The last three days John, Craig and I have been based in the Raeburn Hut with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors team of B, Bear, Devon, Gillian, Jakob, Joanne and Linda. On Monday after driving up the climbing teams walked in to Creag Meagaidh and climbed Staghorn Gully. It was thawing conditions low down and the route was chosen as it wasn’t threatened by cornices based on a very useful photo from the previous day on the SAIS Blog. There was a very nice ice pitch low down on Staghorn Gully and the conditions improved with height as the freezing level was reached at around 950m. John did a fine job breaking trail in soft snow for much of the route. Craig and the walkers took in Beinn a’Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach.
On Tuesday the climbers returned to Coire Ardair on Creag Meagaidh. Joanne, Linda and I climbed South Pipe Direct. This had much more climbing lower down than I expected and two very good ice pitches in the South Pipe the upper one of which currently has a short section of good grade 5. John, B and Devon had originally planned on climbing The Pumpkin. However, as there was already a team established on this the turned there attention to Tresspasser Buttress. Unfortunately they had to retreat after a couple of pitches as although the turf was well frozen there was lots of loose rock and the snow was too soft to be helpful. Tuesday was colder with the freezing level around 800m. There are currently some very large cornices over sections of the crags of Coire Ardair and good route choice is essential particularly under thawing conditions. The walkers started from near Moy and took in Creag Meagaidh, Stob Poite Coire Ardair and Carn Liath.
Today we needed a shorter day, the freezing level was due to go above the summits and there were strong winds forecast. We therefore headed for Northern Coires of The Cairngorms. However, the winds in the car park at the ski centre seemed considerably higher than forecast, so a quick rethink meant we all headed for Newtyle Quarry and some dry tooling. This proved a good sociable way to end the trip and made good use of the day in what turned out to be very windy conditions at height with winds of over 100mph being recorded on Cairn Gorm.