Showing posts from March, 2011

Waterfall Gully (IV,4), Ben Nevis

Temperatures were above freezing today and generally looked uninspiring for winter climbing. Not a day to push the boat out. Florian and me had a look at the Curtain this morning but it was far too thin for climbing. We dipped down to Waterfall Gully, which we knew to still be in condition. The initial ice pitch was sketchy. My axes ripped through the soft ice, and poor screw protection in these conditions offered little reassurance. A tricky break right on the icefall at half height felt far too gripping for grade IV in these conditions. With no more freezing temperatures forecast, it was safe to safe we would probably be the last to climb the route this season.
The difficulties were largely over once up the initial ice pitch. Some people abseil off the route once this pitch is completed but we chose to continue up the gully to the top. The climbing was now much easier although snow conditions soft. Climbing was grade II but interesting nonetheless with good views to the ice of Gemi…

Indicator Wall (V,4), Ben Nevis

Temperatures were warming up but there was still good freeze-thaw conditions reported high on the Ben. Florian and me headed for Indicator Wall. White-out conditions prevailed as we blindly bashed up Observatory Gully. We couldn't see any crag features and even Tower Scoop went unnoticed. High in the gully we spotted some climbers to our left where we anticipated Indicator Wall to be. We shouted out what route they were on. Satanic Versus came the reply so we were in the right area. We bore left from their stance and soon found our route.

Both the regular and right-hand versions of Indicator wall looked in good nick. We opted for the classic regular line. We swung leads up the ice with me leading pitches two and four. The first pitch felt steady for V. Difficulty increased during the second pitch, which involved a short traverse right in order to gain a weakness through steep ground. The ice was brittle but easy to protect. The difficulties eased back on the third and fourth pitch…

Hadrian's Wall Direct (V,5), Ben Nevis

Plan A had been to climb Point Five Gully but there was too much congestion. The lead climber ahead of us patiently waited for the first belay to be vacated so that he could make himself safe and bring his partner up. The gully looked like a motorway of concertinaing traffic in rush hour.

We made our way across to Hadrian's Wall, which was now free of traffic after busy start. I led the first pitch up the broad, bulging ice flow. It was typical Ben Nevis snowy ice. Easy axe placements but I wouldn't have wanted to test my screws placements. I placed three screws for the belay and sunk my axes for good measure as well. Time to bring Ryan and Mike up.

A yell emanated from Point Five Gully. The lead climber from the group that would have been immediately ahead of us clattered down the full height of the Rogue pitch landing back beside his belayer. Then there was silence. Ryan called up to them. A response came in a low voice. The leader was ok but had broken his leg. We asked if…