Monday, 8 June 2009
The North Route of Bidean nam Bian, 200m Hard Very Vegetated
Early this morning I headed up to Bidean nam Bian. My original plan had been to climb Hourglass Gully, if it was complete; however the chockstone was bare, so I decided to go and explore instead.
First of all I investigated Collie's Pinnacle, but I decided not to climb it as I didn't fancy climbing back down the chockstone pitch in Central Gully after the climb. I will come back with a rope so I can abseil back down this short section.
I then traversed the cliffs and found the steep, dirty crack and chimney that is the start of the summer line of North Route. It's an excellent winter Grade II, open to variation as I discovered in an excellent mountain day over the winter. In summer it is Difficult, first climbed in 1930 and (I suspect) probably never done since!
The strenuous initial crack soon turned into a mossy chimney that kept getting steeper and steeper. I not only had luxurious vegetation to cope with, but also the fact that almost every single piece of rock was loose or moving freely. The ascent of the (at times) vertical chimney was extremely hazardous and felt very tough for a Diff. It's a traditional route to say the least! At one point I dislodged a block the size of a freezer.
I wished I either had nailed boots, or the ability to smear on vertical mud and moss! My ice axe was certainly indispensable.
After the horrible gully comes to an end, the route joins up with the lines of both the Icefall Variation and the Direct. All three variations on the North Route finish up a ridge of good clean rock, although there are still loose blocks and spikes. It's similar in character to Tower Ridge, although the line I took was about VDiff as I wanted to avoid the contrived escapes into the gully to the left to avoid difficulties.
I finished the route with the distinct sense that I was lucky to be alive!
Photo album from today