Tuesday, 9 November 2010

An early season solo of Dorsal Arete (posted by James)

Yesterday saw a fairly major (for the time of year) dump of snow across the Highlands. As luck would have it, I happened to be free to climb this morning, just as high pressure started to nudge its way over Scotland.

Knowing there would be very little consolidation of the snow, I set my sights on Dorsal Arete, Glencoe's famous shark-fin of a ridge in Coire nan Lochan.

On the approach I wasn't hopeful. The snow was damp and melting, and the temperature was higher than I'd hoped. I bumped into Alan Halewood and Mike Pescod on the walk in, who later successfully climbed Crest Route V,6.

As I reached the corrie bowl, conditions drastically improved, and it was brilliant to see the cliffs covered in rime ice.

Thin conditions on Dorsal Arete

The approach slope to Dorsal Arete was unpleasant due to the lack of snow build-up, but once on the ridge itself conditions were grand, it a little thin. I started a bit lower than is the norm to make things more interesting, probably at about Grade III.

In lean conditions like this it is a fine climb. Just because it is popular doesn't make it any less good. Thick rime ice covered all the blocks, and climbing with my new winter tools was an absolute pleasure. I topped out grinning ear to ear - my first winter route a whole 20 days earlier than last year.

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