Thursday, 1 March 2012

Yesterday and today: Ice Factor, Mountaineering and broken spectres

Climbing movement
Muddy walk in
Not much snow here
Glenmore Lodge team below
Inversion and a brocken spectre
Enjoying it whilst it lasts
Cornicing
Yesterday we gave the legs a rest and worked the brains (and maybe the arms a little too) with a morning looking at ropework and the principles of climbing movement at The Ice Factor followed by a damp ascent of The Gutter in Glen Nevis to put some of these ideas into practise.
Today Kieran, Nicky and I went a little east in hope of better weather. It was a gamble going to the East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn. The coire to its south often holds snow but we didn't really expect to see much on the ridge itself. The approach through the forest was as muddy as ever and there are several places where trees have fallen across the path, probably during the december storms. In fact there is a lot of impressive storm damage in the forest. Many thick and healthy trees have been snapped off clean.
There was only patchy snow visible on the hot and sweaty approach to the ridge. However we were safe in the knowledge that it would give Kieran another opportunity to practise his mountaineering ropework and to use a variety of techniques to protect them as they climbed the wet greasy rocky crest. There was a strip of snow on the right near the top of the ridge- it always seems to hang on in there- and on the flat section just below the snow band around the coire rim we found the spike from someone's ice axe embedded in the turf.
We topped out and had a wander along the edge of the coire looking at the big fracture lines where cornices have slumped (Kieran agreed to be belayed into one for a photo to give an idea of the scale). Then as we headed towards the south summit the clouds rolled back from the west leaving only the pot boiling in the coire below and sun casting our shadows backlit by brocken spectres below.
As the clouds flooded back over us we turned and headed back down the North ridge, joining the snow patches for some glissading and bum siding as we went.

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