Sunday 2 March 2014

Guided Winter Climbing Days in Scotland. Beinn a Chaorainn East Ridge. February 21st 2014.

Friday morning saw us start out early from Aviemore as we had over an hours drive to the days venue for Winter Climbing.

Iain had chosen the East Ridge of Beinn a' Chaorainn as the venue. The reason, he figured that it would be sheltered from the strong south westerly wind due to be sweeping across the Highlands.

To get to the foot of the ridge from Loch Laggan there is a route via forest windbreak leading on to the forestry track that leads to within 500m of the ridge foot. As we gained height it was evident that there had been a considerable fall of fresh snow overnight (photo one).

Iain was joined by Neil Mackay (green jacket) to assist with providing the groups winter climbing day.

As we climbed on to the foot of the ridge, it was already becoming evident that we were not going to get the shelter Iain was hoping that Beinn a' Chaorainn would provide and that the wind was more south easterly than south westerly!

We found a place of some shelter in which get get "geared up" ie adding extra layers of clothing, getting helmets, harnesses & crampons on and having a bite to eat and drink. Due to the strong & gusty conditions, we had already decided that this would be a "guided" climbing session as the conditions were such that coaching would be almost impossible.

Neil headed off up the ridge with Bill & Jono and Iain with Bryn & Joel (photo two) who can be seen here "tucking in" as a particularly vicious blast of wind sprayed us with spindrift. Martin decided at the foot of the ridge that what we were doing was not for him and made his way back to the vehicles.

We made our way up the ridge tackling any rock buttress en route to add interest to what was basically a Guided Winter Mountaineering Day. Neil stayed out in front and made good progress with Bill & Jono despite the strong wind.

Iain followed up behind with Bryn & Joel and we climbed about five pitches. Unfortunately due to the difficult weather conditions we reached a point where both  decided they had had enough and wished to descend.

Photo three shows Joel & Bryn at our high point at about half way up the East Ridge of Beinn a' Chaorainn just before we commenced to descend.

Our final photo from this winter climbing post shows the East Ridge of Beinn a' Chaorainn with Bryn & Joel back at the foot of the ridge - now out of the wind. Our route had taken us up the lower part of the ridge on the left and then in order to get some shelter from the wind - up the rightward trending snow gangway on the right of the black buttress in the distance. About halfway up this gangway, we cut left back on to the crest of the ridge and turned around there reversing our route down the gangway and then heading straight down the slope below.

It had been a tough climbing winter session but Bryn & Joel had enjoyed the experience as had Bill & Jono who, with Neil, had gotten a few hundred metres higher than us before turning around. They can be seen descending in this photo - almost at the foot of the black buttress; and joined us back at the edge of the forestry plantation around 20 minutes later. Despite the early start, it is always surprising how fast these days go and it was not until about 16:45 that we all set off on the return journey to Aviemore.

This post concludes Bryn, Joel, Martin, Bill & Jono's five day winter course which consisted of a two day winter skills Training Course and a two day Winter Navigation Skills Training Course - both carried out in The Cairngorms; and a Winter Climbing Day in the Creag Meagaidh area of the Western Highlands. We had encountered unseasonably warm temperatures. large quantities of unconsolidated snow and at times, very windy conditions, yet we managed to achieve success on all three courses. All five leave with new skills having enjoyed a sustained and adventurous course in one of Scotlands best winter training grounds. The instructional cost for each person for these five days was only £290 each.

If you would like any information on our Winter Courses in Scotland then do not hesitate to contact us. Winter conditions are very much alive & well in Scotland and we are ready and able to organise your winter experience right now.

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