Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fun Times in Coire an T'sneachda

On sunday my friend Kevin came up from Dumfries keen to get out for his first few routes of the season, and like many of lifes best experiences the trip started with beer!

James was also keen to get out, so at 4:30am the trio assembled with the Northern Corries in our sights.

7am at the Cairngorn car park.

The visibility was pretty bad but we managed to take the right path and arrived in good time at the foot of Aladdin's Buttress.

We headed towards the right edge of the buttress as it boasted "Goat Track Gully" and "Red Chimney" two starred routes that had caught our eye. We were very aware that on a weekend in one of the most accessible winter crags we would have to be fast and ready to switch up if the route we wanted to climb already had a team on it. We managed to get there ahead of the crowds and decided to shoot up Goat Track then try for Red Gully if it was free on the descent. Soon after we were joined by two other teams!

Here is James on the belay.

Kevin lead the first pitch enjoying his first taste of ice, rock and turf of the season.

The crux involved a short steep wall with good hooks.

The route brought out many different emotions, here is James advocating peace and Kevin during war cry.

After nipping down the Goat Track we found that Red Gully had a team on it already, so we rushed across to The Runnel and luckily found it empty. Kevin and James took this one on alternate leads, Kevin taking the left hand variation of the top pitch.
Although we reached the climb first it was a busy route with three teams climbing at once.

Here are all three variations of the top pitch, Kevin is just visible on the left.

And then we have the classic victory shot!

After a lack of navigation on my part and a few unplanned detours... we arrived back at the car victorious.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Point Five Gully V 5 ****

The outlook was good if a bit windy and we'd heard on the grape vine (ukc) that Point Five Gully was in good nick. Considering it is "The most famous ice gully in the world!" how could we pass up our chance.

We managed to make an early start after an awkward night sleeping in the car.

We reached the foot of the climb at about 9:30.

Taba lead the first pitch up good ice.

I took the second pitch which felt like a long one, I ended up having to dig through four inches of ice to uncover  gear placements for the belay.

Here is Taba taking on the rogue pitch.

We also got to enjoy some traditional point five spin drift.

The steep snow on the upper basin (the source of all that lovely spin drift) although technically not that hard, was made intimidating by the fact that the gear was very sparse and there was a pretty big cornice, but after 15 minutes Taba cut a channel through and we reached the top.

We celebrated our success with a short rest in the summit shelter and a few swigs of Morgans Spiced Rum that some kind soul had left, before heading back down the Red Burn to the car.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Savage Slit V 6 ***

As Taba's first route of the season we were keen to climb something quite hard but well protected so we headed up to the Northern Corries aiming for Savage Slit.

The visibility was not perfect but good enough for us to identify the route successfully.

Here is Taba below the impressive wide crack.

Taba took the first pitch which was a good warm up for what was to come.

I took the second pitch, I found the climbing challenging, and locating gear placements under a thick layer of rime and snow even more challenging. Never before have I been so thankful for finding a tatty frozen in place cam! 

Time was pushing on and the climbing was bold due to the thick rime, so decided to ab off and head back to the car.

After an atmospheric walk back, we reached Aviemore in time to visit the fish and chip shop and get an early night.