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.
The team and I were out today on Beinn an Dothaidh near Bridge of Orchy. We spent the day looking at parallel roping skills for guiding and short roping in descent.
We climbed Emel Ridge taking safe travel precautions to approximately 800 metres before descending. There is huge amounts of snow in the corrie. At 800 metres on the ridge there was areas of slab. There has been recent avalanche activity in East and Central Gully. Large cornices are present above many gully and buttress routes.
I returned to The Cobbler today with a team to look at a number of skills including; short roping, approaching routes and guiding in series. We climbed Chockstone Gully and Great Gully.
Chockstone Gully was in good condition. However, a large area of windslab was building at the exit which will require care. This has occurred due to cross loading due in the current wind direction.
Great Gully was in good condition.
The routes we climbed did not rely on frozen turf. Any turf we came upon did not appear to be frozen.
The forecast today was for very wild weather in the West Highlands. Despite this, The Falkirk High Tops Team (Graham, Tam, John, Gayle and Iona) and I had a great day out on The Cobbler in the Arrochar Alps.
We chose this venue for two reasons. Firstly, the mountain is a bit lower and receives less snow than other areas such as Glencoe. Secondly, as many of the routes face south the forecast wind should have scoured the face to leave good conditions.
Our plan paid off. We first climbed Chockstone Gully. There is some soft slab gathering in the initial pitches due to cross loading but we managed to avoid moving on this. The wall that is used to pass underneath the giant chockstone had good snow on it.
The slope between the top of Chockstone Gully and the base of Great Gully which was our second route of the day had been blasted by the wind leaving only old hard snow on it. Great Gully was in excellent condition with good hard snow, useful neve on the crux bulge and frozen turf at the exit.
There was areas of windslab forming on similar aspects to that suggested by the Glencoe avalanche forecast and also on southerly aspects due to cross loading.
The Falkirk High Tops Team and I were out today in the Arrochar Alps near Loch Lomond. We climbed the South East Ridge of the South Summit of The Cobbler (Moderate) before abseiling to the col after a very brief stop on top. Some of the team continued to the Central Summit while others returned to the valley.
It is worth noting that all the abseil tat required to descend from the South Summit in anything but perfect conditions has vanished! We have put a new length of 10 mm rope through the thread anchor which will hopefully remain in place.
The weather was very challenging today but all members of the team did a great job in the conditions.
Today I have been at Beinn Udlaidh in the Southern Highlands. We climbed three different lines in the Tinkerbell area. This was the safest part of the crag today. Due to the recent wind direction there is large amounts of snow deposited on the ice routes in the centre of the Coire and in all the gully lines. It is most likely that there will be good ice underneath the snow but large amounts of clearing would be required. Careful consideration to avalanche risk is also necessary.
Yesterday, we were at the White Corries ski area looking at snowcraft and guiding skills. There are deep drifts on a number of aspects.