Saturday, 18 February 2012

Cairngorm tans!

Good ice in Aladdin's Couloir (I)

This weekend I'm working for Glenmore Lodge on an Introduction to Winter Climbing course. The weather forecast was particularly spectacular with snow, storm force winds and a risk of lightning to contend with. We headed into Coire An t-Sneachda where the crags were briefly illuminated in front of us by a burst of sunshine. However as we approached Aladdin's Couloir (I) the wind increased and the cloud dropped giving everyone a full taste of winter. The ice in the narrows is in great shape offering approximately 30' of grade II. We were blown up the rest of the gully by a very strong updraft which had stripped the snow back to the old neve. Topping out on to the plateau the wind was gusting around 70mph which made reaching the top of the Goat Track a good challenge. The descent in to the updraft coming from the corrie was completed blind due to iced goggles but things had eased significantly by the time we reached the MRT stretcher box for a spot of lunch. The walk out was almost pleasant as the wind died away and as we dropped out of the cloud we were greeted by a winter wonderland with a covering of snow down to Aviemore.
The new snow has been driven in on strong north westerlies and there's plenty of pockets of soft slab around with some cross loading on the Goat Track area. Drifts were knee deep on the walk out and there's a good couple of inches at the Lodge but any exposed areas are still scoured back to the old refrozen snow. Plenty of Cairngorm tans in the Lodge bar tonight!

The view as we dropped out of the cloud!