Monday, 29 February 2016

Versatile Coffee Cups

SCNL Summit Buttress Ordinary Route from C Coid on Vimeo.

Winter has arrived at last (for weekend warriors anyway!).  Stunning stellar morning with alpenglow over the early hills...things were looking good - hopefully the cold snap had made for great conditions.

A sunny Creish
The infamous Hurt Lochan
Craig and Mark had Scabbard Chimney in mind and headed up the Hurt Lochan light, bright and early with only a couple of parties ahead.  On getting to the corrie, the route was clear and had a pleasant trench to the base.  However, the cold snap had caused evaporation to dry the snow pack and what was left in many places was a powdered sugary top-pack which collapsed under weight - a feature of the day with some steps eventually collapsing and becoming a near insurmountable face.  There is also a lot of surface hoar about making for dangerous future conditions if we have another dump of snow soon.  That said, it made for a beautiful corrie.

Simply stunning
Scabbard looked thin on the first slab with the first 3-4metres battered out (understandably!) and covered in verglas and useless absent/thin neve.  Craig led off and got into the thin slot on the left wall but the lack of a good placement on the main slab made for very tenuous moves and getting a foot hold proved too much.  Common sense prevailed and down he came with Mark giving it a bash...he found precisely the same problem; at V 6 it was always going to a 'fun' but this was too committing and they decided it just wasn't worth it on the day.

P1 Scabbard Chimney - thin and difficult
P1 Ordinary Route
Thence to Summit Buttress Ordinary Route - one they have looked at for some time but never got round to doing.  It starts about 10metres left on a different crack line and off Craig went on pitch one - again a fairly thin line which meanders up a steep wall, traverses far left and continues up - this time to a very busy belay!

Mark coming up to p1 belay
After a while (big while) Mark climbed through on an easy pitch and we wondered if the fun had finished...however, given the easy p2, Craig gave up the third pitch and Mark headed off up a steep, thin chimney line.  This proved to be a very nice pitch with some spice; in retrospect and referencing the book we wondered if this was the grade V finish.  It ticked all the boxes from the guide about mantel shelfs and thin chimney/ledges etc but we're not sure - if anyone knows for sure, grateful for some beta and/or pics.
Mark heading up p3 - V variant finish??
A long solo to the top saw a quick pack up, sarnie and fast descent of the NE ridge in fabulous condition and also some sun for the first time that day - we were in shade for the route.

Despite the disappointment of Scabbard 'Chim-no', this turned in to a 5* day with super weather and a fine new route, which merited its grade and 1*, maybe a 2* route in our minds.

About the coffee cup...really, you wouldn't want to know!

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