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Arrochar adventures. 25-27th January

28/01/13
Stack fun on top of the Cobbler

John’s party from Essex learnt alpine skills and put them into action in the alps last summer. The brief this year was to introduce some higher grade winter climbing whilst based in the Village Inn in Arrochar.

The fine weather was coming to an end but temperatures were still cold so it was time to buckle down for some “real” Scottish climbing.

Eas Anie, IV. Friday 25th.

On Friday heavy snow and high winds didn’t encourage me to go high and I fancied the low-lying classic icefall of Eas Anie which must have been building for nearly a fornight. A superbly timed post on UKC confirmed that a team had climbed it the night before.

Heavy snow on the roads meant parking at the Green Welly & cutting through the forset before picking up the vehicle tracks right to the mine. The guys there took pity & let us kit up inside, surrounded by ingots (not).

A huge wall of ice could be glimsped between the squalls deep in the chasm above. An epic powder swim nearly ended in a proper swim when a pool suddenly appeared in front as the snow collapsed!

We roped up across heavily laden slopes to the foot of the fall where the maelstrom continued to challenge the concentration.

 

 

Steve and Spud headed back down while John, Tom & I got stuck into the beautiful ice. The boys  learnt  to deal with the steepness very fast and joined me on the hanging belay.

 

Tom only whimpered quietly as he suffered 5 minutes of excruciating pain from the “hot-aches” in his hands as the circulation came back; yowser.

Some more great steep steps suddenly led to the top and the first bit of shelter we’d had since the mine. Great route.

 

The blizzard was tempered once we re-entered the forest and Tyndrum that evening would have looked completely at home in the alps.

The Cobbler, Arrochar Alps 26th January

Saturday dawned beautiful and the Cobbler opposite the hotel looked magnificent.

Most bizarre for me was the sheer number of folk all aiming for the same objective with most making us feel totally over equipped, most notably the shorts clad fel-runner (competent) and the trainers & shellsuit clad bloke (statistic material).

Trails had been blazed which was a total pleasure until I realised we had overshot the intended route. Fortunately there was a party breaking trail up the broad north face of the North Peak from where an easy traverse rejoined the best line to the summit.

The true summit is a stack of rock which is gained by “threading the eye of the needle”. It was utterly plasterd in hoar frost and, in its virgin state and having carried the rope, it was an obvious challenge.

We used some traditional methods to safeguard John to the top followed by Spud & I while Tom took pics. The weather drew in around us as Tom had his go and then we had a familiar blizzard to contend with on descent.

Beinn Udlaidh. 27th January

More high winds and heavy showers weren’t putting John & Tom off another chance to swing their axes. We headed to Beinn Udlaidh with its easliy formed ice and very fierce but short approach. A nameless 80m icefall on the right at the start of the corrie looked both suitable and attractively close given the blizzard was just kicking in again. A wall led right to the foot of the ice.

Closer examination showed a worrying amount of water pouring down the direct drops so I dodged these by right-hand variations on both pitches.

A vertical tier at the very top gave a fitting finish to three very succesful days on the road.