Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ben Nevis Double

I was on the Ben today with Colm and Dave hoping to find something tricky to challenge them.  The good weather and easy walk in started the day off nicely.
Stunning views on the walk in
We opted to climb Jackknife V, 6 first.  This gives a good sustained crux pitch up the groove with some thin climbing. The upper wall after the groove is normally avoided one the right.  To add a little harder climbing, I went straight up the steep wall boldly,  to reach the second belay.  I think this may have been the way Andy did it on the first ascent, as the grade is different in a couple of guides.  This way offers some good top end 6 or even the odd move of 7.  Once we nipped up the next steep wall to join the SW ridge, we bailed down and over to Vanishing Gully V, 5.

Thin moves to reach the second belay

Embracing the spindrift

We climbed this rapidly in 2 long pitch to be back down and out as the temp was starting to creep up a little.  Stunning soft ice and hooks made progress easy.  A pleasure to climb.

Stepped out heaven on Vanishing 
A great day in good company.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Zigzags Direct

A nice view this morning 
 Today I was out with the Irish crew again.  More snow overnight and a high wind forecast meant we had to pick a low option.  The Zigzag area gave this.  The route has transformed since we were there on Sunday.  Knee deep snow now covers the route to it's lowest level.

We climbed Zigzags Direct III which gave some nice climbing once I'd cleared the 3ft of snow off the routes.  It was hard going, but made for a full on winter day, which the lads loved.  Once up we decended the normal route.  Paul made up a couple of pitched to get to the chimney pitch of zigzags direct, whilst Colm and Dave climbed a mixed groove and then a flake pitch, before descending and climbing the same chimney pitch.

Despite the odd gust, it was a great day out.
More snow as the day ends

Dave coming back down for more

Monday, 23 February 2015

Upper West Face of Gearr Aonach

Today Paul and I had 2 climbing teams from the Irish crew.  Weather and conditions are extremely challenging at the moment, and options limited.   We made the swim up to the the upper West Face of Gearr Aonach to see if there where any options to climb.  We were rewarded for our efforts with a few routes to go at.  Paul climbed 999 with Ronan and Robbie and I climbed Rescue Team Gully with Morris.  Both routes are not in premo condition, but offered an interesting and full winter experience today.  Colm and Dave came with us and climbed a mixed line up an obvious groove to the left of Jim's Gully.   It looked like the best route of the day and was around grade III,4 climbing.

The mass of snow and the fact we were all soaked, made the decision to head down an easy one.  The wade down was a lot easier than the one up, but still very deep.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Zigzags in the Wild

Today I was out with a motley crew of Irish invaders to do some mountaineering.  With the terrible forecast,  we went for the suck it and see approach on the zigzags.  Despite the wind blowing the opposite way to expected, we found shelter on the route.  It gave a great snowy adventure today, with even more challenging conditions as we walked along the ridge and into Stob Corie Nan Lochain  before descending. There is no path down until near the steps at the bottom, so the knees got a break today.

Let's hope the weather is slightly better tomorrow. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Shroud

The Shroud looking good 
The Ben in fine winter condition 
Today I  walked up the Ben with the legend that is Tony Shepherd.   We were keen to tick off the Shroud VI, 6***, which to my surprise Tony had not done.  There has been a lot of snow up there, but the walk around to the route was safe, but hard work.  There was a team in front of us, so we strapped in for the wait and followed on.  The ice on Harrison's was good, but the ice on the Shroud was better.  Superb, steep and featured climbing made the route great fun. Never too hard, with hands off rests everywhere.  The team in front had not been the quickest, so we took a chilled walk back down.  A great day.
Climbing the icicle of the Shroud

Chilling out waiting for the team ahead to clear. Amazing ice architecture. 
Thank Tony for the pics.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Good Wintery Day on the Ben

After an ice factor day yesterday, we headed back up the Ben today.  We did a mass ascent of Ledge Route II,  which was untracked after the thaw yesterday.  A brief clearing in the snow and cloud gave us some great views along the narrow sections.  Once at the top, we embraced the white room and navigated to the summit in some fine Scottish conditions.
Part of the group at the summit 
After a quick butty in the shelter, we found our way back down out of the cloud and mooched back to the van.   It was a great way to finish off the week.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Back on the Ben

Niall and Ben on Waterfall Gully 
Today I was back on the Ben with 2 lads from Bolton School.   Both Niall and Ben put a lot of effort in today to get things done before the weather came in.  Things started well on Waterfall Gully IV, 4*.  We had perfect dry cold conditions, and the route in top nick.  By the time we walked around to the Curtain area, it was warming up and everything wetting out.  We nipped up the Curtain Rail IV, 4 * to give some evenness to the experience the lads are getting.  To finish off we did a quick pitch of II/III in the Gulch.   It was raining at this point, and had been a while.  So we walked back to the bus as the wind was starting to pick up considerably.

