Thursday, 23 January 2014

Eskimo Gully

 The central ice pitch in Eskimo Gully II/III**, Lurcher's Crag.

Two failed attempts at climbing this week had left me desperate to get out. I've known for years that coming home empty handed sometimes is an integral part of the whole winter climbing thing, but it still sometimes gets me down.

I was fully psyched up for a hard day struggling against yet more gales and blizzards. I've learnt very quickly that when the wind blows hard on the plateau then it means business. But where was it? Half an hour of snowfall on my way into the Lairig Ghru and a few strong gusts…luck seemed to be on my side for the first time this week.

Lurcher's Crag. Conditions very variable, lots of cruddy ice.

One of the better looking lines on Lurcher's Crag is Eskimo Gully, a well defined route to the South of the more frequented classics. It looked in better condition than some of the other routes, but would the ice be good enough to climb?

The large area of slabby ground beneath the main area of steepness was well covered in a breakable crust of ice. I was unsure at first, but I soon found it was plenty firm enough to make it a quick job to get up to the main bulk of the gully.

Looking to Doorway Ridge on the right.

Eskimo Gully is all about the main central ice pitch, and it was good to find it complete. A few swings of my axes revealed it to be pretty cruddy, and I started to have doubts. But it turned out to be okay if you chose your placements well, sometimes getting a hook on frozen turf underneath some of the looser bits of ice. 

Above the gully varied from well-scoured icy ground to really quite deep soft slab. There was certainly a bit more slab on this Westerly slope than I'd been expecting, but I managed to avoid most of it and topped out onto a not-very-windy Creag an Leth Choin.

Huge amounts of snow continue to accumulate in the Northern Corries.

It looks like the bad weather returns this weekend…


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