The hills in Highland looking already wintery, let's kick-start the condition thread!
It seems a few team have climbed ridges in Cairngorm Northern Corries. And Aonach Eagach.
Any one knows the current conditions in Ben? (It seems to warm up towards the weekend...)
The same as the past years. As I understand the thread of this (sort of) title was used as the starting point of the winter-climbing conditions in Scotland (but not anywhere else like Wales or Lakes, obviously!) - but obviously how it is used is entirely up to the UKC users. People often created or followed the threads of different and more specific titles, such as, 'Lochnagar conditions'. Personally I liked that way, and I was surprised to find there had been no thread of this one this year, yet, despite the fact there have been a fair amount of snow fall in Highland.
Anyway, a note of caution is that the threads with a title that contains 'condition' or alike will appear in the winter-condition summary page, and so are useful!
I have found this forums about the winter conditions have been very useful in the past years, and I am sure it is the same for many of you - let's keep the good tradition!
Went to Coire an t-Sneachda yesterday (9 November 2013).
A few of my photos are uploaded here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alpiniste/sets/72157637504994886/
There were a fair number of parties (a dozen or more?). A good amount of powdery snow was there and the scenery was properly wintery. However the ice was hardly formed - Aladdin's Mirror Direct was not seen, for example. Almost no neve, and although the temperature was freezing (-3 degC in the corrie at midday) throughout the day the turfs were hardly frozen, yet.
Today (Sunday) it was raining even at the Cairngorms ski resort carpark at 7:30am and was soggy at 1 degC. There was a very little temperature difference between the valley and carpark. The hills being covered with fog or clouds, and knowing there would be little ice/neve, we thought it wouldn't be a nice day for winter-climbing, and turned back...
For your information! Masa
> A single thread for Scottish conditions? Good luck.
Yes, I think a single thread that just shows picture links and condition reports should be encouraged. Maybe with the "Reply" button in some way disabled or partially activated so that you can post but not hold a running conversation. <that might be easier said than done>
Any side topics, "What gear do I need for Fingers Ridge...etc?" can be taken up elsewhere.
We seem to be able to string the "What is a bump?" thread along successfully enough.
Alas, I know that by mentioning this I have split the thread already, eggs....omelettes ...anyone?
In reply to masa-alpin: Yes started grey and turned unto a stunning bluesky day… great for a walk. By 10 the clouds were rolling back and there was no wind in Coire an t Sneachda at all. When we came out late afternoon the light as stunning.
In reply to masa-alpin: You made the wrong choice I am afraid! today was one of the best days weather wise I have ever had in the Norries! granted there is no usefull ice or neve but the snowed up rock routes were in stunning nick! Did hidden chimney and the haston line today, they were at the higher end of their suggested grades due to the thin early season conditions, which made them even better in my opinion (haston line was tech 5 crux, but still III). I think nearly all the snowed up rock routes between grades Iv and VI were climbed in the corrie today!
In reply to Webster:
(haston line was tech 5 crux, but still III)
Haston Line rarely gets much build up on the crux sections to make it easier. I've done it twice and never had any usable neve or ice. That said I think it's nails for tech 4 normally anyway.
In a very heavy winter the ledges can get so built up (and so much hore frost and snow on the slabs) that a lot of climbs get much easier (but bolder) but that is not the conditions the climbs are graded for.
Hey Rich, I did Short Circuit IV 5 in Coire an T'Sneachda on Saturday. Felt very thin at the crux but really enjoyable. I'd like to say felt tech 6 but having never climbed tech 6 I couldn't say. Also spent a lot of time excavating the route from under deep powder snow resulting in an after dark top out. For this reason I would probably pick something that has seen some traffic already or allow a little extra time.
Hidden Chimney III or IV with direct start looked good and probably a better option than the above as I think it starts a bit lower down if you do the direct start so you can avoid some of the wading through powder.
In reply to masa-alpin:
Looks like quite a lot of snow has survived the thaw (butresses are stripped mostly back but looks like easier angled ground, large ledges and gullies are still holding snow (and getting better with a refreeze). Temperature is dropping back to freezing now, more snow forecast with what looks like more freeze than thaw over the next wee while.
In reply to masa-alpin: Did Ring of Steall on Saturday and Aonach Eagach yesterday... Loads of snow but not much ice. The Ben was covered in whiteness...
Turf will be well insulated now so this slight thaw will do it good.
Wouldn't want to have been climbing
On this note, does anyone know of an online forecast that also includes conditions of lying snow / ice? The SAIS avalanche forecast seems to but its not active yet; can't find any other info on other sites about winter conditions, apart from precipitation that day..?
By the way this forum will be very useful to me, but better if I can check all areas rather than some wee specific areas folks have been...
Yes that's the crux and like all the slabby routes on Mess of Pottage, varies a lot in grade according to the build-up. Two years ago, I and others soloed Yukon Jack at Grade III but I know it's not that grade at present!
In reply to CurlyStevo: No that's deffinately not the crux! see my comment on the picture, the crux is the 3rd of the 3 short corners in the pitch just before you start heading up towards the slant, that is the first corner which is maybe tech 4 in lean conditions.
> (In reply to CurlyStevo) No that's deffinately not the crux! see my comment on the picture, the crux is the 3rd of the 3 short corners in the pitch just before you start heading up towards the slant, that is the first corner which is maybe tech 4 in lean conditions.
I suggest you argue it out with Andy Nesbit who part authored the Cairngorms definitive guide.
Yes, the turf was unusable and this was evident from the approach. However, the lower section was easy angled enough to get up simply wading through snow with the odd rocky step (picking the path of least resistance and perhaps not the true line). The upper corner and groove were pretty much snowed up rock.
It didn't appear particularly reliant on turf to me, though as mentioned, it's likely we didn't take the true line in the lower half.
