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Friday, 4 December 2009

Winter skiing and climbing continuing to improve

Friday was a wonderful frosty sparkling day on the hills. The Cairngorm ski area was open for advance skiers. The middle runs are much improved and Cairngorm Mountain were running the M1 poma. Off piste conditions sound good on the plateau with one of the NW facing grade 1 gullies in Coire an t-Sneachda full enough to be skied!
The climbing conditions have much improved too with many buttress's being very white and well rimed up and proving popular. However the popular gully lines and ice falls do take a lot longer to come into good climbng condition and really need to fill up with drifting snow and undergo lot of freeze thaw cycles to form good neve - a week or so is not enough unless you like swimming up avalanche chutes!!!
Conditions are reported as reasonably good for hard mixed as long as you don't mind digging but very variable on the easier lines with everything from deep powder, slab and wet snow to crusty older snow and wet to partially frozen ground underneath. The ground surface is frozen where exposed or thinly covered. But extreme care is needed with many of the loose blocks underfoot and any flakes used for belays as they are unlikely to be well frozen in place and easily dislodged on parties below once dug out. Very much good but typical early season conditions. A good time to try out your touring skis and snowshoes and practise avalanche assessment...
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