/ Easy early season climbs in the Northern corries
Jacob's Ladder is pretty spicy early season. Last year I would have said it was a hard II with ice and powder snow on slabs and boulders. Hidden Chimney probably worth a shout (will be heaving I bet as always though). Goat Track and Red Gully both offer some very interesting fun when lean compared to when banked out snow romps.
Did Hidden Chimney last weekend, wouldn't have put it harder than grade II. But likely to be busy. The Slant and Jacob's Edge in the same area are probably in grade II condition right now. Western Rib might also be an option, although I'd expect it to be more III than II, likewise Ventilator and Milky Way in the Lochain.
In early season the easier climbs maybe doable but are more likely to suffer erosion damage and rockfall.
Some of the routes mentioned above can be horribly loose if not filled in with hard frozen snow.
Many of the normal anchors are just loose flakes and blocks and are normally cemented in by the surrounding deep snow, ice and frozen ground. I personally wouldn't climb a gully below others in these conditions!
Yeah red gully is renound for loose rock isn't it, especially during heavy thaws. I remember deciding against it one year, to see a load of rock/ice fall out of it not much later on. Theres a section high up on the route which is made of loose jumbled together rocks IIRC
Hidden chimeny is a good call for an early season easy route though, done that a few times myself in early season.
If conditions are thin and icey Y gully right branch can be a good call in early season, its certainly one of the gullys that attracts a lot of ice and is better climbed in that nick. That said it probably needs a little build up and consolidation. I did it after there had been a good dump of snow early season in november and then most of it had been stripped back by a thaw early december.
I think it was originally graded for a good snow and ice buildup and by lassoing the rock mushroom out of Goat Track gully - so might not be that straight forward!
From the current Cairngorm guidebook which gives it Grade III "...it's unusual for the lower section of the rib to have enough climbable snow and ice on it, but it will then be harder..." another guidebook mentions using a sling for aid....
Getting onto the rib is steep and well protected but definitely harder at the moment...!
Thanks for all the suggestions, ended up doing Milky Way. It was filled with deep powder, so climbing was definitely less than ideal, but still great to be out!
Dave, I look forward to your comments about the grade and hope you finished OK...
A few more photos on my Facebook photo album of you both from today ;-)
Video now in production...
The full album is at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151229267309883.483832.727554882&type=1&l=e1d2724...
It's a bit of a sandbag given the amount of ab tat I've seen at the foot of the wall.
Your grading seems about right for early season conditions without a banking of snow and ice, though I did warn you ;-)
A video of you on the second tricky bit is now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ozcDln1wQ8
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