23rd December, Creagan Coire Cha-no Cairngorms

From the drive up to the ski area today it looked like the recent thaw had left buttresses looking very black in the Northern Coires and only snow in major gully lines and where there’d been deep accumulations on east facing slopes. Therefore, Pamela, B and I decided to try our luck at Creagan Coire Cha-no.

Pamela Abseiling in

We were rewarded with an unusual, but good day. After abseiling in and traversing around we removed crampons, stowed axes and climbed Duke’s Rib as a rock route with gloves and big boots. This gave a fun Moderate with a “window” to pass through and a good steep corner.

B & Pamela in the "window"

We then abseiled in again and Pamela belayed as B lead Recovery Gully with myself soloing alongside to give the odd tip and place the occasional extra runner. The left hand side of the gully gave two pitches on good, firm, well frozen snow with rock runners and belays and no cornice difficulties on the day.

Pamela on Duke's Rib

The plateau area we crossed was bare of snow with only limited patches of snow cover on east facing slopes, coire rims and major gully lines. The remaining snow was well frozen and consolidated. Turf was well frozen on the plateau and at the crag height (above 950m).

Final section of Recovery Gully showing lack of cover on plateau and condition of cornice

One light snow shower at crag height during the day on a fresh westerly/north-westerly wind. Below freezing all day at crag height. Broken sunshine and only ourselves ptarmigan and passing golden eagles at the crag made for a delightful day.

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