Monday, December 18, 2006

General Northern Cairngorms report

Was out and about today climbing with Tim Blakemore and here is what i saw... Sneachda is much Blacker than Lochain, The mess o pottage looks the blackest where as Fiacaill Buttress seemed the whitest. There is snow ice in most of the easy gullies and there was a line of white in Red Gully, but i can't comment on the quality. There is a very very thin Alladins Mirror Direct; its not there yet! The Goat track is an accident waiting to happen - it is really icy and a slip would be unrecoverable - this is the case with lots of places, icy old snow above nasty boulder fields. We went up the goat track and into loch Avon and over to Carn Etchachan. The shelter stone is mostly rock boot territory and it needs a lot more snow for Sticil Face to form up. Carn Etchachan is better but not awesome. The rocks are not rimed up till the top of the crag but the turf and ledges are holding snow and the turf is excellent and water saturated. We climbed Scorpion and found the crux a hard V or easy VI in current conditions (it's ice snow and mixed at the crux at the moment rather than ice). However there is absolutely no cornice to worry about. Hells Lum is holding good ice on its right hand side and these lines may be climbable at the moment if a little tricky perhaps for the guidebook grade.
If anyone finds my Terminator Crampons that fell off my 'sac between the top of Scorpion and the top of the Goat Track i'd love them back!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday 17th in the N.W.

High pressure is beginning to dominate and today and the N.W. is seeing beautiful weather. There is a healthy amount of snow about (see the usual pic of Ben Wyvis) and we can expect the weather to continue for the next few days as the high pressure pushes up from the Bay of Biscay. Hopefully the sunshine will cause some ice to begin to form in places such as Hells Lum. I'm hoping to head into the Loch Avon Basin on Monday so I can have a wee look see at what is about.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday 16th Dec

Oliver and I went into Corie An Lochain in the Northern Corries today in the hope that the steeper trickier lines would be rimed up. The turf on the walk in seemed pretty good, but as we got into the corrie we were dismayed to see the lack of rime on the steep ground. We noted that Savage Slit and Fall out Corner were both in good winter condition and the Slit saw a party on it. Sidewinder also had a party as did Euan Buttress and Y gully right branch. We followed the rime right to the tops of the cliffs and did Hookers corner and met a party from Falkirk who were having a great day out on the cliffs. Thanks again guys for throwing down the abseil anchor after we abbed back down the route. We were intending on another line in that area but Oli's lift was driving back to Edinburgh at 2pm, so we called it a day at that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sunday 10th Dec

The front on Sunday came a few hours later than i expected. The heavy rain only came on at about 3pm. However, the slight rain and the rise in temperatures of over 10 degrees in only a few hours had already massively depleted the snow pack.
Tanya and i thought about going up high for a walk but looked at Geoff Monk's MWIS forecast which used the word 'Impossible' to describe walking up high and thus decided on a nice lunch at the Glenmore shop and a short walk to Ryvoan Bothy behind the lodge. Not very hard core but the soup was nice!

Saturday 9th Dec

Oliver, Gareth and i made the long walk from the corie Cas car park, through Sneachda, up the goat track and over the plateau to Corie Sputan Dearg. We were intending on some exploratory adventure but found the crags to be totally buried with fresh snow that had blown over from the plateau onto the crags in the N.W. wind. Instead we tried for a second ascent of a tricky route but after the sun came out briefly for an hour or two some of the snow started to melt and trickle water down the cliff. The turf on the ledges stayed well frozen but the thin turf in the corners and cracks that the water trickled down thawed out so we abandoned the climb (just after Oliver took a 5m+ fall!)
We waded up an easy gully to the side and became slightly concerned as to the safety of the snow pack near its top. We found a safer way up onto the plateau, but thought that the snow would go through a dangerious period of instability with the arrival of the warm weather front.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The snow is going.... going...

The weather in the West and North West this week has been the type of weather that would convince Noah on the need for the Ark. Continuous torrential rain all the way up the mountain has more or less put the snow pack back to scare one in the N.W, save for the odd bit here and there.
Today we are enjoying a kink in the isobars over Scotland and i caught a glimpse this morning of Ben Wyvis in the sunshine and blue skies. You can judge for yourself the effect of the rain. The snow has hung on a bit more in the Cairngorms as there has been a bit less rain there (the rain has been coming in from the west), but winter climbing is off the cards this weekend. Go for a walk (or do some DIY!) and expect the weather to deteriorate gain this weekend.