Wednesday, 27 February 2013

27.02.13 - Point Five Gully V,5 Ben Nevis

Point Five Gully, V,5 Ben Nevis is the most famous ice route in the world.  This fine route attracts climbers from across the Atlantic and from every corner of the world to test their mettle.  Today, I along with my good friend and flat mate Conor, bagged this iconic route and finally ticked it off our very long 'to do lists'.  The approach to the climb, which we started at 0530, was fine until the CIC hut and a total bitch there after. The route's main difficulties are found in the first 3 pitches.  I lead off on the first pitch, which increased in steepness with height until a good peg belay was reached after about 30m.  Conor then took on the steep and sustained second chimney pitch, which although very steep, did allow for some good bridging! The 3rd pitch is notoriously steep and is named the Rogue Pitch.  The Rogue Pitch is considered the technical crux of the route and increases in steepness very quickly with height to a vertical and at the steepest point feels almost overhanging.  Once the Rogue pitch is climbed, there are a few wee ice steps and chimneys over the remaining 210m to the summit of Ben Nevis.  I will remember this day for years to come.  Big thanks to Conor for a cracking days climbing and apologies to my friend Peter for cancelling our planned day in order to climb my dream route.

Point Five Gully V,5

I head off on the first pitch

Conor Starts the second pitch

Conor getting higher on P2

Conor and I at the belay below the Rogue Pitch

Getting steeper as I tackle the Rogue Pitch

Steepest part of the Rogue Pitch (Vertical and feels overhanging!)

Conor just before he topped out of Point Five Gully

Me topping out of Point Five Gully

Myself and Conor on the summit, what a day! 

Monday, 25 February 2013

25.02.13 - Green Gully IV,3 Ben Nevis

Andy and I had an early start  this morning in order to get another classic 'Cold Climb' ticked off.  We slogged up to Green Gully and were delighted to have beaten the crowds and were first on the route.  The route itself was in very good condition (as is pretty much everything on the Ben at the minute) and provided a few interesting moves on bomber neve.  After Topping out, we abbed down No3 Gully to see whether it was worth getting on Comb Gully, but when we got there, two teams were queuing for the route already, so we called it a day! we spent the remainder of the day going over Anderson Threads, Ice screw belays and other low level ice related activities! anothing smashing day on the Ben!

Early morning on Ben Nevis North Face

Green Gully IV,3

Andy leads off on P1 

I head off on P2

getting higher on Pitch 2

Interesting steep ice crux on P4

Me abbing into No3 Gully

Thursday, 21 February 2013

21.02.13 - Garadh & No2 Gully

After a productive day yesterday on Dorsal Arete, John and I headed to the Ben for some more winter climbing.  We decided to go for linking two decent grade II's and topping out in the sunshine.  After a brisk walk to the CIC hut, we geared up and enjoyed some banter among other teams getting ready for what looked to be an ideal day on the Ben.  We headed up to the bottom of Garadh Gully, II.  A good rock belay in the initial scoop provided John with a good safe place to observe while I climbed the crux and set up a bomber 3 point screw belay above. John soon followed and managed the crux (a short but wee bit tricky ice step) in a good steady and solid fashion.  After this, it was two more pitches of steepish daggering up to the top of Garadh Boulder where we had a quick drink and bite to eat before traversing around to the bottom of No2 Gully.  John did well, finding the gully very pleasant due to it being stepped out to the extent of a stair case!  at about mid way, although the going was easy we opted to utilise a big spike on the right, with a good scoop base as a good belay, which put us within a pitch and a bit of topping out, which we did into some glorious sunshine.  To complete the day, we took a stroll along to the summit and then descended via No4 Gully, which John opted to abseil over the cornice.  Some good climbing and spectacular views enjoyed by all!

looking up towards Garadh Gully II (centre) 

Me leading the crux on Garadh Gully

John shortly after climbing the crux of Garadh Gully

Traversing round to the bottom of No2 Gully II

John topping out of No2 Gully into the sunshine!

Abseiling over the steep cornice of No4 Gully

Ben Nevis summit plateau 

A wee video to summarise the 3 days

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

20.02.13 - Dorsal Arete with John

After guiding John on a few routes in the Alps last summer, he was keen to have a go at something a bit more challenging.  We chose Dorsal Arete II,3 in Stob Coire nan Lochan for Johns first winter climb.  Conditions in the lochan today were very cold and very claggy, climbing in a white out for most of the day.  John did very well on Dorsal and tackled the crux fin in fine style.  From the top of Dorsal we headed to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, 1115m.  We then descended Broad Gully before walking back down the hurt lochan to the car.  A very enjoyable day out on the hill, and well done to John!

