Monday, December 28, 2009

Queues and Views.

Another perfect day on the ski slopes, well weather and snow wise, crowds were a differnt story. We escaped the mayhem of the pistes and lifts this morning with a walk to the summit of Cairngorm to catch the fresh powder on the way down, and was treated to some magnificent views.
The queue police were out in force this afternoon. Letting us all know where we were in the lift queue in case we forgot. To make things worse the M1 poma blew up! So by the end of the day it was taking a while to get from the bottom to top. Well about an hour if truth be known, so my patience was wearing a little thin. Coumpounded by people driving at 10mph all the way down back to Aviemore. Still its hard to complain when we are in such a lovely spell of weather, the snow is currently falling hard again outside the window. Im going to need a rest day at some point if this continues.

Back to join the mayhem, crowds, and pistes.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Staying Local at Christmas......

Another good bealy view.
With so much snow making driving and walking in a nightmare, Davy and I headed to our local. 8 miles from the door, along some pretty bad roads saw us geared up for a rare winter ascent (possibly second?) of a 3 pitch route. A little vegetated in summer this provided 3 great pitches, one of ice, one a cheval for 10mts along a brilliant flake, and a final steep chimney. Excellent fun and I think we made the best of the conditions at the minute. Tech 6 moves and tree belays what more could you ask for!
Pitch 1
Davy on Pitch 3

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas day.

After two hours of trail breaking in knee deep powder Becky and I decided to give up on our attempt of little Wivys just below the summit, and head for dinner. Another gorgeous day in the Highlands though. We met this young chap on the way down, and tried to explain we would be avoiding roast beef for dinner!!
Happy Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve fun.

The belays had some good views today

In an attempt to avoid the masses of powder in the East Davy and I headed West today. We ended up on the Bealach na Ba, towards Applecross, and climbed the brilliant Cobalt Buttress. Without a breath of wind, a cloud in the sky, snow at sea level and temperatures touching -17 on the drive over, conditions couldn’t have been more perfect.

The route itself is well worthy of its 3* and the best I have climbed this year. The crux is quite nippy and the other pitches all provided worthwhile and thoughtful climbing. Topping out just as the sun was setting over Skye with every square inch of land covered in snow it was impressive end to a good day.

Davy happy after the crux wall.

Davy about to top out of the overhanging chimney on pitch 4.

On the way out we noted another headlight with about 60mts of climbing to go on a buttress nearer the sea with Martin Morans mini bus in the layby I suspect he was out new routing.
As I type the snow is yet again falling heavily and Santa is on his way!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Powder days!

With 5 more inches of fresh snow overnight and the magic words on the radio that school was closed Becky and I had a powder day on Cairngorm.
Becky finding some fresh powder early in the day.

What a day too, the early morning cloud sank into the valley to leave a perfect inversion and the hill covered in freshies.

The all knowing eye!

A bit of a walk or explore soon reveals the untouched stashes and we had a fab day in the snow. The odd rock still stuck it's head up though and at one point sparks were reported from the underside of my board!

I don’t think I will be lucky enough to get any more snow closures this week so the climbing will have to wait to Thursday, but psyche levels are high.

Becs at the End of a good day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let it Snow!!

At 3am this morning there was 6inches of fresh powder on the car, getting to and back from any climb would be the hardest bit today. The decision to cancel was confirmed as a good one, as snow has continued to fall on off, virtually all morning here in Inverness.

On Drumossie Mor

Becky and I made the most of it, by a little walk up and over Drumossie Mor from the house. It felt quite wintry indeed up there, and it inspired us enough build a Snowman once we got home!

When it stops snowing, things could really start to look good, especially if we get a couple of gentle freeze thaw cycles.
The skiing on the other hand could be fantastic, this week. So it's typical that I am working for the rest of this week up to Christmas Eve. You never know though, a snow closure might well just give me the opportunity to go for a slide.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stirling Bomber.

Fiacaill Buttress.

Roger, Andy and I headed back into the Northern Corries for another short day. Overnight the freezing level fell to around 400mts and the crags are now well and truly plastered in rime and verglass. We opted for Stirling bomber a short but utterly brilliant V7. Although perhaps more like VI in todays harsh conditions.
Yes up there!!
After our trip out last week, it was Rogers turn to pull the trigger and he dispatched the main pitch in a very cool and calm style. Gear of any kind is a real battle and Roger showed some real tenacity to find some and pull out right to the mid way ledge.
In the chimney
Whilst belaying I saw a team fall from the top pitch of Invernookie, after apparently their belay failed. The two cart-wheeled the entire length of the crag. The good news is a apart from bruising and a few small fractures the two are fine, which is good news because it was a very sobering sight. In an attempt to communicate with them and offer help, poor old Roger had to climb the crux of our route 3 times!!!
In the end I ended up finishing well after dark.
Still a brilliant route in the dark.
As a note on conditions the Coire is full of Rime and Verglass that makes the climbing good, but very scary. Gear is hard fought at the moment. Not teaching Grans to suck eggs, but take care.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A day for Ducks, and Marigolds!

