Saturday, 23 January 2010

A great day for a big link-up

Excellent weather arrived as promised, and with the whole day free until my shift at seven I planned a monster day in the mountains. First, I headed up to Stob Coire nam Beith with the intention of doing Arch Gully. I passed several teams on the way up, and in fact the whole coire was crawling. There were teams either on, or gearing up at the bottom of almost every low-mid grade route in condition on the mountain. Notable queues were on Deep-Cut Chimney and Central Gully. I ended up doing Broken Gully, an unremarkable Grade II with a stunning view from where it tops out on the Shoulder of Zero Buttress.

After two failed attempts at this serious north face, I have finally climbed it! The view from the summit was also spectacular, with a temperature inversion over Glen Etive.

Not willing to descend, I cut across and climbed Hourglass Gully on Bidean West Peak. This easy gully is a very graceful and striking line, and has been on my list for over a year now. The climbing was unspectacular but the situation and views were tremendous.

After summitting Bidean--the cairn is completely buried under a huge cone of snow--and descending the North Ridge, I took the opportunity to visit 'Crag X' and make a new route there, which I have called Symphonic Variations (II/III). I'm sure the canny amongst you can work out where it is, but it's no great secret really: I've done a few new routes there over the past year as it has virtually nothing recorded and is an excellent place to have a potter about and explore, but I do not plan to submit details of any of these routes as I would like it to remain quiet!

I nipped into Coire nan Lochan (queues there also!) and descended in time for a rest before work. A tiring trip, with three fairly substantial routes, 1,400m of total ascent and 560m of actual climbing! What a day!

Conditions-wise, things are excellent underfoot with generally well-bonded and stable snow, only a few pockets of windslab, easily avoided. Gullies are looking good. There's also a lot of ice around.

Photos from today

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