Sunday, 6 January 2013

A gentle & snow free start to the season!

 Tim Mosedale on Jacob's Ladder

A major thaw on Scotland's mountains has coincided with the start of my winter season. Friday was spent undertaking some training at Glenmore Lodge. Plenty of discussion on the latest thinking on avalanches, snow anchors and the Lodge procedures. Later that evening the Cairngorm summit weather station reported its warmest January temperature for 20 years - 13.8oC!
Saturday I was out with a winter skills group from Cairngorm Adventure Guides. It was the fourth day of their course so it was all about putting their new skills into practice and starting to make their own decisions on the hill. We headed over to the Twin Burns area in Lochain which provided reasonable snow and a couple of ice bulges. The snow pack was pretty sodden and the crags were wet and black. We squelched over the plateau to Coire Domhain and the beginnings of the usual snowhole city for a session on emergency shelters. The team then navigated successfully to the top of the Goat Track in the cloud and a steep but well stepped descent into Sneachda.
Today I went for a quick blast in Sneachda with Tim Mosedale. He's running a training course for his Everest and Ama Dablam teams this coming week. A lot better visability today with good views over a bare plateau and sunshine to the south. A clear sky overnight had led to a good frost and the snowpack was surprisingly well frozen so we quickly nipped up Jacobs Ladder (continuous snow), down Aladdins Couloir (bare rock at the ice bulge) and back up Central Gully (3 mixed steps). Elsewhere in the coire teams were engaged in plenty of drytooling and mixed action. There were queues on Jacob's Edge for a dry ascent with crampons and ice axes! The Runnel, Crotched, Red (notorious for loose rock in a thaw) & Goat Track Gullies were all climbed mainly on snow and ice while Spiral Gully featured plenty of steep grass.

Snow skills above the Twin Burns in Lochain

 Sunshine to the south of the Cairngorm plateau

Timothy wants to climb Everest!...for the 3rd time!!  Topping out on Central Gully

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