Thursday, 19 January 2012

Winter arrived

The start of December saw the first snowfall of the year and I set about making the most of it. Having planned a day out with the club I thought a Saturday morning bimble up to Glen Clova would blow the dust of the rafters, so to speak.

Armed with walking poles and winter boots I made the drive to the car park at the end of the Glen by the tourist office. What followed was possibly the most embarrassing mistake in my life. Two nights previously on a evening out with work colleagues i'd had my toenails painted when I fell asleep at a friends house. Not owning any nail varnish remover I had simply left it on. I remembered this as soon as I had taken off my socks, only to reveal my bright pink toes to the walker-couple next to me. Error.

Reaching the Coire was quite a sight, especially as I hadn't been there before. Having read that it was a nature reserve I expected something special, but the glacial deposits that have left large boulders and undulating mounds throughout the coire floor really are quite outstanding.

Initially disappointed by what looked like a lack of snow, I was pleased when reaching the plateau to see that the whiteness extended a long way and offered some impressive views. A flash in the corner of my eye turned my attention to the white hare that was legging it away from me.....too quick for the camera. I quick jog up to Mayar for a nibble and then down to the car, just before the weather turned. An interesting decent down the ridge with pretty substantial wind and was back to the car just after lunch.

The following day a few of us from DURC headed up Coire an t-Sneachda to check out the climbing conditions. We weren't the only keen people heading out for some early season fun. Memory recalls around three or four other teams. A great start was made by Nik who decided to get his foot jammed in between rocks....on the walk in!

The weather being average for a December in Scotland gave us fleeting glances at the coire wall and we headed towards Fluted Buttress hoping to find a gully line in condition. After wandering around aimlessly for probably a little too long we settled on Spiral Gully II** as we'd seen some others climbing on it earlier. With the approach not being banked out much the choice was made to solo the iced slabs below the gully proper. In hindsight, whilst it turned out fine, I was very uncomfortable about this. My discomfort was flung to its extreme when mid-solo I discovered it was Calum's first outing in crampons!! Anyway, we lived. That's all I'll say on that.

A decent enough climb which would definitely be made better by consolidated snow, but not bad for a very early season outing. A nice easy refresher for some, a baptism of fire for a few and a reminder of how short December days are for all. Efficiency is definitely the order of the day for winter climbing!

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