We often go in search of snow but right now we are trying to avoid the snow. Since Monday night it has been snowing fairly steadily and a strong westerly wind has blown the snow onto all the east facing slopes. There is now a lot of snow on these slopes and in fact on just about all slopes right down to sea level. Most reports are of wading through waist and chest deep drifts just to get to some climbing. So to try to avoid this, Matt and I went to a west facing slope to get to a crag and we were lucky to find some great climbing without too much wading.
We went to the West Face of Aonach Dubh where Dinner Time Buttress was popular. The wind had certainly been blowing onto this face and there was little snow on the steep and short (i.e. brutal) walk in from Achnambeithach. We got a very nice day with just a few full on snow showers. The wind has eased off a little and we got some bright spells this afternoon. The temperature at sea level is just about zero so it was nicely cold and dry on the crag. However this is a very complex face with huge gullies and buttresses all interlocking into a complex maze. We found some deep drifts of snow and even cornices due to cross loading. It did not seem to be very affected by the wind (it was not wind slab that was blocking or cracking) but it was certainly deep in places. The cornices at Aonach Mor are huge.
Matt has been getting into winter climbing and has done a few climbs with friends. Today we wanted to make sure he's on the right track and making good decisions so that he will continue to enjoy the winter. We found some great mixed climbing and might even have done a first ascent. We also found a small pitch of ice climbing so we could look at placing ice screws and how to climb ice. More snow is expected tomorrow and then a very nice day on Saturday. It will be best to avoid gullies and open slopes. Stick to ridges and buttresses, or go skiing in the powder!
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.