Thursday, October 23, 2008

Coire Sputan Dearg: A winter attempt.

After snowfall on Tuesday and a cold night Andy and I headed out in search of the first winter route of the season yesterday. With lines like “they give good climbing after a fresh fall of powder between October and May” in the guide book, we headed for the rocky buttress of Coire Sputan Dearg. This is a high south facing Coire on the back of Ben Macdui. The only issue being the 3 and half hour walk in over the Northern Cairngorms.

The weather played ball though, and we were treated to some fantastic views on the way in. The Northern Corries looked good first thing as we scooted past. 3 hours later after crossing the top of Ben Macdui, it was pretty obvious our target for the day was far from in winter nick. Snow patches on ledges was a wintry as we were going to get. So we opted to climb Flake Buttress. In big winter boots and gloves, the crampons, and my new ice axes stayed in the sack!
Well I hated it, a slabby natured route with some big holds and big moves. Problem was I didn’t trust my feet in the stiff B4 winter boots on any of the smears and so ended up doing some really big moves from jug to jug. The ball bearing gravel ontop of sloping shelves didn’t help either. All in all after 10mts of pitch 2 I was happy to bail off, but Andy lead through and we finished the route around 2:30 as the wind switched around to the Southwest. It was like someone had turned the hairdryer on, and by the time we were back at the car much of the snow had melted. Nice to be out in winter conditions again, the long walk, big sack, and bits of micro nav have to help.

Coire Sputan Dearg.

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