Big difference from the blizzards just last Thursday in the selection below-
Lou is off for her first trip to the Alps this summer and wants to get up to speed on the rock-climbing front.
An intense first day culminated in a fine clean second of Angel of Sharkness E1 5b; not bad for a first venture outdoors:-)
Picture Lou Reynolds
Rain was forecast for the afternoon so we set off for the Pinn at 8am. Roger’s gang are a fit bunch and no slouches on the scrambling too; a good job as the weather deteriated just as we reached the foot.
A strange mixture of an orange caped man and fixed ropes greeted us. Francis Lou & I braced ourselves for a long cold wait but, to be fair, the “Everest” tactics worked well and the team ahead hardly slowed us at all. Snow flakes flew past us but the rocks seemed friendly today and everyone shot up without any hesitation.
After fun on the abseil descent conditions deteriated far more so we warmed up by heading rapidly over to Sgurr na Banachdaich and down for an early bath.
Birthday Groove is on the South Buttress of Blaven; The sun didn’t shine on us but Antoni and I enjoyed another classic Cuillin rock route.
2 big pitches (70m & 50m) up Birthday Groove gave us some great traditional climbing, largely on dry rock. We’d carried our sacks to avoid a painful descent but I really didn’t fancy the squeezed final pitch so dodged right into the final, and best, pitch of Virgo which takes a parallel fault line.
Antoni made a fine job of leading this sustained long pitch which is distinctly undergraded in the guidebook at Difficult.
We continued to the top for a magnificent view of the Ridge; Antoni’s first view despite having been there 3 times before!
Antoni, Lou and I headed for the sunny slabs in Coire a Ghrunnda for the first multipitch rock climb of the season.
Early dampness evaporated once the sun appeared and left no excuse to avoid the White Slab itself. This classic pitch is not technically difficult (4b) but gives a delicate space walk that tests the nerves.
Above the Pinnacle Rake we took the most obvious steep corner which gave a superb finale with incut holds and plenty of protection (V Diff.)
There is a lot more snow lying in north facing corries but should continue to disappear if the temperatures will stay in double figures.
In sharp contrast to yesterday Alan and I did this classic traverse with no need for crampons and glorious sunshine throughout the afternoon.
Early showers were a bit fierce but the only negative effect was hailstones on the holds of the final chimney onto Blaven.
Stunning views of the Main Ridge-
Enjoy the gallery-
Alan had thought about doing a winter course with us this year and accidentaly got a quality winter day at the end of April!
After an hour being blown up into Coire lagan by a blizzard we cramponed up at the first narrows in the Great Stone Shoot, climbed Bomb Alley to Bealach MhicCoinnich then climbed Thearlaich by the Coruisk side.
A 20m abseil took us into the head of the Stone Shoot from where we climbed Alasdair. Tantalising glimpses appeared of our roof-top route as the mists finally began to clear.
With a Ridge Traverse high on Mark’s ambitions I decided a day of intense training at Elgol was in order after 2 hard days in the snow.
First was an hour of abseiling until Mark was completely happy doing everything himself.
Next was some intense footwork on the easy slab which took Mark from a rock hugger to a smiling rock gymnast in a matter of minutes. We had to dive for cover as a heavy shower passed over us but the rocks were dry enough to climb minutes later.
After lunch we crossed the beach to the main cliff. The noise of crashing waves reverberated under the huge rooves and created a seriously intimidating feel as we perched on our tiny ledge. As we covered the important sequence of what was going to happen I watched the next shower storm across the Minch towards us but a tiny cave at the foot of Fertility Right kept us dry.
Climbing a Severe standard climb on damp rock, rucksack on back and in approach shoes gave a realistic insight into what Mark is going to find on the TD Gap & Naismith’s Route when he returns with some fine sunny weather for a Traverse:-)
didn’t comment on conditions yet so here goes-
Old snow pack started to go off on Thursday but top 100m of An Dorus rock hard on Fri. Softening again Saturday. Fresh building up on the old snow but reasonably well bonded.
Fresh snow each day added interest to the ridges; quite good quantities actually made far more pleasant than expected with mostly good footings rather than squealing on rocks.
Overall you do need crampons for any of the narrower sections of Ridge for sure. Easier peaks & slopes may be okay just now but beware days following clear sky nights.
Full Traverse looking very improbable for a wee while yet…
Brief selection of recent pics; I’ll label when less busy but you’ll get the idea!
Great snow fun this week; Ann-Marie’s 60th birthday on Gillean, 20 years since we first met, aghhh.
Then Preston & Mark learning to love their crampons & axe over 2 seperate days.
Stuart did superbly on his first outing in crampons with an ascent of the Eag Dubh gully.
Grade I but very exciting- at one point the snow had formed into a narrow (18″) crest that we had to tip-toe up!
The ridge above to the summit of Ghreadaidh was full value excitement but with enough exposed rocks for anchors to keep us secure.
We watched Scott, Von & Graham climb partway up the In Pinn before backing off because of some gusty winds.
Descent was equally challenging but the pressure eased off once we were about 100m below An Dorus with a great glissade back to the corrie floor.