Heavy snow cover at a banked out Chalamain Gap.Everybody in the world seemed to be climbing on Lurcher's Crag today, not the ideal situation for a reclusive soloist. I don't like climbing routes with other teams above or below, it un-nerves other climbers and it puts a degree of unhealthy pressure on me.
The distant cliffs of Sgor Gaoith
Ptarmigan underneath Lurcher's Crag.
Plan A had a team already heading for it, Plan B had a large area of drifted slab in the middle of the route, Plans C and D were being climbed by MIC trainees, Plan E seemed to go into a dead end and Plan F felt too bold to solo. Plan G was filled with windslab and I done it before anyway, so finally I found myself at the base of Plan H (!).
The two icefalls at the North end of Lurcher's Crag have caught my attention a few times as looking like they'd make a good contingency plan for a day when the other routes don't happen for whatever reason. To be honest, given the current situation of fairly extreme snow cover, any route away from high avalanche risk is pretty appealing.
Left Hand Icefall (III) was quick and unmemorable, and despite cruddy ice it was in very easy condition. A few minutes later I was back and started up the much better Right Hand Icefall (III). This reminded me a bit of a less narrow and shorter version of Beinn Udlaidh's West Gully, slabby ice steps after a steep crux with options for more steep sections higher up.
Mid way up Right Hand Icefall (III).
If you've not been out recently, take heed of the chat on UKC and the SAIS website/blogs. The amount of snow up there is amazing and the potential for avalanches is very high, perhaps in places not usually considered avalanche prone. March could be a very interesting month...