Thursday, 24 December 2015

Pays Your Money...

Craig and Mark headed for Glencoe after a late plan to get out on Wednesday.  The weather was really pants but a day out is a day out.

Glencoe looked whiter than expected but warm fronts and heavy rain guaranteed no ice nor frozen turf...a mixed route was needed.  The North Buttress of the Bookle looked as best as they might get so they headed there for a look see.

The walk up the 'path' after Great Gully was a climb in itself and half way up they donned crampons and the axes were out.  Craig takes the story...

'Sketchy slippy rock was a challenge at times but we got to the stance in reasonable time after the crampons were introduced.  I took the first pitch which had no assistance from snow or turf.  It was a hooky affair with some difficult moves but plenty of good gear; it was a longer pitch than I recalled but maybe that was just imagination...or fear??   The graupel showers filtering down the face were the worst I've ever seen but it all added to the atmosphere.

Mark dispatched the second pitch in similar style with purely hooks and the occasional wobbly rock.  We continued on and Mark finished the final chimney which was a bit thin to say the least.  A quick set up and we were off down the first abseil followed by a second to the lower platform below the first stance.  From there we traversed to the bottom of Curved Ridge and made good time back to the car.

All in a good day's climbing but winter, although looking nice, isn't quite in yet in the Coe; a good freeze thaw cycle is needed before the next 'storm' strips everything back.'

Monday, 14 December 2015

On Your Marks...

SCNL 12 DEc 15 from C Coid on Vimeo.

After a few false starts, Sunday dawned with a blanket of recent snow and the plan was The Seam but a late check revealed, 'West is Best', so Craig and Mark headed for the Coe.  Scabbard Chimney had apparently been climbed on Saturday and had potential.

Early start and two VERY near misses with deer on the road in Glencoe saw a still 'nervous' pair heading in to the Hurt Lochan.  An early pair ahead of us and a pair of youthful whippets passing us on the way saw 2 pairs with eyes on Scabbard Chimney; tbh, it looked very thin, with soft snow and no ice.  Probably a tad too committing for the guys in that condition.

Summit buttress was very black and central buttress looked better.  Raeburn's Route looked fairly white and the pair headed off from the luncheon stone.  Craig takes up the story;

SCnL cliffs - Central Buttress
'Very soft snow on the approach was pretty brutal to walk on with many hidden rocks.  Onto the first belay and Mark was off up the chimney in good style.  No ice meant hooks on increasingly steep ground, with a tricky exit onto the crest.  I took pitch two, a delicate short section on very soft snow with more hooks.  Mark led up the third on tenuous slabs with balancey moves and I led off the final pitch.  We abseiled down the route for fun, practice and discussed rescue techniques and scenarios.

All in, a most enjoyable day but, to be honest, we don't think winter is quite here yet. The snow has just been laid and is pretty homogenous; there is a crispy top layer after the freeze (-5'c on the way up) but a decent freeze thaw cycle is needed to provide some useful snow, ice and neve.'

Summit Buttress
Aonach Eagach ridge

Sunday, 6 December 2015

It was the Best of Times...It was the worst of Times!

What the Dickens is happening to our winter?  Turbo thaw then torrential torrents.

Craig And Mark were looking for something, anything, to do but the weather gods were not happy and ensured the wild winter weather was...well, a washout!  Sadly, after some promise last weekend things might be getting wintery, the hope faded fast and virtually all useful snow disappeared.

With options on Saturday being biking in the rain, walking in the rain or 'climbing' in the rain, they chose to have a look at the North Buttress of the Buachaill.

Early signs were bad...there isn't usually a causeway at the white bridge after Bridge of Orchy by the NE end of Loch Tulla...

The drive past the Buachaill showed a river flushing down Great Gully and the River Coe a good three feet higher, so access to the North Buttress was going to be a little problematic.   However, they got the the central Coe carparks and considered options of; get out regardless; coffee shop; gear shops; or, home.

As the picture shows, the weather was truly mince but a day out is a day out and they went for a double hardshell strategy and headed for the Zig Zags to burn some calories....hats off to the Jottnar Bergelmir jacket and Vanir salopettes; worked a treat and kept the boys dry in the worst the weather can give!

The rain was relentless and the flow of water around them was limitless; the route had a steady stream running continuously.  Notwithstanding, a grand day out was had but the rain has stripped a great deal of snow away; a real dump of snow with some cold fronts and freeze thaw cycles are needed to give any climbing this year, unfortunately.

The team sought direct descent off the top of Gear Aonach and got a real feel for the amount of water flowing down the Corrie; a slip into the normally tame burn would be fatal!

There have also been some significant land slips in the corrie, one giving about 3-4 feet of debris over the path.  However, we can only hope for a turn in the weather and be thankful we are not suffering the floods the Lakes seems to be getting.   

Naesayers of climate change?  Eejits!