Sunday, November 19, 2006

A forst foray of the winter

Going East on Friday night wasn't without it's troubles. The Lect pass was closed due to drifting snow so it was the long way round for me coming from North of Inverness. However, Simon and i walked into Lochnagar on Saturday and were rewarded with a blue sky winter day. We saw the clouds over to the west and felt we'd made a good choice! The snow level started just above the level of the car park but walking into the corrie wasn't too difficult. The main cliffs are quite buried in fresh snow and will benifit massively from a thaw and then a re-freeze. We chose as exposed a line as we could find and found that the exposed turf to be well frozen but the large patches on the ledges needing care when used (the snow is insulating them slightly). We climbed in the Southern sector of Lochnagar and managed two new V,6's and one grade II (all un-named at present). These were all around 80m and the V,s packed quite a punch in each of their pitches. All were excellent outings and any of them would be good for an easier second day for those who don't fancy the walk over to the main corrie.
I noted cornice build up and windslab surface layers about 10cm thick as we were decending from the top. This was on a NW facing aspect and was being eroded and re-deposited by the local wind swirling around the corie as the day progressed. This snow wasn't a problem as we decended but might be something to be aware of if the temperature does rise and cause a period of instability. Indeed, a good deal of old avalanche debris from the previous snowfall was evident on this NW aspect.
Another party was on the route Central Buttress (II) which was a good choise under the heavy powder.
The road back over the Lect pass on Saturday evening had been cleared but snow had blown on it and care was still required!

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