Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Skied the Northern Coires today in a 10.5km loop starting and ending at the Cairngorm Ski center. It was nice but the snow was sparse and the plateau was very icy, I wish I'd had my ski crampons with me. Started at the ski center, went up to Cairngorm, down to the top of Coire Cas, over and up Coire an t'Sneadcha, and straight into a whiteout as I climbed up onto top of Coire an Lochan, then dropped down into Coire an Lochan into some nice leeward deposited snow, 3-4 inches of soft fluffy stuff. However, I wasn't able to ski the exact line I wanted to because there were climbers below me coming up the face. Still, a good day, pretty much 4 hours round trip on the dot.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Went up to the Cairngorm's with the University Mountaineering Club this weekend. The plan was to get some climbing in, but the weather was wet, warm and windy. I got to talking to some people Friday night and heard that two of them were doing a free one-day climber's workshop course at Glenmore Lodge on Saturday, so I decided to take my chances and go with them to see if I could get in on it. I went with them, but brought my Bigfoot's and hiking gear in case they said no, but it ended up being alright and I got on the course. There were 5 of us total and Giles was our instructor. I had him as an instructor when we did the canoeing and kayaking course. The focus of the course was decision making and route planning.
We started by looking at the past, current and predicted weather, as well as the avalanche forecast. Then, we picked some routes in Coire an t'Sneachda that we would want to have climbed. We drove up to the ski center and walked into the Coire, and the weather was completely miserable. Winds were at 30mph with gusts to 50, and it was raining fairly hard. We talked about route finding on the way in and where people have made mistakes in the past, and looked at the various buttresses as we were approaching them. Once in the Coire, we talked about which of the routes we had mentioned earlier would be good to climb now and why, as well as how to approach the routes, as most of them have avalanche prone slopes as an approach. We looked at some good ways to dig snow pits with an ice ax to look at the snow stability, and talked about the pro's and con's of the various ways to get to the base of the climbs. On our way out, we stopped and practiced some snow anchors: bucket seats and buried axes. Overall it was a good way to spend a miserable day when you were going to end up completely soaked anyway.
On Sunday, the weather was a little drier but still windy. Pretty much everyone wanted to do a walk at most so I decided to go skiing, but the lifts were closed due to the wind. I got a ride up to the ski center and started skinning up the Fiacaill ridge chair. The weather wasn't too bad, just windy, which felt nice during the climb. At one point I turned around and caught a glimpse of a rainbow over Loch Morlich. I kept skinning up the Fiacaill a' Coire Cas until I was on top of the Coire Cas headwall, A' Chuithe Chrom. At that point the wind was being really obnoxious and after being knocked down and having to stop from sliding for the fourth time(I later found out that the had record 101mph winds on top of Cairngorm at that time), I decided to start booting up the rest of the way to the top of Cairngorm. The weather had been good until then, but now the visibility was starting to get worse and it was getting wet, so I decided it wasn't worth the extra 100m of vertical and just skied down. I was able to get the buses back to Kingussie, and then we packed up and left.