Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Thursday, 6 March 2014
|Copyright Cairngorm SAIS blog|
After yesterdays photos and report see the SAIS Cairngorm avalanche report from today which shows some of the huge truck sized blocks of cornice and avalanche debris that fell to the Coire a t-Sneachda floor!
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
With the forecast rise in temperature after yesterdays heavy drifting that we'd seen and videod, snow stability was always going to be an issue and so it was!
It was less windy than Tuesday and the snow was surprisingly wet compared to yesterday.
We were originally going to sneak up the back of Fiacail Ridge on the more scoured boulder field but on the way past Twin Ribs saw what looked like a reasonable trail heading towards the rib and the snow was fairly scoured low down.
A few avalanche pits shows some very weak layers from yesterdays drift snow on top of firmer neve. We decided to go up and see if it was possible to access the Ribs using safe travel techniques but were concerned that this put us under the corniced slope to the right.
Rising temps and badly balling crampons as we moved up on the bouldery 'islands of safety' the cornice was looked more and more worrying.
A quick avalanche pit just as the boulder ran out onto the snowfield, failed on isolation, not good so change of plan, we started to head back down.
All of a sudden there was a whoof sound when sections of cornice broke off and several slow moving streams of avalanche debris were heading towards us on either side of where we had just wisely retreated!
With badly balling up crampons we quickly headed back down for lunch at the gear up boulder, then a quick tour of the coire.
We saw folk climbing in Aladdin's Couloir and just after us, another large group under instruction had headed up over the avalanche debris that had just missed us. They stood for some time UNDER the collapsing cornice, no doubt discussing our snow pits and fresh avalanche debris and whether it was safe to cross one by one, we had warned them too - bizarre!
So far Alan over the years has had the whole spectrum of Scottish weather and snow conditions and after seeing some of the climbers antics, coined the very apt phrase "climbers playing Russian Roulette" with avalanches and cornices.
Lots more photos on our Facebook page here
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Great to see Alan back again for his annual winter climbing fix with Fi and I.
The ski road was closed first thing due to an unexpected dump of snow this morning and the weather was a lot wilder than any of the the forecasts suggested.
So a later start once the road was opened and from the Coire Cas carpark, it was goggles on, shoulder to the wind and safe travel techniques into the Coire an t-Sneachda bowl with spindrift and wind-slab building from all directions!
Several teams turned back and the coire was empty as we went "for a look".
We found a relative safe scoured approach that was unthreatened by the huge cornices, for bit of mixed winter climbing fun, with a good rap anchor off.
Despite the suffering from the icy blasts of spindrift it was a very atmospheric and a good fun day!
Lots more photos can be found on the Talisman Mountaineering blog photo album here.
Sunday, 2 March 2014
Mat , John and I had great climbing conditions and superb thread and spike anchors on the route which meant I only needed to use slings!
I originally had my reservations due to the guys limited previous climbing experience but seeing how well the coped yesterday and that they were fit, learnt fast, we went for the real McCoy!
The guys hadn't done any previous outdoor trad climbing and John had never worn crampons or been on a winter skills before, so I avoided using my wires and hexes and put my trusty coat hanger to good used with some amazing threads runners.
It always amazes me how well you can protect many climbs with the most basic of techniques and gear and I'm pleased to say they didn't drop anything and I got all my gear back at the end of the day ...;-)
Saturday, 1 March 2014
The start of a two day intro Winter Climbing course with Mat and John and a stunning day for the first day of March.
We started the day looking a basic winter skills, climbing cornices and avoiding crevasses on our way up the hill before abseiling of a snow bollard to our scenic lunch spot.
Well frozen snow and ground even in the sun also very pleasant sitting in the sun on the dry heather having lunch too!
Later again in the sun, we climbed on a little rock outcrop looking a basic rope-work and rock belays before heading into the shade to look at snow belays, cramponing and climbing techniques.
After a bit of exploration looking at technique down climbing into the gully, we tied into the rope and climbed back up onto the ridge via a very steep icy slope and cornice.
Lots of sparkling drifting snow and some fresh wind-slab gave us the opportunity to look at avalanche assessment on a scenic traverse round the wee and big coires back to the car.
A really great day out, though again, much windier than the weather forecast suggested.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Another day in Coire an -Sneachda looking at avalanche pits, snow belays and braving the Scottish weather.
The avalanche pits we dug were interesting and showed the recent weak layers of fresh slab on top of drier snow then a harder icy layer as expected.
However most folk digging an avalanche pit stop at the harder icy more stable layers, we dug through this to find a very worrying weakness or two of unbonded yet wet snow, this is sitting on the unfrozen soft wet soft ground below!
As long as you are not climbing below a huge cornice, in a gully or avalanche prone slope climbing conditions are great on the surface, but bold, with many of the harder mixed routes banked out and some even buried!
Being blasted with spindrift and knocked about by the wind, Liander from Holland, asked me "is this the normal winter conditions Scottish people go out climbing in as in the Alps they'd stay in the huts?"
I answered by saying this is one of the calmer days of this winter and no doubt an easy fun day off for some friends we'd met, local Scottish climbers and Mountain Guides...!
Lots more photos and crag shots on the Facebook photo album here.
Monday, 24 February 2014
One a the calmest days of the winter so far with great climbing conditions as long as you made the right choices.
In the afternoon we climbed Fiacaill Ridge Direct moving together using the rope with the odd direct belay on the granite blocks, after a morning looking at basic rope-work and climbing up the Twin Ribs.
A nice circuit round Coire an t-Sneachda took us up onto the Cairngorm plateau looking at the enormous cornices blocking the exits from many of the popular climbs and gullies. The cornices above the Trident area and Jacob's Ladder (huge!), Mess of Pottage and Windy Col are impressive.
We manage to find a way through the cornices to the north to descend back in to the Coire over several completely buried outcrops, a great day!!!
More photo on the Facebook photo album here.