Monday, 13 January 2014

Plan B in the Loch Avon Basin

 A day of beautiful crisp light in the Loch Avon Basin

Sometimes you don't get it quite right, you guess conditions wrongly or the weather hasn't done quite what it was forecast to do. Today was one of those days for me, and my planned route in the Loch Avon Basin remains one for me to come back to.

There was a bit more fresh snow lying on certain slopes than I'd hoped and there was a surprising amount of ice falling down in the heat (!) of the sun, so I abandoned that idea and moved elsewhere with an open mind.

Looking across the plateau

Looking across the top of Stag Rocks to Stacan Dubha and Carn Etchachan

The amount of snow that has accumulated in parts of the Loch Avon Basin is quite amazing. Most of the Feith Buidhe and Garbh Uisge Crag area is totally buried, Carn Etchachan is loaded as are the big gullies on either side of the Shelterstone.

After weighing up my options I decided against nearly all my back up plans, as I could see some pretty large areas of windslab lying about in places that were making me uncomfortable. So eventually I wondered over to Stag Rocks, by far the area of the basin that is leanest of snow just now.

Ice build up on Hell's Lum. Still quite a bit of loose snow around here.

Sprindrift blowing off Carn Etchachan

The iced slabs on Hell's Lum Crag
Here my options were limited more by lack of snow than by excess, so I simply headed up "Y Shaped Gully" that runs beside Afterthought Areté. About two thirds of the way up I was pleased to find a narrow and steeper gully breaking off up left before the main gully splits near the top. So up I headed, and it gave a nice wee stretch of grade II on a mix of nevé and cruddy ice.

A left hand offshoot of "Y Shaped Gully", Stag Rocks. About grade II.

Looking back at my tracks from where I'd topped out.
Coire an t-Sneachda holding a huge amount of snow.

So a pleasant surprise to end up swinging axes after all, and to be honest a mere bonus on top of being in such an impressive place on a beautiful winter's day.


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