Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Cairngorm winter – February 2018 Glen Clova

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

The Scottish trip in February saw us heading to Glen Clova in the southern Cairngorms, keen to make the most of a good forecast and hopefully some great conditions. Axes and crampons were sharpened, skis dusted off and way too much food packed as we made our way to the newly refurbished Braedownie hut, which is owned by the Carn Dearg MC.

A few keen members had gone up early to try and get an extra day in. On Friday Paul and Jamie took the gear for a walk up Corrie Fee, sadly the conditions weren't quite as good as hoped, and all the gullies looked a "bit deathy" (Jamie's words!), so they followed Simon and Carmen up the buttress of Craig Rennet (deep, soft snow and heather).

Rob takes up the story for Saturday: "After much discussion and lots of delays while waiting for the rain to stop, Jamie, Paul, Rob, Dave, Russ, Dan and Peri headed off towards Winter Corrie in the light drizzle. The Walk in is quite straightforward and takes a little over an hour. We were greeted with a view of much snow and huge cornices overhanging the main buttresses. The line of Diagonal Gully did appear to have lots of ice on it but we decided against it. Peri retreated back to the hut before taking a stroll to Corrie Fee, the rest of us made our way to the centre of the Corrie and had a lunch break by the huge boulder.

We picked a route up the eastern (less loaded) slopes which was cornice free and with rocks to join up in a route to the rim. We all trudged up, put our crampons on before tackling a few rock steps on the way to the top. Dan ran laps around various bits of the slope with a huge grin on his face.

We topped out in calm, bright sunshine and blue skies and were rewarded with wonderful panoramic views. The team then plodded to Driesh summit and hid by the trig point before splitting up. Paul, Jamie and Dave route marched over to Mayar and down the Kilbo path. Rob Dan and Russ navved back to the corrie and descended the spur, which was occasionally eventful with deep snow and large patches. At the bottom, they crossed the style of doom and the found the bridge which made a short walk back to the hut".

While they were all playing in Winter corrie, another group of 6 headed further on to Corrie Fee to have a look. Again this was found to be powdery and unconsolidated, although everyone managed a route of some kind, sticking well clear of the unstable looking gullies. After ascending the left hand side buttress, Richard and Pete continued over the plateau to the Munros of Mayar (928m) and Driesh (947m) in the sunshine, with some great sastrugi patterns to admire on the way across.

Jamie: "On Sunday, being pretty knackered and thoroughly sick of carrying a big sack, I went for a wee run in the snow, telling Paul I'd be back in an hour, which turned out to be 13km, climbed to over 700m (at the shelter) and took 2h15m. Only out by 125%!" .

Pete, Mike and Richard having seen the cracking conditions on the plateau the day before were keen to get the skis out and head up for a day tour. After boot-packing up Glen Doll they popped the skis on at the forest edge and skinned up Jock's road past the emergency shelter to tick off their first munro on ski (Tolmount, 958m).

The tour continued over the Munro Tom Buidhe (957m) as the viz came and went in the strong wind, and then the cloud came down properly, resulting in some challenging navigation to get off the plateau. Turns out trying to estimate how far you've travelled and contouring on skis is pretty tricky! Sadly they couldn't do the best downhill ski sections justice in the white out, and found their way down corrie fee before hiking back through the forest to the hut.

Monday was the day to travel home, and with a poor forecast most were planning short trips out before hitting the road. This resulted in a pleasant group walk up to Loch Brandy from the valley bottom behind the hotel. Some carried on to the Corbett 'The Goet' (Ben Tirran) unfortunately no views to reward them, but they did find a bothy to eat lunch out of the weather. Peri went for a 'powder swim' up driesh in an 'epic' amount of snow following fresh falls overnight getting some fabulous views before the clag blew in.

Apologies I don't have a record of what everyone got up to, but all agreed it was a great weekend of winter adventures, hanging out in the mountains with friends, and of course calorie loading YAC style!

YAC go north – Achnasheen February 2017

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Long overdue, but I've finally got around to catching up with some blogs, and what better timing to get you in the mood than when we're just getting ready for another round of winter trips!

The club Scottish winter trip to Achnasheen headed to the Jacobites MC hut in the Lochcarron valley. This was a 3 night trip so we made the long drive north on the Thursday night, and soon settled in.
The weather for Friday was looking like the best day of the weekend, so we all headed out keen to make the most of the winter conditions, which were threatening to break later in the weekend.

