Monday, March 23, 2009

Conditions in Cairngorms, West and NW

Ive been roving around this last week. Last night the temperature dropped and the rain that fell at my house near the sea in Conon Bridge fell as snow down to about 600m on The surrounding hills. This snow fall would have been patchy in the NW and some hills will have received more than others. However this is great news as things were getting pretty bare outside the easy grade I gullies in the NW. Now for the next few days mixed buttress climbing is an option, but a careful route choice is needed as the turf isn't frozen in the NW.

Iv'e been doing more micro navigation instruction courses and again was out in the evening in Strathconon doing night nav. It was pretty Spring like and things are starting to grow again at lower levels and the dawn chorus is singing the praises of Spring.

The Cairngorms have also received some much needed snow, the rock has either been bare or dripping recently, but the new snow on the buttresses will bring the hard mixed climbs back in. The turf wasn't frozen in Sneachda a few days ago and the steps in the easy gullies and getting bigger and bigger but some of the bigger patches of turf in Lochain were ok; choose your mixed route carefully and get on one that doesn't have any turf.

I spent Saturday and Sunday guiding steep ice on Ben Nevis (well looking for it anyway). Leaving the car park at 9am on Saturday i think that there were 70+ cars. Not really suprising as Annoch Mor is reported to be fairly poor, with only the deep slots in the shade holding any ice according my freinds who went. They opted for the shadier Annoch beag north Face and found some stepper ice there but nothing to get too excited about. On the way up we met many parties coming down as they failed to find their desired route in the heavy mist. Our 'late' start meant that we missed all the queues and got on Green gully finding good, but wet and chopped up ice. The sky cleared and we lolled about the summit in the sunshine and walked down (see video). My clients both had sunglasses - i didn't and regretted it!

On Sunday we again met many parties heading down as we went up (it was raining heavily and warm to be fair). We never the less continued and went to have a look at Indicator wall. This was streaming with water and what i could see of it in the thick mist looked thin. We instead opted for Good Friday Climb on soggy snow and good ice at the steep bits and scuttled off the summit double quick (it was at least +3 on the summit and raining). A couple of friends of mine opted for Tower Scoop and aside from a party that followed us up Good Friday Climb no one else was climbing in that area (a party backed of Hadrian's Wall Direct).

I'm having a couple of days off and having got the passwords for the website (cheers Geoff!) am going to sort the 'Summer' pages out. However, given my lack of computer skill it could be the Autumn before they are ready!

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