> (In reply to CurlyStevo) No that's deffinately not the crux! see my comment on the picture, the crux is the 3rd of the 3 short corners in the pitch just before you start heading up towards the slant, that is the first corner which is maybe tech 4 in lean conditions.
I thought it was the third of three but happy to be told not.
In reply to Andy Nisbet:
I'm pretty sure you were right Andy as I remember the block at the top of the corner and using it to hook my axe over and you can see it in the first pic I linked. I also remember what the first corner looked like and I'm pretty sure that was the corner in the second pic I linked - that looks very different. I think webster is getting confused because of the change in conditions between the picture (ie well built up in a heavy winter) and the conditions he climbed it in (ie early season lean nick)
I done it last year in lean conditions and thought III 4 was fair as its only one well protected step and the rest of it is fairly easy. I done it a second time later in the winter and the crux corner was almost completely buried and the cracks were iced but the pull over the corner was much easier.
Anyway, was nice to see loads of people out enjoying the good weather and early season conditions on Sunday. Me and a friend romped up The Message and Hidden Chimney Direct (Thanks all the previous teams who cleared all the gear and hooks for me on HC!). Seemed like all the snowed up steep rock routes were in good condition but the turf wasn't frozen, so choose routes accordingly!
Does anyone have any pictures from Sunday of people climbing on Mess of Pottage that they would be willing to share? We did Hidden Chimney Direct (no worries on the cleaning front...) and finished up the normal route. Out of interest, with no build up and quite heavy rime, what grade do people think the top pitch of Hidden Chimeny goes at? III, 4 maybe?
In reply to MrRiley:
Its definitely a bit harder with lean build up at the top. Its a route I've done numerous times as its one of the few that doesn't really rely on turf (there is some where it joins the slant but I doubt its crucial) so a good early season tick. that said its not as hard as the top of glovers or the haston line for example.
In reply to CurlyStevo: Yeah good point, I remember finding the cruxy corner on Haston Line trickier, but then again I did that very early season a few years ago now so it might have warranted the tech 5 grade. I thought Hidden Chimney under Sunday's conditions was absolutely superb!
In reply to Andy Nisbet: At the top chockstone we stepped up and right on to small ledges below a wall with horizontal breaks. With both axes torqued in a break at chest height I then bridged out left above the chockstone and pulled over it from there. Entertaining stuff!
Do you think? Where abouts? I've always found the crux around where you go up right a bit and left back in to the finishing short chimney section, the wider chimney below I've normally found pretty straight forward. Of course the direct start is much harder.
In reply to MrRiley:
snap When I first did it, it wasn't so early season and there was build up like a small narrow gully in the top making it easier so the crux is the bit around where you step left, however when very lean I found the next bit a bit harder.
> (In reply to Andy Nisbet)
> "The moves below are harder"
> Do you think? Where abouts? I've always found the crux around where you go up right a bit and left back in to the finishing short chimney section, the wider chimney below I've normally found pretty straight forward. Of course the direct start is much harder.
Below what's normally the crux is a big flat stone, hollow behind (chockstone really). Below that is a step up with holds only on the left wall, then a step up with your left foot in a wide crack which you have to trust. As soon as you get any ice or build-up, this becomes much easier. Just my opinion of course.
In reply to Andy Nisbet:
OK I guess everyone finds stuff different, that just felt like leading a bit of awkward vdiff climbing to me (felt as in felt the same given it was covered in snow and I had axes and crampons on), whilst the top section is more balancy and technical (for me anyways). Still I'm pretty sure you'll have the better balanced view on climbing grades than I do
In reply to jazzyjackson:
The only tech five mixed I've ever climbed is on hidden chimney direct and then I was seconding so I can't tell I do find the crux of the haston line quite hard (done it twice in fairly average sort of nick).
> (In reply to Andy Nisbet) At the top chockstone we stepped up and right on to small ledges below a wall with horizontal breaks. With both axes torqued in a break at chest height I then bridged out left above the chockstone and pulled over it from there. Entertaining stuff!
I find it much easier if you don't bridge out left but just go round the corner.
> (In reply to MrRiley)
> Out of interest, with no build up and quite heavy rime, what grade do people think the top pitch of Hidden Chimeny goes at? III, 4 maybe?
> I've climbed it lean before and found it very good value, III 4 about right. The direct start is a great pitch.
Yes probably is, but only very lean and whether that's worth mentioning?
In reply to Gael Force: as we have mentioned the tech grade is very conditions dependent, and as you say it is bombproof (with in-situ tat at chest height) hence the grade of III 5 - very safe with 1 move far harder than anything you would usually come accross on a grade III
In reply to masa-alpin: Deep powder snow on Ben Nevis, CMD Arete, Dorsal Arete and Biedan Nam Bien. Very difficult to make progress in some areas, and evidence of an avalanche was present in number 5 gully on Nevis. Very unstable looking cornice as well!
> (In reply to masa-alpin) What kind of conditions are good for CMD arete? I'm planning on doing it this weekend. Whats the approach like for avalanches etc?
The better the walking conditions, the quicker and easier it will be. Very safe from avalanches, assuming you stick to the crest and don't go on any steep slopes collecting snow. But if the snow is deep and soft, you might be safe but it would be very hard work.
> (In reply to masa-alpin) Ok thanks, so the approach to and up CMD, as well as teh descent via the tourist path, is normally safe as well as the ridge itself?
You would have to be careful in bad conditions going up the Ben after the Arete, but it would have to be bad. On the descent, if conditions are doubtful, stick to the path and don't go down the Red Burn. But normally no problem
We and several other parties abandoned Ledge Route and Tower Ridge on that beautiful last Sunday, becasue of the new deepish soft snow (and not 100% stable). That was our reason anyway. Instead we bashed straight up one of those ribs leading to CMD summit in the big blue sun. Those ribs were icey and very nice. The crest of CMD wasn't quite firm enough to make it fast, but almost!
