Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Sunday, 13 February 2011

13-02-11, Cairngorms - Winter Skills

I have been working on a Weekend Winter Skills course at Glenmore Lodge the last couple of days. The conditions were varied and ideal for learning and experiencing the different skills required to stay safe in the winter. The weekend showed everyone what makes the winter mountain environment so potentially hostile but equally if not more rewarding than in the summer. Saturday we headed over to Coire an Lochain, under blue skies and light winds. The team went through cutting steps, use of crampons, some navigation and ice axe arresting. There was some new snow about getting blown onto Northerly aspects. Several avalanches were reported in neighbouring Corie an t-Sneachda, some people were injured but not fatal. A couple of teams were climbing in Lochain and some were getting away with walking across the great slab area! Today was a very different but equally Scottish day! snowing, wet and windy. It was a googlies day as we headed into Coire an t-Sneachda to do some navigation, looked at emergency shelters at the moraines and tried to find some evidence of yesterdays avalanche activity. The Goat track debris was still present, but getting re buried quickly by the new snow. I would say that the north facing corries are not the place to be going winter climbing at the moment!

Photo - the team starting to do battle with the ice axe arrest under a snowy Coire an Lochain.

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