Sunday 8 April 2007

Late season on the Ben has been awesome. I started the end of season climbing with an ascent of Menage a Trois (V,6) on Beinn an Dothaidh with Henry. After an easy first pitch he led a short (10m) awkward wall to get into the main groove. Then I had the 45m crux pitch of successively harder steps and bulges to overcome. The gear is excellent (its a very well protected pitch) and the climbing sustained and strenuous. A final 45m pitch at about III feels easy after whats gone before. We were lucky to catch the route in superb condition. The next day we were sampling the ice on Thompsons Route (IV) on Ben Nevis which has one sustained ropelength. followed by 2 easier pitches.

Next up my wife Jane and I spent the night at the bottom of Observatory Gully on Ben Nevis in order to beat the hordes on a Saturday morning. We watched another party climb it overnight and got a good fright from a big rockfall at 2am. Then I had to lead the first pitch by head torch to stay ahead of the crowds (led by Jon and Billy - locals I know from The Ice Factor). The route was in grand condition if a little chopped about. Jane made a great lead of the awkward second pitch, her second V and only about her 8th route of the season. That probably goes some way to explaining how wide her eyes were when I reached her belay. This uber-classic gully line sees climbers travel from around the world to climb it because of its position in ice climbing history.

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