/ Cuillin update

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Mike Lates - on 11 Feb 2013
After the superb conditions and ascents of the past few weeks wild freeze thaw variation made last week hard to predict but results are potentially great. Skye is on the cusp of temperature gradients but predicted 3 deg at sea-level for most of this week means the climbing conditions are likely to be very good.

Ridge- South facing aspects were just stripped (not too badly) by the thaws so rock exposed but under a layer of powder on Saturday 9th. Also low points stripped then powdered well. Thaw yesterday & refreeze today will have helped but not romping conditions. Traverse possible for strong teams if cold predicted continues & winds stay low.

Routes- Low-grade gullies well banked & should be A1 with chilling this week. Mixed routes not ideal snow but very wintry; needs more wind or hard frost to cement chockstones & old snow.
Lots of ice in place not well cemented Sat/Sun but hopefully excellent with predicted cold. Gingini icicle complete & Icicle factory filling. Lower ice stripped thin.

Old snow slopes will be increasingly serious as they harden so concentration will be needed on even the easiest routes.
Andrew Barker - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Mike Lates:

We did South Buttress Gully on Sunday. The snow and ice varied in quality and the ice on the steep bits was a little bit hollow but it was a very nice and atmospheric route and was pretty banked out. The last narrowing over the final chockstone was great.

Do you have any idea how thick the Gingini icicle is? Wondering if it would hold up for an ascent tomorrow. We're planning on heading back to Bla Bheinn but could be tempted by the ice.
Mike Lates - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Andrew Barker: Ice on SBG and Escape from Colditz ace but still a bit hollow today. Gingini icicle was similar in size to when I climbed it but looked very white on Friday. Think it may need the thaw on Thurs & another refreeze. e-mail me and I'll send you a pic.
Nath93 - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: Hey Mike,

Escape from Colditz looking like it could be some fun later this week at some point, how many screws do you need for it ?
Mike Lates - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Nath93: 5 screws should be plenty but not much more needed on the rack. Blade peg at base of back & foot section then 480cm sling for the chockstone. Screws above here. I belay on screws @ 40m plus old peg on RHS and large nut placement beside it (I use Moac wedge but 9 or 10 should do it). 20m climbing to top but best belay block is 20m back. Best get an early start tomorrow or leave til cool (weekend?) again.
Nath93 - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: 5 screws too many for me, thought i could have got away with three and asked one of the guys on the college course for a loan but no matter.

Heading out on Friday to see whats good but looks like the weather over today and tomorrow will dictate where we end up !
Mike Lates - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Nath93: I could say 3 screws will do but really depends on a few factors. One good screw above the chockstone is enough to then leave 2 for belay then single one for pitch above. The logical belay and peg are at top of the easy angle snow ice before the steepening. Or equalise screw, peg & large nut very well, foot ledge is a good height for that, that would leave 2 screws for the top section which should be enough as only 15m of climbing before topping out.
Bigger factor is the temperature; clear skies is what we need!
Nath93 - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: Cheers Mike, much appreciated.

Looking forward to a day out regardless of what or where it is. Haven't been out since C Gully !
Andrew Barker - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to Mike Lates:

We did the round of Coire Lagan on Friday. Very little snow until high on the West Ridge of Sgurr Dearg but a fair bit still around on the flatter tops. The east side of the ridge was still plastered (as the photos on your blog show) but the crest appeared to have been stripped on narrower sections.

Despite damp snow it was a great day. Collie's Ledge was exciting and the traverse round the east side of the nose of Thearlaich was excellent. The Great Stone Shoot was full from top to bottom.

Unfortunately we have no idea what the next few days of warm weather will do and whether there will be much left when the cold comes. Any thoughts?

P.S. I have a few photos of you on Flight of the Colditz Cock. They may not be much good but I can email them to you if you would like them.
Mike Lates - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to Andrew Barker: Thinking of the Pinn myself tomorrow; was it holding snow on the top surfaces at all?
Sgurr a Fionn Choire today reflects what you found. I'd guess there is going to be little change except the snow patches getting harder with the clear skies. Good news & bad I guess as less holes but a sight more serious to travel safely. Most ice has gone although Gingini icicle still just there today. Considering a Traverse this w/e if not much more strips out.
See you up there soon, Mike
PS Pics from Bla bheinn would be much appreciated; mike@skyeguides.co.uk
Andrew Barker - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to Mike Lates:

Unfortunately the In Pinn was totally stripped. There were a couple of large gaps in the snow on the ramp round An Stac and on Bealach Coire Lagan.

There was also rubbish in the Dearg bivvy cave: a plastic plate, a mug, two large water bottles, a gas canister and a black bin bag. We'd like to have removed it but couldn't carry it around the rest of the route.

I'll send you the Bla Bheinn photos asap.
Mike Lates - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to Andrew Barker: Yep, south facing crest too stripped to entice me this w/e for north to south. Massive difference between n & s facing aspects. Outside thought of south to north as I've never done it when so alpine. Coire Banachdaich was full-on hard neve.
Pinn was a delight with warm rock & no wind.
Hotel In. Pinn. had 60 litres of frozen junk water 1st time we went in; less popular now but still needs regular cleaning. Sad as almost always guided parties using it.

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