Sunday, 5 February 2012

Spiral Gully, Coire an t-Sneachda

The second day of the Lomond Mountaineering Club meet up in the Cairngorms, and with a better day of weather we headed back up the Cairngorm Ski Centre to go to Coire an t-sneachda again.

On the walk in there were some gusts of winds, not nothing like the day before and much better visibility all round. The downside of this is there were a lot of people out on the hill.

I was with Danny and Dave today and we decided to climb Spiral Gully, which is the longest of the gullies on the crag at about 200m long.

Danny lead the first pitch up to a good nut and a fixed peg. I took the second lead up through the narrows which is the crux of the climb managing to get a few good runners in before it. After the crux I found myself running short of rope and as the guide book suggested belays would be hard to find so I had a bit of a struggle trying to dig the ice out the cracks to find one. After managing to get a warthog hammered in I squeezed out a little more on the rope to reach a good crack in the final gully leading up to the joining of Crotched Gully. A couple of good nuts placed and I brought Danny and Dave up to join me.

Danny led off to try and find the way forward as this seems to be where the line becomes confusing and branches off to the right in a cleft between the two butresses. By this time it was getting late and we had passed the crux we decided to finish off up Crotched Gully into howling winds on the plateau above.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hidden Chimney, Coire an t-Sneachda

This weekend was a meet for the Lomond Mountaineering Club based at the Balgowan Cabin at Laggan, not far from Aviemore.

On saturday morning the weather did not look promising with high winds forecast so Aaron and I drove up to the Cairngorm Ski Centre car park and our fears were confirmed when the gusts of wind were shaking the car from side to side, however we decided to kit up and walk up to the coire anyway to take a look, and if anything stretch our legs and get a walk.

On the walk in visibility was pretty bad and the snow was coming down heavy, and with the high winds the feeling of the wind blown snow and ice was like sandpaper against the face but we managed to push on to the Mess of Pottage to get a look.

There was quite a lot of soft windslab developing and the risk of avalanche was worth considering, and a quick Rutschblock test indeed showed a moderately bonded new layer of snow. It did not take much effort to break the top layer loose. This considered, we judged it stable enough at this height and pushed on up Jacob's Ladder to the start of Hidden Chimney.

There was already people on the climb, and a substantial queue at the start of the first pitch up The Slant and having forgot my gore tex trousers, the wet snow and winds and totally driven the water right through to my skin legs and I was losing core heat quite quickly with the waiting about.

We decided to climb the first pitch to see if I could get some warmth in me but if anything I was getting colder so we made the decision to bail off.

A quick walk back out saw as back at the Ski Centre for some warmth and a bowl of chips.