Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Umbrella Falls, Liathach

Another good weather forecast so Ron and I went back to Liathach to climb Umbrella Falls. There were two teams on Poacher's Fall and one on The Salmon Leap so not a busy place.
We started up the icefall on the lower tier below the ramp that can also be used to reach the climb. It was a full 60m of steep ice with some rather strange ice shapes near the top - mini umbrellas?
The next pitch was over the snow on the ramp. It looked a short distance to the ice but must have been about 50m to a rock belay below the start of the ice. The next pitch was fun though the slabby snow on the next tier was a bit worrying as it felt like it could all just slide off and in places it had! Luckily it was quite easy to kick through to the solid neve underneath.
I found another rock belay at the bottom of the next pitch whih did as the guidebook promised as the ice was steadily getting steeper. Our next pitch was the crux and Ron found it steeper than it looked remarking at one point that he felt he was climbing vertical crud as the snow was so crunchy and slabby. Steeper still with a ramp to the right and the point where we could decide if we wanted to continue to the top or used the abalakov threads left previously and abseil down. We chose to continue and had another traversing ice pitch then a short snow and rock pitch to the snow slopes above and on to the ridge. Our descent was down Way Up!
 Looking in to Coire Dubh Mor
 Umbrella Falls
 First pitch
 Third pitch
 Fourth pitch
 Crux pitch
 Sixth pitch - icy traverse
Snow slopes to the ridge
Way down - Way Up

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Poacher's Fall, Liathach

Another great day out climbing on a fantastic route!
Ron and I drove up to Liathach for the walk in to Coire Dubh Mor to climb Poacher's Fall. We followed a bit of a trail from the path in to the corrie and found a couple of other teams climbing, one on Poacher's Fall and another further left, possibly on Umbrella Falls.
To begin with, the corrie was in the mist but as the day went on, this cleared giving amazing views of the surrounding hills though the summit of Liathach seemed to remain capped with cloud all day.
The route was great from start to finish with good ice and some tricky bits especially the short icy wall near the top of the crux pitch.  The chimney pitch was narrow but again with great ice.
There were ice threads and other in-situ gear which made abseiling off straightforward and all very Alpine!
Now I'm looking forward to good weather for climbing next week after the stormy weather that is forecast for the next few days.
More from Ron here on his blog.
 great views
 Pocher's Fall and more routes to the left
 Starting up the first pitch
 Ron on the crux pitch...
 ...and on the chimney pitch
Finishing off the top bit

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Smith's Gully, Creag Meagaidh

An early-ish start and a pleasant walk in to Creag Meagaidh and Ron and I were off to climb Smith's Gully, a route which had been on Ron's hit list for many years but never seemed to be in condition at the opportune times.
Firstly the route began a lot further up Raeburn's Gully than we expected but looking at the guidebook afterwards showed me that Raeburn's is actually 360m in length. Soon Ron was climbing up the first pitch which turned out to be longer than the 35m described in the guide book. The ice was good and steeper than it looked with the top section proving to be the trickiest part of the whole route! The ice was a bit thin and crusty at this point.
Above was a snow bay, a comfortable stance and a view up the next pitch. The route was considerably foreshortened and 50 metres of rope didn't seem to go very far. Our next belay was on ice screws in a narrow gully down which funnelled what felt like tonnes of spindrift but probably wasn't that much really! 
Pitch four, the crux pitch was the most fun with great climbing up the gully then some steep moves at the top but the ice was good sos it felt easier than the top of the first pitch. Long, easy snow slopes above and we were on to the plateau.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Patey's and Aladdin's Mirror Direct

Ron and I walked into Coire an t-Sneachda to see what looked fun so we climbed Patey's route on Aladdin's Buttress as it looked liked it had good ice on all the bits that needed good ice! And so it did although one of the belays was not very pleasant for a very human reason!
After abseiling down we went over to Mirror Direct which was a wee bit steep but great fun.
I would like to add more but two wee kittens keep jumping on my laptop and I am very impressed with their climbing skills!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Not Spiral Gully!

I joined Ron and Neil today for some climbing in Coire an t-Sneachda. We started up Spiral Gully then deviated up many different icy grooves to reach the plateau. Great fun climbing, good weather and smiles all round.
More on Ron's blog here.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Out for a wander

I went for a little wander into Coire an t-Sneachda and as there was nobody climbing in Aladdin's Couloir, that seemed a good way of getting up to the plateau. The snow was good though by the time I came back down under the Mess of Pottage it was softening and the ice on the lower rocks was becoming rather mushy.
 Aladdin's Buttress
 Fiacaill Buttress
 Mess of Pottage
 John and Jim looking for an icy start up the buttress
rescue teams out practicing to the left of Windy Col