UKC

/ Northern Corries this weekend (17/18 Feb)

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mcawle - on 15 Feb 2018

Hi all, we're booked on the sleeper to Aviemore from London this weekend. We've got all of Saturday and Sunday, with the intention of climbing in the Norther Corries.

Reasons for crag selection are: (1) bus access from Aviemore - wasn't intending to hire a car for the two days; (2) good range of easy routes as we are newbies.

However, avalanche risk and snow depth are not looking good - and I don't really expect them to improve until after the weekend, given the forecast. So I am now wondering whether we will be able to get anything done.

I haven't been to the Northern Corries before, so I don't know the terrain. 

Even if we stuck to the ridges, I assume that the approach/descent from the Corries will carry considerable avalanche hazard in the current conditions.

So I am preparing myself for having booked a train trip to build snow men around the car park. Not the end of the world, but not what we were hoping for.

Am I being overly pessimistic?

Post edited at 16:40
ebdon on 15 Feb 2018
In reply to mcawle:

Lurchers crag can be ok when snow conditions are bad (disclaimer: i havnt looked at sais recently so im not sure what aspects are dangerous)

jasonC abroad - on 15 Feb 2018
In reply to mcawle:

There is a bus from the town (outside the train station I think) to the ski cark park where you walk to the Corries, about an hour.

I doubt if the walking/out will contain much in the way of avalanche hazard as the path goes up a wide valley, but others might have better information on this.  Once your at the Corrie there is probably more of a threat.

There are a number of easy climbs in the main Corries, things like Jacobs Ladder, The Runnel, probably best to have a look on the crag map on this site to see what people have been doing recently, but like you say it will depend on the conditions.  You could possible walk on the plateau if there is nothing else to do but I've never been to the Northern Corries when there was plenty of snow, usually the bare minimum or none.

The train is great but be prepared to get off very quickly, they barely stop, it feels like you have about 30 seconds to get off.

Have a good time

Post edited at 17:26
2
Sophie G. - on 15 Feb 2018
In reply to mcawle:

Hmm, it does look a bit plastered, with big risk on NE and N aspects.

https://www.sais.gov.uk/northern-cairngorms/

Certainly, on that forecast, I wouldn't fancy being in the gullies in Coire an t-Sneachda this weekend. But think laterally. (a) Find a different aspect to climb on--if you can get there safely, or at all. Creagan Cha-No (S-facing) or Lurcher's (W-facing) might work--if you can get there...

In view of the getting-there difficulty, plus the fact that the sleeper won't get you to Aviemore all that early, (b) maybe this is the weekend to learn to ski?

Not necessarily downhill. The slopes at Cairngorm will be completely rammed. But I'd have thought skinning up Glen Feshie or Strath Nethy this weekend might be absolutely magic. If you look around, maybe you can find an instructor to take you out and show you how to skin, and how to keep safe when backcountry skiing. (Apols if you already know how.)

http://www.schoolofsnowsports.co.uk/cross-country-ski-equipment-hire

http://www.spanglefish.com/AviemoreSkiInstructor/index.asp?pageid=293182

 

Post edited at 19:19
Fiona Reid - on 15 Feb 2018
In reply to Sophie G.:

> Creagan Cha-No (S-facing)

I'm pretty sure it's East facing...

 

 

Post edited at 19:50
Sophie G. - on 15 Feb 2018
In reply to Fiona Reid:

Yes, you're right-- I've just checked Chasing The Ephemeral p.75 and east-facing it is. 

On the plus side, Mr R. says "the walk-in is nearly as quick as Coire an t-Sneachda".

Andy Moles - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to mcawle:

Don't go anywhere near a gully.

This would be a good choice: Fiacaill Ridge (II). Just follow the ridge all the way from where it starts (if you look at a map this is obvious, it's the ridge dividing Sneachda and Lochain), then you are never exposed to any avalanche prone slopes.

 

Post edited at 07:42
ebdon on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

The approach to fiacall ridge can be avalanche prone so be aware. Ive had friends avalanched there in the past

1
michaelmurray - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to mcawle:

Could anyone recommend the best approach to Lurcher's? The options I've read about are via the Chalamain Gap or down a grade I gully which I was worried about looking at the SAIS forecast?