Pete, Dave and Nan headed for Beinn Damh, parking at the Loch Torridon hotel, hiking up through the forest and then following the path up the valley to stay low and out of the winter wind as long as possible. After summiting, they followed the ridge NW and got some great views on the way down when the clouds briefly lifted.

Over on Liatach, Mike, Rob, Karl, Paul, Mark and Russ were having a big day out, which began with some slippery boulder fields as they left the valley and passed the snowline. This soon turned into a powdery covering as they headed up, making progress slow. Never the less, they completed the ridge traverse and made it back after an epic day knackered but with smiles on their faces and ready for the usual food fest! Richard and Phil headed out to do the A'Chioch ridge on Beinn Bhan, Applecross while Simon and Carmen ticked off the snowy Beinn Eighe Corbetts of Meall a'Ghiubhais and Ruadh-stac Beag.

Saturday brought the thaw as forecast, and after the big winter days out on Friday, people were keen to take it easier. Dave, Paul and Rob headed out to tick a munro in the Cuillin forest, Carmen and Simon walked up the corbett An Ruadh-Stac, Mike, Mark and Russ headed low for a walk around Loch Torridon, while Pete and Nan did the same, checking out the coast around picturesque Plockton. Richard and Phil were more adventurous, climbing up the munro of Fionn Bheinn not too far away from the hut.

Sunday it definitely didn't feel like winter anymore, with the thaw having flooded a lot of the land around the hut, thankfully the raised walkway took us over most of it, and across the swollen river without getting our feet too wet.
Most of us headed south for the long drive home planning for a food stop on the way, Richard and Phil however got the prize for being the most keen of the weekend, scampering up the Sow of Atholl on their way down the A9. So a good selection of routes, summits and walks done over the weekend, making the most of the changeable weather.

Inspired by Rob and Will ….

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Inspired by the conditions reported by Rob and Will we set off to try and get a last lakeland winter route in at Great End. As it turned out Jamie and I weren’t the only ones inspired, the place was heaving and Window Gully had a cue of at least 3 people, after gearing up this had increased to 6 and counting. As an alternative we headed up South East Gully, neither of us had done this previously and it had the advantage of only one other team in the gully (after some faffing by us at the first belay they were well gone leaving the place pretty much to just the two of us).The snow was ok but a soft top layer made it quite hard going. The first little step in the gully had just enough ice and hooks to go, the ice pitch was excellent, it was a bit undercut at the top made it quite a challenge to exit, definitely grade III conditions. After a chat at the top with some of the other climbers we abbed into window gully and had just enough time to do the upper ice fall. The ice was fat and made for an excellent last pitch. Time the walk back to he car, in the dark, and head into Keswick for fish and chips. IMG_1305-2018-03-12-11-43.jpg

Mad Dogs and Englishwomen go climbing on Red Tarn Face …

Monday, February 5th, 2018

… but we didn't, we went to Brown Cove Crags.
On a stunning day Mike (being only slightly ill) & I (Rob being only slightly stupid and being awoken at 6.30 in PJs) responded to Dave W's call to hills and headed over to the Lakes. Parking in the layby we walked through Swirls car park – which is now free (well the machine has been busted for months apparently) and upto the cove in improving weather.

We were not sure what we'd find given the preceding week's weather, the crag certainly looked wintery. In reality, there was a smattering of new soft snow lying on top of waterlogged old snow that in places was great but mostly was only just ok. Some turf was hard but most was rubbish so we kept off the turfy buttresses.

We headed up a lean Central Gully mostly on our feet with an occasional gymnastic move off a hook. Towards the top we headed left across the buttresses which was fun. Nearly all done with 1 axe, Mike didn't bother with cramps. On top the weather was stunning and the views of the rising snowline on Skiddaw group picturesque. Dave and I descended Left Parallel Gully and came back up Right, both easy grade 1 plods with no real interest, but good to get the feel for the snow.

Back on top Mike had built a bollard and we did some skills revision (stompers, NZ stompers, bucket seats, buried axe and boot-axe belays and body belaying – as well as rope coiling to make Mike look like a professional alpinist. I then suggested to Mike we test his bollard by abbing down the gully, I was very suspicious of the size. As Mike weighs next to nought the abbing went ok but when I asked him to jump and pull on the rope it got a little more exciting. It was quite interesting watching the rope cutting through 3/4 of the bollard. Luckily I had him on a separate belay. Enlightening.

After some lunch, we strolled up to Helvellyn summit, observing the faces, lack of cornices etc, to see how the busy Red Tarn face was. We toyed with the idea of descending and doing a route but in the end, just watched the teams coming up and left in a bit of mist.

