scotland it had unfortunately turned warm with rain above the summits over last night and through this morning. Snow was receding in the wet conditions and ice was melting. The turf was still firm on the crag away from significant drainage. A team was backing off Look C Gully as we arrived and B Gully Chimney did not look climbable to me. It’s worth noting that the approach track and path to the coire was still very icy on our descent and requires care.
A Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors Mountaineering Team of John, me, Bob, Linda, Siobhan and Tom were out today. We were due to go to Glen Coe, but having seen the weather forecast decided on going East to Glen Clova and Coire Fee. Before walking in we’d assumed we’d be climbing a buttress, but with good visibility and a look at conditions we chose B Gully. We were able to climb this on soft snow, which grew firmer with height, but we did have to bypass the steep section by a diversion out to the right.
The ice on the steep section looked thin, but climbable. However, it was guarded by a section of steep and wet soft snow from Monday/Tuesday. The bypass was on easier angled soft snow and very firm turf and allowed us to regain the gully via a turfy ramp. We walked off via the Shank of Drumfollow staying on the ridge rather than taking the Kilbo Path, which we thought might have steep icy sections.
There was less snow than I’d expected in Coire Fee. The buttresses were relatively snow free, with just ledges and the defined sheltered or easier lines holding snow. The turf at crag height was very firm. Some ice was hanging in, however looking at the forecast for the next two days I don’t think it will survive through the weekend. Winter Coire and Coire Farchal looked to be holding more snow than Coire Fee, but I’d guess this will all be pretty soft. There are still some big cornice features around and these need to be considered if climbing the gullies in thawing conditions, particularly if the top is in cloud and you can’t see what’s above you. Freezing level above the summits today, the odd light rain shower on a fresh Westerly, but generally dry.