The Aonach Eagach at sunrise.
Thursday's thaw and the past two days of hard freeze held the promise of great climbing conditions today in Lochaber, and I was not disappointed. Glencoe delivered on every level this morning.
Interesting skies over Dinnertime Buttress
Due to the closure of the A82 between Corran and Fort William, I was limited where I could go today. But I didn't mind…the starlit sky and frosty dawn promised great things, and to be honest I would have had a great time wherever I'd gone.
Stob Ban, Mamores
As I climbed up on fresh snow and frozen ground up Dinnertime Buttress on Aonach Dubh, the sunrise cast its golden glow on the snow of the Aonach Eagach. It was cold…the turf frozen hard down almost to the glen and a clear sky above. Yes…it was going to be amazing day.
Very deep snow in Coire nan Lochan
I'd chosen to go up Dinnertime Buttress as a more interesting approach to Stob Coire nan Lochan, as I had intentions for a quite obscure route on the summit buttress.
"Yankee Go Home" (III) takes a line up the low rocks left of centre, then moves right to the crest above.
About 45m left of Scabbard Chimney is a little-known Grade III route called "Yankee Go Home", distinct from the line of "Boomerang Arete". It's not even recorded on UKC but it is mentioned in the Glencoe guidebook and I thought it worth a look, especially as I was feeling the need of a challenging solo.
An icy corner
You start up a ramp to join a small snow-field and then climb steep corners in order to gain the upper half of Boomerang Areté. I was treated to great snow conditions - lots of nevé just where it was crucial, and some really nice steep snow-ice bulges in the corners.
A steep ice bulge
One of the corners was definitely at the upper limit of my soloing capabilities at the moment, and I'm currently climbing the best I ever have. Some very thin ice coating a blank slab made for a daunting move to escape to easier ground, and if it hadn't been for the excellent quality of the nevé I would have had an "interesting" time indeed!
Climbing a corner
When I topped out onto the areté I spend 20 minutes or so taking photos of what was going on around me, as Coire nan Lochan was a thrilling place to be today! There were many other teams out on routes of all difficulties, but the team on Central Grooves (VII,7) definitely took centre stage.
Central Grooves VII,7
There were also teams climbing Summit Buttress Ordinary Route, Scabbard Chimney, Spectre, Dorsal Arete, Twisting Grooves, Raeburn's Ordinary Route, NC Gully and Crest Route. Conditions were great….the heavy snow cover consolidating nicely and frozen turf everywhere.
Raeburn's Ordinary Route
The winter might have taken a while to get going, but it's certainly delivering the goods now!