Savage Slit (V,6), Coire an Lochain

The snow blew up the coire, then vertically up the route, between my legs and into my face. I tried to look down but immediately my eyes stung from the snow blast. I was reduced to fleeting glances towards my feet in order to identify foot placements. Gusts were strong but I felt safe as their upward direction caused no risk to being blown off. The wind was scouring the cliffs of fresh snow leaving the cracks exposed. All that remained was the hard layer of neve that was weeks old. I hooked and cranked up the Savage Slit’s first main pitch, bracing myself with each successive wind blast. There were only a handful of climbers in Coire an Lochain today. It was easy to see why.

I sheltered in the cramped cave halfway up the route and shouted to Rick to start climbing. He obviously couldn't hear me so I gave the rope three tugs. I turned my back to the wind but it found ways to penetrate my Gore-Tex layers regardless. Rick soon joined me at the belay and then was gone again. It seemed like ages before he was settled at his belay above. In reality it probably wasn't that long.

The second pitch offered more superb climbing but the conditions were steadily worsening as the day progressed. Gusts increased, the winds howled louder, and spindrift continued to travel in the 'wrong' direction. In these conditions the climbing felt at the limit. The saviour was the protection which was always 'bomb proof' and ample.

Once above the main difficulties we had no interest in continuing up to the plateau and therefore set about abseiling back down the route. I threw the ropes down but the upward winds whipped them sideways all the way to Fallout Corner (which fortunately was vacant today). I prussic'ed to the rope and started down the route, pulling the ropes off the cliff as I went. At one point the rope looped up and wrapped around my neck. More of the same drama followed on the next abseil. Somehow the ropes did not snag. We were lucky.

Getting the f*** out


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