Last weekend we headed out west with plans to head to the highest point in Scotland..... The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men Gang aft agley..... But in a good way........
Crowberry Gully – March 2015
Blog reports, photos and magic films from The Ben had been flooding the world wide web for the week leading up to our trip away and this had initiated a trip to the Ben with a number of possible objectives.
The alarm was set earlier than usual (04.45!ZZZzzzzzz) and we met at Crianlarich for 0600hrs. We were all tired but the weather was looking superb and I was certainly looking forward to the day ahead. As we drove north, dawn approached and the stars gradually gave way to crystal clear blue skies. Past Rannoch Moor and a quick stop at the Jacksonville car park. This is where the plans changed!:) On stepping out in to the sunshine we were greeted by an icy nip and an imposing Buachaille staring down on us. We stared back……… and noticed a fine white line weaving its way to the summit. Crowberry Gully looked in great nick. The binos were grabbed and a new plan hatched!!
Ten minutes later we were parked at Altnafeadh and getting our gear readyJ The sun was splitting the sky and the air was sharp.
The car park wasn’t busy although we were early and only two other teams were on their way about the same time as us – seemed they had a similar planJ
Round the Waterslab and the snow here was solid Neve which was a stark contrast to a week previously when we were wading through soggy wet mush!!! We were soon heading up Crowberry basin and into Crowberry Gully. Things were looking good!! We soloed a fair distance up the Gully before waiting behind the two teams of two ahead of us. It was a tad chilly in shade of the gully and not moving – however once the teams moved on things moved fairly smoothly. Thin Crack Chimney we soloed as most of it was well banked out and a short pitch brought us to the Junction Pitch.
Mark led this and the ice and neve was good. I even found myself enjoying this as I followed up behind Gerry. Mostly first time placements and my nice new shiny crampons were biting nicely!! The first part was steep then some easier ground before reaching the Cave.
Gerry led the Cave pitch which was similar to the Junction with good placements all the way. A fantastic couple of pitches in one of the most atmospheric places I visited J
Belayed just below the top I past Gerry and Mark to top out into glorious sunshine and still calm sharp air..The crystal clear views were astounding – smiles remained on our faces for about three days after!!!!
Lunch on the summit then a descent in to the Coire where there some impressive fissures, seracs and crevasses!!!!!!
Mark and I headed to Glencoe in the hope that the heavy snows from the previous weeks hadn't been removed by the high temperatures....
Our last outing had been scuppered by high winds and too much snow and this time the constant was the wind but the disappointment was the disappearing snow. Still expecting some snow we soon realised as soon as we saw the famous view coming out of Rannoch Moor that it was going to be a scramble. The forecast had predicted the temperature to drop overnight but this had not happened as early as planned with it still registering 5 degree at the foot of the mountain.
We headed round to curved ridge and had an enjoyable scramble then a face blast from the summit down in snowy windy conditions. Good fun and good to be out. Wonder if this weekend will bring a freeze and return to winter J
Meall a’Bhuachaille and The Pap of Glencoe.
Two days annual leave had been booked for months and grand plans had been hatched in those 8 weeks…. Plans that included blue skies, high pressure systems, rock hard neve and green ice….. Classic winter routes and climbs had been poured over and researched, hours of fun! … however when the time came we were lucky to reach the mountains at all!
Monday morning and we set off north along the A9. By Dunked the road was white and the snow was drifting in the gales and it was getting progressively worse the further we got. A plan to head to the Northern Corries was ditched as the access road was closed, plan B was a small Munro , Creag Pitridh, however this was soon scuppered also as we came across a number abandoned cars in deep snow not far from the turn off – the road west was closed. We needed to stick to the A9 which was bad but still passable. Plan C – see if we can get to Glenmore and then head up Meall a’ Bhuachaille. We turned off for Aviemore and the road to Glenmore was actually better than the A9, perhaps due to the Rothiemurchus Forrest providing shelter and reducing the drifting…
We headed almost due North through the forest and were rewarded with some blue skies when we reached the edge of the trees. This lifted our moods a little although the winds were still howling. The spindrift leaving the peaks was impressive and for now we were virtually being blown up the hill!! This changed as we reached the Bealach and had to turn west. The wind was now blowing us side ways and we were fighting to stay up right at times!! Blowy indeed! The summit was reached before the next blizzard set in and we quickly set our sights on Ryvoan for some shelter. A windy descent and we soon reached Ryvoan. On entering about 20 pairs of eyes greeted us – it was a busy little bothy today. A number of parties came and went whilst we gathered ourselves and decided what to do tomorrow- should we head home due to bad weather?? We decided to head west and stay a night in the Clachaig Inn. A few roads were closed which meant some diversions to get to Glencoe but we eventually reached the Clachaig and had a quick scouting mission for the next day. Heavy snow and high winds were forecast again so we had a few drinks and a good nights sleep before deciding to tackle what is usually a nice easy hike, The Pap of Glencoe. The snow level was about 150m and the weather wasn’t too bad on the lower slopes although there were some real hefty showers rolling about and the blizzards came and went. Higher up the wind kicked in again although not as bad as in the Cairngorms the day before it was still gale force. We got our crampons out and ice axes at the ready and chose a steep runnel / mixed route up the final steep dome of the Pap. Finally a little bit of sport. Didn’t stay long on the summit and we had some fun descending the deep snow. Back to the car and we headed home on roads that were much better than the day before. An enjoyable two days and great to get out! J
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...