As the world is ending tomorrow, we will head to the Ice Factor.  This is probably the best option as the lads are dead on their feet after 4 days on the hill. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Ben Nevis Ice

Today the Bolton lot headed into the Ben. 2 groups were climbing and 1 was on skills.  I took Adam and Ethan on a tour of some nice ice.   Firstly, we did the Curtain IV, 5***.  This super classic didn't disappoint as it was covered in fresh snow.  We even had the full Scottish experience in the cave belay as we were battered by spindrift.  

After nipping down Ledge Route, we climbed the Curtain Rail IV, 4*.  This had some nice climbing on it as well.  We rounded off the day in the Gulch.  Here we climbed the steepest line available at IV, 4.  It was a good way to end, but a shame we ran out of time to do Waterfall Gully as well.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Snow Hole Bonanza

Yesterday was the start of a winter week with Bolton Boys School.  To start things off, we headed to the Cairngorm to do an overnight exped.  We pottered up the ridge to the cafe, then navigated over to ciste m.  The current snow conditions meant that the digging was extremely difficult.  The 2 teams worked extremely hard over the 3 1/2 hours, and finished after it had turned dark.  Once everyone was fed and watered, we took a trip up to the summit of Cairngorm.   It was a reasonable night in the holes.  So after much faff, and delayed departure.   We ended up walking out in the worst of the morning wind.  The storm force winds made it a challenging experience for the lads, but they did really well.  The winds were so strong in the ciste car park,  that folks were being blown over, a real Scottish day.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Stanworth and Wiltons

Setting up to pop
Today I had another rare full day to climb on a Sunday.  Elliot had mentioned he was heading to Wilton today, so I took I slightly longer way there via Stanworth Quarry. I had been there a few weeks ago and had unfinished business with Fracking 7c+.
The pop
The conditions where great despite the fog, so I warmed up on a few of the other problems on that part of the crag.  Dynamo 6a+, Iddybits 7a, Shuffle Generation 7a+ and Backlash sit 7a providing good climbing.  Once warmed up I got on Fracking.  After the damage the sharp flatty did last time, I put a bit of tape over the edge.  This made it kinder to the skin, but trickier to hold.  Finally after hitting the top 10 times, I finally stuck it.  Happy I moved to Wilton. 
The Stick
I went to Wilton 1 first whilst I waited for Elliot to show.  There I ticked a few thing, but the best was The Move 7a, The Move Sit Start 7a+ and The Move no back wall 7b.  These were all onsight. 

Elliot turned up so I went over to Wilton 4.  There has been some cleaning going on here,  so I was keen to tick a few things if possible.  I tried Haig E2 6b,  but shredded my knuckle in the crack first go.  Gutted I eventually stopped the bleeding and taped it up.  I then Flashed Hell's Bells E5 6b**. This was to the top break, which was wet. The rest of the top was wet too,  so I came down from there.  The E4's on the wall were pretty dirty in the upper reaches.  I did get to a metre from the top on one, but dirt won out.  I wrapped my day up with a quick ascent of The Renaissance Men 7b+.  A great end to a good day.
The Renaissance Men 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Welsh Mixed Action

Today I grabbed a winter climbing day in North Wales.  Brad and I walked in to the Black Ladders and climbed the classic Flanders VII,7***.  This route has a real mixture of rock and turfy mixed climbing in it's 300m, with some bold climbing thrown in.  I led the crux pitch, which had some very unhelpful verglass.  This gave the pitch an insecure feeling at times and made gear placement a bit dubious.  The climbing was excellent throughout the route, really living up to it's billing.  Definitely a must for those climbing at the grade.
Arranging gear to start the steep groove above

Brad enjoying the steep turf climbing 4

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Brimham Action

I'm trying to keep myself psyched with all the sending going on up north, but it is hard. To help keep me going Ben, Brad, Ian and I went to Brimham.  My skin was feeling it a bit from yesterday, but I got stuck into things anyway.

Brad on Pommel
We started off on the carpark boulders to warm up. Doing all the usual classics up to 6c.  Ben and I had a few goes on the trickier problems here.  I got close to both 7b's but wanted to save my skin.  They should go quickly on the next visit. 

We then moved to the Black Chipper area.  The Titfield Thunderbolt 7b+ was the aim.  Both Ben and I tickled the top, but no cigar today. I now have the beta, so hopefully another one that should go next visit.  As we were in the area, Brad and I ticked Black Chipper Arete,  which was pretty nippy for 7a+.  I pointed Brad at the excellent arete of Rotifer E3 6a** which he nicely Flashed.   I was feeling tired but went to onsight Successor State E4 6b*.  Despite a bit of scrittley rock I climbed through all the hard climbing to the good hold at the top. As I went to run my feet up to finish, cold hands and more scrittle meant as my foot popped I could not hold it and dropped the route. Gutted and my psyche gone we moved on.
Brad on Rotifer
Above and below: me on Successor State

Ben wrapped things up with a good ascent of Red Roof 6c+.  My fingers now feel like I'm pulling on bone, so need to grow some skin back.  Hopefully I'll get to return soon and have a send fest finishing all the things I started.