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Saturday, 31 January 2009

Windy walk in but great climbing on sheltered NW aspects

Blue skies and sunshine yet in exposed areas the SE wind was gusting at well over a 100 mph this morning. We again had Nottingham's MPS society with us. Our walk into Coire an t-Sneachda was quite tiring with the headwind and strong gusts stopping us in our tracks every so often.
However, Jonathon and I had a fair idea that as soon as we entered the main coire basin to the base the NW facing crags that we would be sheltered. In fact it was totally calm without the usual blasts of painful spindrift until we topped out on the wind swept plateau - even that wasn't too bad.
Jonathon had the more experienced climbers and the two teams pitched their way up the ground to the right of Jacob's Ladder, down for lunch and then back up for a pitch of mixed climbing before heading back to the minibus.
I had the less experienced climbers so we went up Jacob's Ladder as one team practising cramponing techniques, using technical axes and looking at rock anchors. We then met Jonathon's group having lunch in the sun before going to a small crag to look at equalised belays using wires and hexes.
Meanwhile Karl, Tracey and Ian had rushed over to the Ciste with the introductory Mountaineering Skills groups to practise cramponing and emergency ropework after I mentioned that I hadn't realised it was that windy and wet yesterday...!
Today Fi was looking after our weekend Winter Skills course and more details can be found at http://www.marmotte.co.uk/blog/diary.html
Apart from the wind the climbing conditions on Saturday were absolutely superb with many routes being banked out in good neve and a lot easier than normal. On the down side some cracks were iced up and all my usual flake belays were well and truly buried - in fact the gully sidewalls were buried under good solid snow...!
Some stunning photos of the day can be found on Jakub's website at http://picasaweb.google.com/jakub.marecek/2009Cairngorms#
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