Friday, 6 December 2013

The Sorcerer

Number 3 Gully Buttress looking very inviting
So today it begins for me. As I walked in to Ben Nevis this morning, with my head torch illuminating the ground around my feet, I was thinking whether I will be able to climb more routes this winter season than I did the last?  With my first route done today, I only have 84 to go to match last years figures.  As Keith, Kenny and I walked up towards Creag Coire na Ciste our original plan on South Trident Buttress wasn't looking as aesthetically pleasing as routes on Number 3 Gully Buttress and the Ciste.
Kenny cranking up the 1st pitch
 After a scan of the crags pointing out possible options we settled for The Sorcerer (VII,8).  One of the route's we didn't have in our particular guidebook?! Don't ask!  Fortunately, Keith has a photographic memory and remembered the description.  Keith remembered 3 pitches in the description so it would work out perfectly.  Kenny was on for the first, Keith took the crux and I was left with the last (I was happy with that as it was my first route of the season and Keith said it was grade V...easy?!).  Kenny dispatched the first pitch well, despite it being covered in verglass.  Gear was tricky to get but the climbing wasn't too hard.  Tricky to lead, easier to second.  Keith then led the 'Magic Crack' pitch.
Keith loving the climbing
Keith nearing the top of the Magic Crack
 Described as 'Magic Crack (in the Cairngorms) on steroids', this was a route to do.  I've not done Magic Crack (or steroids) so I can't confirm, however it was very good!  Same story for Keith's pitch, hard to lead and place gear, easier to second.  A brilliant pitch.  We thought overall it was VII,7 in these conditions as the cracks were choked in ice and held axes well.  If they had been clear then some funky torquing would have been required and we thought it would be more strenuous.  I took over for the last pitch...grade  A wee bit harder and the same story, hard to lead and place gear.  After some nice climbing, my pitch was barred by compact verglassed rock.  After a good search around for an amenable line, I took a belay on a small sloping ledge.  From here Kenny and Keith agreed that we would join the last pitch of Lost The Place and finish up this.  On the top we met Tony and Ian who had just climbed Avenging Angel and we could see Martin and Pete finishing the difficulties on The Knuckleduster.  A great start to the season and looking forward to the next cold spell.

Kenny getting ready for some serious hot aches!
Martin and Pete on The Knuckleduster.  Pete (top) is starting the second pitch, not having a wee.

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