Information and photos of my mountaineering trips in Scotland,England and Wales:
Including hillwalking,scrambling and easy rock climbing.Also via ferrata, skiing and alpine trips in Europe.

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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Loch Avon, 18th November 2012.

After a later start than planned, we walked into Coire an t-Sneachda to show Jon his first view of the crags and gullies he may get a chance to climb this winter (?). Although there was a wintery feel to the day with a cold wind, there wasn't actually much snow. We opted not to do the Fiacaill Ridge, thinking the forecast high winds might make it difficult on its higher sections. Another option was to scramble up by the Twin Ribs area, but in the end Jon liked the idea of getting up close to the crags, so we headed straight in towards the lochans and the stretcher box.  

I don't think there was much snow on the ridge either especially with the westerly wind. The Ficaill Buttress and Couloir were also pretty bare.
Looking towards Trident Gullies and Alladins area which were bare too. We didn't see many people out, just a father and son team heading for the Mess of Pottage area and a team of two climbing way to the right of the Trident Gullies where the climber path rises up to the plateau. The path , whrn you can find it is steep and straightforward, but there was alot of ice (and little snow), so we put crampons on to be safe. This was a first for jon which he enjoyed. I hadn't really expected to be using them , or an axe so it was good to get some brief use of them.      
At the top of the climbers path we stopped for a brief bite to eat, and saw the one person who passed us on the way up, head for Ben Macdui. From there we headed south to drop down into the Loch Avon basin.
On the descent, we noticed two "boxes/huts" at the foot of Shelterstone Crags. One had a window but as we didn't cross the water at the bottom, we never got to find out just what they were for?  
Passing the area of the Sheltersone, I managed to get a good shot of the Forefinger Pinnacle, in Forefinger Gully. Maybe one day I will climb it as it is only (?) V-Diff I think.
Lunch was on the beach!
Was this the quietist beach in Scotland this Sunday? Mind you, some romantic soul had been there I guess a few days ago as they had written "I love you" in the sand!

Jon and Gordon near the top of the steep and icy path up Coire Domhain with Loch Avon below.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

An Casteal and lots of snow! 4th November 2012.

The weather forecast looked promising; light winds, little cloud, great views etc, but it didn't quite turn out that way. Although there was just enough visiblity, we had to check and double check our bearings to make sure we were still on the high ground heading up Sron Garbh and onto Twistin Hill. We were the first up the hill until two groups of two followed us to a point where I felt we should bear left onto higher ground. Annoyingly, my compass had developed an air bubble in it so I wasn't happy about it's accuracy. I asked the other groups to double check my bearings and was keen to see if they would show willing to map read in front of me. One of the guys did, and confirmed what I thought, so we headed left and back onto high ground. I don't know if they would've kept following our tracks without question? 

The route description mentions a "large cleft in the track", which you cross with a few rocky steps (in summer), but the "cleft" was now full of deep powder, and as the snow (much more than we had expected to see) was unconsolidated it would be tricky to down climb and then back up. Plus I had no idea how deep the snow was at the bottom. Consesus was to by pass it on the right and regain the ridge. The summit of An Casteal was disappointing, only because of the low cloud which only briefly gave way to a limited view of our surroundings. It was quite chilly in the wind, so we went a little further south over the summit to find shelter and a spot for lunch. The two groups in front seemed to head for Beinn a' Chroin.  

Rime forming on the summit rocks of An Casteal

A brief view of our route back via the ridge over Stob Glas.

We found a nice sheltered scoop round the back of the summit for lunch. Note the ice axe. Not strictly necessary but they came in handy now and then. (note also crampons not used).    

Another fleeting glimpse of the way back. It was quite hard going though, through lots of deep, soft snow which Lorna found hard on her ankle. It was fine on the wind scoured ground, but inbetween there were deep drifts which were pretty tiring.  

As time was getting on we opted to make a descent into the coire and follow the stream to the river Falloch and take the road back to the layby where we were parked (a few miles south west of Crianlarich on the A 82). We thought we had taken too long due to the snow conditions, yet we never saw the other parties making their return from Beinn a' Chroin. Maybe they returned the way the came? However back at the layby there were several cars still there and it was now very dark! Hopefully they had headtorches and were ok?!