Pamela Millar and myself were looking for a short day on a deteriorating forecast, so headed for Creagan Coire Cha-no today for our first winter climbing day of the season.
The thinking was that despite the westerly winds the drifting/cornices on this east facing crag wouldn’t yet be big enough to hamper access. Neither of us had climbed at this venue before and we chose to abseil in down a short gully, which turned out to be about 150m left of the normal descent gully (Recovery Gully). The abseil allowed us to get through the soft snow at the coire rim and check the gully as we descended.
Once we’d located Recovery Gully we chose to climb Chimney Rib (IV,4), a Simon Richardson/Roger Webb new route from last season. This gave a short, but fun, two pitch route with a surprising down climb off the final pinnacle, which was ideal for the day. Slightly out of character we then decided on the sensible option, of heading down before the increasing wind and snow/rain arrived.
Westerly winds circa 30mph+ at crag height and increasing and backing more southerly during the day. Freezing level was well below the crag during the day. No real precipitation at crag height during the day, but lots of wind movement of snow and some minor spindrift avalanches in the gully lines. On the drive back over Drummochter the rain had arrived in force and the freezing level seemed to be rising quickly. Turf was variable with some being well frozen and some soft (Chimney Rib was chosen as it’s effectively all on snowed up rock). Steeper routes on this crag requiring turf to be frozen probably need a couple more days of cold weather to be in good condition.