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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Twin Ribs and white out on Fiacaill Ridge Direct...

Winter Skills day two, fresh snow, a considerable avalanche forecast on most aspects and trail breaking into Coire an t-Sneachda, meant avoiding steep snow slopes and gullies seemed like a sensible idea.
We decided to look at basic ropework and direct belays on Fiacaill Ridge and practise moving together on mixed ground with our walking axes and crampons.
We headed up towards Twin Ribs using the rocky islands of safety and then made our way onto the upper easy section Fiacaill Ridge.

Fi had joined us for the first part of our journey into the Coire and up onto the ridge before heading down to celebrate her birthday, while Rick and Chris continued with me in poor visibility towards the main difficulties!
With the fresh slabby snow, cornices and poor visibility we kept to the crest before tying back onto the rope and then tackling the upper section direct.
Rick and Chris aren't climbers but enjoy scrambling, so with no technical climbing gear apart from a couple of slings and rope, we weaved between the large blocks. We used counter balance and direct belay techniques to safeguard our progress. With practise it's a quick, simple and effective technique used in the Alps and ideal for many Scottish ridge climbs and scrambles.

At the top the visibility was so poor that we decided as it wasn't the Mazeno Ridge on Nanga Parbat (though with bumping into Sandy A it seemed like it!) it would be quicker and more pleasant to head down via the easier line and then finish the day by constructing and abseiling off a snow bollard into the main coire.
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