It has been a busy few days on the Winter Mountain Leader course with a visit to the North East corie of Beinn an Dothiadh, a snowhole expedition on the Cairngorm plateau and a visit to Coire na Tulaich to build emergency snow shelters.
The big gully lines are still complete in Beinn an Dothiadh and will be good given a freeze. The Cairngorm plateau still has good cover for ski touring although it is currently very firm.
I have been out today in the North East Corrie of Beinn an Dothaidh looking at winter skills such as cramponing and ice axe arrest.
Plenty of snow still exists in the easy gully lines. However, as the photo shows most routes are out of condition.
Large cornices overhang a number of the easy gully lines.
It has been a very wet and wild day today in the Scottish Highlands. We did however manage to climb Emel Ridge on Beinn an Dothaidh. At the top of the route the winds were very severe. Therefore we descended the ground to the east of the ridge via careful frontpointing at Scottish grade one.
The turf on Beinn an Dothaidh was very well frozen today and there is still plenty of ice around on the buttresses. Large amounts of old avalanche debris are present at the bottom of Central Gully and there has been fresh cornice collapse in the area around East Gully.
Huge amounts of snow arrived last night and this morning in the Glencoe and Bridge of Orchy areas followed by more heavy snow and very strong winds this afternoon. The current weather is creating significant windslab and cornice danger.
The team and I did however still have a great day out on Beinn an Dothaidh. We climbed steep ground near Creag Coire an Dothaidh before using a rope to ensure safe navigation in whiteout conditions on the way to and back from the summit.
Yesterday with the team I went to Nevis Range and used the Gondola to access Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag.The conditions underfoot were good with the ground well scoured. This has however led to significant cornicing on easterly aspects and required us to use a rope to safeguard our navigation to the summit of Aonach Beag in whiteout conditions.
Today I drove through Glencoe to Bridge of Orchy. Significant avalanche activity was clearly visible from last nights thaw and recent avalanche activity was noted on Beinn an Dothaidh which we climbed. The crags of Creag Coire an Dothaidh are now all black.
John and I were out with a Falkirk Community Trust climbing team of Doug, Graham and Tam today. We were looking for a scoured crag, given all the new snow, and headed to Creag Coire an Dothaidh. Creag an Socach actually looked more scoured, but with the turf feeling variable on the walk in we headed for the less turf dependent lines on Creag Coire an Dothaidh. Big thanks to the soloist and the team of walkers heading for Beinn Dorain who put a trail in for us.
John, Doug and Tam climbed Salamander Gully, which they described as “climbable, but with the ice thin in places”. Graham and I climbed Centigrade, which had some thick ice, but required a delicate approach on some sections where the ice was good, but not extensive. Graham and I then nipped round and climbed a line between Centigrade and the col, which started just left of a steep 5m wall and followed a gully/groove line through a couple of narrow sections on good featured ice at about tech III . I’ve vague memories of a line being recorded in one of the SMC Journals here, but now can’t find it. Anyway it gave a good quick second route for the day.
A lot of soft fresh snow around in sheltered locations. Turf frozen where exposed, but soft where insulated. Ice around on the crag, but not extensive. The crag was well rimed, but was loosing some of this during the day. Above freezing level at crag height most of the day after an overnight frost and temperature rising as we left with rain showers starting to move in.
John and I were out yesterday with a Falkirk ski-mountaineering team of Alan, Elsie, Findlay, Rebecca and Rob. We headed west to Beinn an Dothaidh to try and make the most of the new snow after last weeks thaw. This worked well as we were able to skin from about 450m.
We skinned up in to the North-East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh before putting the skis on our back and climbing Emel Ridge. We’d chosen this route as a good option given the fresh slab, which had developed on Friday on top of old snow in gullies.
We then skied to the summit before descending to near the head of Allt a’Coire Ghabhalaich on excellent new snow. From here we had a long skin around and up to the head of Coire Daingean before descending back to the mini-bus. This was generally on good fresh snow, but without any real base and with burns showing and often requiring the removal of skis. A long day with the final descent and carry of skis back to the van being in the dark.
Some snow showers during the day. Accumulations of new wind slab on North through to East facing slopes and in sheltered locations on other aspects. The exposed turf was well frozen, but where insulated under new snow the turf was soft. Good conditions on Emel Ridge and teams on Stairway to Heaven and on the buttress around Zig-Zag Gully. A starry night as we headed out and a hard frost developing.
Caroline, Chris, Tom and I have been out today climbing on Emel Ridge. This route is located on Beinn an Dothaidh and gave a good safe option today after last nights and this mornings snowfall.
The turf is frozen in some places but not in all. Good neve and some ice is present at higher elevations. A short video on the climbnow facebook page gives a good indication of the conditions on the buttresses.
Yesterday, the Falkirk High Tops Team and I visited the Drummochter Pass where we ski toured on A’Bhuidheanach Bheag. We skied three different descents on the mountain. All of these were on south to south easterly aspects and all gave excellent skiing on spring snow.
There was still enough snow on the mountain to wear skis for the whole day.
Today, I visited Beinn an Dothaidh with Andy. We traversed the mountain climbing Taxus on the way. The route remains complete but could now do with a refreeze to bring it back into good condition. The ice that remains was still good enough for screws.
Photos on the facebook page.
The lads from Ballachulish and I have been back out today to practise more winter skills. We visited Beinn an Dothaidh at the Bridge of Orchy to practise navigation skills in difficult conditions. As well as contour interpretation, pacing and the use of the compass, we also looked at using a rope to protect the lead navigator from falling through cornices.
Masses of new snow fell today. There was fresh snow at all levels. Blue ice is forming on Fahrenheit 451. It s hard to tell exact quantities due to the snow on top. False Rumour Gully is full of snow and will be good after a thaw and refreeze.