Monday, 28 March 2011

My last day of the Scottish Winter?

Preparing for Plan B
Looks good!

Nice ice
And there's more!
End of the day and Al's winter??
I'm off to Greenland on Friday for 2 and a half weeks ski mountaineering on the little know Geikie Plateau of Volkaarts Boons Coast and as I'm directing a CWA Training for the next 2 days today may well have turned out to be the last day of the Scottish winter for me. Ian and I went to Ben Nevis with Comb Gully as plan A. Arriving in Coire na Ciste we spoke with another party with the same idea near the Lochan and when we headed up to the base of the route we found Ibrahim already there. Plan B seemed more attractive than following someone up an ice climb so we went toa route I'd never done before-Comb Gully Buttress. This turned out to be a good call as it gave me an opportunity to climb the nice steep curtain on the right of No. 2 Gully that I've often looked at as the first pitch. From the snowfield above the pleasant groove on the left of the Buttress was also fat with firm ice and led to a belay at the base of a steep pillar giving access to the upper gully for a fine long ice pitch. A grand route we both agreed. As we toped out the second team was just coming into sight at the top of Comb Gully so we checked there was no-one below them and rigged an abseil. Down we went to turn around and climb up Comb Gully to give our second route of the day. It was fat with snow ice and felt a good deal easier than Comb Gully Buttress. There was a steady trickle of thawing rime falling around us all day and a little water trickling round the edge of the ice but it had obviously frozen last night.
A perfect bum slide down the chute in the Red Burn (perfect design- it weaved around all of the holes over the stream) made an end to a great day!

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