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Monday, 30 January 2012

Strong SE winds and heavy drifting!

 I was out with Alan and Paul who were wanting to build on their previous rock climbing and winter Grade 1 experience. They were up with  Gloucestershire Mountaineering Club's Scottish Winter Meet at Badaguish Lodges. Coincidently GMC members had also booked Jonathan P who'd been working with us and the MPS at the weekend for guiding that day. 
The forecast looked pretty reasonable and we weren't expecting the full on winter experience - the weather had other ideas!

On our walk in it quickly became apparent that the strong SE wind and blowing snow (wind chill of minus 25) was going to affect our day making even the simplest of tasks more difficult and filling everything up with spindrift.
On the plus side the drifting snow was building fast on the NW aspects covering the approach slopes, crag aprons and filling up the gullies for the first time this winter. Unfortunately it was also building large overhung cornices over some routes, one of which I later heard had collapsed and avalanched down the Runnel!!!
Most of the main gully lines were busy but surprisingly Goat Track Gully and it's variation was free, after a French team abseiled off to join the queue at the foot of Red Gully.
I couldn't believe our luck in locating the only vacant classic line in the corrie. As a bonus it was now filled with snow and sported some nice steep ice in the corner for the guys to test their mountaineering axes on! The guys did well on the tricky steps which felt harder than the grade compared to normal.
Paul also experienced his first hot aches and nausea after completing the ice pitch saying afterwards he really enjoyed the experience and wanted to do more though possibly not with the hot aches!!!
After the climb we had to hang on to everything stuffing the frozen gear into our sacks for our descent.

The Goat track was slabby so we decided to battled across the plateau to the relative shelter of Coire Cas, avoiding the large cornices now forming over Jacob's Ladder, Mess of Pottage and on the Coire Cas Ridge. The upper ski area is drifting in nicely and with the cold weather everything is starting to look really good for winter sports in the Cairngorm's...
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