Getting out of the van in Glen Coe this morning took quite some drive. Rain beat the roof and the wind sprinted down the glen. We thought we were suffering from over enthusiasm on the walk in to Lost Valley but it turned out to be an excellent day. Donald, Tim, Guy and I went up to Lost Valley Buttress in the rain, walked up through the freezing level just below the buttress and found the crag well rimed and well enough frozen. The wind had dropped already and the climbing was excellent.
Donald and Tim went to climb Directosaur while Guy and I went for Moonlighting. Steep turfy grooves on the first pitch gave Guy some bold climbing to an awkward belay. I got the plum pitch up steep cracks to the ridge overlooking Moonlight Gully and an easy finish.
Donald and Tim got on fine with Directosaur. The first pitch was quite bold as well with some tricky climbing but the second pitch was more amenable than it looked. We were all down in good time thanks to the excellent path built by National Trust for Scotland. The trust owns Glen Coe and has a team of path builders working full time on their estates all across Scotland.
So after a slightly frustrating week of strong SE wind, little snow fall and the freezing level at about 1000m things are starting to look a little bit better now. On Ben Nevis the current fresh snow has come down to 500m or so. The old snow is freezing up solid and there is about 30cm of fresh snow where it has been blown by the SE wind. The major gullies are full and some of the grade III and IV gully and ice climbs are being climbed such as Tower Scoop, Good Friday Climb and Number Two and Number Three Gully Buttresses.
The great ridges have plenty of fresh snow on them now and some old frozen snow above 1000m. They are all reasonable to climb but still a bit slow going. The buttresses are well rimed up and reasonably frozen so that small patches of turf are solid but big bits are not. Ice has been forming and some of the cracks are iced making mixed routes tenuous in places.
None of the big classics are formed yet but with so much water in the crags dribbling down the routes they will form ice quickly if the cold conditions stay with us for a while.
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.