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Monday, 4 February 2013

Blizzards, snow belays and windslab!

A good call to go climbing yesterday, as I had expected, the ski road was closed today!
It was a very blowy wintry day but with some surprising, very calm, clear and bright spells, between the blizzards!
We spent the morning looking at basic ropework using just the rope and a few slings before driving up to the closed snowgates at Glenmore.
We then hiked then up Cairngorm to practise the ropework in wintry weather wearing all our warm windproof layers, ski goggles and gloves.
Lots of spindrift and deep windslab drifts building on easterly facing lee slopes with significant wind chill.
Snow conditions varied from deep Cat 4 avalanche to hard wind scoured neve within just a few degrees change in slope aspect, giving us the opportunity to dig a few avalanche test pits and to inspect the weekly bonded slab layers.
We then dug bucket seats and various different snow belays and practised the essential dynamic waist belaying techniques to minimize shock load on uncertain rock, ice and snow anchors.
We finished the day looking at how to safely descend steep snow slopes and overhung cornices using just the rope and snow-bollards and how to avoid cheese wires...
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