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Thursday, 5 January 2012

Wintry mixed Cairngorm gnarl!!

Our advanced Winter Mountaineering course spent yesterday learning basic climbing and alpine rope-work completely sheltered from the wet windy weather at a dry local crag! They all picked up the rope-work and belaying quickly. However I'd stressed that we'd be climbing in more wintry conditions today and that even clipping a krab or tying a simple knot would be challenging - and it was!
We headed into Coire an t-Sneachda in surprisingly calm conditions, however once into the main coire visibility deteriorated (sorry no photos) with the wind and spindrift making their presence painfully felt.
Due to the soft slabby snow and poor snow-ice build-up  I'd decided on a safe but challenging mixed rocky rib for our climbing day.
Our route was technically tricky especially for non climbers, but really well protected with slings using spikes and bomber threads. This was fortunate as the weather was challenging even with goggles due to the painful spindrift and everything icing up solid!
Everyone including Eugene a total non climber did really well. Climbing snow covered rock and rime ice is never easy, even in calm weather.
We abseiled off due to time and wind then ploughed and post holed on the deep wind slabby snow drifts back to the corrie floor. Despite the difficult weather everyone seems to have enjoyed the challenging conditions and arctic Cairngorm experience!
Visibility was poor but from what I did see many of the gullies and crag aprons are starting to fill in. The crags are now white and rimed but with limited ice build-up. Many areas are wind scoured so climbing route choice is limited with ridges and buttresses best.
Cairngorm Mountain opened a few of the ski tows today and the Coire Cas carpark was relatively busy. There is an easy trail into the corries though the paths were becoming icy on the walk out.
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