Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

19-03-13, Quinag, Assynt, Northern Highlands - Winter Climbing

Fantastic steep well protected quartzite climbing on Pick Nicker, Quinag
 I have been working in the Cairngorms on an winter climbing course, it has been a considerable avalanche hazard everywhere, so we climbed the Fiaciall on Saturday, then on Sunday abbed in and climbed Anvil Gully on Cha-no crag when we eventually managed to find the crag in the thick soup! Today Kathryn and I drove North with the thought of climbing some ice in Torridon. There has been a lot of snow overnight, Inverness and Garve had plenty by the roads, we were already slightly worried about the snow above the ice! We thought something else maybe a route on Stac Pollaidh just north of Ullapool might give some good sport so we motored on. We arrived in Coigach and Stac Pollaidh was clearly dry and summery - I think to be successful on a winter climb on this micro mountain, you would have to be staying in Ullapool when it comes into condition as the roads from the south would be un passable! We carried on driving further north to Quinag, in the hope that the high quartizite Bucket Buttress would be frozen and have rime on the rocks - luckily it did. The snow line is at about 600m, and harder neve and rime ice is found at about 700m, plenty of  windslab about with rime on the windslab, making it look like neve. We climbed a classic mini route - Pick Nicker V,6 *** well worth the shortish 1.5 hour walk. This crag is ace, short, but steep, corners, cracks and gear everywhere, as good as any pitch in the Northern Corries!
Approaching the crag.
Spidean Coinich, with Bucket Buttress high on its North East Face.
Excellent Corner.
Corners, Cracks and Aretes everywhere.
View at Coigach, Stac Pollaidh just right of centre.

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