Sunday, 16 December 2012

Lost The Place

Looking gloomy

Looking good?!

Tricky second pitch (Photo Andy Watt)

Me getting a refreshing snow shower!  (photo Andy Watt)

Balance moves (Photo Andy Watt)

Abseil into number 3 gully

Paul, Kenny and Andy

Looking good!
Today we all decided to climb together to keep the banter flowing.  Callum had to walk out in the morning due to other commitments so Kenny climbed with Andy and I climbed with Paul.  We decided that we would all climb Lost The Place (V,5), a route I had climbed a few seasons ago and has now started to become quite a popular route.  Creag Coire na Ciste was heavily rimed and pretty well chocked.  I don't think I would have enjoyed being on a hard route today, gear would have been hard fought.  We climbed the route in 3 pitches which kept everyone entertained, felt bold for Kenny and I leading and provided some fantastic mixed climbing for Andy and Paul.  The top chimney is brilliant!  We abseiled back down number 3 gully and back down to the hut for a brew and to pack up our bags.  A great weekend in varied condition with fantastic company!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

damp day on Ben Nevis

Paul and Callum

Approaching underneath the Douglas Boulder

Starting to feel a bit damp

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Paul enjoying Faulty Towers

Callum finishing a few tricky moves on Faulty Towers
Last night team Point 5 Mountaineering ploughed through strong winds, driving rain and icy paths up to the CIC hut.  Our accommodation for the weekend.  Kenny was out with his strong regulars Andy, Paul and Callum and I was asked to come along and help out on both days.  So an early start saw us fuelling up on porridge and putting together a plan for the day.  The forecast wasn't great; windy, wet and becoming milder.  So Kenny and Andy went for a quick hit on the Great Chimney (V,5) on the east side of Tower Ridge which they both found in brilliant mixed condition, sounded like some good sport.  Paul, Callum and I diverted to the other side of Tower Ridge and climbed the South West Ridge of the Douglas Boulder (III) which was in good condition.  After abseiling off and with plenty of daylight left we decided to do another route and we ended up climbing Faulty Tower's (II) which gave 3 good pitches of icy chimneys and tricky mixed steps.  With it being a little lean meant the mixed sections were more exposed and tricky.  From the top of the route we negotiated our way down Tower Ridge and another abseil saw us walking back to the hut where the kettle had boiled and the biscuits were out.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Sticil Face Direct Finish

Today I was out over on the East coast for the first time this season as I fancied a shorter walk in and not so much steep ascent and descent.  (legs are still a bit tired from Skye).  I was really keen to do Sticil Face on the Shelter Stone and Blair and Dave were keen too.  Blair has done most of the climbing on this route but Dave had never been to the crag before despite winter climbing longer than I have lived!  Blair suggested we lead two pitches each which would give us all an easy pitch and a slightly trickier one.  I led the first and second pitch which was a brilliant thin ice smear.  We caught up with another team so after Blair led the 3rd pitch we decided to do the Direct Finish at the same grade of V,6 so we weren't on the heels of the other team.  Blair did another easy pitch and then Dave led us up to the top and back to the bag.  It was perfectly calm on the face but as soon as we topped out it was windy, snowing and cloudy and required a little bit of navigation to get us back over to the coire.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Skye Ridge Traverse

Early morning abseiling of Am Bastier

Stunning sunrise

Abseiling off the Inn Pinn

Great conditions

Getting late, one more munro to do

The Dream Team - Dunc, Kenny, Me, Donald.  Happy on our last summit!

"The traverse of the Cuillin Ridge of Skye is the finest mountaineering adventure on the British Isles"
Eye's were heavy at 12.50am when the alarms went off but we all sprung into action with the excitement of what the day was to hold.  We wanted to complete the ridge in one day, summiting all the Munro's in a continuous push.  We travelled fast and light.  One axe each, one thin 50m rope between two, 4 wires, 3 extenders and 3 slings per pair.  A Jetboil between 2 with food and a duvet jacket each.  Conditions were perfect!  The whole ridge was covered with accommodating neve, sometime the snow pack had a crusty unforgiving layer but generally excellent.  This allowed us to make swift progress throughout.  We were so lucky to have nobody ahead of us so we were making fresh tracks all the way along to the end, meaning we had to do all the route finding which is half the battle.  We saw some head torches in the distance behind us who will have been lucky enough to follow our tracks.  A lot of the time consuming sections we cover in summer condition we easy and fast thanks to the good layer of snow.  I have wanted to do this traverse in winter for years and to being able to complete it in 12 hours is very satisfying and with the great company of Kenny, Donald and Dunc made it so much fun.  The weather was perfect, nice clear skies throughout the hours of darkness and very clear day through day light hours.  We finished the last Munro in daylight and only needed our head torch for the walk out.  We all had a massive dinner in the Old Inn in Carbost before driving back to Fort William.  Probably going to take a day off now! :)

