Thursday, 3 June 2010

Shrike Ridge and the Pinnacle

Today is my 24th birthday, and in tradition with last year's birthday ascent of Tower Ridge, we decided to do some rock climbing! The weather forecast was perfect, although the calm air and warm temperatures meant that the tigers of the highlands (the dreaded midgie) would be out in abundance.

As we climbed the steep vegetation of B Buttress on the West Face of Aonach Dubh, the midgies were indeed out in their thousands and we got eaten alive. Upon reaching the Rake the midge population thinned out a little.

We decided to climb Shrike Ridge. This is a razor-sharp arete of steep rock on the upper tier of F Buttress. I made the first recorded ascent last September and judged it to be one of the best routes I'd done on the mountain, and not without a little difficulty. A friend has since climbed it and reckons it to be a very good route although perhaps a little easier than the grade I had given it. Armed with a rope, climbing rack, and rock shoes, we decided to see how the route stood up to a second visit.

That first pitch is still incredible! Remarkably exposed climbing, not abundantly protected due to lots of thin parallel and flared cracks. The crux moves still require concentration and commitment even with a rope on, as a fall here would be bad. Unfortunately the second pitch is a little scrappy with some loose rock, which is the sole reason this route wouldn't get three stars. The third pitch, with its superb corner-crack, was also as fun as I had remembered.

We then headed over to the Pinnacle on the SW Face of Stob Coire nan Lochan. I wanted to do a new route on the West Wall but found the line I had chosen to be impractical, thanks to a slightly overhanging corner with nothing but a slimy offwidth crack for the feet. I'm sure it will be climbed one day, but not yet. We ended up doing the two established routes on the Pinnacle: the Arete (easy Moderate) and the East Wall Climb (Difficult).

Photos from today

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