Our Retail Trainer Ed recently headed to the Scottish Mountains, here he fills us in on his adventure and the Berghaus kit he took with him:
On February 21st I drove up to Scotland despite looking at the woeful reports on conditions over in the East of Scotland
Thursday saw us go out to Creag Meagaidh, as the reports seemed to be better for that area, it apparently having more snow and ice for us to play on. On the approach to Coire Ardair things looked reasonable, things looked a little lean, but a lot of the routes looked do-able. When we got there things were not so good. The ice falls were running with water and the snow didn’t seem as solid as we would have liked. We decided it was best to do something easy so we could assess the conditions.
Easy Gully was chosen, the obvious line right in the middle trending left up the face. A nice easy Grade 1! Well the snow wasn’t good, not at all solid but we climbed anyway hoping the conditions would get better the higher we climbed, they didn’t! It was like climbing up knee deep sugar! 300m of this stuff, as we approached the top 100m and the gully started to open up the routes traverses left and up, this is where things got interesting as we started to notice fracture lines in the snow slab above us, the bit we needed to cross, carefully and quickly we crossed this and made our way to the summit, KNACKERED!
We made our way back across the summit and towards the Window, our descent route, a long 200m bum slide was adopted as the best way down with big smiles. Stopping occasionally to take a couple of photos and check observe some of the other routes.
Once back down to the lochan, It was decided at this point that although it had been a good day the snow conditions were poor and this wasn’t the best area to be climbing in and we should try somewhere else the next day.
Friday came and things had obviously been colder overnight and although it had been raining at the cottage, this would have been snow in the mountains.
We decided to head for the Cairngorms. The Northern Corries were the obvious choice and Coire an t-sneachda was our location. Things were looking VERY lean on the approach, but the ground was well frozen and there was some good icy sections on the walk in to the coire, things were looking up. Once we got to the Lochan it was fairly busy with a few groups already climbing, on the look of it there were only a handful of routes complete, limiting our choice. The left hand end was looking a little less busy as the easier routes were here, so we decided to head there and Jacobs Ladder was looking in great condition, if not a little steep in places due to the lean conditions. The wind was blowing hard and against the coire wall, with some big gusts so we decided to rope up and head on up, climbing alpine style.
All was well until as I was leading up the first section until some ice was dislodged by another group high above us, which came flying down the gully straight into my line, keeping my head down I paused, as a large piece hitting my helmet shattered around me. We carried on, as we neared the top, where you normally would just climb up the snow bank, this was just a near vertical rocky and icy section. We climbed up to this set up a belay and investigated, the ice was brittle and thin and a bit beyond our confidence.
So we down climbed a little and traversed out right, up some very steep snow and then out of the top, turning the usually classic Grade 1 of Jacobs Ladder into probably a Grade 3 for the top 30meter pitch. Up on the plateau the wind was brutal, the gusts pushing you around as you walked, and freezing your face off, but all kept warm and dry by my Great Berghaus gear.
A great couple of days in the Scottish mountains, can’t wait until next winter.
My Berghaus kit for the couple of days:
Technical LS Base Layer
Smoulder Half Zip Fleece
Ignite Jacket (in my sack for when I needed some extra warmth)
Caldera Rucksack (Testing for AW12)