Monday, 5 March 2018

Mano Destra Italiana...

3 March 2018

Craig and Mark have had a good couple of weeks climbing...

Raeburn’s Ordinary Route Hand (IV 4) is far from ordinary and is a favourite of ours, we went left from the second belay to make the route even better.

Curved Ridge (III 3) in good but powder snow cover.

Shelf Route (IV 6) (bailed) due to the amount of snow and lack of good placements en-route.

Chockstone Gully (II) suited the high winds and avalanche forecast being low down on the Cobbler.

Original Summer (IV 6) Cairngorms, Dan came along to make it a rather sociable day out.

McLay’s Crack (III 4) on the Cobbler got another visit on a better than forecast day that happened to be Mark's Birthday so Craig carried the rack in and out!

Crowberry Gully (IV 4) in fat easy conditions with views to America from the top.

Italian Right Hand (IV 4) great but short route on a very windy day.

Original Summer Route
Italian Right Hand

Mark topping out on Italian

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Chasing Ice...and sometimes rain

Craig and Mark have been out chasing conditions recently and have had some success and some good days without a route to bag.

We bailed from Shelf Route in soft heavy snow but have also had great days on the Cobbler, Gorms and the Coe.

We've ricked off Chockstone Gully and McLay's Crack on the Cobbler, SummerRoute in the Gorms in nice nick and Raeburn's Route and Curved Ridge in the Coe.  We sought days on routes around Bridge of Orchy without success and await a chance to get on the Ben this season.

Routes on the card include Moonshadow and Shelf Route (Coe), Seam and Patey's Route (Gorms) and Hadrian's Wall and Orion on the Ben; we remain ever optimistic conditions will allow at least some of the action.

Notwithstanding, it's been an interesting winter with much early scoping of conditions, weather patterns and avalanche warnings helping to inform on suitable and safe routes.  We have turned round from some objectives and continue to build on our skills to stay safe in we always say, 'no dead heroes'; the climb will be there for another day.

Mark on Curved Ridge

Mark high on Curved Ridge

Chockstone Gully
Mark on Summer Direct Alladin's Buttress

Craig on McLay's Crack

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Christmas Frolics

Over the Christmas period, the team have tried to get out and do some stuff but generally the weather has acted against us.  Despite that, we got out a bit, got wet, climbed a bit and had fun.

Craig and Mark got out and swam up the Zig Zags in Glen Coe...a fun 'go to' route in poor weather and it was poor that day with water gushing down the route after a turbo thaw.

Mark on the chimney...wet
Next up was a trip to the 'Gorms and finding something to climb.  We got onto Original Summer Route on Alladin's Buttress and found soft unhelpful snow but we had fun and it actually felt like winter climbing for the first time this season.

Craig on P1 

On 30 December, Craig and Mark headed for a very wintery Cobbler and found lots of snow (comparatively) and some wld winds.  We kept to lower ground on Chockstone Buttress area and climbed something at its far end.  It felt a bit thin in the wrong places with plenty snow on the easier angled slopes.  All in, a great wee climb which we thought went around III (4? maybe) with some interesting moves on steep steps.  

Mark getting into the heart of P1t
Earlier in December, we also got into Stob Corrie nan Lochan and got onto Twisting Gully but conditions were soft and thin and after P1 we dabbed off and went for a walk.

Mark coming up P1

A thin gully line!
The NY hopefully brings some colder snaps to freeze the pack and get us climbing some new routes.  This weekend is looking cold and should brings us some nice conditions to get swinging those axes in earnest.

Happy New Year to one and all...let's hope it's a good one.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Optimistic Optics

Craig and Mark went for the first outing of the season to the 'Gorms in the hope of some action.  The usual early start saw them at the carpark around 8 and a quick walk in saw them at the Snechda lochans looking at black rock.

The walk in was more positive looking but the wind has scoured the upper corrie with pockets of windslab in abundance and well frozen ground in scoured areas.  The windchill was making it very cold and wind blown snow was making visibility difficult at times.

We chatted with other parties and went for a walk to see what conditions were like on Aladdin's Buttress.  It was very black and not much looked in but Patey's Route was the whitest of the lot and we went to scope things without much anticipation as it is more of an ice route but we wondered if things would work in mixed conditions.

We rocked up and Mark set off up the first pitch; sadly, the deeper protection of the gully meant the snow was way too soft, turf not sufficiently frozen and things all a bit sketchy.  After battling up part of the first pitch, common sense prevailed and we decided to bin the day for coffee and cake in town.

The tools, rack and ropes got a walk and we're stoked for some better condition in early course.
Some pics of the day...

Mark on first pitch 

Spiciest moment of the day

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The DEVIL is in the detail...

Saturday 2 September

With time running out to Linda’s next birthday Mark was under pressure to magic some fine weather for a day out on Tower Ridge. With the help of some contacts it was agreed that the sun would shine on Saturday. So at 4:30am they left Glasgow and drove in the dark to Fort William.

Mark takes up the story...

Mist and low cloud greeted us as we walked into the CIC with Linda questioning if the
Douglas boulder was actually a boulder! Eh, no, I guess not, but then I have never really given it any thought!

We played leap frog with the boys from Newcastle and headed on up into the mist meeting
Marc  Chauvin and wife at the little tower.

Linda was trusting her feet and climbing well so fast progress was made to the Eastern traverse and the fallen block chimney. Next up, walk the plank and get lowered into the gap. All done without hesitation or deviation. Summit sarnies and news that the Ben Nevis race was about to start made us decide to take in the CMD arête just as the sun burnt through, giving us fantastic views of the North Face.

A Simply Epic day leaving Linda looking forward to her next birthday...

