Haven't blogged in quite a while but today was so good I've got to put some pics up:
Its getting tough to find routes Claire hasn't done as we've been hitting the winter hills together for 6 or 7 years. Ken suggested Solitaire as I was bemoaning this fact and as its one of the few lines I don't know well on the West side of Aonach Mor I though we'd give it a shot. This meant that although there were many teams getting the 0800 gondola we didn't feel any pressure to rush. Several groups went to Golden Oldy, Ken and Scott W both did Western Rib and we were followed up Solitaire by a slightly misplaced team who thought they were on WR too. The start to Solitaire looks intimidating, steep rock and roofs... but a nice wee gully lurks at the RHS of the face. Today it reminded me of the start to Fawlty Towers- mixed crud, good turf and some really fat ice in steep bulges gave a good tussle for pitch one (definitely more at the III end of II though and no gear above half way). P2 Was thinly iced slab and no runners at all! Then the sun hit and we sought shade behind walls and in gullies wherever we could as we, the snow and the ice all baked in the heat. By keeping to the shade we found some more ice and pretty good turf but anything under the dampening snow in the sun was to be avoided. The route is longer than Golden Oldy starting low at the RHS of the clutch of summit ribs and the first 2 pitches pulled no punches today. Higher up its pleasant and meander with occasional easy steps and it was with relief that we stripped off layers on the summit and gulped down fluids. Don't get many days this beautiful in a season but after the slow start this winter I reckon we learnt this one.