Thursday, 25 March 2010

Italian Right Hand 25/03/10

With the extensive thawing and rain I had thought winter was coming to an end; but the forecast had been showing slightly colder conditions this week and things have been climbed, so I headed up to Ben Nevis to have an optimistic look around. After stopping for some night photos at Rannoch Moor I arrived at the North Face carpark around 11:30pm and got a few hours sleep before meeting Steve and heading off around 5:30am.

After some sustenance at the CIC we decided on Italian Right Hand as this had been climbed yesterday. Steve quickly dispatched the first pitch and then I went on up the second pitch; this was mostly hooked out giving easy climbing, I finished with a slightly more difficult and direct line to the belay on fresh ice which was great. Steve then led up the next pitch of easy ground before we abbed back down the line from the plentiful tat. After some lunch the clouds had blown in as forecast, so we decided to stay lower on the mountain and avoid any potential difficulty in trying to locate Number 4 Gully in near zero visibility. On the approach there was an obvious section of single pitch waterfall ice which looked great but had a big crack across it, after speaking to a party who had top-roped it we decided to head down there. We abbed into the line and after doing three laps on the steep detached pillar I was done, and then brought Steve up with some entertainment.

The climbing was fantastic and it would have been a great, but hard, lead; but with the crack being around 7m up and with the steepest climbing below, it would have been very bold. As the clouds closed in further we headed back down to the car after a good 11 hours on the hill. Hopefully the forecasted cold and settled weather will arrive next week and continue winter for a while yet.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Sunshine on Creag Meagaidh 10/03/10

Today Bruce and I had a fantastic day climbing The Wand on Creag Meagaidh in glorious sunshine. It was positively tropical on the walk in, and I felt very French walking in sans salopettes.
It was great to be in the sun and I got very psyched for barbeques, sun lounging and rock climbing, but with such a fat line I managed to put my winter clothes back on and trek into the shade without too much moaning. We started up The Sash which was typical sloggish ground and were then confronted with the corner of The Wand.
The line didn't look very steep so I jumped straight on. Ten screws, some healthy dinner-plating, and lots of calf burning later I arrived at the belay. The route was never particularly steep but was quite sustained, giving really fun climbing throughout.
Bruce then led up the next pitch which was less sustained but pretty steep, followed by another pitch of easy ground to the summit.
After taking in the awesome views from the summit we headed back down to the bags, and sped off towards the car.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Back to Udlaidh 05/03/10

Greg and I headed back to Udlaidh today to climb some more fat ice routes. Again there were hordes of people, with most people staying in the West sector apart from a brave few venturing under the huge cornices on the East sector in the rising temperatures. With light rain falling all day we decided to have a short day climbing on Organ Pipe Wall, Greg led up a direct line on the left of the normal route which was quite sustained and steep, and on awesome, featured ice. It was great fun seconding and I then led up to the top of the route where we unroped and headed back towards the car. Another great day out, not much left to climb at Beinn Udlaidh now!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Smiles at Beinn Udlaidh 03/03/10

With a fantastic forecast, Greg and I headed to Beinn Udlaidh again hoping there would still be some fat ice free of avalanche risk. We headed up after negotiating the almost multi-storey car park on a well tracked path into the West side of the coire as most of the snow has been completely scoured off this side. The East sector was heavily laiden, with most of the routes under a lot of snow with large, and in some cases, double cornices. We headed up to look at The Smirk which has seen lots of ascents recently, there was a party half way up the route and another party waiting at the bottom and before I could convince Greg to stop for a Snickers he was off scouting for something else to climb. After some snooping he decided on a gnarly looking continental style mixed route onto a prominent hanging icicle, followed by an icy groove onto more hanging ice, just left of The Smirk, check out Greg's blog for full details. Given there was a large and comfortable ledge to stand on I put him on belay and watched him work his way up the route, throwing caution to the wind as to how I would follow him up and take out the gear! Fortunately Tamsin, Helena and Tim showed up to climb The Smirk and Tim kindly offered to save me the hassle of swinging around on fallen down icicles.

As the queues slowly disappeared Greg and Tim had topped out and came back down raving about the quality of the route; they decided on naming it The Grin. After snapping some shots of Tamsin cruising up the aesthetic line of The Smirk I got on the sharp end and started up it myself.

The ice was nice and soft and with the number of recent ascents it was very featured, which was fortuntate as the strength in my arms was failing proportionately faster than my rate of ascent! The climbing was fantastic though and it was perfect for me to get on lead on something steeper but with lots of hooks. I'm looking forward to getting on some more of the classic routes that are in such great condition at the moment. Unfortunately my GoPro camera went GoBroke and will be out of action for a while, hopefully some of the photographs will justify this though!