Showing posts from 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.

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.

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.

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 …

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.

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.

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.
With three routes climbed we decided to return to the Lower Gorge for …

The Lower Gorge & Krokan, Rjukan

Stewart and me decided to explore the Lower Gorge this morning. We were the first people at the venue however it soon became busy. We climbed firstly LP-plata (WI3), which felt steady enough.

We followed this up with Kursruta (WI3). The steep start made the route felt slightly harder than LP-plata despite being the same grade. Climbing was also steeper and more sustained in the lower part than the crux of Bølgen yesterday and so a good progression in difficulty for me.

With two routes complete and many of the others now occupied we decided to head to Krokan for variety-sake in the afternoon. The venue was a short drive up the hill passing roadside ice routes on route with great views back down the valley.

I had plans to attempt Gaustaspøkelse as my first WI4. Somehow I got sucked into trying Topp, which was a WI5. It looked hook-out so figured the route was within my ability. Things started well. I hooked my way up the route, placed an ice screw in the hard ice with great difficulty a…