Crowberry Gully is a favourite of mine and Donald's but neither of us had climbed the Left Fork before today. So with stable snow and great weather in Glen Coe we went to climb it with Chris and Tommy. For Tommy and me it was the last of our tour of classic Lochaber chimneys and it did not disappoint!
Crowberry Gully has lots of soft snow and some firm snow in it. The depth of snow is not as great as I've seen it in previous years. The first couple of chockstones are not buried, in fact the tunnel behind one of these is a vertical snow tube that is fun to climb up. The Thin Crack Chimney is a bit soft so we went right up a corner and traversed left back into the gully. From here we went straight up the Left Fork which is the direct finish to the gully. We climbed behind the first chockstone and up to the final chimney which is very intimidating.
Donald did a brilliant job of leading the final pitch. It is steep with wild bridging, back and footing, and plenty of udging. I think it would be more straightforward given more ice on the left wall. As it was today we climbed the snowed up rock up the final chockstone where there is good but very awkward protection. A wild move out from the chockstone onto a smear of ice in a phenomenal position got us past this final obstacle. It was all absolutely brilliant and a stunning finish to a week of chimneys.
Over on Ben Nevis the SE wind was transporting a lot of snow and building windslab very quickly. Several small avalanches on several different aspects spooked a lot of people and forced several changes of plan. It looks like we will have cold windy conditions for a few days so we should expect plenty more of this. Take care and make good decisions based on the avalanche hazard. The climbs will be there another day.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.