On the flight back north i tried to peek out of the windows to see how much snow had gone and help me where i should go for the next few days, but alas the thick cloud obscured the hills below. With reports of the thaw being worse in the west and a new front arriving from the west i went to Lochnagar. I haven't been there for a number of years and must say i really like the place and intend to make the long drive again this winter. Even the easy routes there still boast garden loads of turf and the contrast to the denuded Northern Corries is quite stark.
We tried a hard route on the Pinnacle area as that area appeared the most wintry (see photos) but found that the cracks were full of hard water ice, causing on one pitch a very thought provoking 15m runout of precarious climbing on what should have been a stitch-able crack. We abbed off and moved onto an easier buttress route.
There were about 7 or 8 teams in the corrie on routes up to V. A party on Grovel wall reported slow climbing and laborious digging for gear in the sugary snow on the crag. This was indicative i think of many of the routes at the moment. The snow on the approach and at the top is mostly hard packed and would be desperate without crampons; the ski touring conditions throughout the Cairngorms at the moment wouldn't be much fun until we get some more fresh snow, which may arrive in the next few days.
I'm hearing some good things about ice climbing in several locations and so hope to investigate this later this week.
It's good to be back home