Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Cioch Nose, classic Scottish rock


Cioch Nose from Alan Halewood on Vimeo.
Lisa and I have been watching the weather for a day out for a week and although it was due to be windy we reckoned we might just get away with it yesterday. Annie is working towards her MIA Assessment and was keen to observe me at work so she met us atop the Bealach na Ba to make up a 3. The weather wasn't inspiring, misty, breezy a bit dank and rock dripping from recent showers- but we did see a glimpse of sun as we drove up the Pass and by the time we inched our way out on the ledge already high above the coire floor to begin the route things wee already looking brighter.
The first 3 pitches all provide interest, especially when wet. Pitch 1 has a couple of awkward corners with poor footholds but great gear and pitch 2 is an out of balance corner (agin pro is fine though) which was wet again. Pitch 3 has to be one of the best pitches of the grade in the UK. You step off of a large secure ledge onto a slabby wall with hundreds of feet of space tugging at your heels and weave a way right, left back above your belayer(s) and then right again on rough secure rock with plenty of gear. A couple of easier pitches leave you grinning at the drop atop the Cioch itself.
It is possible to abseil down a loosish gully on the left here but I've never done it and Lisa was really keen to complete the whole ridge so we pressed on past a hundred odd metres of scrambling to the base of a groove in a fine soaring arete which gives a final pitch of 4a climbing. A last bit of easier rock takes you to the end of the ridge projecting from the plateau and things aren't quite over yet. As we topped out the weather turned on us and the winds rose and blasted us with a fine rain. There are a couple of awkward steps down on the ridge as it rolls its way back to the main bulk of the mountain and the wet grass was slippery under our light approach shoes so we were all glad to make it to the road by the telephone mast and back to the cars.
A brew and some home made apple caramel cake made the perfect end to a classic Scottish day out!
Hope the headcam video isn't too tedious, I've tried to only include shots showing the gear, the nature of the rock and the awesome exposure!
 Third pitch and space below their feet
Big country
 Scrambling above the Cioch
 The 'extra' pitch
Happy days!

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