Monday, 21 April 2014

School of Warm Rock

Craig and Mark headed early for some rock time in the Coe on Saturday and travelled light and fast (ish) up to the Rannoch Wall.  Hardest moves of the day were getting across the hard snow pack in easy gully requiring careful step kicking and a light touch...didn't fancy a long slide down to the Great Water Slab!

Quick bite and Craig was off up the first two pitches of Agag's in the sun with the 60m ropes...just makes it and no more, with a bit of drag!   Mark took the lead on three and four with a pleasant hanging belay, as always, on pitch 3-4.

Once at the top, we ditched the bags, thinking we might walk off the summit, and ab'ed down from the top of January Jigsaw.  Some kind soul has left a size 10 nut to lock the ab tat in place with a very helpful piece of pulling tat locking it in situ...well thought out may I say.

We only got down to the midway stance as a three were climbing JJ.  Quick sort of the ropes and Mark was off up the first pitch to the Haven and an uncomfortable belay; I'm not sure we have ever climbed the third pitch the same way!

Quick switch and Craig was off up the final short pitch moving right off the belay on steep ground but good holds, eventually...   Moving back left on lovely ground then all of a sudden we were at the top.  Decision was made to ab back down and wait for the trio below to finish the route.

They moved fast and before we knew it, the 60m ropes came into their own and we made a full abseil down to just 6ft short of solid ground.  Abseiling off the rope onto good holds and a very short down climb finished a great introduction to this summer's rock season.

Last bite and water of the day and we were off down Curved Ridge and back to the car in wonderful sunshine.  Amazingly, the trio below us had ice climbed on the Ben the day previously and wanted a change on to rock before going home to Sheffield...pretty certain they had a good few days.

All in, a brilliant day; brilliant routes; warm rock...what's not to love about Scotland and its rock...Simply Epic indeed.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Argentinian Dogs

Craig & Mark, sans Bill bogged down in paperwork, headed for the Ben to sleep overnight in TNF carpark.  Stopping for a truly, spectacularly bad, and overpriced, steak pie in a Tyndrum hotel, we cracked a bottle of Italian red in the Disco, with BBQ Pringles to compensate.

Hopeful of something the next day, alarms were set for 4am and off to the land of nod we went.

Up sharp, porridge and coffee later, we headed off with trepidation but some hope of uber ice routes and sticky toffee ice...

Summer is fast approaching, evidenced by the rising sun, and it revealed a pretty sorry looking Ben; plenty of snow no doubt but all in the wrong place unfortunately.  We had plans for the North East Buttress...quickly dismissed; checked out Observatory Buttress...dismissed quicker; and, selected Tower Ridge, knowing Mike Pescod had climbed it two days previously and reported reasonable

That said, the freezing level sat at some 27000ft and a true turbo-thaw was underway.  The mist was down and we sought a direct line onto the ridge beyond the climb out of the east gully.   The avalanche debris trails are impressive and rather intimidating, with several exiting Observatory Gully well towards the CIC hut.

Getting to the ridge was interesting; near Scottish bergschrunds, soft sugary snow, rain and rock falls nearby was short of fun but we made it to the ridge line and had a look to judge likely conditions on the route.  We were both like minded and didn't fancy spending the day ploughing a lonely difficult furrow up the ridge which was shrouded entirely in mist.

A quick chat and we agreed to bail off the ridge on a short abseil over the soft, gaping bergschrunds, thence to the hut for some grub and a chat with other hopeful climbers.

A team headed for a disappointing NEB; climbed the day previously without crampons; another to Observatory Ridge - naked of winter garb from what we saw of the first 200m and. tbh, everything else seemed most likely to be soft/dangerous/uninviting...not for us.

A pleasant walk out, quick shop tour and a very nice coffee and bun in Glen Coe saw us home in good time for brownie points.

Thinking that winter is pretty much over...what winter?? :(