Summer has been slow to arrive but the past 2 days have been fantastic. Having a day off from guiding it was too good an opportunity to miss. Iain is gathering multipitch climbs for his MIA logbook and was more than keen despite doing the Ridge 2 days ago and warming down on Pinnacle Ridge yesterday.
Iain admiring our target.
I’d never climbed on South Buttress so it was time to test out how accurately I’d written the descriptions for the guidebook. The obvious line of Central Route gets a 2 star recommendation and was very worthy indeed.
Pitch 1 is the crux pitch with a 5a technical grade; quite intimidating so early in the season I have to admit!The rock was solid and holds positive straight off the ground. Things soon got steep with a thin finger crack giving both protection and holds while the feet smeared happily on the beautiful rough rock.
The steepest bulge showed signs of retreat but this was bypassed by a couple of delightful moves out right which then gave a puzzliing dilemma of whether to return to the crack or link a series of positive edges up the wall above. The crack option won and led to a luxury sunbathing spot to belay. This pitch was 45m not 20m as the guidebook says.
Iain led a long pitch above (4b)by a series of walls, slabs and chimneys to a shady belay at the foot of the prominent straight finishing chimney. This was every bit as good as it looks in the pictures with just enough holds and protection but not too easy.
As a warning to others it should be said that there is a lot of loose debris immediately above the chimney; caution should be exercised but didn’t cause us any problems.
We unroped and enjoyed a final 50m of scrambling (30m in the guidebook) before a small terrace led left to the waterworn slabs of the descent route. These proved to be so clean & delightful that it really added to the quality of the outing; probably a climbing first for me! One final bonus was that this cool shady line brought us back out right to where we had left the rucksack!
After 2 mad stormy days everyone was glad the forecast for a settled sunny day turned out to be correct. Robert took my recommendation from last year to bag his last Skye Munro by the classic Dubh Ridge.
AquaXplore ran us in to Coruisk at high speed with just enough time to admire the basking seals. The nature continued with a new plant for me on the approach route that looks like a minature Cuillin red cabbage- any identification help much appreciated-
Cuillin Red Cabbage?
The cloud base lifted for lunchtime and sunburn kicked in as the sun reflected off the rapidly thawing snow.
There was enough snow to slow us a bit but not need crampons as we reached the summit of Dubh na Da Bheinn 5 hours after leaving the boat. Fortunately we had bypassed the summit of Dubh Beag and the awkward abseil to save time.
Happily I found my best ever line of descent down the Garbh (rough) corrie from the castle taking exactly 2 hours to reach the jetty with 5 minutes to spare before David whisked us home.
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.