When we arrived we saw a lot of ice, we were out of the wind and the sun was shining! We did three routes and graded them according for ‘average’, less than ideal conditions. The routes are (see topo below):
1) White Plains Drifter IV,4* 45 m, red;
2) Whitewash IV,4 50 m, yellow;
3) White Sun of the Desert III,4 45 m, blue.
We encountered thin and hollow sounding ice making the climbing interesting at times but after a prolonged freeze on an icy day with sunshine most routes should be easily a grade easier, deserve more stars and the crag will be a mini Beinn Udlaidh (so we hope!). Presumably conditions will be good here if look C gully in Corrie Fee is in nick. We started with the most icy route. Unfortunately the ice was quite thin and hollow sounding especially the last 10 m at the top. Nonetheless, it is a rare privilege to climb ice in the sunshine in December in Scotland. Ask Pete Wisthal who experienced very different conditions on Lochnagar. Here is me near the top before the delicate stretch of ice.
Next was the corner to the right. It looked good but in pieces the ice was poorly bonded and fell off making the climbing a bit too exciting. Again it will probably be a grade easier when in good nick.
Arno then tried the final obvious gully line furthest to the right.
However the snowice on the steepest bit was hollow and so we decided entering the gully via the buttress on the left which is a grade III and will not change much with conditions.
Good fun climbing and an excellent day. Here is Arno on the way back.
Some detail for North Craig which was first explored by Greg Strange and Rob Archbold.
1) Approach: Ascent the Kilbo path, walk for about 500 m towards the summit of Mayar and then contour to find the south-facing crag at ≈700 m altitude. It is not named but marked as one black line on the 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey map about ≈500 in south-westerly direction below the summit of Mayar. Alternatively use any route to the summit of Mayar and descent to the crag. The location is NO239 733.
2) Map: http://www.streetmap.co.uk/oldmap.srf?x=323850&y=773350&z=115&sv=323850,773350&st=4&mapp=oldmap.srf&searchp=oldsearch.srf&ax=323850&ay=773350&lm=0
High Plains Drifter HVS Greg Strange, Rob Archbold 2001. See SMC Cairngorms guide page 428.
White plains drifter IV,4* 45 m. Climb the obvious, iciest corner. If the ice is thin or hollow the last 10 m can be precarious.
Whitewash IV,4 50 m To the right of ‘white plains drifter’ climb the obvious gully line with an ice step one third up. The route will probably be a grade easier if there is good neve.
White Sun of the Desert III,4 45 m On the first attempt the ice in the gully was fragile so the buttress to the left was climbed to gain the upper part of the gully via a few airy steps.