Sunday, 10 November 2013

Lovely day but with a touch of tragedy

Had a good weekend as a volunteer at the MCofS student seminar. After yesterday's rope work session today I was introducing some of the students to winter walking ably assisted by Jess and we had perfect weather for it although the snow is still too soft for perfect waking conditions.
After a chat about equipment, weather and avalanche conditions we meandered into Coire an t Sneachda discussing navigation and the snow conditions. Unfortunately as we headed in we listened on the radio to details of a solo climber who had fallen from high on Fingers Ridge. Despite member's of the Cairngorm and Glenmore Lodge Rescue Teams rushing to attend the accident and early helicopter evacuation the climber's injuries were fatal. A sad start to the season.
The weekend has seen plenty of climbs done in the Cairngorms including: Equinox, White Magic, Hidden Chimney Direct, Original Summer Route, the Seam, Invermnookie, Auricle, Hooker's Corner, Cental Crack Route, Andromeda, Damnation, the Hybrid, Pygmy Ridge and The Message.
Some of these are better options than others and there are few climbs that now have even less turf on them than at the beginning of the weekend. JUST BECAUSE IT LOOKS WHITE IT DOESN'T MEAN ITS IN CONDITION! The turf isn't frozen folks, the blocks are loose, the snow is cruddy. If its not an easy mountaineering route or a steep rocky mixed route it probably isn't on.
My team and I carried on round into the Coire where some of them had their first experience of using crampons before heading back out in beautiful light. Easy to see why we go there but its a shame not all of us come back in one piece and there were a few thoughtful looking students leaving Glenmore Lodge this evening.
Well done to Heather Morning of the MCofS and her Assistant Shaun Roberts from Glenmore Lodge for organising the event and thanks to all the other volunteers who make this a great weekend on my annual calendar.
 Ropework on the towers...
 … and in the wall
 Jess empties her sack
 Heading in as the helo passes overhead
 Team heading for the moraines
 First steps
 Next steps
 Heading out

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