As we headed back along the ridge, we watched a young woman and mad dog (Duke I think) bounding up the face from the snow bowl. We were amazed at the Duke's performance and the woman looked clearly competent making short work of the snow slope which steepened a bit, no more than Grade 1 territory. We spoke briefly at the top as Duke ran around enthusiastically and we wandered off just as she called down to her male partner to check on him.

A nice stroll back down, observing a helicopter, and we were on the road fairly early and back in York for 7. Only then did we find out about the epic that unfurled behind us.

Apparently, the woman's husband got into difficulties with bendy boots on the headwall and requested help from nearby climbers (Wes). One of them grabbed a couple of axes and in his haste to reach the climber, tripped over his crampons and went head first down the snow bowl for 150m. He was rescued by his mates (while Alan Hinkes sorted the stranded climber out) and walked off the hill for while until feeling bad and calling MR out. A few busted ribs is all the long-term damage.

Quite a day for learning opportunities!

pix from Mike, Daves camera broke, I forgot mine in rush !

A swim up Blea Water Gill

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

On Sat. Peri, Mike, and Rob did the early(ish) start and drive to the Lakes to check out Blea Water. Arriving at the car park about 8.30, the drive being interesting for the last few miles along Mardale. It was a bit warmer than hoped for and the mistier but we were walking by about 9. The large snow deposits had made the hills very pretty but the walking awkward. the snow was soft and deep a but fortunately, there was a trail to follow!

The walk-in should take about an hour to the tarn but was a little longer and once we had sorted out our destination we skirted the left edge of the tarn and arrived at the chimney pitch to be greeted by Yorkie Jim Croft and his son Euan. We thanked them for their hard work trail bashing and chatted about the poor quality of the ice in the chimney. Rob had a look and declared it climable but a long way from good. Jim & Euan were contemplating bailing but we decided as a team to skip around the first pitch and head for the main icefall which looked ok.

When I say skip, what I mean is swim. Snow up to our waists and soft and squishy. Never felt like it would slide off but it wasn't reassuring. After a bit of a battle, we all made it to the buried belay ledge and dug out the boulder.

Mike set off leading up some bulging ice with an awkward step. Peri followed and I went up a little to the side. Jim then led Euan up, who learned the hard way about getting cold hands whilst belaying. The belays are not that great at the top and it took Mike a while to find a decent spike at 50m. Jim on longer ropes found a place to bring up Euan.

After that pitch Jim and Euan decided to head off home, traversing the hillside and back to the tarn. Rob led a pitch with some icy steps and we unroped after that. Stumbling onto the summit ridge we were greeted by a wonderful sunset, and we traipsed off over Mardale Ill Bell and down to Small Water – a lovely wee tarn with a group camping.

We nearly made it back to the car without head torches and the drive back (after pushing a tourist out) got us back to York for 8ish.

Another great day despite poorish ice conditions

pix by Peri, Mike & Rob

Lakes meet in January 18

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

 

12 out of a possible 18 of us made it on the Lakes meet in the end with various ailments causing last minute drop outs. The semi-healthy remainders made it to High House – a great spot in Seathwaite (just past the farm) which was soon cosy downstairs thanks to the 2 pot bellied stoves.

Unfortunately, as per YAC tradition things had warmed up a bit prior to the meet. Paul & Jamie went across on Friday and failed to find climbable routes on Gable and so went for a walk instead trying to check conditions elsewhere. Undeterred on Saturday Rob, Liz, Pete W, Jamie and Paul headed out for a look at Great End and a walk over to Scafell. The conditions at Great End were lean but Custs Gully (I) looked ok and a bit of fun so we headed up as a team. The usually banked out steps were short icy pitches, made all the more interesting with a single walking axe and crampons each. It was a fun way up to the plateau. Conditions on top were very wintery, good neve for the walk across to Scafell where we stopped for lunch. Back to Esk Hause were we de-cramped and took bets on the how long we'd stay on our feet (about 25 seconds for the record before one of us went flying). Two headed down to the hut under Great End crag and the rest over Allen Crag and Glaramara, the final hour or two in the dark meant we ended up below rather than above raven crag on the decent but a short detour took us back to the path and finally the hut in the rain. An excellent day out.

 

Simon and I took a similar route but starting over Seathwaite Fell and over Great End (missing out Custs gully), finishing off the day with a steep descent off Glaramara. Alan went to Scafell via the corridor route – we bumped into him at his lunch spot just below the summit and parted company at Esk Hause. Pete E and Annie went to Esk Hause and Glaramara before spending far too long in the pub 🙂 Karl took some route via Glaramara to the pub.

