Saturday, 17 October 2009
Friday, 28 August 2009
We made good time on our ascent and soon enough found ourselves at the bottom of the face. The face sported a large number of large crevasses and seracs. Fortunately there was a relatively clear line on the right side which led to the final 45 degree face. This was covered in spikes of neve called penitentes, which made for easy going. We fetched up under the summit seracs in good order and found the way barred by a large rimaye. Initially we couldn't see a way over but then we noticed a partial snow bridge down on the right. Due to the precarious nature of the bridge we belayed the crossing and the following 50 degree slope. Once on top we found the summit guarded by a giant ice mushroom and a moat like crevasse. We walked round the rim of the moat and luckily found a point where an ice slope rose up and crossed the moat. Easily we walked over this and onto the flat summit. The descent by the west ridge was uneventful and we were back in camp by noon.
That night Ad and Kris brought bad news, we had to descend as they had not been able to get the stoves sorted. We moved our bus pick up forward a few days giving Ad and Kris enough time to attempt Charquini, the most impressive peak in the valley. They got around half way before tricky and scary glacier conditions forced a retreat.
Friday, 24 April 2009
I should explain that 100 routes in a day is regularly achieved on Stanage and other Eastern Gritstone crags so our 50 was, relatively speaking, a small number of routes. However, it felt like a big enough challenge to us. We decided to take a rope and a light rack so we could attempt some of the VS classics of the edge on our way as we were unwilling to solo some of the taller VS routes onsight. Stanage End passed quickly and we were on 10 routes within 90 minutes of starting, including the classic Green Streak. The smaller walls right of the end slab slowed us down somewhat and we were drawn into trying to highball a number of 5b and 5c problems; this sapped our power and motivation so we decided that in order to complete the challenge we'd best climb no harder than VS from then on.
The Crow Chin passed quickly and, from my point of view, uneventfully. Jon lead Kelly's Face, formerly graded diff and featuring precarious 4b moves with no gear at 10m, excellent fun. After Crow Chin a morale boosting count revealed that we were on 24 routes and nearly half way there. As we reached Cosmic Crack the sun came out and our energy levels dipped with every degree the temperature rose. I wanted to lead Cosmic Crack and managed to make the slowest, most unco-ordinated lead the route may have ever seen. I have no idea how long I spent going up and down at the top overhang, unwilling to commit properly to finishing the route. When I finally committed to the good foothold and good jugs the top arrived with ease. I quickly brought Jon up, annoyed with myself about how long I had taken. At this point I thought we'd blown it, but outwardly I remained positive. In a funny way thinking I'd blown doing 50 routes made me relax and enjoy the movement of the climbing.
High Neb was next, the lowering sun flooded the rock with a familiar glow. We were well warmed up and the easy movement over classic routes was immensely satisfying. Just out of interest we counted our total as we reached the end of High Neb, 37 routes, we might do this...... Quickly we half walked, half ran towards Dover's Wall intending to solo as many as we could in the remaining hour of light. After every route we shouted the number of routes we were on, encouraging, exhorting each other to concentrate. Tiredness was racing up on us but at the same time the finish line was close at hand. It was with great relief that I pulled over the top of Black Hawk Traverse, the light was gone and our torches were in Sheffield. Careful counting revealed we had managed 51 routes, we'd done it and with not a moment of light to spare.
Friday, 10 April 2009
After the usual long, but uneventful journey we pitched up in the North face car park to indulge in a spot of vagrancy before Monday's activities. Monday dawned bright and clear and we headed up the track feeling optimistic that the night would have done it's work and the ice would be in good condition. Sure enough high up there was a reasonable amount of good quality ice at the top of Coire na Ciste, Ad wanted to lead the Cascade and I was keen to follow some technical 5 ice to see how it compared to technical 5 mixed. It seemed to take an age to reach the bottom of the route, however, once we were there a comforting rock belay and the stimulating view of the ice meant that our travails were quickly forgotten. Ad led the pitch smoothly (apart from the odd axe slippage) and soon it was my turn to follow. The start was ok but then it steepened, steepened again and stayed steep for a full 40 metres. A good lead! I was bushed at the top and I was only seconding.
Ad leading the Cascade, grade IV (5).
Following a day's rest, on the Wednesday we looked at the forecast of wet snow and strong winds and decided that North East Buttress would provide a suitably challenging day out. This time we were joined by Pete, who had just led his first grade IV on the Monday. The day dawned suitably foul and damp.
Near the CiC hut we met snow, which steadily increased in depth as we rounded the base of the first platform. Staring upwards into the sharp snow showers we struggled to discern the sloping ledge which led to the First Platform. After some upward wandering we managed to locate the ledge and soloed along it to the start of the route proper. Examining the ground ahead, we decided to move together until it got hard.
Approaching the 1st platform
The route was quite intricate and yet natural in the line it took, never hard but always interesting. Following some excellent icy mixed climbing we reached the Second platform snowfield whereupon I insisted on having a turn at leading. It was most enjoyable to be out in front and finding the route. After a while I was running short on gear, a final chossy ice bulge barred access to a crack and belay. I dug out a runner and after some trying found decent placements to pull over the bulge and access the belay. Soon after we arrived at the infamous mantrap. It was hard, but short and well protected and we got over it without much bother. The 40ft corner provided a final superb pitch before some wading along an easy arete led to the plateau in a whiteout.
40 ft corner, well banked with ice and snow.
Monday, 9 March 2009
Mess of Pottage on Sunday
The initial forecast for Sunday was somewhat better, colder but drier too. We considered going to Hells Lum, however, upon arrival at the car park there were many dark, threatening clouds and a strong wind was blowing. We changed plans and headed into Coire an-t Schnecda again. This turned out to be a good idea as the weather rapidly worsened and walking out proved a big enough challenge without having to cross the plateau. After some debate about route choice we settled on the Haston Line, which, whilst not a major classic looked like it would be a relatively quick and easy mixed route. Pitch 1 was fine, standard grade 3. The second steep bit in the corner was largely soft snow with some thin, new ice. This made for a hard challenge for a few moves with not that great gear as I'd left the size of cam which would have protected it perfectly. Under the conditions it was harder than Pygmy Ridge, so possibly tech 5.
Jon trying the crux of the Haston Line in nice weather. I led this bit and found it quite tricky.