More photos on Facebook HERE

Monday, 10 December 2012

Moonlight Gully Butress

Today Kenny and I only had time for a quick and easy day so we stayed low and did a shout route neither of us had done.  Moonlight Gully Buttress was a suitable option as we wanted to save our legs for a Cuillin Ridge Traverse tomorrow and neither of us had climbed a route on this cliff.  The weather was fantastic and conditions looked great higher up (looked like there was a bit of verglass around).  We climbed two pitches, I'm not 100% which route we did Didn't take a guide book) but it felt somewhere around IV,4/5.  It followed the most obvious line on the buttress.  We were back in good time to get ready for a trip upto Skye.  Dunc and Mike Brownlow climbed Lost The Place.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

June Crack

Today I was back out with Keith and a massively psyched Donald.  I think Keith and I were showing signs of tiredness after the last few days.  Anyway, with a great forecast we couldn't resist one more day out.  We met up with Donald and headed into the Buachaille.  On arrival we decided to head up to the area of Raven's Gully for a look up there.  On arrival it was clear Raven's Edge (VII,7) wasn't in condition but the East Face of Great Gully Buttress was plastered.  Without a guidebook, we agreed that we would climb a very striking line up the middle of the crag, the diagonal crack of June Crack.  To our knowledge it hadn't had a winter ascent.  It turns out it was climbed in winter 1984 and given grade V.  We couldn't understand it as we all found it very hard and agreed that it was somewhere around VIII,8.  Its harder than anything I've tried in the past.  We were unsure why it had been given grade V, maybe it was done as an ice route in exceptional condition or in 1984 there wasn't any grades higher than grade V.... Cracking route though in a fantastic setting.  So not a first ascent but most likely a second ascent.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Twarf

With another fantastic day forcasted, I headed back out with Kenny and Keith to check out a route at a crag we hadn't been to.  From parking in Glencoe, we wandered up to the North Face of Aonach Dubh, to where Ossians Cave is.  We were all psyched for Fingal's Chimney (VI,7) but on arrival we agreed that it wasn't in the best nick.  It may well have gone but would be unpleasant pull on the turf.  We headed further up the sloping shelf and decided to climb the summer VS The Twarf given VI,7 in winter.  The first entry pitch is awkward and felt a bit insecure, fortunately I had a rope above me.  I led the second pitch which was a brilliant trick chimney to below two v-grooves.  Keith led the right have v-groove which turned out to be the crux.  Kenny led us up to the top of the route in 3 'easier' pitches (it was quicker this way, we didn't have to swap ropes and sort gear).  On the top there was plenty of snow, good winds and required a bit of navigation to get us into the corrie of SCNL.  A brilliant day and an amazing crag....very extensive!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Nirvana Wall

Today was an exciting day from the word go.  Our original plan was to head to the Cairngorms for a shorter walk in but during our drive over in the snow the car, for no reason, decided to spin 180 degrees!  Fortunately we were on a straight section and nothing else was coming.  After driving towards the Cairgorms very slowly, we decided to spin around (in control this time) and head back to Glencoe.  So we headed up towards Stob Coire nan Lochain and broke off the path at Far Eastern Buttress.  We decided to repeat Donald King and Mike Pescods Nirvana Wall (VI,8).  It was a brilliant route, very very tenuous but the conditions were favourable as the cracks were clear of ice and gear and placements were available after brushing the snow off.  There were 3 pitches so we all got a pitch each with Kenny making a good lead on the crux. I never got a view of SCNL crags but they were probably plastered.  It was a soggy day, raining as we were walking out.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Survivor

Keith leading the first pitch

A good stretch on the crux pitch

Ace fun!

Hardest bit coming up!

Ewan not happy with the idea of the splits
After a day away from the mountains yesterday, I was super psyched to get back out today and today I was with Keith Ball and Ewan Rodgers.  I must mention this was Ewans 3rd time in crampons, first time he climbed Twisting Gully (III) and second time he climbed Dorsal Arete (II), but for a summer E7 climber we thought he would manage.  Today we went up onto Number 3 Gully buttress and climbed The Survivor (VII,8).  We did the route in 3 pitches and each one was tricky.  Conditions were good, still very cold and there was fresh snowfall overnight, loads more to come tonight too.  Other teams were on Souix Wall, The Slab Climb and Ledge Route.