Looking into the cliffs of Lochnagar

Looking into the cliffs of Lochnagar

Lochnagar is an amazing cliff, Ive only climbed here in the winter a couple of times so with high hopes Davie and I thought we would pay a visit. The weather was simply stunning this morning so as we approached through the col, all eyes were on the massive cornices barring safe exit to what appeared to be ALL routes on the NE – NW aspects. Its a good idea to have a few routes in mind when visiting the more remote cliffs, especially when there are less blogs/reports and recent information than the more popular climbing areas. We went for Shaddow Buttress A (IV,5) as it appeared to have the smallest ‘sufferfest’ at the top and with so much snow about we had our fingers crossed for solid neve and a 3 star outing. We soloed the first pitch upto the overhangs then climbed the route in 5 pitches. We took a variety of variations including the short sharp Shaddow Chimney (IV,4), the icy grooves of Vortex (IV,4) and the direct finish up the Tower (IV,5) all climbed on very sugary snow which was poorly bonded to the rock making it feel quite serious overall, certainly no neve rendering Nomics utterly useless, I would have been better off with a 70cm straight axe! Thankfully we chose right and there was no horror show of a cornice at the top, although out right there were some very impressive looking snow formations, almost Andean flutings! All great fun though and with such glorious weather its hard not to look back at it being a superb day out.

Davie - 'swimming'

Davie – ‘swimming’

Davie on the left dwarfed by the cornice looming over Polyphemus Gully

Davie on the left dwarfed by the cornice looming over Polyphemus Gully

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Harder routes such as Eagle Ridge and anything on the Tough Brown Face look just as buried and poorly consolidated. They are also guarded by cornices estimated to be upto 8m in depth. West Buttress looks a little more rocky and with less in the way of huge cornices but it gets the sun for allot of the morning so I would expect be even less bonded than what we were on!