/ Anyone planning to be in Nthn Corries this weekend

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jhw - on 19 Dec 2012
What is the view given the forecasts on MWIS and SAIS?

It looks like high southeasterly winds but do these in themselves affect climbing on north-facing slopes like Sneachda?

It also looks like there will be windslab affecting north-west facing slopes (i.e., Sneachda) but am I right in thinking that the routes on Fiacaill will be less exposed to avalanche risk in these circumstances (albeit more exposed to the high winds above).

What about just going for buttress and ridge routes? Or will you be exposed to avalanche risk on the approaches, and will the topouts be loaded?

I've also looked at other crags in the area and saw Etchachan had a different aspect but these all look exposed to the same avalanche risk if you walk in over the Goat Track (is it possible to walk in via the ski pistes though).

Basically I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to get around what appears in general to be a poor forecast. Sorry if these questions belie a lack of knowledge of the area - I've climbed a few times there but this is the first trip I've conceived and planned from scratch. The reason we're looking for a justification to climb this weekend is that it's rare we get a chance to climb in Scotland and we understand a long-term thaw is predicted after this weekend. I'm conscious that these are human factors that shouldn't impede our decision-making but any guidance as to whether there's any justification for making the trip up this weekend is appreciated.

jhw - on 19 Dec 2012
Also what are views on the fact that the Yr.No forecast for Cairngorm (admittedly for 923m altitude - a bit low) - is a lot more optimistic on the wind front than MWIS (11m/s - about 25mph, I understand?)

I've been on Sneachda and Braeriach in windstorms and know only too well how full-on it can be!
LakesWinter on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw:

I wouldn't be so sure about the long term thaw over scotland after this weekend, that looks an unlikely outcome to me.

You can walk in over the ridge just above the ski centre to the plateau, round the rim of Sneachda and down to Loch A'an, although loads of snow is forecast over the cairngorms so I'd choose crag and approach very carefully and think about other venues too
Simon Caldwell - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw:
Have you seen the forecast for tomorrow? That could have more of a bearing...
Big Lee - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw:

Be warned, the Goat Track can be major avalanche territory in bad snow conditions.
krikoman - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw: No
jhw - on 19 Dec 2012
Thanks for replies. Very helpful and warnings heeded.

We are waiting to see if the Sunday forecast is any better but the whole area looks like a red-zone.

One thing we're thinking about doing on Saturday if climbing is out is walking into the Garbh Coire bothy near Braeriach and climbing there on Sunday if the forecast is better. Is this bothy still standing and will we be able to stay there given the conditions and quantity of snow already fallen?
Scomuir on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw:
It's still there, but apart from the front door, is in need of some tlc: ohttp://cairngormwanderer.wordpress.com/garbh-choire-refuge/

jhw - on 19 Dec 2012
My concern is that it'll be buried in snow
Jamie B - on 19 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw:

I'd say going over to Etchacan, Braeriach or anywhere beyond the Northern Corries will be more aggro that it's worth this weekend, between gale-force southeasterlies and wading through drifts. My advice (and what I'm figuring I'll aim to do) would be to stay in Sneachda and exercise extreme caution about crag approaches and exits.... and steer clear of gullies. Expect to top out into a maelstrom and give serious thought to safe descents. Going over the top of point 1141 can be a battle, but argubly better than taking on an avalanche-prone lee-slope.

Good luck, it's not the most helpful prognosis!
Andy Nisbet - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw:

With strong south-easterlies, go anywhere else but the Norries. The wind really howls in there. Mess of Pottage might be sheltered but will be dangerous if it is. Go west and as low as you can get away with (and still reach snow).
Jamie B - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

Hmmmmm... the Pottage was my Plan A for tomorrow, but you're rapidly putting me off!
jhw - on 20 Dec 2012
Thanks!

Abort abort abort
jhw - on 20 Dec 2012
A few further questions about Braeriach (thanks Jamie for your advice, it's appreciated) -

Immediate questions are do you think snow shoes would make the approach to Garbh Coire bothy more viable?

And if we make it to the bothy, will it still be there and will it be covered in snow? Does anyone have any experience of being there when it's dumping snow - I remember reading something about it not being viable in these conditions.

We don't mind spending all Saturday just walking in to the bothy and then climbing on Sunday (we like the old-school nature of this plan) and we wonder whether the 1200m immediately to the south east of Garbh Coire could shelter it from the wind. We note that it's aspect means it's not as exposed to avalanche risk and being early in the season, the huge cornices might not have formed yet. We'd probably just do something at Grade II or III given the seriousness of the place and the need to get back to the train station for 9pm although something in the back of my mind tells me there is nothing on Garbh Coire between Grade IIs and mega-serious Grade IVs. I've walked in this area before and have a rough idea how it all fits together and we're competent with navigation in whiteouts but I'm just concerned that the bothy won't be there or will be snow-covered. Also I'm conscious we'll likely be climbing with bivvy gear as I vaguely recall there isn't a descent line back to the bottom of the crag and you have to walk off the whaleback Braeriach ridge or descend a big south-facing wind-scoured face into the Lairig-Ghru.



Andy Nisbet - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw:

If you don't know Braeriach, then I would think seriously about going to the most isolated and hostile place in Scotland in bad weather. Surely Jamie's suggestion was a joke!
jhw - on 20 Dec 2012
Jamies was warning me off it and I was stupidly overlooking/trying to find a way around his warning!

No, we're going to keep our powder dry this weekend and maybe come up in January instead. "Run away" as they put it in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I walked up Braeriach on New Year's Day back last January and even the walk was a proper undertaking, I recall.

Thanks!

Joe G - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw:

I believe The Old Bridge Inn, Cairngorm Hotel, Skiing Doo and Winking Owl all do real ale, and for an exteme winter outing you could walk all the way to the Glenmore Lodge bar, maybe stopping en route for a pint at the Coylumbridge Hilton... not sure if that helps!
JohnnyW - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Joe G:
> (In reply to jhw)
>
> I believe The Old Bridge Inn, Cairngorm Hotel, Skiing Doo and Winking Owl all do real ale, and for an exteme winter outing you could walk all the way to the Glenmore Lodge bar, maybe stopping en route for a pint at the Coylumbridge Hilton... not sure if that helps!

Now that's more like a plan!
The Grist - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to jhw: I had similar plans to you. Have aborted and going dry tooling / mountain biking instead. I think it looks a bit rubbish for a drive up from Manchester. Fingers crossed for new year weekend.
Big Lee - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to The Grist:

I can't even be bothered with dry tooling this weekend (unless we are talking indoors). Rain looks to be relentless.
The Grist - on 20 Dec 2012
In reply to Big Lee: Yeah.....I was actually thinking the same negative thoughts. I am too crap to get in the cave at the works or masson lees as well so will actually get wet.

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