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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Great climbing conditions and stonking neve!

It turned out less windy than forecast with excellent snow ice on wind scoured aspects. With strong winds being forecast and yesterdays fresh snow I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd also heard tales of avalanches around the Goat track and Red Gully areas.
Anyway we decided to climb today as Wednesday's weather sounded worse and headed into Sneachda! In theory the NW aspects should have been scoured which would avoid the worst of the high avalanche risk and I was right. There was a large area of windslab below Jacob's Ladder but this was easily avoided and once in the gully it was fantastic neve all the way to the plateau.
Maz and Bob have never climbed before but were keen to lead a pitch each using the basic belays and ropework they'd be taught yesterday before I took over. While Mark and Luke have rock climbed before they were keen to climb the whole route setting up their own snow and rock belays. Mark was so confident in his wire runners and Luke's body belaying that he insisted in putting them to the test - thankfully they were sound!!
A number of routes in the area looked good with good snow and ice in the Haston line and in hidden Chimney. Further round the corrie Spiral Gully was reported to be full of good neve. though I don't know about the other gully's. Lot's of climbers on Fiacaill Ridge but with the high avalanche risk on NE aspects I didn't see anyone approaching Fiacaill Buttress!
On a point of safety PLEASE DO NOT set top ropes up on the steep cornice exits of popular climbs when people are already climbing below.
We were showered and bruised by lumps of ice knocked down by idiots who'd decided to toprope above us :-(
I took a lot of video so will upload onto YouTube later...
The YouTube video is now at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1zrphj0d3U
Maz's blog account of his first Scottish winter climb at www.journeymantraveller.com/2011/02/winter-mountaineering-in-cairngorms_21.html
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