/ NEW ARTICLE: How To Get Off: Navigating in the Northern Corries
This article includes helpful tips and details on descent routes and also a full colour topo of the descents.
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2302
We had a pretty full-on descent via Fiacaill a' Choire Chais last night: initially headed off in completely the wrong direction from the top of the Mess of Pottage in almost zero visibility and hailstorm before catching ourselves on and getting out the map and compass. A good eye-opener; it's definitely easy to underestimate the Norries.
> ...headed off in completely the wrong direction from the top of the Mess of Pottage in almost zero visibility and hailstorm before catching ourselves on and getting out the map and compass. A good eye-opener; it's definitely easy to underestimate the Norries.
Done that. 4 hours later we staggered into the car park weighed down under an inch thick coating of rime ice.
Having been deceived by GPS devices on more than one occasion in the hills I would only use them to back up my use of trad navigation and sense of direction. I would literally be dead if I had trusted GPS blindly on one occasion. If it's whiteout and you know you're near corniced edges you need to be roping up.
Worthwhile article. Nice one for doing it.
I'd wage a fair proporation of incidents attributed to navigation error could have been avoided if one's sense of direction was ignored and the compass followed.
Having realised that in a white out i have no sense of direction and that no matter what I think is the right way, the compass is always right (unless you're balancing it on an ice axe).
Would anyone agree that an optional safe decent to the car park would be via the ski slopes?
Good article. Having had a mini epic coming out of Sneachda a couple of years ago I know just how easy it is to lose track of things when you have cold, wind, horizontal snow, whiteout, tired limbs etc all playing a part.
Personally I quite often walk out by the foot path on the ridge - fiacall a' Choire Chais. Depending which climb your on this can be the fastest way back to the car, it also avoids avalanche danger although the path does go very near corrie cas and the cornice in that area.
Fiacaill a' Choire Chais is of course the 'route du jour' from most routes, especially if topping out from Coire an t-Sneachda. The big problem I had one day last winter was the wind. Blasting from the south-west and so making progress VERY difficult.
I was alone and so roping up wasn't, of course, an option. I had to stay away from the edges above Mess of Pottage because of cornices and freak gusts, but I found as I approached the fiacaill that I was getting blown 'sideways' toward the headwall (and bulging cornices) of Coire Cas - and the wind was funnelling making getting back to the preferred route VERY difficult. I resorted at one point to crawling and front pointing forwards (and up an incline) with interesting use of axes...
Memories of sunny winter days sauntering around the rim of the Northern Corries (and all other high hills for that matter) make all epics seem like tall tales. Certainly my misadventure that day, that very nearly ended with me being slowly blown over the rim, have led me to study again and again articles such as this one.
Knowing how to get down is more important than knowing how to get up!
Point 5 or the goat track maybe not the safest place to seek shelter (or descent) in high winds. Interesting article tho
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