Monday, 9 February 2015

Cathartic Coe

With Bill delivering a bike mechanics session in Auld Reekie, Craig's first big outing since a bad knee diagnosis (Osteochondral Defect...hilariously known as OCD) saw him and Mark head for the Coe with Shelf Route in mind.  A stop off at the Jacksonville car park showed a fairly bare looking Crowberry Ridge.  We thought the hard pitches required a bit of neve assistance (for us anyway) and the binoculars showed a fairly bare looking route.

A beautiful looking Bookle

Looking over to the start of Aonach Eagach ridge

Stellar conditions for those choosing the AE ridge

So, undeterred we headed for the Hurt Lochan, which is usually more reliable, being a little more sheltered from prevailing westerlies blowing the snow.  A steady pace up the path saw us make the lochans in about 1hr 15m but glorious clear weather gave way to a bit of a white room with the cloud moving in.

We kitted up and dumped bags at our usual luncheon stone but the view to the route was not to be seen.  We headed up in what we thought was the right direction but ended up right of Crest Route...miles off target!  A quick shimmy across saw us finding the buttress and Mark was off up the first pitch, in pretty reasonable nick.

Mark nearing the exit of the chimney line to the crest.  

A slick change at the stance and Craig was off up the second pitch, usually a short easy traverse and short groove to the snowy ridge line looking into NC Gully.  Sadly, an overnight inversion had softened the neve into a mushy pack giving a real lack of confidence with foot placements, many crumbling when weighted...aaargh.

Craig cruising the second a way; any 'way' will do!

Mark took pitch three which is short, like the second, but usually has a meaty exposed rising traverse but today felt very secure, with good placements...maybe we just know the way now after a few ascents, as it is easy to go too high into harder ground with no axe placements.

A quick change over and Craig was off up the third pitch, hoping to run it up to the top with 60 m ropes.  Height gain provided better quality neve and secure placements and Craig ran it to the top, enjoying the many steps up the ridge.  This is a really nice pitch; never too hard, great exposure but gear available in all the right places.  A solid block belay at the top saw Mark up in jig time.

Smiles all round
A quick handshake, lunch on the move and an easy descent down Broad Gully saw us back at the bags in early course.  Stripped, booted and suited for the sweat fest back to the car saw us make the Disco in under an hour.   Crisps and cheese scone kept us going to a dinner of fillet (for Craig) and duck (for Mark) both cooked on the webber.

Happy chap pies after a grand day out
A great day out.  Craig's knee stayed unexpected stable and pain free.  Good climbing to build some confidence for more routes to come.

Hope the weather holds.....

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