A stormy (and eventful) drive up from Yorkshire on Friday night saw Rich and Rob bright and early-ish on Saturday making the trek in to Stob Coire Nan Lochan through deep snow right down to the bridge. Luckily another team had already broken trail and we followed their post holes with silent thanks. First route of the season for Rob so we opted for CB Ordinary which in retrospect was a slight error as after the first long pitch the upper rib was completely buried leading to some epic clearing and searching for hold/placements under the unconsolidated snow.
We descended via the ridge to avoid Broad Gully judging the avalanche risk a little too spicey for our tastes. Only two other teams turned up which was a surprise. The team ahead of us were trying something up on the left wall of SC gully, I couldn’t find it in the guide so guessing its hard/new – certainly looked it! The second team were on Crest route which looked a better choice not being so buried but I think they abbed off before toping out.
Rob’s knee was feeling it a bit on Saturday but had recovered by Sunday to walk into the Ben. Early plans to climb high in Coire na Ciste were shelved after a later start and the thought of the long journey back in favour of a quick jaunt up the Curtain. We bumped into an Irish team who’d had a bit of a ‘slide’ on some unstable windslab approaching Ledge Route so we were very cautious on the approach. There did seem to be some isolated dodgy sections and we heard later that there’d been another slide in the area (SAIS had it as a 3). The Curtain was pretty well formed – good for climbing but not for screws (isn’t that always the case?) and we made a very swift descent hugging the rock until out of the risk area.
Walking down we bumped into fellow Yorkshire team John and Ben who had done Cutlass on the Douglas Boulder on Saturday and perhaps more wisely than us had opted for Waterfall Gully on Sunday to avoid the windslab, abbing off before the basin. Thanks to John for the extra photos.
Other teams could be seen on Tower Ridge, Vanishing had had ascent(s) along with Point Five.