Half way up. We made it about as far as where the cloud is sitting in the corrie.
Time for a change of hobby with all this soft snow. Angus and I loaded ourselves up and headed up into Fionn Choire at the northern end of the Cuillin. Going under foot wasn’t too deep and slow but the extra weight and wind catching the “sails” gave burning thighs.
Angus getting into the groove
No real action photos but some great videos of Angus boarding on Face Book; start here- https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=249402578571438&saved
I’m not looking forward to videos of my inept skiing leakiing onto the net but I got down in one piece, managed to put in a few turns and can’t wait to do it again.
Huge congratulations to South Skye A team for winning the p4/5 tournament tonight. It’s the second year in a row that they’ve beaten arch rivals Portree A to the trophy but has nothing to do with their lucky shirts 😉
The guys won every match in the league stages, semi-final and very high quality final. Spectators and players nervously glanced at the clock as South End desperately defended their early goal before captain Lachlan Macpherson made space for himself cleverly before rifling home in the dying seconds.
Really well done to South End B as well who won 2, drew one and only lost to Portree A. The play-off against Portree, for the semi-final draw, was a marathon that went to extra time and then golden goal before their tournament was finally over.
Approaching the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean today
Chris is off for an expedition to Greenland in April and in serious training mode. Before spending the last 2 days with me he’d been climbing in Glen Coe for a week; his last day meant it was time to brace ourselves for some serious hard work.
With an improved forecast traversing Sgurr nan Gillean was the aim. Trying to decide whether Coir’ a’ Bhasteir or the Tourist Route would be less arduous was near enough 50:50 so we plummed for the more direct approach by the West Ridge. In the end the snow wasn’t too bad, rarely more than knee deep and we made it to the foot of the West ridge in about 2.5 hours.
The rest of the day was more than ample reward for our efforts- a 50m pitch up an incredibly banked out Tooth Chimney even had some nice ice. The ridge above was like something out of Narnia with dramatic sculptures of rounded snow and star-bursts of rime ice on the few rocks left exposed.
The summit cairn and narrow crest of the Tourist Route ahead resembled a weird cross between an anaconda and a beluga whale, intimidating as hell but far easier than in summer thank goodness.
A quick abseil was followed by a 100m traverse across steeep terrain that, again, proved far easier than its summer equivlant.
Abseiling down the Tourist Route
Normally the best line follows the ridge down for another 300m or so before cutting northward back towards Sligachan but so much wonderful deep snow was too good to miss. Everything apart from helmets was put into the sacks and, with Sochi in mind, we competed for the bumsliding gold medal. So fantastic were conditions that we ended up with possibly a new Skye record covering just under a kilometre and losing 300m of height in about 5 minutes! Who needs skis?
Some of you may have noticed the quality of pictures has dropped dramatically recently. Sadly a common problem with my wonderful Lumix is that the focus motor goes; new one arriving tomorrow so hopefully back to getting some decent shots again soon. The forecast is finally looking cold & promising!
Uphill surfing with Clach Glas behind
Yesterday morning Chris, Nathan and I sat in Glen Brittle watching horizontal plumes of powder ripping off the ridges above us. The afternoon promised even fiercer winds and the temptation to run straight to the pub was strong. Being a bit early for this we steeled ourselves for a bracing wander as far as the winds and deep powder snow would allow us. The decision was rewarded with great snow conditions, hardly a breath of wind until we topped out and an excellent climb. The rugby match results were well worth missing!
Despite yet more heavy snow fall there was very little depth on top of the consolidated layers so progress was rapid. The exception to this was the best bum-slide of the year so far as we shot 500ft down from An Dorus in a matter of seconds.
The motto is never write a day off but thats a lot easier said than done with some of the weather we’ve been getting so far this winter!
Enjoy the gallery-
Yet more large quantities of snow have fallen over the past few days and I got a tip-off to avoid swimming in the corries.
Approaching by a ridge somewhat limits objectives but the NE ridge of Sgurr a’ Bhasteir is a firm favourite because it scours and goes, er, firm quicker than most.
What took me by surpise was the narrowness and size of the crest as we traversed into bealach na Lice. It was serious enough that I wanted to be roped up which somewhat surprised Graham & Peter. I may be getting soft but spying the boundary between the banked powder on either side was proving impossible. The drops may be less but this was a mini Rochefort Arete and Peter pointed out that the Alps normally have a trench of footsteps showing the best way!
At the head of Fionn Choire the drifts are now building up into huge bulging humps that must be rising 3 or 4 metres above the rocks. Huge fins of rime ice point out to the south-west and the summit cairn of Bruach na Frithe is nearly buried completely.
The knee-deep snow as we dropped down Fionn Choire just exaggerated my thought that I wish I had got skis; it would have been perfect right down to 1000ft!
The weather finally settled down a wee bit in the middle of last week, enough for Ally and I to get out and see what all this wild weather has produced. Very impressive indeed!
We opted for a broad open gully line that finishes near the sumit of Sgurr na Banachdaich. The line traverses out almost horizontally for 100m from just below the Bealach Thormaid on the Coruisk side. A short, 30m, steeper section leads up into a broad finishing bowl and the summit above. It was short and sweet giving 4 pitches and grade II for the steep section in the conditions we found.
I scrambled up the same line a couple of years ago in snow-free conditions. In summer it is often taken by mistake by climbers heading north along the Ridge so we’ve called it False Gully. Hopefully, in time, this will raise awareness of its presence as a false trail for future parties.