Many thanks,

Mike

Andy Moles - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to ebdon:

Which approach was that? I doubt it's the one I described. To be clear, I mean starting at the very bottom of the ridge and following it all the way, not approaching from the coire floor to the col where the scrambling begins.

Post edited at 17:05
ebdon on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

This was on the slopes at the start of the ridge

Ive no idea what the wind has done so may well be fine and as you say youve got a lot of terrain to play with there in terms of different aspects of approach, i guess if its ok you also know you can get down safely  the same way. but worth bearing in mind

Post edited at 17:10
1
mcawle - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to ebdon:

I hadn't looked closely at Lurcher's because the climbs areaa bit harder (by my standards!). However aspect wise it definitely looks the most promising, assuming the approach/descents are okay. Thanks.

mcawle - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to jasonC abroad:

Cheers. Yes the easier routes were the appeal - but nearly all gullies and the last bit of the approach also probably threatened this weekend. 

mcawle - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Sophie G.:

Thanks. If we can't climb there is definitely stuff to do... working on basic movement and maybe simulating crevasse rescue somewhere safe lower down. Otherwise Lurcher's could be a good call.

mcawle - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

Cheers, definitely staying out of the gullies. Fiacaill could work. Understand your point on the longer approach up the lower ridge. That could be a go. Thanks!

mcawle - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to ebdon:

Noted, thanks. We'll be cautious if we go that way.

mcawle - on 19 Feb 2018
In reply to mcawle:

Avalanche forecast didn't really improve. Went up Fiacaill Ridge both days - Saturday via the Grade I ground (it was busy!) and then Sunday via Grade II. A great couple of days out.

A couple of teams were on routes on the Fiacaill Buttress despite the forecast, topping out on the ridge. So maybe it wasn't as bad down there as it sounded (or maybe it was!)

Thanks everyone for the input.

Andy Moles - on 19 Feb 2018
In reply to mcawle:

> A couple of teams were on routes on the Fiacaill Buttress despite the forecast, topping out on the ridge. So maybe it wasn't as bad down there as it sounded (or maybe it was!)

You'll always see someone in an apparently inadvisable place in the Northern Corries. And yeah, clearly it was fine that day, if they got up there. But fine by how much of a margin? Who knows? Did they? Maybe, maybe not.

My thinking is that if you 'go for a look', you're exposing yourself far more to the risk of making bad decisions, than if you have already made some of those decisions in the cold light of computer screen the night before. At what point does a questionable approach apron go from 'fine' to 'not fine'? What if you're ten metres from the bottom of the buttress, and the route is right there beckoning with perfect climbing conditions? Are you likely to turn back at that point? Maybe your partner is more experienced than you, and he doesn't seem worried. Maybe there are some people on an adjacent buttress, and they got up fine. Are any of these things on their own actually reassuring evidence that the slope is not a hair's breadth from avalanching?

1
CurlyStevo - on 19 Feb 2018
In reply to mcawle:

One issue with Lurchers is approaching via the Chalamain gap - this has been the site of avalanches involving people in the past and is somewhat of a terrain trap as the avalanche gets funneled in to a narrow gap which you are in. You can avoid this approaching via Rothiemurchus Lodge (Parking at Loch Morlich? - I've not tried that in heavy snow conditions)

NottsRich on 19 Feb 2018
In reply to CurlyStevo:

You can also avoid it by walking around the gap. As you approach the gap, tend rightwards up the gentle hill above it, walk over it, and back down again. Easy detour if you are in doubt of the gap itself.

CurlyStevo - on 19 Feb 2018
In reply to NottsRich:

I've not been, but given the aspect if you are going to lurchers to mitigate N -> E facing slope avalanche risk then you'd still be in danger doing that.

3
NottsRich on 20 Feb 2018
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Ok. 

DundeeDave - on 20 Feb 2018
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Not necessarily. Creag a Chalamain is 787m high. Considerable forecast for last weekend was at 900m plus.


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