In reply to planetmarshall: aye well I'm after things thats don't rely on turf like fingers ridge so just needs a good amount of snow. Forecast heavy snow showers from monday and -6 at 900m, so sounds ideal!
In reply to the weegy: Whats the best approach to CMD? The UKH route card says to go all the way up to the CIC hut then slog directly up the slope, I'm guessing thats a bad idea in winter, is it better to leave the CIC track early and head left up to the start of the ridge that CMD is on?
> The UKH route card says to go all the way up to the CIC hut then slog directly up the slope, I'm guessing thats a bad idea in winter, is it better to leave the CIC track early and head left up to the start of the ridge that CMD is on?
Going direct from the CIC is a bad idea at any time; it's a long grind up loose ground. I have no idea why the UKH route card and other guides suggest it, it's a seriously flawed suggestion. Taking the faint path up the north shoulder of CMD is far more enjoyable!
> Just looking for an update, is *anything* remotely in condition at the moment? Looking for something to do tomorrow, easy grades.
Looking across to Bidean and Stob Coire nan Lochain today, still quite a lot of snow on high northerly aspects, which has likely refrozen. You'd definitely want crampons if you were crossing these, but aside from Broad Gully it's unlikely that any climbs will be complete.
In reply to Jamie B: You've got a point re CIC-CMD. When I wrote that UKH route a couple of years ago that's just the way I'd always accessed the ridge, when coming from the Allt a' Mhuilinn side anyway. Last couple of times I realised the NW flank of CBD is far nicer. I'll amend the route when i get a chance
In reply to Milesy:
Were they climbing with axe + crampons, or just scrambling? I believe Dorsal makes a (probably unpleasant) scramble, although I haven't dared to try it myself given the number of loose blocks around.
Crampons, no axes (I didn't anyway, I think some of the others had one out). The fin was icy enough that just boots would have been treacherous in places. It was definitely more on the scrambling side of things though. Still good fun.
Don't descend with half the rope each and a few metres in between because if one falls and doesn't arrest in time the other will be pulled off. Seems pretty obvious now but such is the life of a beginner.
A useful technique sometimes for experienced climbers looking after beginners. Broad Gully sees far more dangerous practices eg 'blind leap of faith' uncontrolled bum sliding into unknown snow conditions wearing crampons (sometimes into climbers coming the other way). Dorsal Arete is also madness if its not frozen: a detached block could easily kill someone.
In reply to Milesy: That was my understanding too, with about 1-2m of rope between the 'leader' at the back and the 'client' at the front. I knew there were different views on it so thought I'd ask. Just wondered what advice was given to the guy above.
It was me that advised him and I could see they were beginners so I advised that with a dangling ripe between them while down climbing a gully if one popped off then even if the other braced or arrested the force generated when the rope came right would yank him right off with him
In reply to Robertgiddy: There is some firm snow at present and some soft rubbish over the firm snow or over rubble. Its impossible to tell from a distance what is what but nothing is particularly full (I could see a wee rocky step on No. 2 today and No.3 has some rock showing that often disappears later in the season). Its snowing again up there just now and will be very windy tomorrow and its hard to tell exactly where that snow will go but the gully's need time to build and certainly aren't in great nick yet. Just to get that far up Observatory Gully would entail an endless flog up powder covered scree.
In reply to alex toomey: I've just got in from Savage Slit, and not all the turf is frozen so be careful, test every placement. The new snow has made the going heavy in places, though our tracks and those of 2 others will probably help. There is a lot of snow stuck to the rock, so no hassle from the ethics committee. Watch your ankles in the boulder fields, there are a lot of deep holes.
SCNL was a mixed bag yesterday, plenty of unfrozen turf under powder but some of the exposed stuff where it mattered was good, and snow conditions improved higher up the crag as well. Snow sticking to slabs, but most of the steeper rock was pretty black.
Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorms was in good conditions today (Friday 22nd) for mixed routes. Turfs were well frozen (in Fiacaill Ridge at least), rocks well rimed. We saw a party in Invernookie, Fingers Ridge, Broken Gully (the visibility was poor all day except early in the morning).
Snow routes looked in poor condition, though. Even the top part of Goat Track was almost bare. Aladdin's Mirror is forming, but probably not yet in.
The snow level was below the carpark in the morning, and the walk-in was a pain on soft snow with a thick wind-slab surface. In that sense, I didn't expect there was so little snow on the crag. Nevertheless I heard it was better than yesterday. A fairly good track was made by the end of the day.
The temperature was below freezing all day in the corrie.
Wondered up Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor with some friends today, what ice remains is lose and detached, snow is wet and losing structure. Snow on the summit ridges was compacted and may survive, some gullies have consolidated snow at 800m plus. But was very warm and in Fort William we have complete cloud cover at 18:00. Not good
I see some routes have now been done around Stob Coire nan Lochan. Does anyone know what conditions are like just now? Considering heading up next weekend but the turf was pretty soft on Aonach Eagach on Saturday so wondering if it's worth the bother.
This morning it's cold and crisp, and if turf is anything like what we encountered on another high west-coast crag yesterday, SCnL could be quite good, although it's always a bit dodgy until loose blocks get frozen in.
However, temperatures are set to soar over Tue and Wed, so even with colder conditions forecast for Friday it may well be that we will be back to square one.
In reply to euanryan: Don't give up hope! Winter lives in the Coires and easy Gullies of Ben Nevis and there were even some icey smears still about today. The base of the snowpack has survived on Ben Nevis and I was up on my front points on ice for much of No.2 Gully today. Harder stuff is not there but the really hard stuff comes back in quickly anyway and although the popular lower grade climbs like Green, Comb, No. 3 Gully Buttress aren't climbable they are far from stripped.
AND the light was stunning above the inversion today! http://alanhalewood.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/amazing-light-and-giving-rat-wee-nibble.html
I glanced into No.5 and the base was a bit broken but the upper basin is still full of now firm snow. The slab coming out go No. 5 was almost bare of snow now but there was plenty snow on the uppermost part of the ridge (photo on the blog above).
