Second trip up to the West at the weekend for some Sottish winter climbing, we felt pretty optimistic on a seriously wild forecast! Driving rain and a brief thaw on Friday afternoon/night made us question our sanity, but fortunately the optimism paid off.
On Saturday James Foley and I headed up to Ben Nevis. A lot of the snow cover had been stripped low down with the rain but high up things were looking a lot better. We opted to go into Coire Na Ciste and this offered a bit of shelter from the wind. The coire was pretty much deserted. There was evidence of avalanche activity at the bottom of Number 2 and Number 5 Gully. We climbed Lost The Place, V 5 which is a great little mixed route, pretty varied and with a steep top pitch. This proved to be pretty sheltered from the wind until the final chimney which was being pummeled by spindrift. We topped out into a stern wind and quickly descended Number 4 Gully which seemed okay.
On Saturday night a lot of snow started to fall on a pretty stern wind so we took a tentative walk up into Stob Coire Nan Lochan, Glencoe. It was a colder day all round with snow down to the valley floor. The walk in was hard going breaking trail through thigh deep snow high up. The wind was swirling around on the coire floor and it was obvious it would be difficult to find a sheltered route with a safe descent so after a bit of procrastinating we decided to bail out. We checked out the snow near the base of Broad Gully which had a 10 inch layer of windslab covering a deep layer of graupel. Pretty unstable stuff and a lot of care is going to be needed to find safe options at the moment.
This is the last Scottish update of 2013 as I’m off to La Grave for some skiing and climbing on Friday. So Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers. Stay safe out there!
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