Sunday, November 30, 2008

Meall Faur-Mhonadh:

Becs and I had a lovely day out above Loch-ness. The views were stunning and the weather fantastic. A few pics from our afternoon out. Some sledging action was also had on the way down!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dissapointing day in the Cairngorms!

A quick dash into the Cairngorms at the weekend, saw Davy and I very disappointed once the cloud lifted and dawn was breaking. We could see a very black looking set of buttresses in Coire-an-Lochain, We picked the whitest line we could find, many routes really were as black as you could imagine.
Anything steep had held no snow after the thaw, and the dry air meant nothing was hoaring up. The line we spied from the floor was Ewen Buttress, it really is a short and quite poor route. 2*???
One very easy pitch followed by one or two moves, followed by 60 mts of plodding. We untied at the top put the stuff in the bag and walked off to find we still had a nice looking horizontal arete to complete the route.

As it wasn’t quite mid day, we dropped down the goat track and ran up goat track gully. This as usual had the wee ice pitch which was fun. The turf is like concrete, all over the Northern Cairngorms, this should be good once the snow arrives. Still a quick successful day out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Aonach Mor: Early season action.

Jamie and I left Inverness at 4:45 on Saturday to head down to Aonach Mor. With a better weather forecast, and perhaps less snow I thought that West might well be best this weekend.
Missing out the finer points of walking up the downhill track, in the dark, we arrived at the top Gondola station after an hour and half, why oh why these places do maintenance with snow on the ground is a different story.
Contouring around from the climbers col things looked good and we settled on Force 10 buttress. The weather was also settled with zero wind, and the cloud just lifting off the summit.
I was expecting a romp. I was wrong.
The gear was well, er, poor, and the whole thing was sustained at 4 with quite a lot of 5. The guide book says it climbs steep and surprising ground for the grade, and it does, whatever grade that might be! I think it may have been graded for Neve and good snow, as the powdered up route we found was quite a challenge. There was a mention of excellent protection, 10mt run outs above dodgy pro, gave me a different story. Still we had fun. If you are in the Coire this winter check the route out, well worth doing. The crux sequence of chimney and crack is well protected.
A torch light descent of the world cup mountain bike trail just added to the days entertainment. The view from the 1st belay, the only pic to have survived the thaw in my bag!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fannaichs: Meall a' Chradgaidh

The other Sunday Becs and I had a quick wander into the Fannaichs, despite the late start we managed to bag Meall a’ Chrasgaidh and be back to the car before it was too dark. Some lovely views on the way especially to the north and Beinn Dearg. Sgurr Mor also looked good too but I couldn’t see resurrection just yet.
We did very nearly get caught out with an Iron Hard patch of snow, just below the col that leads to the plateau, we left the axe and crampons back home. A few delicate steps and a few big kicks to make some of our own and we were on the summit. A nice gentle day out, and a good day to be in the hills.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hidden Chimney: Direct start

The other day Jamie and I headed into the Northern Corries. Arriving in the car park at 8am to a warm, foggy and wet vista. The presence of the local winter climbing elite made me feel a little better. Despite the tight lips for possible destinations and routes I knew these guys would get something done. So we trudged into the mist. The muddy path gave way to a few signs of snow after 30minutes walking, but things weren’t looking good. The low cloud meant we saw nothing of the crag and we arrived at the lochain of Corie an-t-sneachda things looked a little more promising. This was only Jamie’s second ever winter route, but he was keen to try something a little bit harder than the stuff he did last time out, so I opted to go for the direct start of Hidden Chimney. Although I have done this twice, the guide book mentions another variation to the start, up a chimney just right of the direct start at about the same grade of IV 5. Although they only came in short bursts, the difficulties were steep and quite thin, a good solid IV 5.
Within no time at all, and after only one or two expletives Jamie joined me on the belay, smiling so I think he enjoyed it. Conditions underfoot were good with some useable snow and everything really hoared up for that full on winter effect.
I lead through the next two pitches and surprisingly for the first time actually got around to doing the top chimney pitch of hidden chimney.
This is a lovely pitch and well worth its 2**. The chockstone is a little awkward and was over come with a neck and footing chimney technique!!
A very good day out after such low expectations on the walk in. On the way home the cloud lifted to give us a nice view as we dropped back down to the car park.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cairngorms: North and South for a weekend of winterfun.

A busy weekend! Yesterday Andy and I were driving up Glen Muick at 6:30 following a Car and I was thinking the place would be busy. The other car was slick and they were off before we had parked up, but that was to be a bonus!
On the snowy walk in this guy gave us a low down on conditions, snowy was his take on things.

Thankfully we had team slick in front and they broke trail all the way to the coirre lip, waste deep powder and breaking trail, and still only the 1st of Nov.
Anyway the helpful other team looked liked they had other plans and we were left to swim down into the Coirre and the start of the routes.
Lochnagar was officially plastered.

An hour or so later we were at the bottom of Shadow Buttress A, a classic 300mt IV5 mountaineering route. We opted for the alternative start of Bells route to give us two routes for the day. This was an old fashioned route, with good turf, and little gear!

Andy dispatched the Crux of the whole route on the second pitch with one gymnastic move over the overhanging Iron shaped face you can see here.

The rest of the route is long! 6 pitches in total saw us top out just before it got dark, after being visited by the Mountain Rescue Helicopter whilst we were still on the route.

All that remained now was the 2hour walk back off the hill in the dark. To complete a fantastic but tiring day.

Today Becky and I headed off to Cairngorm to make the first few turns of the season.

What a day, the Gorms looked magical this morning, and the weather was brilliant all day. Surprisingly despite being open yesterday, Becky still managed to sniff out some fresh powder and we had a good day, in good snow! Lets hope there are many more weekends like this one, as winter sets in!