Yesterday, Saturday, Jim and I were looking for a climb to suit the forecast of strong Northerly winds and fairly continuous snow for the Aviemore area. We chose to head along to Lagganside and the North-West ridge of Binnein Shuas where I’d remembered a report on Scottishwinter.com from last year of some new routes by Masa and Yuki Sakano. The climbing starts at 560m, finishes below 750m and facing North-West we hoped it would be scoured on the routes.
It’s not a long walk in, but breaking trail, even on the estate tracks, and sometimes thigh deep snow off the tracks meant it took a while. We climbed “Location, Location, Location”, which I’m guessing will be the second ascent. We split the route in to two pitches, which seemed the obvious thing to do as there’s an initial steeper section with a good block belay above, followed by a short walk to a more slabby delicate section.
We then walked up the ill defined ridge aiming for “Laggan Fantasy”. However, on crossing the easy angled gully forming the obvious step in the ridge we spotted a short, but perfectly formed, ice line down and right of “Laggan Fantasy”. This started steeply in a short left facing corner just right of a severely undercut wall and was climbed on perfect ice easing in angle with height. It gave 20m of excellent water ice climbing followed by 10m of easy ground to a great belay in blocks. A short route, but in keeping with the others on the ridge and great for the day. If it’s new I think the name will be “Bogle Eyed”, III,3. A definite reward for the effort of getting there on the day.
With one eye on the weather we then abseiled back down to our sacks and headed back to the car. A good decision as the drive back to Aviemore was interesting; it’s never encouraging when you pass a snow plough in the ditch.
On the same day Derek, Murray, Nettle and Nick headed back to Drumochter for a second ski tour and having left a car at Dalnaspidal skinned up the track to the old quartz quarry before traversing A’Bhuidheanach and A’Bhuidheanach Bheag and descending Fuar Mhonadh. The route worked well giving them the wind at their backs for most of the day.
Lots of fresh snow during the day and into the night on Saturday on strong Northerlies with lots of drifting. This closed many roads in the area including the A9 overnight. Sunnier today with slightly lower winds and below freezing down to Aviemore. The winds means ridges are still scoured, but there’s a lot of wind blown snow on lee slopes and plenty of wind slab around and cross-loading in gullies and other features. Careful route choice is required.