In reply to Brian Pollock: yeah mate I've been up and around schneachda and lochain over the past few days. Schneachda is bare, a few wee patches of snow on fiacaill buttress. Lochain really bare as well but with some snow on the great slab and approaches. Hells lum has some ice smears on it. Hopefully it all gets a good covering today.
We went to Ben and climbed Gardyloo Gully. Complete, but (very) thin and extremely icy all the way (I'd give V 4 for today's conditions). It was perhaps only the decent route in condition up in Observatory Gully (maybe Good Friday Climb was in? And Tower Scoop? -- We didn't see either, so can't tell. What I can tell is all the buttress was pitch black at least in the morning.). Observatory Gully itself was very bare and almost all the snow was icy. As soon as we hit the snow line (fairly high up), we needed to put on crampons. The temperature was consistently below freezing, -3degC at 1pm at the summit. The corries looked more white than in the morning on our way back, presumably due to frequent snowfall during the day (To be honest I can't tell how much it was, as we were battling against spindrift while climbing... It was certainly snowing during our descent).
I climbed Pygmy Ridge at lunchtime today and while it was in winter nick first thing, it was only semi-winter at lunchtime (thawing). Turf wasn't frozen either. But it was fun and the lads ahead of me started much earlier and can count a winter ascent (just in case they read this). Tomorrow is warmer so it's going to have to be properly cold again. Which is forecast.
In reply to Andy Nisbet:
We attempted Fiacaill Ridge in Sneachda. Though the temperature was below freezing, it was thawing by early afternoon. On the ridge the turf was frozen at midday, but was softened up by 2pm (so we backed off), both perhaps due to its exposed nature (it was windy today). Very little snow was there anywhere.
I bumped into a climber on our way back, who said had just done Savage Slit.
Given the lack of snow elsewhere there is a truely remarkable amount of the stuff in the east facing corries of Braeriach. Most of the grade 1 gullies in Coire Bhrochain and Garbh Coire Mor looked to be complete although the exits are steep and corniced in places.
Snowing heavily down to road level at Aviemore and the Cairngorm ski area road has been closed due to drifting snow! I'm off to check my local trails for x-country skis and to try out my new vertical ice pillar!!!!!
Happy days ;-)
It's a dead tree that I've cut the branches and bark off and have now set a top rope on. It's now plastered white and in proper winter condition...;-)
We've now had about 6 inches of fresh snow with the A9 temporarily closed at Slochd due to drifting! I had a wander round the forest tracks which now have quite deep snow cover though the ground underneath is unfrozen and very wet.
Hopefully it'll be freezing up high, with some of this snow falling and blowing into the right places for climbing.
how much of the old snow was still present before this new stuff came in?
I'm told a strong temperature gradient leads to the formation of a weak layer.
with the strong temperature gradient the old snow has experienced lately (if it survived) and the high winds accompanying the new snow what are peoples feelings about the avalanche risk in the next few days?
Very little old snow in the climbing areas in the Cairngorms. The old snow is high on the plateau and in the Braeriach Corries on NE aspects. From the climbing perspective I'd worry more about unfrozen rock and turf. Having said that any big snow drifts or cornices will be soft and unstable! We were able to release very localised blocks of slab just by digging, never mind anything else!
Was on Shelf Route on the buachaille today. LOTS of snow about. Took ages to get up to the route with some drifts around chest hight, also made challenging route finding to stay clear of loaded slopes on the approach. Plenty of large avalanche debris around.
Bottom line is that it's well plastered in wet snow, turf isn't frozen, and routes require allot of digging to get gear. Felt pretty warm today too with occasional snow showers in the afternoon.
Went up to Coire an T'Sneachda yesterday, after many days of storms we were pleased to find some routes in great condition, the weather was fantastic with little wind, clear sky and sub zero temperatures. We were able to climb the Haston Line on Mess of Pottage with good neve and snow ice. Spoke to a couple of guys who had been up Fiaciall Couloir and said they had to swim up the whole thing, wouldn't recommend the SW aspects still, see the SAIS report, there were huge amounts of snow built up in the gullies which will need substantial freeze thaw conditions to consolidate them. Other teams were on Honeypot, Hidden Chimney Direct Start, Fiaciall Ridge.
There were at least half a dozen parties in Creagan Coire Cha-no today Sunday 29th. The temperature was just below freezing all day.
The Anvil Buttress was in good conditions with turfs frozen solid, whereas Arch Wall was to our surprise a lot more snowy. In Arch Wall turfs under deep snow were not frozen, presumably due to the insulation by snow, and cracks were devoid of snow, that is, once snow on top was cleared, damp and unfrozen cracks with no snow in them appeared - I guessed most the snow was drifted to there due to strong wind.
I don't know if it's worth anything regarding Meagaidh but the Monaliadth today was wet/damp until about 800m, above a bit more consolidated but still that surface crust that your feet drop down through. Western aspects had deeper unconsolidated snow. Annoyingly the whiteout lifted to give blue skies on the way down. Good to get out but what a mess the Garva Bridge area looks like with the pylon construction.
Great to get out between the blasts all the same.
It was freezing above about 850m on Beinn an Dothaidh yesterday. Exposed turf was frozen and surface snow was hardening higher up but anything buried was soggy. The crags are building ice well but a good deep freeze would be nice. Probably all change again after last night's rain.
Did North Trident Buttress on the Ben yesterday. Snow pack a bit damp at the bottom, but improved on way up. Reasonable conditions, but very snowy. Cornice at top of No. 4 looked horrendous so used red burn descent (great conditions for that!). Much evidence of big wet slab avalanches around (and in the Coe the day before).
No idea about conditions but the South East Ridge of the South Peak of the Cobbler is an excellent III and a bit of an adventure the first time you do it because the descent looks tricky (it isn't - but you won't know that until you've done it!).