Saturday evening we ate lots of soup (thanks to Rob), followed by plenty of haggis, mince pies, some interesting parcels from Jamie and finally Christmas pud. Karl rapidly ate lots and fell asleep (glass in hand, quelle suprise!). On Sunday Karl & Liz headed straight back, as did Alan. Not sure whether Annie and Pete got anything done on the way back. Rob and Paul went towards Great End (about 30m) but returned to the hut when the heavens opened. Jamie didn't even get that far. Meanwhile Pete W enjoyed a long run up to Honister and back over the ridge to Cat Bells and back via the valley.  As my head was hurting and we had a new toy (camera) – Simon & I went to Leighton moss (RSPB reserve) bird watching – which was good, a great reserve with plenty of hides, we didn't spend long on the raised platform as the wind was bitter.

Note quite the winter climbing weekend we were hoping for – but still a good weekend away.

 

 

Pendulum Gully

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

On Saturday Dave W and I headed to the Lakes to make the most of the wintry conditions before temperatures were set to rise. We decided to head to Scrubby Crag to look at Pendulum Gully, a route we attempted in January but due to poor visibility ended up climbing a nondescript gully and ramp further to the right.

An early start meant we were parked and ready to go in good time. There was already a couple of teams heading off up the valley, we stopped a while to talk to another group planning to climb a route called Scorpion on Greenhow End.

Signs were good lower down the valley with the ground hard and any standing water frozen but as we reached the snow line things started to soften up. I was keen to try Greenhow Gully which can be used as an approach to Scrubby Crag, don't think Dave was quite so keen. A distinct lack of ice or snow and large amounts of running water meant that we made use of the in situ ab tat just below the chockstone and ran away.

Higher up in the main cove the snow was knee deep in most places and waist deep in the gullies. We used some swimming techniques to reach the base of Pendulum Gully and the first steep section, this was just about frozen enough for us make an attempt.

We soloed up this and the easier slope above over an awkward step to below the chockstone where Dave dug out some gear placements and we roped up for the final pitch. We managed to negotiate the chockstone with lots of bridging and a committing move to a good patch of frozen turf out to the right. The final Gully section proved quite tricky with lots of powder snow and nothing for the axes.

 

Decent weather and some great views, not great conditions but at least we climbed the correct gully this time another good day in the lakes.

Big Hills, Big Skies, Big Day

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

After reading a report on Walkhighlands.co.uk (recommended for record keeping) about a Grey Corries traverse from Glen Nevis I was keen to repeat this as it seemed to describe a more interesting outing than the usual route.

Mamores, The Ben, Other stuff

I left home at 7am (passing K on his way to work – SUCKER) and drove up to Kinlochleven, where I had unfinished business. I parked up at 2ish by the now defunct Hotel looking very sad and followed the track then path up the hillside towards Na Gruagaichean (1056m). Towards the top I left the path as it zagged away from the summit. A quick tick and I was back at the car just after 6, cup of tea and repacking my kit and on my way to Glen Nevis (via the excellent KLL chip shop).

Camp Site – Upper Glen Nevis

I arrived just about 8.30 at the car park and it was dark. A large team were heading upto the hut (complete with harnesses and slings for the bridge) and I chatted to a late-comer. I Packed my last bits into sac and set off into the dark by torchlight. A lovely wander up Glen Nevis, not too cold and easy underfoot. Soon past Steal ruins I sort of lost the path (it gets vague!) but I knew roughly where I was heading, to find a campsite close to the river quite a way up the Glen. Suffice to say it took longer than expected (as I misread the trip report) and I put my tent up about 11. I'd chosen my site well though.


Grey Corries Ridge

A glorious morning was just the start and the walk, although a bit harsh at the start was generally easier than I had expected, the views were of course stunning. Soft snow (I had no axe or cramps, deciding to leave them in the tent) was easy to walk on and disappearing from the southern aspects quickly. At the end of the ridge (three ~1100m Munros down) I

Steall Falls in evening light

dropped down to Stob Ban (4th Munro mere 977) and then headed back along its ridge, taking a heathery route down to a river crossing, nice for the feet, and back along he Glen to my tent. I made a brew, set a timer for 25 mins and crashed out. Disappointed not to have taken any evening food with me, I packed up and headed down, staying close to the river (the split path a little easier to follow down here) and back to the car.

