Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Grim in the Gorms...

Me and Dan headed up to the Cairngorm on Sunday with a view to get some routes done Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunatley we arrived 2 days late!
Most of the Scottish highlands recieved amazing weather over the weekend, with clear blue skies, and great climbing conditions. But Monday was totaly at the other end of the scale!
With an extensive and low cloud base, that rarley broke throughout the day, strong icy winds, (especialy on the Cairngorm plateu), which created severe wind chill, and persistant rain, which wasnt forecast to be as bad as it was, we had a truley grim morning out on the hill.
Having made our way into Coire An T- sneachda, we struggled to find any of the routes as even the base of the crags wernt visable. With already being wet from the persistant rain, it was clear that today wasnt going to be a day for a hard mixed route as we would have liked, as standing at a belay for 40 mins in those conditions would have been horrendous.
We finaly located the base of the Mess of Pottage, after firstly overshooting it and ending up nearer to Aladins Buttresss. We decided a quick romp up Jacobs Ladder, lasting less than 5 mins!, was about all that we could manage, and then a rapid exit from the plateu to 1141 and then down back to the car.
Conditions wise, from what we could see, certainly the Mess of pottage was nicely rimed up. Jacobs ladder and i presume the other easier gully lines was in fine shape, with good neve all the way,(in the morning anyway!) enabling us a quick solo ascent. The gully walls were also nicely rimed, although any ice that had previously formed was dripping today as the thaw set in! The slopes below the Mess of pottage which can be prone to avalanche in unstable conditions, today were pretty firm underfoot in the morning, although i can imagine with the ammount of rain, the snowpack could have became quite saturated throughout the day. Another freeze and some periods of cold weather, would bring some good conditions again as there is still a decent cover.
The Plateu was fairly thin and patchy after the thaw, but more snow is on the cards towards the end of the week.
Also the SAIS starts up reporting this week http://www.sais.gov.uk/

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Swedish Ice Mines

With our planet seemingly becoming warmer, its only a matter of time, (although a good while yet) before climbing ice will be a thing of the past. It looks like Will Gad and Andreas Spak have found the answer......
Ice Mines!!
This footage was shot a couple of years ago, but well worth the watch.

Check this out.......... Mental!!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Crib Lem - Llech Ddu Spur........ and Welsh Winter Over (for now!!)

With the high temperatures the last day or two, pretty much all the snow on the Welsh hills has been stripped. All that remains are small insufficient snow patches, and a blanket on the very tops, well thats on the Carneddau anyway! The Glyders, Tryfan, Snowdon and the other highest peaks unfortunately look to be in a similar condition.

I headed in to Cwm Llafer, where the black ladders where looking pretty bare. Amongst the black buttresses, only the sheltered ledges, gullys and ramps held the remaining snow. We chose to scramble up the Llech Ddu spur on CribLem. Described as the finest scramble in the Carneddau, this long exposed ridge of rocky aretes leads up to the summit of Carnedd Dafydd, taking in the dramtic atmosphere of the secluded Cwm.
Once we had gained entry to the ridge itself, the route became apparent, and looking ahead, the description as the finest scramble in the Carneddau didnt look wrong!

The ridge is technicaly easy, but at times although not that often, there is some serious exposure! Which combined with the route being of substantial length and in a fantastic setting is fully worthy of its 3 star rating!
Its highley reccomended and growing in popularity, so well worth doing. I would however reccomend taking a rope and a very small rack to protect the couple of tricky steps annd exposed situatons if taking a newbie or for people not so use to scrambling/exposure.