Back out on Ben Nevis today, and the weather was great! We climbed Green Gully, which was in reasonable condition. The ice/snow on the easier angled sections could do with some consolidation, but the ice on the steeper bits was good. Don't expect many good ice screws though!
I was out on Lurcher's Crag today. Some of the main gully lines are pretty well iced, and there were quite a few teams out especially on Window Gully. Most of the ice I came across was pretty cruddy, but there's quite a bit of well consolidated snow high up - once you've got through the nasty crusty stuff lower down.
I was out on one of the buttresses, well frozen turf in general.
Out in Stob Coire nan Lochan on Saturday. North East aspects were loaded and broad gully looked like a no go making approaches questionable.
Scabbard Chimney was caked in what looked like fresh unconsolidated snow. Attempted Ordinary route which turned out to be much the the same but there was good ice to be found in places and more so higher up.
Finished up a narrow gully right of boomerang gully below the summit which was in excellent condition with consolidated snow and firm chewy ice in places.
strange, from the conditions just over on Ben Vorlich I would have said the cobbler should have been great today? it was plastered in ice above about 800m with solid neve, and soft neve above about 700m. saying that I don't know how low the routes on the cobbler start? its summit surely would have been frozen?
Mess of Pottage on Saturday was packed with climbers on Saturday - my friends counted 22 parties on or below the buttress at 9am ish...
On the other hands, other buttresses like Aladdin's and Fiacaill were pretty quiet, reportedly.
In Mess of Pottage, the turfs were frozen solid as far as I experienced, but due to thick layer of powdery snow and cracks filled with ice, the gear tended to be sparse and hard to find. In some routes, the ice on rock was formed all right in the lower part, whereas in some hardly any existed. In the upper part, there was even less ice.
How close to the CIC did they get? My one chance to stay in the CIC back in the 90s of course corresponded with horrendous weather and on the first morning I remember Alan Kimber who was in there with a client opening the door to look at a massive avalanche that had come out No. 5 in the night. He said to his client, "That's the closest I've seen it to the hut! Pack up, we're off!"
In my memory the debris were just a short stones throw away although I guess in reality it was several hundred metres!
The end of the debris was probably 200 - 250m from the hut.
It would take an awful lot of snow to endanger the hut as the lower bowl in Corrie na Ciste,( just beyond the wee rock bulge you walk over after leaving the hut ), is a large collecting feature. Of course, it is possible for the hut to be reached perhaps, but the hut has been there for 84 years and to my knowledge has not been reached by the toe of an avalanche.
What is more thought provoking with this slide is the runout zone extending well down over the normal route out of the corrie, well below were I suspect a lot of folk would feel fairly safe as they descended.
I was on Lurcher's on saturday. Quite a bit of ice about, but none of the lines looked very well formed and the ice was cruddy. Pretty warm and drizzly the last couple of days so I'm not sure Lurcher's will be your best bet.
> I was on Lurcher's on saturday. Quite a bit of ice about, but none of the lines looked very well formed and the ice was cruddy. Pretty warm and drizzly the last couple of days so I'm not sure Lurcher's will be your best bet.
I'd been looking at your blog actually. Was planning on doing Pinnacle Ridge as well, which should be ok? Especially as it's supposed to freeze up over the weekend.
In reply to Shaunmash: 2 parties from Glenmore Lodge dug a trench up Hidden Chimney today. The crags are under a huge amount of snow and gear is hard to dig out. The trident Gullys are very, very full. The freezing level is coming down a little tomorrow but it may well still be a wade to get to routes and expect a lot of digging.
Hidden Chimney was good today - lots of snow, varying from good nevé to useless crud. Top outs from some of the routes still collecting a bit of windslab, but a lot of the snow in the corrie has firmed up a lot, less so the higher you get.
Went for a furtle up the Ben today; pretty good for walking around depending on how heavy you are. Snow accumulated on easy rocky routes is copious and crusty. Pretty unhelpful. Steeper stuff up high looks good though.
Is anything worth doing in Glen Coe this weekend? I'm taking someone new out with the intention of doing a grade I gully. Thinking maybe one of the gullies at SCNL. I know it's not in great nick for proper climbing, but how do you reckon the easier gullies might be? Soft, crappy snow? Big cornices?
In reply to Relayer:
Saw three large avalanches down twisting gully on scnl today. Also a few smaller ones down the central gullies. Thankfully no parties affected though it was a close call on the first one. So best to avoid gully lines there for now.
Some good conditions on Lochnagar today. A lot of nevé about though there was also a fair bit of crusty snow on Central Buttress. Lots of teams in the corrie, I saw folk on Eagle Ridge and Shadow Buttress A but I don't know where others were headed.
There was a few teams on the stack up the black spout when i got there. Saw you taking photos down by the col and again after you had topped out. Cornice led to a change in my plans and I needed to be back in aberdeen so ended up doing a variation on the black spout.
Up and back in aberdeen by 2pm (8 hours) passed a few people still heading up the track when I was making my way down.
Plenty avalanche debris kicking about and cornices present on most faces.
Spoke to one team on the walk out who said they spent 3 hours digging through the cornice on Raeburn's!!! Also saw a team down climbing out of Polyphemus. Conditions in the steeper gullies can't have been much fun yesterday...
I haven't climbed Doctor's Choice before - did it on Saturday. Curious what you thought of the conditions, Ken - the top pitch in the left facing corner seemed a bit of an anti-climax? Is it normally more iced?
In reply to CurlyStevo: Good consolidated snow, a bit too good maybe? Didn't think it was worth more than about Grade II. There was a tricky traverse lower down at the cave which I assume is what merits the technical 5.
Interestingly this image depicts the climber going up left from the cave belay, whereas the guidebook describes the line as below the cave. I'm not sure what line I took at this point...
In reply to planetmarshall: Hi Andrew, I had not climbed the route before, but I felt that yesterday it was very easy for the grade. I followed the line as per the SMC Guidebook, and where the various bits of tat led, and felt that the crux was a step back to the right on pitch 2, just to the left of the climber in the posted picture.
The first two pitches were very well iced and the last pitch was just a romp up consolidated snow, and you're right no more than grade 2.
In reply to masa-alpin: I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to Scottish climbing - experience is limited to one bad weather day on Ben Nevis. I've done stuff in the Alps though so I'd be looking at trying grade III and IV climbs.
If travelling on Caledonian Sleeper from London, what areas do people recommend I should consider for this coming weekend?
My partner originally tried going straight out of the cave as per the photo - without usable ice this was desperate and a short fall resulted. We then went a little further left which was still hard! At the time I thought we were too high and too direct for a grade IV line.
The snow was overall hard with good neve. Turfs under snow were, however, unfrozen in places. Exposed turfs were frozen solid. Thanks to the hard snow, the walk-in from Cairngorm ski resort was quite easy.
I wouldn't worry about it too much judging by the MWIS forcast. There's virtually zero avalanche risk currently so it would take a fair amount of fresh snow on Saturday to sufficiently heighten the risk. The winds are S to SE to be aware of potential windslab on N to NW aspects if there is a lot of fresh snow.
The thaw doesn't seem to have affected the corries much, some of the soft slab that was forming has been saturated. There was some debris at the bottom of Mess of Pottage today. The buttresses still holding lots of cruddy snow. We had hoped it would have made the snow slightly firmer. http://pjmountains.blogspot.co.uk/
In reply to PAJames: I was checking the weather stations and it was quite a bit warmer for quite a bit longer over the west side (Aonach Mor) and I guess quite a bit wetter too! Things could be better over there.
This is from the sais lochaber page
"extensive areas of frozen snow making walking straight forward"
"The wet snowpack has now refrozen and is stable at all levels. Some localised areas of fresh snow are present at higher elevations but accumulations are not significant"
Pretty good conditions in upper Coire na Caime on Liathach today. I did Central Trinity Gully which was pretty firm with two ice steps.
Routes choices in the lower corries looked limited to mainly the big grade I gullies. Still a fair bit of ice visible on Poacher's Fall etc but it was pretty mild up there today until almost summit level.
The ridge traverse was good as well, conditions variable though - full cover of firm snow on a lot of the ridge but also areas of bare grass and rock.
In reply to masa-alpin:
Very windy today in the Northern Corries, even in the car park. We made it to Sneachda but it was unpleasant for climbing and we assumed it would be worse on the plateau, so we bailed. Quite a few other teams did as well. Now scaling the North Face of Aviemore High Street. Apart from the wind and light icy snow being blown about, the walk in was easy, with good neve underfloot and occasional patches of ice. We didn't see much of the crag but looked fairly buried still. Take two tomorrow...
In reply to Tim chapel
Yes - grim.50-60mph, low vis, never saw Crag. Potentially climbable but not fun and going to be dangerous if it deteriorated at all and forecast was for winds to increase. Lots of teams bailing.
Did Yukon Jack this morning, in very easy condition at the moment, felt more like a grade II romp with plenty of helpful snow. Pretty windy on the walk in but fairly sheltered on the climb!. Other teams on Haston line etc.
It's IV,4 in the Cairngorms guide but III,4 or III,5 (lean) in Scottish Winter Climbs. Allen Fyffe and I don't always agree but conditions make the grade vary more than what the authors choose, especially on Mess of Pottage.
Excellent conditions on easy snow routes in Torridon today with great neve and lovely dry rock on Lawson Ling and Glovers Route (II), followed by more great neve all the way up Fuselage Gully (bit thin over the plane wreckage giving an interesting but very short crux). Main ridge was in fantastic condition - saw a few crampon prints, but no other people.
Pretty sheltered from the wind in the coire with good views to Skye and the Western Isles. Cloud dropped mid-afternoon and rain was setting in as we got back to the road.
In reply to Dave Bingham: Saw no water ice in Glencoe today, nice firm snow ice on the ridges of SCNL and Bidean with rime on the rocks but all the burns running water. Vis was only a couple of yards right enough
> It's IV,4 in the Cairngorms guide but III,4 or III,5 (lean) in Scottish Winter Climbs. Allen Fyffe and I don't always agree but conditions make the grade vary more than what the authors choose, especially on Mess of Pottage.
Sorry I was getting mixed up with Haston Line. Yes Doctor's Choice was III/IV. But that pretty much converts to IV,4. Which it's given in Scottish Winter Climbs. But it's given IV,5 in Cairngorms.
Alan Kimber tweeted that conditions were mixed in Green Gully today and hard work on Castle Ridge. It was certainly tough going on Tower Ridge: http://alanhalewood.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/tough-times-on-tower-ridge.html (or maybe I'm getting soft).
The lower snow has ben through freeze cycles but higher up the rime on the rocks was airy soft and useful. Interesting that people seem to be saying better snow in Glencoe too which also backs up the sea that the high stuff still needs a thaw freeze to settle.
North East Coire of Beinn An Dothaidh had snow on ledges but not on faces today. There was a team on Taxus and it looked like Haar and Cirrus had complete snow, but I have no idea what the ice underneath was like. Turf at the same altitude on the other side of the coire was unfrozen.
Here is the shot of Creag Meagaidh taken today (2014-01-19). https://twitter.com/masasakano/statuses/425000522446151680
In short, the ice in any route looked thin from the lochan.
At the lochan, the temperature must be above freezing, though I did not measure, this afternoon, and it was raining.
Out on Beinn an Dothaidh today, turf well frozen on about the second pitch of our route (some bad route reading had us going up the buttress bewteen Haath and West Buttress, knarly!) but first pitch was slightly softer. Solid, enjoyable neve most of the way up, and extremely well bonded at the top, flash backs to the alps...
