Sunday, 21 November 2010

A day of two winter routes in Coire nan Lochan (posted by James)

Exposed climbing on Dorsal Arete (II)

I spend the entire summer waiting for winter's return, so when it arrives I'm always determined to make the most of it. So despite being tired having been on the hill for the last 2 days, I decided to head to Coire nan Lochan to see if the snow had consolidated a bit more.

As I walked into the corrie the snow was feeling much more firm than the last time I'd been there. However there was mainly just a thick crust of hard snow on top of a far softer layer underneath, so the going was still quite hard.

With this in mind I abandoned ideas of the gullies, so I headed towards old favourite Dorsal Arete as my back up option. I decided to solo "the fin" today, the spectacularly exposed crux of the route, which has some moves fairly high end for a Grade II. It's the most exposed climbing I'd be willing to solo, but it's very exciting and highly enjoyable - despite being short Dorsal Arete really is superb.

A climber struggling with extremely lean conditions on Scabbard Chimney (V,6)

Whilst descending Broad Gully I found the snow far more promising than it had been lower down. With this in mind, and as it was only 11am, I decided to go for another route.

I headed towards Boomerang Gully, the giant Grade II snow couloir which curves up to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan.

Where the gully bends there is a steep rocky section, which either banks out or forms an ice pitch in late season. Today however it was extremely lean, with a bit of snow and melting ice on the rocks. I had a very careful look at it and decided it was perfectly climbable with care, although it was definitely pushing the top of the Grade II the route gets.

The very lean crux of Boomerang Gully (II)

The rest of the route was well banked out with snow, and is straightforward to the summit.

Plenty of others in the corrie today - two teams at least on a VERY thin Scabbard Chimney, others on Dorsal Arete, more heading towards the Crest Route/Thompsons Route area.

Now I'm very tired! Three winter routes in the last two days…I'm having a brilliant start to the season.

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