Sunday 3rd February 2013
Despite the threat of high winds, Allan, Dave, Ephraim, and Ewan headed to the Cairngorms for some winter climbing at Lurcher’s Crag. We weren’t sure what to expect, but recent trip reports suggested that some good ice had formed in the gullies. There were a few inches of fresh snow on the ground as we plodded toward Chalamain gap. After traversing across a steep slope that guarded the entrance to the gap, we picked our way through the rocks while trying to avoid stepping into the deep, snow-covered gaps hiding between them. We faced increasing winds when we exited the gap, but shortly we found our way to the crag and discovered that the winds there were fairly low and the ice looked great. Dave and Ephraim roped up for the first nice-looking route (Right-Hand Ice Fall) while Ewan and Allan headed a bit farther to tackle North Gully. There was quality ice on both routes. Dave took on the first pitch of the Right-Hand Ice Fall, placing a few ice screws and making his way up the series of steps lining the gully. A light layer of snow covered the slopes that were interspersed between steeper pitches, giving us a break from the ice and saving us from running out of screws. After swapping leads for the second pitch and again for the third, we reached the snow slopes above the gully and took a well earned rest. The trek back to Chalamain gap was quick, with soft snow cushioning our tired knees and even giving us the opportunity for some unexpected glissading. Meanwhile, Ewan and Allan made their way up the slightly steeper ice of North Gully. The longer route had little snow on it, and after five pitches of nearly continuous ice the team exited onto the ridge in the late afternoon. With the help of head torches, Ewan and Allan made it back to the car shortly after dark. We capped off the night with a meal at the chippy in Aviemore and then headed back to Dundee, already thinking about our next outing.
Report by Ephram Glick