Stob Ban from the North

The Climbers Club has a hut in Roybridge, 13 miles north of Fort WIlliam and I headed there. A brilliant warm comfy 4 bedroom bungalow, empty! The other 4 guests arrived back shortly, 2 from the pub having just climbed Point 5 (not at all jealous) after a 3am start and 2 more been to Knoydart (1 hour drive) and 11 hours on the hills.

Summit of SCE

Next day I had a few blister issues (bit surprising) and slept in and chilled with another member (Colin) before setting off 12ish to get some suntan lotion and bag the Stob Coire Easain pair of Munros just along the road (Fersit). Another cracking day, saw a few people (and an eagle) but all of them coming home, not surprising when you don't set off till 1.30 BST! Kicking steps down a north facing slope for 10m provided a little bit of a distraction and a lovely walk out along the glen and an old tramway. Back at car for 7.30 was about right for the day.

Looking back over the Grey Corries towards the Ben Nevis

My heels were a bit destroyed which was a shame as the weather was once more majestic for the drive home via Dalwhinnie. Scotland in spring, with some snow and sunshine really is one of the most beautiful places to be

Winter adventure talks series 2017

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In the winter months of 2017, the club ran a monthly ‘adventure talks’ social evening at the Falcon tap pub in Micklegate, York. The idea being that we have a couple of short talks by members or visiting speakers about a trip they’ve been on, and get a chance to have a drink with friends, meet new members and find out more about what people have been up to, hopefully getting inspired for the coming year at the same time!

We’ve had some great talks this year, starting in January when Dave told us about his trekking and mountaineering trip through Peru and Bolivia, and Peter described his adventures horse riding and trekking in Kyrgyzstan.

February took us to New England with Carmen and Simon to see the fall colours and of course do some walking and climbing, and then over to Northern Sweden with Donal for a multi day hut-to-hut walk along the Kungsleden or ‘King’s trail’.

Finally, in March we got on our bikes with Chris who competed in the transcontinental cycle race from Belgium to Istanbul (everyone was exhausted just listening!), and then Rob gave an introduction to lightweight backpacking (with props!) along the Haute Route Pyrenees.

Many thanks to all the speakers for giving their time to put a talk together and present it, and to all those members who came along to support, hopefully have some fun and learn about somewhere new. Looking forward to more adventure talks next year!

Ben Broken

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Karl and I headed for the Southern Highlands last weekend for a bit of walking as the weather looked ok, if a little windy.


We stayed at the Wigwam campsite again, just south of Tyndrum. With a Snow Moon, the Feb full moon, (and a comet and eclipse neither of which we saw) and a decent level of the snow the Crianlarich Munros mountains looked absolutely stunning in the moonlight. Quite a surprising view.

In the morning we did the short drive down towards Oban to walk the Ben Cruachan & Stob Diamh but were quite late so had to squeeze Knob2 in the layby. The walk up through the woods to the huge dam went quickly and we were greeted by 40mph winds. Along the reservoir we headed up the valley to the col catching a few groups up. As we approached the ridge we were past by about 6 people who had turned back due to wild winds blowing across the ridge. We pressed on.

The ridge proved surprisingly calm and long, with granite boulders hiding beneath the snow, quite tricky and slow. We were after about 3:30, about 20 mins longer than the summer book time. Blue sky and magnificent views to Mull (Ben Mor visible over K's shoulder) and all the Glen Etive hills made for a good lunch stop. We decided (well I did) to head along the ridge to do the full horseshoe, which was interesting. After just 50m a bad step had stopped the parties ahead. I had a long sling which I used to protect all 5 of them and K & me. In another 10 mins we were stopped by a snowy exposed slab and opted to traverse under the summit, a long step kicking exercise. The Glasgow students bailed but the dad and son paired followed us.

All this messing about meant we were both quite late and tired by the time we got to the second Munro. Karl was really feeling it and took a bit of encouraging to top out. The above picture shows a beautiful sunset and K's state! It hadn't escaped our notice that we had to get a shift on as it would get dark real soon !


Over the last bump on the ridge the descent is really rather easy, especially in the snow and we made quick progress with only a few hundreds falls for K. We sparked up our torches close to the reservoir path, before rejoining the path through the woods. We caught up team dad & son, the dad was struggling badly with fatigue and they were torchless having only one phone so I stayed with them back to the road for about 7.30.

The kitchen and diner and showers were most welcome and we crashed out about 11. Karl was a bit the worse for wear and entered the Brown-Bradshaw zone of sleeping in, eventually surfacing at 10:45 – so we chilled out and came home.

Great quick hit, fantastic mountains and stunning views.