Stramash Blog / News
Winter Skills in Stob Coire nan Lochan
Thu 17 Jan 2013
Winter returns for a great day of skills training in the Coire
After all the recent wet weather, thawing of snow and high winds, it was heartening to get out today to see winter is making a comeback.
The aim for the day was a general introduction to winter climbing skills for Dougie, who had no previous winter climbing experience but is looking to become a competent second before moving onto the sharp end of the rope. We headed up into Stob Coire nan Lochan with a slightly different forecast on the ground to that predicted (the blue skies and gentle winds were replaced by cloudy tops and blowing steadily at car park level). However, after a fairly quick walk in and into the Coire itself the clouds lifted and it was plain to see the difference that a few days had made to the cliffs. They’re all pretty well plastered with about 8 inches of fresh snow, and ice is forming readily on the water courses (and the path….).
With the aim of the day being learning skills and getting used to the winter environment, and with Broad Gully looking like a tough climb in fresh heavy powder, we opted for Dorsal Arête up until the arête itself. Dougie made for a quick learner and we were soon at the start of the difficulties having looked at retrieving gear, belaying a leader, movement with crampons and axe, and touching on placing gear. From here we looked at protecting yourself on an abseil with the prussic, and shortly after Dougie was dissapearing off down into the fresh snow of Broad Gully abseiling like a pro. We’d seen another climber soloing up (using front crawl most of the way I think!) so were grateful to use their steps/trench to gain the ridge!
Quick nip up to the summit for some fine but chilly views then a rapid descent into the Coire. A couple of stomper lowers and some rear end glissading in Broad Gully saw us at the bottom of Boomerang Gully (still got an interesting looking ‘mixed’ pitch at the bend). Here we covered the various pros and cons of different axe based snow belays before putting them into practice with simulated falls and slides, which was a useful reminder to wear more layers when body belaying!!
A knee bashing descent in the fading light got us back to the van just before dark, a great day out and hopefully a good start to Dougie’s winter career.