Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bealach na Ba...Failure for the second time!

For the second time this year Andy and I chanced our arm with a visit to Meall Gorm, the north facing crag on the left side of the Bealach na Ba today. At least this time there was snow. Skirting past a couple of 'road closed due to snow' signs, we got as far as one of the small parking areas about 30minutes from the climbs. Before sheet ice on the road had us sliding backwards with the brakes on!
Things from this distance looked really good, plastered in snow, with it sticking to the steep walls, and ice streaks pouring over most of the ledges. We opted for Blue Pillar, such a tremendous looking line up a conspicuous narrow pillar. As we swam our way to the start it was pretty obvious things were maybe not going to be as good as they looked, but hopefully better on the steeper stuff. Half a rope length up it was pretty obvious, the cruddy snow, rotten ice and soaking turf wasn’t going to improve.

Just before we bailed.

The road in need of a good plough.
The sight of the sun warming the top of our route still further was enough for us to say enough is enough. So we bailed and returned to Inverness by 2, handy the wall was open till 6. Such a cracking line, I will be back when it really is frozen, whenever that might be.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stag Rocks: Albino and Final Groove.

The early morning walk in.

Shelter Stone looking good and Hells Lum looking loaded.

Davy and I had an explore over on Stag Rocks today. Although there has been a lot of snow it has been on a southerly wind and so this crag was scoured, with concrete turf, bullet proof neve, and plastic chewy ice.
Anyway it’s not every day you can hitch a lift, on approach to a winter climb, so a lift on the Piste Basher to the top of the Cas was very welcome, before we nipped over p1141 and down onto the top of Stag Rocks.
The other crags in the Loch Avon Basin looked good too.
Diagonal Gully with really good neve.

Diagonal gully provides a grade 1 approach to many of the climbs on stag rocks that start on its right wall. This was full of really solid neve, and was a real joy to climb down.
To cut a long story short we ended up doing two routes, final groove at the top of the gully, which was a slaby little route, and a very good route called Albino. (I sent us off up the wrong route at the start of the day, yes it was my fault Davy!!!, but it was all a cunning plan to ensure I got the lead on Albino!)

Davy on Final groove.

Albino route is a little cracker with good climbing all the way. Steady at IV 5 with one or two thinkers but loads of gear. There is a very good picture of this route in the SMC guide, and it lived up to the picture expectations.
By 3pm as predicted the wind picked up and virtually blew us back to the car park in one move! A rosy face evening!
A belay with a view on Albino.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Original Summer Route. Winter Highlight

The morning view
Davy and I made a quick visit into the Northern Corries this morning. Things looked pretty white from the off but the forecast was for warmer temps as the day went on. The crux of the day was perhaps the path that was a complete skating rink this morning after a bit of thaw and overnight freeze.
Ran into Murdo on the way in, and Nick on the way out.
A climber on the slant, spot them?
Well rumour had it the Original summer route was hard for the grade, I concur.
Though the route was frozen solid, it was also covered in a couple of inches of powder which didn’t help matters. Still we did it in two long pitches, both containing good moves and good climbing. Though different, the first being thin and balancy, the second steep with bomber hooks. The traverse on pitch two was really good fun, a long step with a hundred feet of air beneath you. We rambled up to the top of Aladdins Buttress before walking back down the couloir. I thought the route was a real gem and packed some top climbing in 100mts. The highlight of the winter so far. It only gets 2** it doesn’t top out, I guess but the climbing is brilliant, get on it.
Not for the first time this winter the Coire was buzzed by a big yellow budgy on a training flight, we think.
Davy a giant of the mountains!
Taxi for two!
On the way out things were warming up rapidly and the ice rink path was becoming a slush trail! Looks like that might be the last of winter for a few days.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Glen Shiel and New Route for Lurchers.

The Lovely hills of Am Bathach and Ciste Dhubh.
Happy New Year. Busy couple of days. New years day Becky and I headed into Glenshiel and did a lovely hill just above the Cluanie Inn. The First hill of Am Bathach was a well defined grassy ridge, with lovely views and good walking, this drops down to a col before a final steep pull up to Ciste Dhubh. Any climbers thinking of heading this way, the rock was black, but well frozen, and the central gully of Coffin gully was complete.
A steep grass descent saw us back on the valley track and back to the car within 5 hours. Every drop of moisture on the hill side was frozen solid. With vast areas of ice in the streams and on the paths.
With that in mind Andy, Joe and I headed into Lurchers yesterday in the hope of finding a bit of ice to climb, the crag was as a dry as a bone with very little obvious ice to be seen. A traverse of the entire crag found us below a very thin ice fall and a voyage into the unknown. (we were off the topo in the SMC guide). Not recorded in the guide this obvious gully feature looked to have just enough ice to make it climbable, so off we went.
Andy on the thin first pitch
After about 100mts or so the gully ran out and after another 50mts of route finding we found ourselves in a very definite cul-de-sac. With a steep headwall all around, a bit of a puzzle. The only problem being it was a little loose in there, anyway we found a way through via a back left corner and very large and conspicuous loose flake. From there our mountaineering adventure continued to the top of Lurchers after 250mts of climbing. We await to see whether anyone as done the route before, I know a lot of new routes were done up here last year, and the first pitch is a very obvious feature. We shall see. A full day on the hill though, with a moonlight walk off.
Andy below the steep mixed crux.

Had an email from the SMC so this is a new route,
Desperate Measures IV4 250mts.

Route details:
Desperate Measures IV 4 J Omond, A Porter and ME!
Takes the obvious depression at the back of a small bay right of deerhound ridge. Climb a thin ice pitch for (25m), to gain easy angled ice for a further (75m). From below a small island of rock take the increasingly steep right fork (60m) to a steep step into an obvious and well defined ampitheatre (30m). Here the back left corner provides an exit via an obvious and dubious looking flake(crux)(10m loose) Continue along easy ground to the plateau(60m)