Monday, 25 June 2012

More exploring above Coire nam Beith

Me soloing my route, "The South wall of the Un-named Pinnacle" (Diff*)

One of the problems with soloing new routes with no company is that taking photographs to do the route justice is very difficult. You usually end up taking a photo looking down past your feet or up at the route with no-one climbing it, and a good sense of scale is almost impossible to achieve.

I've made a few pretty good discoveries recently amongst the complex and intimidating cliffs of the West face of Aonach Dubh in Glencoe. Whilst most of the longer major routes were climbed many years ago, numerous small gems still wait to be discovered if you are intimate with this incredible mountain face.

On the South wall of the un-named Pinnacle, and what a place...

Probably the best new route I've climbed in Glencoe is "The South Wall of the Un-named Pinnacle" (Diff*) in a little known area of the cliffs above Coire nam Beith. Although short it is a very aesthetic line on good quality rock in an extremely beautiful place, and I wanted to try and get some photos of it being climbed.

So despite feeling rather unfit after the overindulgence of a long weekend in England, this afternoon I I headed into Coire nam Beith with my camera and tripod to do just that. I shot a few videos of me soloing the route in warm sunshine - the photos you see here are screen captures from the videos.

After this I was feeling on better form, so I headed over to a nearby area of almost totally unrecorded ribs, grooves and corners that have escaped the attention of most, forgotten in favour of the long and scary classics on the main area of the West face.

Diamond and Church Door Buttresses in the shadow.

I found a short but worthwhile route up a groove and broken wall on the righthand side of the crag, not obvious at all and to my knowledge unrecorded. For now I've decided to call it "Hermann" (Diff), named after a German "friendship cake" that I've been helping to look after over the weekend.

The first ascent of "Hermann" (Diff)

During my descent from Hermann I passed a vertical and rather intimidating corner/crack to the left of "Nelson's Slab". It was short, but looked hard. But it also looked very good…

My best discovery of the day, a vertical corner and chimney which I named "Piccolo" (V.Diff*)

The next thing I knew I was climbing it. I just had one of those moments when I felt on good form and not attempting it would have been unthinkable. But a few metres up and I was scared. The handholds were small and sloping, the footholds slimy and elusive. For the next two minutes or so I was entirely concentrated on reaching the small chock-stone jammed in the narrow corner.

I reached it, a big hold at last! But not a moment to relax, the chockstone was moving! A very high left heel-hold onto a narrow sloping edge and a strong pull with my right arm and I was suddenly in a position of relative safety, and I breathed out at last.

The rest of the route went by without much problem, and I stood at the top feeling that unique buzz from climbing un-recorded rock with no margin for error. I've decided to call this corner "Piccolo" (V.Diff*)….as it is small, but doesn't go un-noticed.

"Piccolo" is the obvious corner/crack in the left side of the photo.

The rain and low pressure starts again soon…it seems a long time overdue. Today was probably the end of my exploratory climbing for this summer, I've done all my new projects for this summer already. Now just the wait, a short few months, and winter will be here again.


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