Rich and I had a rare thing in common today. A day free to go climbing in February! A quick forecast check said 'Torridon' to us. Not the shortest drive and a shrinking weather window meant we needed a quick route. Neither of us had done George before so at 0 dark o'clock we left Corpach for the sunny NW.
Lots of impressive full depth avalanche stains/scars passing through Glen Shiel and then the promised sunshine in Torridon. We had a chat with Gary in the car park who described great snow conditions in Coire an t Sneachda yesterday then headed off.
Glen Shiel avalanchesHigh above though the wind was howling and as we hit the watershed below our Coire we were knocked down by gusts sounding like express trains as they approached. Then there was the snow… soft and deep through the boulder fields until we hit footprints refrozen in the Coire floor (yours from yesterday PJ? Cheers).
A good start
What's not to like?
Heading into George
The sun was still shining as we soloed our way up to a belay below the new chockstone and although there was not a lot of gear I was just happy to be leading a winter climb again! (Soloing II or following others up routes is never the same)
Our first belay after a wee solo
The new chockstone pitch- not much gear but enough ice to climb today
Rich dwarfed by the view
Pulling over the steepeningThe snow was still a little soft and occasional spindrift avalanches had swept away any trace of previous passage but there was plenty enough reasonable ice today. Rich set off on the regular Crux pitch just as the weather turned. By the time it was time for me to climb I was waist deep in spindrift and unable to look upwards- a nice contrast to my pitch! I made sure every zip and tab was closed and climbed. After spluttering out a few mouthfuls of snow and spending most of my time looking down at my feet and feeling blindly with axes I emerged just below the top at a belay.
Rich's pitch before the weather turned
A shot taken between spindrift waves following Rich's pitch
Belay just below the top, weather improving again
Snowy RichSoon we were coiling ropes and hustling down the N Ridge to wade out of the Coire.
Is that a deep bit Rich?
Soggy thrash back to the car