Saturday, 4 January 2014

Pinnacle Ridge - Lurcher's Crag

 A fine day on Pinnacle Ridge (II), Lurcher's Crag, Cairngorms.
Yesterday, for the second time in my life, I quit my job in the name of climbing. It has been a long-held ambition to take a winter off work entirely, so I can concentrate fully on winter climbing without hindrance. This might be my only chance ever to do this, so the opportunity had to be grabbed with both hands.

For the last month I have been frustrated beyond measure, bad luck and some truly nasty weather preventing me from getting out climbing at all. I've let it get me down and yet again patience has proven to not be one of my virtues.

This morning the wind finally dropped and the skies cleared, after what has been one of the stormiest periods I've seen during my five years in the Highlands. For all that I've cursed the storms, every cloud has a silver lining and the bad weather has ensured the mountains now hold a pretty huge amount of the snow for early January.

A climber beneath the crux of Window Gully.

A rare moment of sunshine in a winter so-far dominated by bad weather.

My hunch that good conditions would be found on Lurcher's Crag paid off. A few other teams were out enjoying the classic gullies of the crag, but the cruddy quality of ice quickly deterred me from committing to a solo today. So instead I turned towards the buttresses and ribs on the face.

Pinnacle Ridge is the buttress right of the central gully.
 Looking back at the main pinnacle.

Pinnacle Ridge is arguably the most conspicuous of the buttress routes on Lurcher's Crag. It is a route that is pleasing to the eye, due to the large pinnacle protruding from the middle of the ridge.

After finding one of two blobs of slightly suspect turf at the usual start to the route, I headed up South Gully for a short distance and discovered a steep snow gully striking up towards the crest. The atmosphere here is pretty cool, the large pinnacle suddenly appearing in view - only for me to then discover another pinnacle hidden from view from the Lairig Ghru.

Coire an-t Sneachda, extremely well filled in with snow.
Once on the route I found the turf well frozen and a really good amount of consolidated snow. The clear views were a sight for sore eyes indeed, and I can barely tell how good it felt to be swinging axes again. Great to be back in the game!


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