30th December Lurcher’s Crag, Cairngorms

Out on Lurcher’s Crag today with Nettle and Pamela. We were using the topo/descriptions from SMC 2008 Journal, which is probably the best readily available topo for the crag. We started up a route called Punchdrunk III*, which Andy Nisbet had soloed back in 2008. He’d avoided the big right facing corner, so we chose to climb this, which gave circa 50m of very good, independent, but escapable, climbing with lots of hooks and torques. We bumped in to Andy back at the car park and following a chat with him thought we’d done the first ascent of the corner. However, on checking up later the corner had been climbed as Punchdrunk Direct III,4 in 2009 by Sean Peatfield and Iain Munro. The grade may vary quite a lot with the amount of good snow on the ledges and we’d debated about it being anything from IV,4, III,5 to IV,5 on the day. Anyway the overall route was worthy of a star and all the more fun for thinking we were on some new terrain. Some care is required with loose blocks on the ridge above the corner. Niall shared a lift with us and soloed Fiacaill Ridge before heading up Ben Macdui. He reported fairly poor visibility for a lot of the day and fresh snow building during the day on lee slopes.

Coire an Lochain as we walked in

The gully lines aren’t holding snow on Lurcher’s following the thaw and the westerlies. The ridge lines were looking pretty wintery with snow on ledges and riming. The turf was frozen where exposed, but soft on big ledges and under snow cover. Some ice has formed (giving a tricky step in the otherwise bare South Gully).

Nettle in the Corner

Below freezing at crag height during the day. Snowing from about noon on a westerly/southwesterly. Warming up during the day with snow turning to rain by the time we reached the car park. There seemed to be more new snow further west e.g. 4″ of fresh snow at Drummochter as we drove through.

Pamela styling the corner
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