Neil and I went to the Wst Face of Aonach Dubh to do B to F route on Saturday. This scramble ascends the buttress to the right of Dinnertime Buttress and traverses across the middle ledge (the fault line between the andesite and rhyolite layers) to No. 4 Gully. A shallow rib allows the gully to be climbed to the upper ledge where you can keep to the crest of F buttress or double back across towards Dinnertime to escape. From there we carried on over Stob Coire nan Lochain and Bidean before descending by Coire nam Beith. The exposure on middle ledge alone is worth doing this scramble for. Its never difficult but feels a really wild place to be. Its been a moslty dry week here in lochaber and has warmed up a little since last weeks dusting of snow so there's still plenty of mountaineering to be done before winter arrives!
Thursday 18 October 2007
Mike, Neil and John and I went out yeaterday. the original plan was Tower Ridge on the Ben but after sitting in a queue of traffic on the A82 north of Corran Ferry for half an hour (the road was blocked for several hours after another accident on this terrible section) we cut our losses and went to the Buachaille.
The guys are all competent scramblers and lead single pitch VS so we decided to use an ascent of D Gully Butress to practise a range of mountaineering skills. We looked at different types of direct and semi-indirect belays and moving together as ropes of 2 and 3 and carried on up Curved Ridge from the top of the route. After a quick ascent and abseil from the top of Crowberry Tower we passed over the summit in a snow flurry. The weather had been pretty kind to us - the sun being quite low in the sky to the south painted the Buachaille's shadow clearly on the moor below and we had the evidence of rainbows in the distance to show the many showers that were missing us! The guys had all bought matching jackets for the occasion- very fetching lads :-)
Friday 12 October 2007
Day off today and although it started damp the day turned into a scorcher for October. I went with Jamie B to meet a friend, Robin, at Craig Y Barns for a few climbs. We warmed up on Holly Tree Groove (VDiff) and the Creep (Severe) before Robin (who hasnt climbed for a while) reminded himself what its all about by leading Kesterl Crack (Severe). Jamie B took us up Springboard, a nice VS with barely adequate protection, which I hadnt done before. I finished the day with The Groove, one of the brace of VS 5as that all start off by pulling through a roof beside a (now aging) peg. The only problem with the day was the heat! We almost ran out of layers to remove!
I was working with Jamie B and a party of students from Lochaber Colleges Outdoor HNC course. I spent some time with 4 of them looking at placing gear and belay building before having them climb and bring each other up the lower section of the Gutter. I took a pair up Styx Butress Rt Wall and another pair up Pinnacle Ridge in series to get them into the swing of how leading and seconding works whilst building their own belays at stances. A pleasant post midge season in the Glen.
Monday 8 October 2007
Jane and I woke up in our tent to frost, mist and damp roads but took a chance on a good forecast and walked up the Goat Track and down Coire Domhain to the foot of Hells Lum. Inspired by Ron Walker of Talisman Mountaineering' s pics on his conditions site: Winternet, we had a particular route in mind. Although the water was pouring down some parts of the crag the warm sun and sight of plenty of dry rock meant we decided to give Clean Sweep, the classic VS a go. The first 4c pitch had a few wet streaks easily stepped over before climbing an awkward groove onto the dry 'whaleback ridge'. Jane led the next pitch which although technically the easiest on the route was disconcertingly wet (in fact thats an understatement!) but plenty of runners and perseverance soon saw us at the great block at the foot of the almost bone dry 'pink corner'. This pitch is a delight, well protected positive climbing with continual interest but never desperate for the grade. The last proper pitch is a bit steeper though easier at 4b, following a less disinct line up the ridge above. The belay is only a short scramble of 20m from the plateau. As the skies finally clouded over we grabbed our bags and headed back to the ski centre for a well earned brew pleased with another late season rock route in the bag and we hadnt seen a soul in the Loch Avon basin all day.
Thursday 4 October 2007
Our trip to Opinan provided us with some great views and although the rock was damp it was rough enough to climb on anyway! We scrambled down to the base of the slabs as rainshowers passed us by inland and traversed in to do Westward Ho a nice single pitch VDiff. The nature of the rock on that climb gave me the confidence to try What Ho the Hard Severe to its right. The rock was excellent and the gear fine, we had cormorants flying and swimming around the base of the crag eying us suspiciously. By that time the clouds had disappeared and we were facing a sunny afternoon. We got back in the car and drove a short way to Loch Tollaidh Crags. Here only 10 minutes from the car we did Assault Slab (VDiff). This 40m high slab is climbable by a variety of lines at the same grade. A bit further along I did After 8 (Severe) and then we just had time for Rough Slab, a harder twin to the first route here at VS but with some really nice climbing. You've got to love the NW for good rock, peace and quiet and a huge number of crags close to the road to contrast the big mountain routes available there.
After a late start following a wedding in Strathpeffer on Saturday Jane and I headed for Stone Valley at the West end of Loch Maree. This area boast a large number of Crags within a few minutes walk on one another. We warmed up on the classi Open Secret a 2 pitch HS before I led Bald Eagle the HVS next door. This proved to be a quality pitch not spoilt by the odd drop of rain as I started the route. Jane ended the day leading the short but meaty Cheesegrater slab at VS 5a. The rock here is Lewissian Gneiss and very rough and friendly. This area of Scotland is excellently served by the new SMC Highlands Outcrops Central Guide which details literally dozens of crags opened up by the prolific local explorers.
We camped locally near Poolewe that night and awoke to a showery day. We took the Guidebook's advice and headed for Rubha Mor the peninsula north of there to avoid the rain. We went to Opinan Slabs a small sandstone area 15 minutes from the road end with cracking views north to Coigach and Reiff.