Linda McFall

Linda McFall

Monday, 14 August 2017

Tooth ache…

August 17

The alps this Summer was always going to be tricky with less snow over the winter period than normal and then very high early season temperatures…Mark takes up the story.

Craig and I arrived in Chamonix knowing that the Frendo was not in condition. So, after a day at the crag we headed up the Midi for a look at the Midi Plan Traverse…we got as far as the col and turned back as there was a lack of good snow cover to make the climb possible or enjoyable. On return to the Midi we opted for the Cosmic Arête, this was on rock all the way and was quiet so we made good time despite coming from sea level the day before.

The next day we headed to the Torino hut to put ourselves into a good position for the Dent du Géant and make use of the only good stable day forecast for that week.

We headed out in the afternoon to scope the route and see how many slots we would be negotiating next morning. After a night of no sleep and reminding ourselves that alpine huts are not for sleeping in (they are for spending the night in!) we were up and out the door at 4:30am. The glacier had firmed up nicely and we made good time to the rock band after point 3537. We tiptoed over the loose rock for an hr to get to the Salle a Manger to find others already on the route.

Surprised to find all other parties were sporting full racks and rock shoes, we on the other hand had 4 slings, 4 draws and big boots. The first pitch had some fixed cord to pull on but the climbing went at 4 so we carried on keeping the pitches quite short till we got to the Burgener slabs. The route was busy but we held our own and arrived at the summit by pulling on the odd ankle and standing on  Italian and French guides heads (or Heids as we sometimes say here in Scotland).

We made the normal abseil down the short side easily with 3 x 60m raps but not before the Italian guide managed to cluster f**k our ropes (this is a true European skill). This meant 4 of us had to hang, unite and sort the tangled mess (Craig is quite skilled at this).

Heading down to the glacier the air was full of the sound of falling rocks so it was no great surprise when stepping across the bergschrund that half the hill (mountain) fell across our path…Running at altitude tied to a rope should be in the Olympics!

Safely back in Cham we set about replacing the 3,000 odd calories burnt by eating double Pizza and rehydrating with grande biere.

The next day as per the forecast the rain thundered down, but we were happy siting about eating more pizza and drinking copious cappuccinos (lots of biere).

With a deteriorating weather forecast our planned move to Switzerland for a go at the Matterhorn didn’t happen so we set about reading guide books for easy long routes at lower altitude to do in the rain.

All in we had a great trip even if it was cut short by the storms…

Monday, 29 May 2017

Meat in the Sandwich

Craig and Mark followed the sunshine on Saturday, seeking a new route but one which has been much admired from a distance.  It's been a few years since Corrie an Lochan was visited, maybe 7, 8, 9 even 10 years since Craig and Bill climbed RH Y Gully??, and it's a very pleasant walk in if a little rough in places over the boulders.

Craig takes up the story...

Savage Slit was on our minds and I recall seeing it that winter thinking it looked such an awesome line...not necessarily in winter at that time for me!!  Things have changed a little since then, tho the walk in pretty much was as I recalled...lovely

The approaching cliffs look very enticing and SS is well over the right, so we headed past the beautiful lochans, with the great slab coming into view in all its avalanche threatening horror; smooth and perfectly angled - it even released a bit of snow as we made our way to the cliff!

Great Slab in the corrie - Scotland's most renowned avalanche site?
Past the lochan, it's a nice steep pull up a gravely path to the base, where we came upon a pair on P1 who had been completely invisible to us on the walking...a surprise but we had a nice chat and a leisurely prep as they cleared the first stance.

It's intimidatingly steep from below and understandably demands respect; Mark took P1 whilst I watched & belayed attentively.  The book suggests a 10m first pitch followed by a 20m second; this seemed counter-intuitive (even in winter I don't see the benefit but what do I know) so he linked 1 &  2 together, as the first pair had, and struck off up the inviting rock and 'slit'.

The view up P1, as Mark actually abs off the top after we finished
The view down from P1
P1 is a lovely opening pitch with nice bridging and generally stays out the Slit.  The rock is super grippy granite with plenty amenable hand holds and an abundance of foot placements.  The attention it receives in winter is obvious with the wear on the rock from crampons and picks on numerous key placement edges in much evidence.

The only thing about the stance on P1 is the low head height which hardly helps Mark or I as we kept banging our heads on the overhead rock!!  A slick change over and I was off up P2 with a meaty start onto a small platform after about 10 feet, providing a nice photo opportunity;

Craig's feet  heading off up P2
P2 is a lovely pitch, which kept me in the Slit for much of the time and a lovely place it is too.  The hand holds are there when you want them and the narrow constriction in the slit offers nice if narrow bridging and chimneying, and even a little lay backing. The pitch terminates on a nice spacious ledge serving at least three climbs and obviously well set up as an abseil station.

Mark approaching the abseil stances on P2
The book suggests the final pitch is of limited enjoyment and so it proved with an easy scramble interjected with a pull over an overhang.  We got to the top and abb'ed straight back down to the abseil stance proper and used the plethora of heavy duty in situ tat and krab to get back down where we met Allan and Morag who were up for a split shift climb from the Lodge.  As we chatted and checked out, they headed off for a fun day.  The walk out was fast and sunny...

Every pic with an iPhone 7 - what a camera!
...and we got back to the car in a sweat!  It's a long drive and an average walk in to the Gorms from Glasgow but today was worth it.  What lovely climb!  Reasonable on the grade and a stunning location with a quick abseil back to the bags...what's not to like.

We scoped the climb and thought of winter; it's a V6 and a serious proposition for us...but maybe worth the effort to try.  

Definite Type 1 Fun today.