Sunday, 9 February 2014

Always Plan A, even when it's not!

Plans for Taxus and Cirrus fell apart when Craig and Mark drove through Bridge of Orchy and headed for Achaladair; 6C, persistent rain and orange avalanche warnings meant it was all too much of a risk.

Heading for the Coe, saw us check out the North Buttress on the Buachaille - too loaded - then SCNL - death on a stick.  What to do...the Ice Factor was unappealing and we wanted to get something done, burn calories and get cold.

Ridges were always the likely location, so after a rain (get it?) check, we headed for School House Ridge at the back of Ballachuilish village.  We got ahead of a winter skills outing and headed up the appealing line, with cornices in view near the top.

Once we hit the snow line, we moved fast with light sacks and sans crampons.  However, the snow is soft, the drops steep if one slipped and there are two wee steps worthy of respect and care, so we got crampons on and roped the steps to be safe.  A hasty pit at the top of the ridge line revealed a hard slab covering but a definite weak layer about 4" down with a smooth shear.

After that it was a fast ascent to the top at 947m where the wind howled around us like a train; the spindrift was bullet like and we snuggled down behind the rocks to see if the wind abated.

A group ahead 'retreated' citing a navigation error and followed us down the ridge line then across to the more northern ridge line and thence to the village school carpark.

All in, a fine day indeed; a new approach to the hill for Craig and a lovely line for those days when you want to avoid avalanches.   Notwithstanding, can we have a bit of settled weather to give us a wee climb before summer arrives??

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