Nettle and I had a constraint of not being able to leave Edinburgh until 10:00 am this morning, so required somewhere that wasn’t a big drive or long walk in. We gambled on Swatte Fell near Moffat and put fell running gear in as well as axes and crampons in case the gamble didn’t pay off.
There was just enough white visible looking up Black Hope from the Moffat Dale road to encourage us to go with winter boots, axes and crampons. When we got up to the crags the ice on the steeper routes in Upper Coomb looked too thin, so we opted for the snow in the Grade I gullies on Nether Coomb Craig. We soloed up two and down one of these before heading out to the summit of Swatte Fell. The guidebook simply states that there are “a number of gully and buttress lines at Grade I”, so I don’t know if any of the ones we climbed have names, but they all gave good fun on the day.
We returned to the top of the craigs before removing crampons and descending the fine ridge separating the two Coombs. This was largely free of snow, but the turf was firm and required care.
There were the remains of a sizable cornices at the top of the crags in Nether Coomb. These were very firm today, but will be an issue in thawing conditions.
Turf was variable at the bottom of the crags, but firm higher up. The old snow in the gullies was firm and made for easy climbing. Quite a lot of ice around, but thin and undergoing a slow thaw. Broken cloud at about 700m, just above freezing at crag height in the afternoon and a light South-Westerly wind with no significant wind movement of snow.