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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Great but thin alpine climbing conditions

Wednesday 19th December 2007...Another superb alpine like day. Again it's been very cold in the valleys and warmer on the tops. Despite the warmer temperature in the mountains the snow and ground is frozen solid.
Climbing conditions although thin are really excellent and fun on many of the grade I to grade III gully and snow routes. Many of the ridge and buttresses are bone dry, with Pygmy and Fingers Ridge in excellent summer condition, although with a winter approach! Several of the ice routes although very thin are being climbed too, though I doubt you would get much in the way of ice screws for protection!!
The coires have a very friendly atmosphere at the moment with teams chatting away and enjoying the sun and superb snow ice. We saw climbers in Jacobs Ladder which is complete but with a detour exit on the RHS. Aladdin's Couloir, Central Gully, Runnel. Rob Jarvis was with clients in Crotched gully and no doubt others were in Red and Goat Track. I chatted with Liam and Neil and Fi climbed the groove on the RHS of the runnel (thin and quite bold at the moment...!).
We took a wander over to Hells Lum which had a good banking at the base and no cornice to worry about. Ice was building and the Escalator looked good. Over on the other side of Loch Avon the Shelterstone was almost in summer condition although the snowy Castlegates Gully looked complete. Good snow cover on the plateau all the way to MacDui with the Braeriach Corries well worth a visit.
Over on Coire an Lochain the routes being done were the likes of Milky Way, Vent Rib and Traverse, the Couloir, Snow Bunting and Y Gully. Cut Adrift looked ok too although like Milky Way a bit thin at the start. At the moment the Vent is hard and getting started on Central Crack tricky too!! A team found Andromeda tricky. Savage Slit and Fallout Corner apart from the approach and finish are more akin to summer conditions, although could be good fun with a crampon approach then a change into big boots or rock shoes for the climb!
All in all great Scottish alpine conditions and very similar to this time last year. More details and previous winter reports can be found on the Talisman Blog and on Fi's Marmotte Blog. The full report and lots more pictures can be found at http://www.winternet-scotland.co.uk/reports/east/latest.htm
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