Despite a rather unfavourable forecast, particularly following such a good spell of cold, and relatively calm weather, and the odd gust, today wasn’t bad at all. I was out with Caroline and Donna, who are up for a couple of days to squeeze in as much winter mountaineering as possible. With a rather colourful avalanche forecast, and dampening snow pack, we decided that School House Ridge (ENE Ridge) of Sgorr Bhan would give us a quick and safe access to the snowline, and maximise time on the ridge itself.
Caroline brought with her plenty of hill experience, but mostly in summer, so for her the day was all about becoming more confident in the use of crampons, and particularly on steeper terrain and beginning to understand basic ropework as she is working towards quite an amazing goal, to climb 5 of Europe’s 6 highest peaks. I couldn’t name them! More info on her Five summits and a Bike Ride Facebook Page.
Donna brought with her a solid platform of hillwalking, both in summer and winter, and rock climbing, so today was about transferring those skills to a winter mountaineering context.
School House Ridge is a very aesthetic ridge, that is almost completely uniform in it’s angle to the summit of Sgorr Bhan, with a number of short rocky steps. Donna led the whole ridge, with Caroline seconding and we pitched the steeper sections and moved together on the easier sections in between, and so made good and steady progress. On finishing the ridge, we decided that a visit to the summit would top the day off nicely, and despite some early gusts, the winds didn’t really amount to much. A great first day.
The upper layers within the snow pack had become saturated by the afternoon, however, there was still a reasonable amount if ice on the decent path, down to about 450m.