Here’s a quick round-up of the Winter Courses I (Mark) ran in the Cairngorms from 16th – 23rd February 2017.
Kent and Sam wanted to build on their confidence in the Winter Mountains, We had 2 days together looking at a variety of different things from Navigation through to Anchors. Day 1 was spent on Fiacaill Ridge (GI/II).
Day 2 we headed up into Coire an Lochan and did Y Gully Right Branch (GII)
Day 3 was the first of our 2 Day winter skills course, Alastair, Liz, Rachael, Nick, Fran and Myself headed into Coire na Ciste to work on some funamental winter skills.
Day 4 saw us heading up onto the slopes to the side of Coire an t-sneachda and over to ascend Cairngorm
So, it was fairwell to the participants of the Winter Skills course, and Kent & Sam. It was Hello! however, to Al, who I have had the privalege to go climbing with in the Summer and the Winter before in the Lakes, this was our first foray to Scotland together.
We started off with a lovely ascent of Jacobs Ladder (I) in Coire an t-sneachda.
Faced with a not so ideal forecast and a good thaw passing through the UK, we were a little unsure of what to do today, the choice was made to go up and see how Coire an Lochan was looking, we headed up to have a look at Y-Gully Right Branch (GII) and found it still in fairly good condition, with a little rocky step in the middle. Some chaps we saw had other ideas and were “dry-tooling” on Savage Slit (Winter GV,6) which was in definite summer conditions (GSevere)
The forecast today was even worse than yesterday (but, at least snow was forecast) it was the 70mph winds we weren’t too keen on. The weather looked better elsewhere however. So we decided to head to Lochnagar. Driving through Aviemore we glanced up at the Northern Corries and they looked like Mount Doom, had we made the right choice?! As you can see the weather on the way into Lochnagar was splendid (and on the way out) however, the wind was howling through the corrie and we made the correct decision to head back down and make plans for the following day, it was good to stretch the legs though!
Our last day together today and the weather sure did turn! Storm Doris bringing welcome snow all over Scotland and way down into the valley! We headed up to do Fiacaill Ridge (sic) and were not disappointed!
There was then a small break, where I headed back to the Lakes to dry kit and have some quality family time, before heading back up to the Cairngorms to meet Ally and spend 2 great days in the Cairngorms.
Ally had booked onto our Winter Skills weekend and we sure got some skills done! With 2 very different days! Day 1 was super windy and snowing, which gave us some very good conditions for looking at Navigation and how snow behaves, we headed up to Coire Cas to look at fundamental winter skills.
The previous evening I took Ally to see one of the free winter lectures at Glenmore Lodge, Phil Sanderson did a presentation on Avalanche awareness, all of which Ally and I had covered during the day but, it was good to recap on a lot of it in a warm and dry environment.
Today we headed up into Coire an t-Sneachda with a few plans, we ended up doing Jacobs ladder, and after the snowfall from the previous day and evening, we found it in good condition, after doing some Avi checks we continued upwards. I had planned and did carry out some more in-depth (pun intended) checks I did bring along a shovel, which proved very valuable for tunnelling the cornice at the top of the route!
We also met some chaps from Avon Mountaineering club, Nick and Paul, who followed us up the route.
On our descent via Fiacaill a Corie Chas we had a look at some anchors and abseils and checked out the windslab that had been created in Coire Cas.