Monday, 9 February 2009
North Route, Icefall Variation
Today I climbed a variation on North Route / North Route Direct on Bidean's Diamond Buttress. Conditions are still not perfect after the recent snowfall, but they are improving considerably. Areas of powder are lying on top of excellent hard snow, nicely bonded and consolidated. Most of the powder drifts are on the ridge tops and are not troublesome.
Patches of weakly-bonded windslab are lying in sheltered hollows beneath boulders and crags on Northerly slopes. In practice it is easy to avoid the windslab and it did not cause me any trouble, although it is quite unstable where it exists. Currently the winds are very low and the weather is stable and sunny, but very cold overnight, which should be improving the snowpack even further.
In terms of ice, there is loads of it about! The main streams coming down from the corries are starting to freeze up again, and the cliffs of Stob Coire nam Beith and Bidean are plastered in good thick ice. The steep ice I climbed today was of excellent quality and held pick placements very well with minimal dinnerplating. Can't comment on which of the ice routes are in condition, but the ice is growing all the time so it's worth keeping an eye open.
For pictures from today, take a look here. You should be able to view them even if you're not a member of Facebook: