Thursday, 31 December 2009

Let It Snow! 31.12.2009

I had been planning on climbing these last few days but with so much snow around I decided to stay away from powdered buttresses and head to powdered bowls and ridges on the snowboard instead! This proved to be a wise decision as I had a chat with a number of climbers walking out via the ski runs who all said they hadn't got anything done. The snow conditions were awesome and we had a fantastic day. In between rallying around in 4 Wheel Drive through heavy snow, I have been out on the Nordic ski's again a few times; we even skied right round the rim of Loch Morlich! Today we headed up again, but with ridiculous amounts of snowfall it took us 4 hours to get from Aviemore to the Ski Centre...but it was so worth it! I managed to kick some of the best powder turns I have ever experienced, worldwide, right on my doorstep! With almost 8" of dry, fluffy snow on top of further powdery snow and a solid base it was bliss to carve out freshies and slash the snow into huge plumes, dissapearing into them and emerging seconds later covered in snow and with a cold face! Wow!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Doctor's Choice 27.12.2009

After driving through some pretty epic snow conditions in Fife and up the A9, to around Pitlochry, I finally arrived in Aviemore to collect Andy and head up the hill. With so much snow around we decided to ski into the coire; I was using a super old school set of Nordic ski's which in my ignorance were really quite good! Much better than wading through thigh deep snow and walking out anyway! It still took us an hour and forty five minutes to get to the Rescue Box in t'Sneachda due to a combination of: a slight diversion for ski touring, general incompetence on skis, and the deep snow. Due to the heavy powder drifting around everywhere we decided to head up the iced corner line of Doctor's Choice following another party. However it was 3pm by the time we had got to the snow bay in the middle of the second pitch and as the party infront abbed off, we decided to do the same. The route looked awesome and I can't wait to finish the rest of it. Skiing was also brilliant and I am now trying to locate some touring kit!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Heavy Snowfall 23.12.2009

There has been an incredible amount of snow all over the country leading to lots of road closures and huge delays. Rather than sitting in endless traffic jams trying to get out climbing, I decided yesterday to build a snowman instead! Next out just before New Year which I am looking forward to given the great conditions. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Hidden Chimney Direct 21.12.2009

After a late start from the carpark around 12 noon; due to heavy snowfall on the A9, we headed towards the Mess of Pottage along with everyone else in the corie. Whilst heading off late meant we would finish in the dark, there were distinct advantages as there was a pleasant path winding through the often knee deep snow! There were a few ski touring tracks and plenty of people taking advantage of the good snow conditions on the ski runs, climbing conditions were excellent with lots of helpful ice and solid snow. Pete and I headed up Hidden Chimney Direct which gave some great climbing up the initial corner and provided plenty of bombproof gear. We then had a number of good looking options above including Yukon Jack and Frozen Assets but decided to finish up our original route which provided a fun little bulge just before the top of the route proper. As I pulled over the cornice I looked to my left to see Greg emerging onto the plateau from the top of Haston Line; which Sarah had done well to follow as it was only her second time out winter climbing. An excellent day with a semi cloud-inversion and very little wind; there might just be enough time to squeeze another route in before Christmas with the excellent conditions, but if not then it has been a fantastic start to the season and hard to believe that winter only really arrived at the beginning of December!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Glentress 19/12/2009

Today I had a rest from climbing and headed out mountain biking in the snow! We went to Glentress and did the red XC route which was awesome with really varied sections of downhill; the uphill was invariably...uphill! The snow didn't seem to make much difference to grip conditions for me and we had an awesome day skidding around corners and over tree roots. There were plenty of people out on the trails which was to be expected given the fantastic weather but there were never queues, we hardly saw any people at all once on the trail. It started snowing heavily around 3pm which made driving home very interesting in James' rear wheel drive, torquey BMW!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Brocken Gully Direct and Fluted Buttress Direct 18.12.2009

After hearing great reports from Greg, who was climbing yesterday, Pete and I drove up to Aviemore this morning and joined up with Greg to head into Coire an t'Sneachda. Everything is covered in hoar and there is ice/neve everywhere with the turf solidly refrozen. We climbed up Brocken Gully Direct which gave some good gully climbing on mainly banked out icy corners, followed by a mixed pitch, and then came down a very icy Goat Track to head back up Fluted Buttress Direct. This gave some good climbing; the first pitch was a gully, again mostly banked out, followed by two good mixed sections of steeper bulges on the the next pitch. Everything is so iced up that it meant finding gear very time consuming and often difficult, but the climbing was great with all the ice and neve around!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Belhaven 14/12/2009

Today I managed to join up with Euan and Greg who were heading into Coire an t'Sneachda onto Fiacaill Buttress. The weather was miserable and rained steadily throughout the day. The ground remained rock hard however, with some rime remaining on the steeper routes. We headed up Fiacaill Couloir and did Belhaven which provided some of the best mixed climbing I have done. The first pitch had a good step up, to get out of the couloir, followed by the main corner which gave a solid 40m of continually interesting climbing; a great balance of torquey crack climbing and delicate face climbing with the crux being a delicate and strenuous series of moves over a bulge: using a mixture of camming and thin ice blobs, which gave an amazing sequence. The protection was spaced and Greg put in a great effort to lead the sustained pitch well. The route really was fantastic, even though we were all soaked! Hopefully the weather will cool down as forecast and the conditions will improve further. I hope to get out more before Christmas and New Year before I will have to get my head down and do some studying, so far the winter has been amazing though with loads of great routes getting ticked!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Central Crack Route 08/12/2009

After heading back to Edinburgh last night I was back in the car this morning to head to the Northern Corries. I was out with Greg again and we headed into Coire an Lochain to climb Central Crack Route. Again there were high winds but we got a lot of shelter once in the corie. After some sketchy traversing we started up the technical first moves of the route, this gave two hard moves before a good rest was obtained, followed by further good climbing. Greg ran the first two pitches together and then I continued up to belay below The Crack which Greg fancied wrestling with. After some gnarly lay-backing Greg was almost in a niche providing a rest and some welcome gear (the rest of the crack was full of crud snow or bulletproof ice) but actually found himself lying in deep powder snow back at the belay! After this we headed up into the fierce wind and traversed round the cories to walk into Coire Cas. The weather was much clearer today, and the cories looked stunning as the sun set behind the torrents of powder snow scouring across the plateau. A great day to be out in the mountains and another great route.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Message and Opening Break 07/12/2009

Today Greg and I struggled through the wind towards Mess of Pottage, luckily the wind completely died off as we entered the corie floor and we ended up having an awesome day. The cloud remained low but we were almost toasty sitting out the wind! We climbed The Message which gave a good first pitch followed by the main corner which provided excellent climbing. After romping up to the plateau we traversed back round and under the buttress before heading up The Opening Break which was pretty banked out and provided a quick second route. A thoroughly enjoyable day with two good routes, hopefully we will get some clearer weather and the good conditions continue.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sidewinder and Western Route link up 31/11/2009

Yesterday Greg and I headed into Coire an Lochain for some mixed action. A fair bit of snow had fallen and the cloud was very heavy with occassional snow showers throughout the day. We wanted a short day and so decided on a link up of the first pitch of Sidewinder, followed by the next two pitches of Western Route. This gave a nice line with some interesting climbing, there was a lot of hoar on the route which necistated a fair amount of cleaning but gave a full on winter adventure. A bit of handy navigation saw us back at the car park in time to head home for pizza and a movie. Today we went back up to the Corries but the winds were much stronger than forecast and with the car being rocked around, spindrift obscuring everything and people struggling to walk we decided to head home. It was great to get back out climbing and I am super pumped for the rest of winter.