It seems like winter has started properly now and the first climbs have been enjoyed by a few very keen climbers. Hopefully we will have five or six months of winter climbing to come.
As is often the case, climbs in the Northern Coires of the Cairngorms were the most popular choices for the first climbs of the season. At this time of year the ground is not yet frozen, turf can be soggy and the best climbing is on snowed up rock climbs. There are lots of these in the Northern Coires but there are climbs on the West Coast that are good early season climbs too. One of these is Crypt Route on Church Door Buttress, Bidean nam Bian which was also climbed on Saturday. Facing the wind from the west and being very high up this buttress cools down pretty quickly and can be white when other crags in Glen Coe are black. Crypt Route is a nice, solid rock climb in Summer and in winter the climbing is up steep chimneys with plenty of bridging and hooking around chock stones. There is also some underground action so take a torch and leave your rucksack at the bottom.
Today it was a bit warmer but not all the snow has melted away. In the gullies and behind the snow fences there is plenty left to refreeze tonight. Next week it looks like snow showers will build up a little snow all week and it might get even colder next weekend too. So we're off to a good start with the winter climbing.
Meanwhile I have been mostly mountain biking. Sometimes it is better to wait for the ground to freeze properly and mountain biking is a great way to keep the legs strong before the winter. I have just finished a British Cycling Level 2 Mountain Bike Leader Award training course with staff at Lochaber High School and working with High Life Highland. There are several local kids biking clubs and the leaders want to make sure they are running the clubs well. Gaining this qualification is a great way to do this.
With six months of climbing to come, it might be good to play the waiting game for a wee while yet.
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.