Starting up North Face Route
Climbers on the traverse of North Face Route. Hiccup climbs the arete just to the left
Alex enjoying the traverse on N Face Route
Hiccup Crux Pitch
The 'third hand'
Phil about to go off route
Nearing the end of Hiccup
The attentive belayer
Atop Hiccup, good rock, good gear and lots of air below you
Second day of a weekend of workshops for The Association of Mountaineering Instructors. Today Neil, Phil and I went to Glencoe and Buachaille Etive Mor. The object today was to look at parallel rope work for multi-pitch climbing: tangle free changeovers and how to place gear to keep the ropes running and the seconds climbing in the right place. I was keen to get quite a few pitches done and although the car parks were busy I didn't really expect to see 2 parties already on North Face Route. It was pretty chilly but we were only planning to keep to this classic Severe as far as the start of Hiccup, a 3 star VS5a. We did 3 pitches to the top of the Heather Terrace and Neil led the first and crux pitch of Hiccup as his 4th. Then Phil took over finding a necky variation to the normal 4c pitch (he got to the belay and then exclaimed as he looked down the other side of the arete at much gentler looking terrain! He then put in a further 2 pitches of climbing and one of scrambling to top us out. as another team began to follow us up the route.
We passed above D Gully Buttress watching 2 parties topping out on Agags Groove and crossed Curved Ridge and dropped into Easy Gully heading towards the foot of Crowberry Ridge (there was a team on Engineers Crack too). From here we headed west around to the foot of North Buttress to descend.
This summer a lot of rock has come down out of Easy Gully and swept the basin and the approach to Curved Ridge. Its the first time I've seen this much bedrock exposed in Easy Gully and there is still a lot of loose rock on the screes above and left of the waterside. Its settling slowly with traffic but needs a little care (and although it was great to see so many people on mountain routes and Curved Ridge today a few more helmets might have been a good idea).