John getting ready to get on it!

John enjoying the route

Nearing the crux fin

Me, leading the crux fin

On the exit slope

John on the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan

19.02.13 - Garadh Gully II, Ben Nevis

Today after much persuasion I managed to get Ali to come out on the Ben.  we headed for Garadh Gully II and found the route itself quite straight forward and pleasant with good conditions on both the route and the approach.  A spectacular easy day out with great views, in great company.  Well impressed with the effort put in by Ali, who described the route as "hard and sore".  Well Done!

Ali on the Approach 

Ali daggers up the approach slope to Garadh Gully

Ali after the hard work stood on top of Garadh Boulder

Dwarfed by the scale of the Coire na Ciste

15-18.02.13 - Winter Skills and more!

For the past 4 days I have been working with Steve, helping him get some preparation done for his up coming trip to Denali.  We started off with some basic winter skills introduction on the first day in and around the gultch area, Ben Nevis.  This saw Steve using an ice axe and wearing crampons for the very first time.  After a mini journey over varying terrain including soft, wet slushy snow, rock and ice and discussing the differences between terrain types and footwork techniques, we focused on the use of a general mountaineering axe, looking at general use and purpose before eventually moving on to the emergency use of the axe to both prevent a slip turning into a fall, and then to arrest a fall.  The next day Steve put these newly learned skills into practise taking in his first ever Munro, Stob Dubh, on Buachaille Etive Beag.  As well as practising and developing the techniques learned on the previous day, a low, claggy cloud base provided a good environment to look at and practise some navigation in mountainous environments.  Day 3 started a bit later, giving the feet a break we decided to head to the indoor wall and do an introductory climbing day. We worked on tying into a harness, belaying and lowering climbers on bottom rope indoor walls, even touched on some basic indoor abseiling!  Day 4 was summit day, and the route chosen was Ledge Route II, which was in very nice condition and offered amazing views.  After topping out on the Summit, we descended via No4 Gully and had a leisurely walk back down to the top car park.  A great few days in which Steve learned a lot and proved himself capable of his future aspirations, well done Steve!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

08.02.13 - Fawlty Towers, Ben Nevis III

After a good day on Curved Ridge II/III,3 on Buachaille Etive Mor the day before we were keen to get on something a little steeper today.  Our initial plan was to climb Glover's Chimney III,4 but after having seen how much fresh snow was on the ground we decided to go for something a bit lower thus avoiding what looked to be unstable loaded slopes.  The route itself I found was quite pleasant with the odd (not overly) tricky step on each of the first two pitches.  I lead off on the first pitch encountering a very short section of very steep, cruddy ice to a good block belay with insitu tat and then Andy took the second pitch up past a series os short steps and grooves with an interesting cholkstone move to a good spike belay before I took the relatively short third pitch slightly leftwards to the crest of Tower Ridge.  From the top, we had a short walk down the ridge to some insitu tat which  facilitated an ab into the Douglas Gap, some more insitu tat enabled us to make a quick 60m ab down the Douglas Gap, East Gully.  The Ben was quite busy today with teams visible on Ledge route, Green Gully, The Curtain, Point Five Gully and Vanishing Gully.

Looking over towards Carn Dearg and  the Trident Buttresses, Climber visible on The Curtain IV,5

Coire na Ciste

North East Buttress and Observatory Ridge, Climber visible on Point Five Gully V,5

Max Hunter and clients (heading for Douglas Boulder SW Ridge III), directyl under the line of Fawlty Towers III

Fawlty Towers First Pitch

Me leading off on the first pitch

Finishing the steepest section of the first pitch

Thursday, 7 February 2013

07.02.2013 - Curved Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor

After having a wee look yesterday and seeing conditions were favorable, today Andy and I headed up Curved Ridge II/III,3 on Buachaille Etive Mor.  The ridge itself we found to be quite icy with the odd good bit of neve where needed, gloved up hands mostly preferable to axes on some sections.  I found the ridge to be very enjoyable and reasonably straight forward with interest and good views in abundance.  From the top of Curved Ridge we headed up the side of Crowberry Tower approaching Crowberry Gap from the South. Once out of the gap, more easy ground quickly lead to the summit on good snow and neve.  After a careful descent down Coire na Tulaich we were soon back at the car park, one more fantastic day in the bag!

The Buachaille this morning 
Andy on easy ground approaching the base of Curved Ridge

Andy coming up the initial steep start to gain the ridge proper 

Having a great day

Andy on the summit of Stob Dearg 1,022m

Rannoch Moor

Looking up the pass of Glencoe

Creise and Meall a Bhuiridh from Curved Ridge