Ok its official, today was wet. With rain from car park to climb, on the climb, and on the way out, interspersed with a little sleet on the plateau it was very wet. We looked like 3 drowned rats stood at the bottom of Fiacaill Couloir about to head up to give Burning and Looting a try. Anyway, a quick decision was made to return to the ark as quickly as possible. So we headed home, via the couloir, which was in easy II nick today, if you don’ t bother with the gear, if you do be prepared to dig.
The 4-5inches of rime meant gear placements on any of the routes we saw would be a real struggle.
Hope tomorrow is a drier day!

Photo thanks to Andy, my camera isn't waterproof or indeed working now!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Equinox: Carn Etchachan

Andy and I spent much of the morning fully orientating ourselves with the upper cliff of Carn Etchachan on magical mystery tour. Still a morning well spent as the face is full of various chimneys, gullies and buttresses, that take some working out on your first visit.
As for conditions, what a difference 3km as the crow flies and a couple of hundred metres of altitude make. The snow was useless today, sugary crustry crud that just needed removing before you could climb. I don’t think either of us found a placement in snow. The neve and first time placements of yesterday were replaced with scraping and blind faith.
Anyway with that said we headed up Equinox VI 6, the climbing was both hard and bold, well for me anyway. Andy pulled out a fine lead of the slabby second pitch in particular. By 3pm and with still 40m? of climbing to go we decided to bail and try to get off the upper face in daylight. The snow conditions was simply making the climbing to difficult to go fast.
So two and half pitches and little to show for our effort, but the climbing was good and the place is now well and truly logged in the memory maps for next time.
Andy on the first chimney pitch.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rime, Views, perfect weather, oh and bit more rime.

Davy and I headed off in to Coire an Lochain today to kick start his season and make the most of the fantastic weather and conditions. We romped up Andromeda in helpful conditions and was on the top by 11:15 to enjoy the views.
Number two buttress is plastered with good useable ice and snow, however the rime and verglass, which was considerable, make gear placements worrying.
An utterly brilliant day, with perfect weather, and so worth making the effort to escape the fog of town.
An earlier start tomorrow for a little bit of a longer trip.

A few pics from today

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lazy Days!

Roger Andy and I headed into the Northern Corries for a leisurely day. Rain at the carpark soon gave way to snow which didn’t abate all day.
Anway as we left the car at 10:15 we fancied a short day. The direct pitch of hidden chimney made for a good start. I then spied a groove going up the left wall of the upper pitch of hidden chimney. After a steep pull over the roof this lovely pitch led through to the plateau and we were back home for tea and cake at the new café just above the adventure shop opposite Mountain Spirit in Aviemore. The cakes were fantastic. As for conditions, improving and snowy would be a good term, the snow was useable, and every bit of turf we found all day was set solid.
With no mention of this upper pitch in the guide, it was so obvious, it must have been done before, so any hopes of new routing were slim! Anyway after an email to the winter guru, otherwise known as Andy Nisbet it seems the groove and roof I took us on was the final pitch of Andy N's new route from last season called Technicoloured Dream Crack, the whole thing goes at VII 7 but the upper pitch was around the V6 mark and worth a *. The gear was good but felt strenous to place.
Worthwhile if you are stuck in a queue for Hidden chimney upper pitch and you don’t fancy the VII7 start to Technicoloured Dream Crack. Take the first steep exit groove on the left as you head up hidden chimney and pull over the roof (40) mts.
A really good day in the hills with great company and good climbing,

Andy on Pitch 1

Hot Aches!

Roger on his way up to join me on a windy shelf!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chocks Away Chaps!

Another early start this morning. Today Andy, James and I, headed over to Beinn Eighe in search of a little less snow than Cairngorms. Anyway the North West gave us a brilliant day. With conditions good for the steeper upper quartzite tier, we poked around on Far West Buttress which gave us a new route. Probably in the V6 area Chocks Away gave 3 sustained pitches and just enough for one each, which was good.
A superb day, and route that is well worth a couple of stars. Details to follow. In the meantime a few pics.

The weather never came in quite as Geoff was forecasting!

Andy on top of pitch 4.

Me heading up pitch 4

Coming up the first corner of Pitch 1

James on Pitch 3

Andy on Pitch 4

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coire Sputan Dearg

A few pics from yesterday when Andy and I headed over to Coire Sputan Dearg. Despite lots of snow and cold temps things really do need a little bit of consolidation. Anyway the pictures tell the story better...

Every winter climbers favourite sight on a Saturday morning!

With the visibility poor, navigation was to the fore from the start.

Some nice views.

Glissade gully provides a quick and easy approach to the coire floor.

The coire looked good, but be warned the snow was about as much use as...........

Take the guide book grades for this Coire with a pinch of salt, well we discoverd a sandbag or two! In it's current condition this little chimney is at least two adjective and technical grades out. Go and try it and see if you agree?

Finishing about 12 hours after that alarm clock!

Now only 3 hours back across the plateau and Andy looks really pleased about that little walk home in the snow and lovely Cairngorm breeze.