Having said all that, the walk-in was wetter than, well, a really wet thing. Not pleasant!
Conditions today for "Bidean Nam Bian" Glencoe.
Basicaly minging absolutaly minging, if I jumped in the loch I wouldn't be any wetter! Yesterdays tea time snow turned to rain overnight and hammered it down all night. At 08;30 this morning it was raining sea to summit and didn't clear till around 10:00 Cleared just long enough to entice me for a ridge walk to check out conditions, then around 12:30 started raining/sleeting again and continued all day. So had a walk up Ant-t-Sron and along the ridge past Stob Coire nam Bieth and onto Bidean summit. Snow line proper starts at around 650m but is wet and saturated right through. above 750, last nights snow is lying on top of the old snow (which is extensive) but the new stuff is soggy and varies in depth from around 4cm to maybe 30cm on N to West slops depends on aspect (wasn't going to check to far), and is very wet up to around 950m where it firms up slightly and its started to add to the cornices around the which have sagged, some collapsed during the night, but are building again. Snow was falling as opposed to rain/sleet at about 1000m, with the freezing level at 15:00 this afternoon at around 1100m, wind was westerly but veered WNW on the return. To Sum up today was shite with wet snow underfoot and white out on top. On the up side the pack with be well consolidated if it gets a few days freeze. Tomorrows temp forecast looks good, but with more precipitation and wind. For the moment the further east the better I recon!
In the coire an t'sneachda yesterday. And we climbed the mirror direct, short pitch, deep wet snow, lots of spin drift, wet ice, windy, some buffeting, got 3 screws in so climbable just lots of spin drift cascading on us for entire pitch, we shouldn't have been there, but got it done.
> I'm always pissed off how little i get out these days but your post reminded me that sometimes i'm glad to be stuck at home watching the telly.
On the contrary, maybe not plan A or plan B but even a frustrating plan C day out on a storm bound hill still beats the hell out of festering in da hoose watching the box. Whaurs yer spirit of adventure?
> i have a train for aviemore on friday and 2 days of guiding booked!
> it does get me down too
Don't stress too much. The freezing level is low on Saturday / Sunday and while there will be a bit of a breeze ;) and a fair bit of snow around, I'm sure the guide will be able to find somewhere safe to take you.
Went out up castle ridge yesterday, conditions were quite good, neve all the way pretty much. However did see 3 quite big avalanches come down to the right of us from South Castle Gully and off the north east side around Carn Dearg Buttress. Looking up from The North car park this morning and the snow level has dropped to about 600m. Was going to attempt Tower Ridge tomorrow but after having a look at the avalanche reports may re-think our plan….
Glen Coe yesterday - climbed Crowberry Gully on Buchaelle Etive Mor. Snow lower down was rather soggy, but once in the gully itself was fairly well consolidated neve. Very little ice and what was there was brittle.
Rain was falling on the summit, and as we left the pub the air temperature was 8 degrees.
> Conditions are potentially great. Just need the weather to improve.
Totally agree, the big crags seem to have huge build up and still need few more freeze thaw cycles and then we will have awesome conditions! Storms are fairly normal in Jan, just have to know where and when to go, "work with what the mountains give you" Ps posting from safety of my bed at home in Newcastle listening to rain.
A few tit bits from the BMC international winter meet based at Glenmore Lodge this week:
We went up Fiacaill Ridge today with a view to abbing in to a route but found that the snow slopes on the side of the crag were icy neve so just dropped down a snow slope and traversed round below the crag. Soloed the first pitch of something (good neve / snow ice, go anywhere type terrain) and ended up below Invernookie so did that. Good neve and rock all iced up but not much gear! A few other teams abbed in to do routes in that area. Weather a bit gnarly but bearable.
The snow slope below the crag looked like wind scoured icy neve so probably ok to walk up from the bottom.
People elsewhere in Sneachda today, not sure what routes but walking in from the bottom. So not necessarily a deathtrap as the avalanche forecast suggested but obviously need to make that call on the day and probably big differences between different aspects. Below Fiacaill Buttress is NE facing and the avalanche forecast did say that aspect would be least bad so that makes sense.
Other people were at Cha No today, lots of routes done.
A few teams went to SCNL and did various routes there, approaches were fine apparently.
In reply to masa-alpin:
Lots of snow on the Ben but good climbing to be had 'in the right places'. Route II Direct not one of those places - dodgy cruddy snow ice, got spat off at the start and gave up on it.
All ice routes snowed under so will be great in March! CIC hut cascade forming but not climbable. The Shroud looked like it had touched but very thin, again could be good later.
In reply to masa-alpin: I did Deep South Gully on Beinn Alligin today. Warmer than forecast so the snow was pretty damp, and didn't reach the freezing level until the ridge crest. Great route though and full of character!
Thinking about a trip to Beinn Bhan this weekend, thinking that may avoid some wind and snow. Was wondering if anyone knows what the routes are looking like, particularly thinking of March Hares Gully.
Went out to Beinn Dearg today in surprisingly good weather. Climbed Emerald Gully but it wasn't in great nick, but I'd guess that the other gullies on the face should be climbable as Emerald usually comes into condition later than the rest.
In reply to TobyA: Yeah, the winds were pretty strong in the morning, so we rapped off after the 3rd pitch (all hard climbing) from an insitu belay/rap-anchor/tat. Oddly enough the winds did seem to doie around midday, contradicting the forecast...
Oh well, it was still a great day and a great climb in good company...
And best of all, no japanese-us-english party ahead of us, so no 3 h wait on the belay before the crux... :grin:
In reply to masa-alpin:
No winter conditions to speak of south of the border so made the journey north for a couple of days with Richard from Mountain Motion. Wed (Douglas Boulder) and Thurs (Stob Coire nan Lochan)........had a great time
a few images of the conditions especially South, Central and north Buttresses on SCnL
Very unstable snow on the Ben today. Big avalanche has came down castle gully with debris down to the stream. Backed off ledge route as 2 small avalanches came down number 5 gully. Considerably warmer than yesterday but with strong winds.
