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Showing posts from April, 2012

Sidewinder (III), Coire an Lochain

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We walked into Lochain today in light of the poor conditions in Coire an t'Sneachda yesterday. Despite the higher elevation conditions proved to be no better with the likes of Fallout Corner in summer condition. Fourth Man looked vaguely climbable however the traverse left out of Sidewinder proved impossible without frozen turf. We continued up Sidewinder instead, which proved no pushover in these conditions, and then bore right into the final gully of Western Route.

The Message (IV,6), Coire an t'Sneachda

A cold snap late in the season lured Kirill and me to Scotland for some winter climbing. With substantial snow earlier in the week, combined with prolonged cold temperatures since then, we felt encouraged to to make the long journey. I was in good form having recently returned from the Alps yet felt I had underachieved with my Scottish winter ascents this season (largely due to fickle weather and conditions) given the amount of training I have put in. 'Early season conditions' were being reported on reliable blogs with routes such as Hoarmaster and Fallout Corner having seen ascents earlier in the week. Blog activity had been suspiciously quiet since then but surely that was due to most the Scottish guides having wrapped their bookings up for the season after many weeks of unseasonably warm weather.

We walked into Coire an t'Sneachda, which seemed the obvious choice for these 'early season' conditions. Deep unconsolidated snow spanned the floor of the Coire with a …

Frendo-Ravanel (TD / II 5, 500m), Aiguille Carrée

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We had a classic mixed route all to ourselves today for a change. With a poor weather front imminent late in the day we were keen to get another route climbed prior. A local guide in the Refuge du Plan de l'Aiguille had recommended Frendo-Ravanel to us. Positioned close to the Grands Montets téléphérique station on Aiguille Carrée, it seemed an ideal choice of route for easy access and easy escape were the weather to change for the worse. And if the lift shut again then atleast we could walk down to the valley. We had spent last night on the floor of the Grands Montets téléphérique station, our sleep disturbed twice by prolonged machinery grating loudly in the room next to us.

The bergschrund of Frendo-Ravanel was a monster. I led up a steep step of ice into a small cove in the bergschrund where I trapped myself under a shallow roof. Placing a couple of screws for reassurance I stood with my knees bent and spine arched backwards in order to overcome the overhung terrain and force…

Grands Montets Téléphérique Station Bivouac

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Mike and me spent the night on the floor of the Grands Montets Téléphérique Station in preparation for our Frendo-Ravanel attempt next morning. We were treated to some spectacular views towards the Dru and Mont Blanc massif as the sunset. As darkness fell two lights illuminated from the North Couloir of the Dru. The climbers appeared to still be ascending despite the late hour. Late in the night they would arrive after completing the route. Twice in the night the staff started the station machinery for what seemed like an hour at a time. I would trade camping on the Col du Midi for the floor of the Grands Montets station any night though.