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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

A dry walk in, nice ice and firmer snow

What a difference a day can make in the Scottish mountains. There hadn't been the overnight frost mentioned on the weather forecast but it was a nice calm day with good visibility. The slush fields of yesterday had almost gone and the the tracks were now much firmer. Much of the soft fresh snow from last week has now gone in places leaving the firmish old snow.
Morris was interested in doing something a we bit harder today so a quick session on how to belay, place and even more importantly how to remove wires and ice screw protection would be needed. We'd spotted some nice ice yesterday though I was torn between this and going for some the classic guidebook routes. The decision was quickly made when we saw the number of people like bees heading for honey racing towards the other routes - I try not to do queues!
The ice and the line turned out to be even better than it looked and I was pleased when I managed to use my one ice screw on the first 40 metre pitch and even more pleased when Morris easily removed the screw and the belay stance wires! Another shorter delicate ice pitch then three easier pitches with mixed steps between good neve had us both smiling all the way to the plateau. A quick snack while taking in the stunning views across the Cairngorm plateau and chatting to Shawn R who was assessing for Glenmore lodge. We then headed over to the Goat Track to look at snow anchors and meet up with Fi, Gareth, Becca and Mark on the Winter Mountaineering course.
We also met Simon and Mark who had been on Hidden Chimney and said it was mainly rock and Danial and Byrony who had easily climbed Jacobs Ladder using single classic mountaineering axes. On our return to the coire floor we had a good look at some of the classic starred ice routes and I can safely say we'd made the right choice...!
Morris is off snow holing this weekend and took a video of his last trip. This can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYdfCcDMgJs
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