Really hard to say. It was definitely snowing on the tops but only just. It doesn't take much to strip that crag but then it doesn't take much to bring it into nick either. What were you thinking about trying?
Up in Glencoe today, snow level about 400m (fresh wet), becoming complete cover/old snow and drier at about the 600m mark, snow seems to have had a good thaw over last couple days though (very wet and soft even 2 or 3 feet into the snow pack), but only got up to 700m so can't comment about high up. Looks to have been a very big and very run out avalanche down the middle of Coire na Tulaich on BEM, and another one has came in from the east side of the coire.
Decent day with light winds from the south, few snow showers moving through before becoming dry and bright and sunny in afternoon. Freezing level seemed to drop a bit as day went on, slush at the top of Devils Staircase was a lot firmer on the way back down.
We took a walk up Beinn Dearg yesterday which was clear but blowing a gale. The gullys of Gleann Sguaib looked really thin low down, almost stripped even but better in their top halves. We opted for the ridge Tower of Babel which was leaner than we hoped but very climbable with iced up cracks and bomber turf. The wind blowing felt warm though and by the top there was water running down the route in places. looking across the gully, West Buttress looked to have more snow.
Anyone out from An Teallach to Ben Hope today would have had incredible weather, it was glorious.
In reply to James Edwards: There is now a large boulder in the lower section of the route, just before the gully narrows beneath the cave. It has probably added a couple of moves of tech 4 to surmount it, and certainly doesn't detract from the route, if anything adds a bit more interest.
There is an 8a (or there abouts) bolted sport route in the chamonix valley that has been skied, so here's hoping!
It looks like touring above a certain altitude in the Cairngorms is going to be a long season.
Every cloud has a silver linning.
> (In reply to James Edwards)
> Aladins Cooler looked like it would be a really good run last week... Just huck the cornice and blast all the way down to the avy -debry before the sluff and possibly crashing cornice catch ya.
Me and my mate are keen to get out this weekend but yet again I notice the stormy weather...any suggestions? I note the mountain weather forecast isn't great but I am getting sick of Edinburgh (lovely as it is) so would like to escape for at least a day. We'd be looking at grade 2-3. I'm conscious many routes of this grade will be avalanche prone given the snow but any suggestions welcome
Hello. The snow today was crusty and sometimes firm and has started to transform, there was some dry wind slab higher up on a low angle as we topped out, but you could stick to the ridge then. I suspect the SAIS are expecting more new snow overnight and a SE wind which would be wind blown to that aspect.
I ventured to Coire an t-Sneachda today.
Lots of cornices were everywhere. Aladdin's Mirror Direct was pretty much buried in snow: see my photo at https://twitter.com/masasakano/status/431926294234681344/photo/1
I soloed the right-hand gully (in the photo) with just one axe easily.
Pygmy Ridge was not in bad condition (though I don't know how its standard conditions are like), though the gear was hard to get and so it was fairly bold.
Was on Beinn Eighe on Friday along with a number of other teams. It dawned unpromisingly but turned out to be a quite spectacular day.
We did West Buttress - don't know how this gets tech 4, it's harder than anything I've done at IV,5 in the Northern Corries.
The snow is soggy and unfrozen and not much good until you get to the higher tiers. The West Chimney approach was hard work, with an unprotected steep step not mentioned in the guide - maybe this is normally banked out? A good hard freeze would do wonders.
Done Poacher's Fall on Liathach today and it was in good nick, weather was surprisingly good until about 1pm when it clagged in. A team on Salmon Leap and I think a few people headed towards George area aswell?
Also, I dropped my belay mitt at the 3rd belay of poacher's and think it landed back in the chimney pitch. If the three guys from Aberdeen behind us happened to find it, I would be grateful to organize it's return! (will pay postage!)
I was the guy that caught you up at the belay just before you dropped your mit. My friends didn't catch it so I guess it went all the way. Saw at least one other party on the route when we were collecting the bags so someone else might have managed to find it. Great day out on an awesome route though.
done central buttress on Lochnagar yesterday, conditions as expected, very little rock showing, very little good snow or ice and there are large cornices all around the coire (i had to break through one) as well as debris scattered throughout the corrie. only other climbers i was aware of were doing a route on Shadow Buttress.
as with most places, loads of snow. needs a good thaw and freeze and we're all laughing!
In reply to masa-alpin: Lurchers is a good bet, climbed there yesterday. the walk in from the suger bowl car park is really easy and safe, skirted the chalamain gap on its north side to avoid swimming in powder through it. the rest of the walk was on rock solid neve, took less than 2 hours car to crag. did central gully which had great neve and some good blue ice but the main pitches are fairly banked out and therefore easy at the grade. North gully looked a similar storey. left and right ice falls are just grade 1 snow slopes atm. K9 looked solid and blue but myabe a little skinny which could make it hard at the grade? no cornices to worry about at the top of the crag.
seemed to be lots of other parties also at the crag though dont know what lese was climbed
I did Post Box Gully on Sgorr Ruadh today. Very banked out, in fact the cave was blocked with snow entirely so I bypassed it to the left. Snow in the gully was mainly a bit moist with a hard crust, and some good neve on the steeper bits. Also some large (but mainly avoidable) areas of slab as well, which I should think will grown later in the day as the wind picked up.
A lot of snow to pretty low levels, very hard going on the approaches.
As we have done with the Lakes and Snowdonia, it is probably worth closing this thread in favour of a new smaller one. There are several active threads which provide alternatives for more targeted local reports.
Since Scotland is a big area and there are certain to be other areas not covered by these three threads then please feel free to start another general thread although it might not be a bad idea to target these as well so that people can check up on specific areas more easily.