Lochnagar

Lochnagar maybe wasn’t the best choice of venue given that we had only managed a couple of hours sleep on the roadside of the Old Military Road. Something with a shorter walk-in was probably more appropriate. Leaving London was as grim as ever. We had lost an hour stuck in grid-locked traffic on Fulham Palace Road and we were still obviously a long way from the M25. I won’t need to do this for much longer I keep reminding myself…

The morning’s weather was idealistic with blue skies, little wind and freezing temperatures. Much of Lochnagar’s cliffs were still plastered in deep snow though. The cornices above looked massive despite the thaw the previous Sunday. The avalanche forecast looked underrated for Northern aspects. We saw two massive avalanches trigger down Raeburn's Gully and continue down towards the loch. Maybe the biggest I have witnessed in Scotland.

The West Buttress looked the exception with less snow and minimal cornice. We dithered for too long trying to work out which route to climb - undoubtedly our downfall. Eventually we settled on Black Spout Buttress but by then it was 1pm. The snow was largely solid neve but the climbing took too long as protection needed time to uncover. I found no gear at all on the third pitch leading up to and across the traverse. ‘Make sure you fall on far side’ I thought to myself. At 6pm we bailed into Black Spout with a single abseil. Bailing off a route whose grade I would usually be happy to solo. I’m praying some decent late season conditions develop in order to make up for this season’s disappointment.

Plastered
The West Buttress
Second pitch
(Photo by Anna Kennedy)
Third pitch
(Photo by Anna Kennedy)
The traverse

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