Sunday, 5 December 2010

South Gully (IV,5), Devil's Kitchen

With thick ice prevalent in the Devil's Kitchen we felt it better to queue for a classic rather than opt for a lesser route at the venue. Better to wait a few hours than wait a few years. We opted for South Gully.

There were already teams on the route. We were third in line. A climber ahead of us had to momentarily abort his lead after one of his crampons snapped off his boot with just the bindings keeping attached. He managed to down-climb safely, adjust, and then replace the crampon. Eventually it was Stewart's turn to climb the first pitch...

Climber on the first pitch of South Gully
More groups presented on the platform beneath the main second pitch. It was clear that we were in for a long wait. The banter was at least good between climbers and helped pass the time. By the time it was my turn I was keen to get a move on. The climbing was by now a little hooked-out, which allowed for rapid progress and existing ice screw holes were on offer for those happy to use. The pitch was worth the wait. Ice conditions were excellent.

Waiting in line
Me leading the main (second) pitch of South Gully
Me leading the main (second) pitch of South Gully
Stewart led the short final pitch to the top, by which time it was sunset. No time for a second route. Time to start the drive home.

Top of the route
The decent
Devil's Kitchen at sunset

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Olecranon Bursitis

After four routes at Stanage I became slightly alarmed at the size of my elbow, which had filled with an impress fluid. We abandoned climbing at 12pm and headed to Sheffield's A&E for a diagnosis. It proved to be olecranon bursitis. Nothing life threatening but clearly no climbing until my elbow has returned to normal dimensions.

Olecranon Bursitis: No climbing for me for a while...

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Mönch South Face (D, 400m)

Stewart and me climbed the South face of Mönch this morning. We moved together over the 50 degree snow slopes for the entirety and reached the summit first. The weather was perfect and we were treated to some fantastic views towards the Eiger and Jungfrau. We descended down the South-East Ridge.
Sunrise
Stewart midway up the south face
Stewart below the summit cornice
Me on the summit
The Eiger

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Orion Face (V,5), Ben Nevis

Pete and me climbed Orion Face in perfect conditions today. The neve conditions were excellent and the traverse pitch offered little resistance. By 4pm we were at the top of the route. The only downer is that I forget to charge my camera batteries for the weekend. Hence I only have this rather poor iPhone photo that my partner took. 

Leading the second pitch

Friday, 19 February 2010

North-East Buttress (IV,4), Ben Nevis


With fine weather predicted, Mark and I headed up to Ben Nevis to climb North-East Buttress. The weather proved to be best I have ever experienced on the mountain with clear, blue skies and no wind. The led the Man trap and seconded 40ft corner which felt easy with plenty of neve. We were on top by 2.30pm and able to enjoy the fine views for a while before descending into Coire Leis.

Approaching the CIC hut
Sunrise over the Munroes
Approaching the Minus Face of Ben Nevis
Climbing Slingsby's Chimney
Mark climbing the lower stretch of NE Buttress ahead of the real climbing
Climber on the first pitch of NE Buttress
Mark seconding the first pitch
Mark leading the second pitch
View to Tower Ridge
Mark approaching the Man Trap
Mark climbing 40ft Corner
Summit of Ben Nevis's NE Buttress
Ben Nevis's summit observatory
The Indicator Wall beneath Ben Nevis's summit
Descending into Coire Leis
Ben Nevis's Little Brenva Face
The Orion Face of Ben Nevis
Sunset over the CIC hut on the North Side of Ben Nevis

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Wand (V,5), Creag Meagaidh

Dan and me paid a visit to Creag Meagaidh, which currently has numerous routes in condition. The trail was virtually clear of snow which allowed for an efficient approach. The Pumpkin was dotted with climbers but the Wand remained unoccupied. We headed for the latter. Dan led the lower half of the main ice slab and belayed in a small cave at half height. I continued to the top of the difficulties. Ice conditions were excellent and the climbing felt easy for a V,5 today, no doubt helped by my recent spate of ice climbing in Rjukan. Another good tick this season. We were treated to an Alpine sunset and Dan managed to find his gear dropped from the 1959 Route a week ago. An all round good day.

The walk-in
The Post Face
Climbers on The Pumpkin (V,4), left, and the vacant Wand (V,5) on the right
Dan climbing the Sash toward the Wand (V,5)
Dan leading the start of the Wand
I take over the difficulties
(Photo by Dan Moore)
Dan & me on the Wand
(Photo by Alan Halewood)
Dan above the main difficulties
Winter sunset
Perfect conditions

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Rjukanfossen (WI4), Rjukan

We made our first outing to the Upper Gorge today to climb Rjukanfossen (WI4). A group was already at the base of the route so we opted to climb the centre of the icefall rather than wait to start from the normal left-hand side. I ran the 60m ropes out to full length, and then some, in order to reach a cave belay on the right-hand side at 2/3 height. The ice was uncharacteristically "Scottish" compared to other routes climbed this week with fluctuating ice quality. At one point I realised the ice beneath me was only a couple of inches thick, beneath which was running water.


Rjukanfossen (WI4)

Leading the first pitch
Stewart joined me at the belay. Rather than continue up the main icefall it looked more fun to climb into the back of the cave from where a tiny exit emerged back onto the icefall higher up. For a big chap it was a 'bold' decision as I only just fitted through with lots of wriggling. The snow became very deep in the final few metres before the top and I was left scratching amongst ice and large boulders in order to find the route exit. I belayed in a foot deep bucket seat at the top of the route. Awesome day.

Climbing into the cave

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Krokan, Rjukan

After yesterday's performance it felt only right to return to Krokan to actually tick some routes. Stewart led Bullen (WI3) to begin with, following the narrow channel on the far right-hand side. This felt steady enough on second.

Heavy snowfall this season
Stewart climbing Bullen (WI3)
Taking advantage of the cragging nature of Krokan, we top-roped nearby Tipp (WI5) in order to get more practice on WI5 terrain. Without the hassle of ice screws the route felt easier than yesterday's effort although I still needed to briefly pause at two thirds height to relive the forearms.

Me top-roping Tipp (WI5)
Next it was time for me to lead a WI4. Gaustaspøkelse to the right of Tipp looked a perfect first WI4 lead for me as the steep climbing was interspersed with easier ground to allow recovery. It proved a great route. The main fun saved itself for the top where hanging ice positioned a short distance away from the main ice wall allowed for some Scottish-style back-and-foot chimneying to the top.

Me leading Gaustaspøkelse (WI4)
Me leading Gaustaspøkelse (WI4)
Me leading the top section of Gaustaspøkelse (WI4)
With three routes climbed we decided to return to the Lower Gorge for a final route. Stewart led Swiss Army (Right Start) although deviated from the classic line by staying left at half height rather than mounting the far right steepening. The route was probably more like WI3 via this line. Another great day's climbing at Rjukan.

Stewart leading the start of Swiss Army (Right Start) (WI4)